Chloroplast mRNAs are 3′ polyuridylylated in the Green Alga Pithophora roettleri (Cladophorales)

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Journal of Phycology


Species within the green algal order Cladophorales have an unconventional plastome structure where individual coding regions or small numbers of genes occur as linear single-stranded DNAs folded into hairpin structures. Another group of photosynthetic organisms with an equivalently reduced chloroplast genome are the peridinin dinoflagellates of the Alveolata eukaryotic lineage whose plastomes are mini-circles carrying one or a few genes required for photosynthesis. One unusual aspect of the Alveolata is the polyuridylylation of mRNA 3′ ends among peridinin dinoflagellates and the chromerid algae. This study was conducted to understand if an unconventional highly reduced plastome structure co-occurs with unconventional RNA processing. To address this, the 5′ and 3′ mRNA termini of the known chloroplast genes of Pithophora roettleri (order Cladophorales) were analyzed for evidence of post-transcriptional processing. Circular Reverse Transcriptase PCR (cRT-PCR) followed by deep sequencing of the amplicons was used to analyze 5′ and 3′ mRNA termini. Evidence of several processing events were collected, most notably the 3′ termini of six of the eight genes were polyuridylylated, which has not been reported for any lineage outside of the Alveolata. Other processing events include poly(A) and heteropolymeric 3′ additions, 5′ primary transcript start sites, as well as the presence of circularized RNAs. Five other species representing other green algal lineages were also tested and poly(U) additions appear to be limited to the order Cladophorales. These results demonstrate that chloroplast mRNA polyuridylylation is not the sole provenance of photosynthetic alveolates and may have convergently evolved in two distinct photosynthetic lineages.


Biological and Environmental Sciences

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