A-to-I RNA editing is developmentally regulated and generally adaptive for sexual reproduction in Neurospora crassa [Genetics]
Although fungi lack adenosine deaminase acting on RNA (ADAR) enzymes, adenosine to inosine (A-to-I) RNA editing was reported recently in Fusarium graminearum during sexual reproduction. In this study, we profiled the A-to-I editing landscape and characterized its functional and adaptive properties in the model filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa. A total of 40,677 A-to-I editing sites were identified, and approximately half of them displayed stage-specific editing or editing levels at different sexual stages. RNA-sequencing analysis with the Δstc-1 and Δsad-1 mutants confirmed A-to-I editing occurred before ascus development but became more prevalent during ascosporogenesis. Besides fungal-specific sequence and secondary structure preference, 63.5% of A-to-I editing sites were in the coding regions and 81.3% of them resulted in nonsynonymous recoding, resulting in a significant increase in the proteome complexity. Many genes involved in RNA silencing, DNA methylation, and histone modifications had extensive recoding, including sad-1, sms-3, qde-1, and dim-2. Fifty pseudogenes harbor premature stop codons that require A-to-I editing to encode full-length proteins. Unlike in humans, nonsynonymous editing events in N. crassa are generally beneficial and favored by positive selection. Almost half of the nonsynonymous editing sites in N. crassa are conserved and edited in Neurospora tetrasperma. Furthermore, hundreds of them are conserved in F. graminearum and had higher editing levels. Two unknown genes with editing sites conserved between Neurospora and Fusarium were experimentally shown to be important for ascosporogenesis. This study comprehensively analyzed A-to-I editing in N. crassa and showed that RNA editing is stage-specific and generally adaptive, and may be functionally related to repeat induced point mutation and meiotic silencing by unpaired DNA.
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