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  1. Abstract The enormous sequence heterogeneity of telomerase RNA (TR) subunits has thus far complicated their characterization in a wider phylogenetic range. Our recent finding that land plant TRs are, similarly to known ciliate TRs, transcribed by RNA polymerase III and under the control of the type-3 promoter, allowed us to design a novel strategy to characterize TRs in early diverging Viridiplantae taxa, as well as in ciliates and other Diaphoretickes lineages. Starting with the characterization of the upstream sequence element of the type 3 promoter that is conserved in a number of small nuclear RNAs, and the expected minimum TR template region as search features, we identified candidate TRs in selected Diaphoretickes genomes. Homologous TRs were then used to build covariance models to identify TRs in more distant species. Transcripts of the identified TRs were confirmed by transcriptomic data, RT-PCR and Northern hybridization. A templating role for one of our candidates was validated in Physcomitrium patens. Analysis of secondary structure demonstrated a deep conservation of motifs (pseudoknot and template boundary element) observed in all published TRs. These results elucidate the evolution of the earliest eukaryotic TRs, linking the common origin of TRs across Diaphoretickes, and underlying evolutionary transitions in telomeremore »repeats.« less
  2. RNA silencing pathways control eukaryotic gene expression transcriptionally or posttranscriptionally in a sequence-specific manner. In RNA silencing, the production of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) gives rise to various classes of 20–24 nucleotide (nt) small RNAs (smRNAs). In Arabidopsis thaliana, smRNAs are often derived from long dsRNA molecules synthesized by one of the six genomically encoded RNA-dependent RNA Polymerase (RDR) proteins. However, the full complement of the RDR-dependent smRNAs and functions that these proteins and their RNA-binding cofactors play in plant RNA silencing has not been fully uncovered. To address this gap, we performed a global genomic analysis of all six RDRs and two of their cofactors to find new substrates for RDRs and targets of the resulting RDR-derived siRNAs to uncover new functions for these proteins in plants. Based on these analyses, we identified substrates for the three RDRγ clade proteins (RDR3–5), which had not been well-characterized previously. We also identified new substrates for the other three RDRs (RDR1, RDR2, and RDR6) as well as the RDR2 cofactor RNA-directed DNA methylation 12 (RDM12) and the RDR6 cofactor suppressor of gene silencing 3 (SGS3). These findings revealed that the target substrates of SGS3 are not limited to those solely utilized by RDR6,more »but that this protein seems to be a more general cofactor for the RDR family of proteins. Additionally, we found that RDR6 and SGS3 are involved in the production of smRNAs that target transcripts related to abiotic stresses, including water deprivation, salt stress, and ABA response, and as expected the levels of these mRNAs are increased in rdr6 and sgs3 mutant plants. Correspondingly, plants that lack these proteins (rdr6 and sgs3 mutants) are hypersensitive to ABA treatment, tolerant to high levels of PEG8000, and have a higher survival rate under salt treatment in comparison to wild-type plants. In total, our analyses have provided an extremely data-rich resource for uncovering new functions of RDR-dependent RNA silencing in plants, while also revealing a previously unexplored link between the RDR6/SGS3-dependent pathway and plant abiotic stress responses.« less
  3. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) produced in chloroplasts cause oxidative damage, but also signal to initiate chloroplast quality control pathways, cell death, and gene expression. The Arabidopsis thaliana plastid ferrochelatase two (fc2) mutant produces the ROS singlet oxygen in chloroplasts that activates such signaling pathways, but the mechanisms are largely unknown.  Here we characterize one fc2 suppressor mutation and map it to CYTIDINE TRIPHOSPHATE SYNTHASE TWO (CTPS2), which encodes one of five enzymes in Arabidopsis necessary for de novo cytoplasmic CTP (and dCTP) synthesis.  The ctps2 mutation reduces chloroplast transcripts and DNA content without similarly affecting mitochondria. Chloroplast nucleic acid content and singlet oxygen signaling are restored by exogenous feeding of the dCTP precursor deoxycytidine, suggesting ctps2 blocks signaling by limiting nucleotides for chloroplast genome maintenance. An investigation of CTPS orthologs in Brassicaceae showed CTPS2 is a member of an ancient lineage distinct from CTPS3. Complementation studies confirmed this analysis; CTPS3 was unable to compensate for CTPS2 function in providing nucleotides for chloroplast DNA and signaling.  Our studies link cytoplasmic nucleotide metabolism with chloroplast quality control pathways. Such a connection is achieved by a conserved clade of CTPS enzymes that provide nucleotides for chloroplast function, thereby allowing stressmore »signaling to occur.« less
  4. Abstract Ribonucleotides within the various RNA molecules in eukaryotes are marked with more than 160 distinct covalent chemical modifications. These modifications include those that occur internally in messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules such as N6-methyladenosine (m6A) and 5-methylcytosine (m5C), as well as those that occur at the ends of the modified RNAs like the non-canonical 5′ end nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) cap modification of specific mRNAs. Recent findings have revealed that covalent RNA modifications can impact the secondary structure, translatability, functionality, stability and degradation of the RNA molecules in which they are included. Many of these covalent RNA additions have also been found to be dynamically added and removed through writer and eraser complexes, respectively, providing a new layer of epitranscriptome-mediated post-transcriptional regulation that regulates RNA quality and quantity in eukaryotic transcriptomes. Thus, it is not surprising that the regulation of RNA fate mediated by these epitranscriptomic marks has been demonstrated to have widespread effects on plant development and the responses of these organisms to abiotic and biotic stresses. In this review, we highlight recent progress focused on the study of the dynamic nature of these epitranscriptome marks and their roles in post-transcriptional regulation during plant development and response to environmentalmore »cues, with an emphasis on the mRNA modifications of non-canonical 5′ end NAD+ capping, m6A and several other internal RNA modifications.« less
  5. Markel, Scott (Ed.)