3 years ago

Identification of 15 candidate structured noncoding RNA motifs in fungi by comparative genomics

Identification of 15 candidate structured noncoding RNA motifs in fungi by comparative genomics
Sanshu Li, Ronald R. Breaker
With the development of rapid and inexpensive DNA sequencing, the genome sequences of more than 100 fungal species have been made available. This dataset provides an excellent resource for comparative genomics analyses, which can be used to discover genetic elements, including noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs). Bioinformatics tools similar to those used to uncover novel ncRNAs in bacteria, likewise, should be useful for searching fungal genomic sequences, and the relative ease of genetic experiments with some model fungal species could facilitate experimental validation studies. We have adapted a bioinformatics pipeline for discovering bacterial ncRNAs to systematically analyze many fungal genomes. This comparative genomics pipeline integrates information on conserved RNA sequence and structural features with alternative splicing information to reveal fungal RNA motifs that are candidate regulatory domains, or that might have other possible functions. A total of 15 prominent classes of structured ncRNA candidates were identified, including variant HDV self-cleaving ribozyme representatives, atypical snoRNA candidates, and possible structured antisense RNA motifs. Candidate regulatory motifs were also found associated with genes for ribosomal proteins, S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase (SDC), amidase, and HexA protein involved in Woronin body formation. We experimentally confirm that the variant HDV ribozymes undergo rapid self-cleavage, and we demonstrate that the SDC RNA motif reduces the expression of SAM decarboxylase by translational repression. Furthermore, we provide evidence that several other motifs discovered in this study are likely to be functional ncRNA elements. Systematic screening of fungal genomes using a computational discovery pipeline has revealed the existence of a variety of novel structured ncRNAs. Genome contexts and similarities to known ncRNA motifs provide strong evidence for the biological and biochemical functions of some newly found ncRNA motifs. Although initial examinations of several motifs provide evidence for their likely functions, other motifs will require more in-depth analysis to reveal their functions.
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