Group I self-splicing intron in the recA gene of Bacillus anthracis.
ABSTRACT: Self-splicing introns are rarely found in bacteria and bacteriophages. They are classified into group I and II according to their structural features and splicing mechanisms. While the group I introns are occasionally found in protein-coding regions of phage genomes and in several tRNA genes of cyanobacteria and proteobacteria, they had not been found in protein-coding regions of bacterial genomes. Here we report a group I intron in the recA gene of Bacillus anthracis which was initially found by DNA sequencing as an intervening sequence (IVS). By using reverse transcriptase PCR, the IVS was shown to be removable from the recA precursor mRNA for RecA that was being translated in E. coli. The splicing was visualized in vitro with labeled free GTP, indicating that it is a group I intron, which is also implied by its predicted secondary structure. The RecA protein of B. anthracis expressed in E. coli was functional in its ability to complement a recA defect. When recA-negative E. coli cells were irradiated with UV, the Bacillus RecA reduced the UV susceptibility of the recA mutant, regardless of the presence of intron.
Project description:Protein introns are recently discovered genetic elements whose intervening sequences are removed from a precursor protein by an unusual protein splicing reaction. This involves the excision of a central spacer molecule, the protein intron, and the religation of the amino- and carboxy-terminal fragments of the precursor. The recA gene of Mycobacterium tuberculosis contains one such element and we now show that the other major mycobacterial pathogen, Mycobacterium leprae, also possesses a protein intron in its recA, although other mycobacterial recA genes do not. However, these two protein introns are different in size, sequence and location of insertion of their coding sequences into the recAs of M. tuberculosis and M. leprae, indicating that acquisition of the protein introns has occurred independently in the two species, and thus suggesting that there has been selection for splicing in the maturation of RecA in the pathogenic mycobacteria. The M. leprae protein intron provides an example of conditional protein splicing, splicing occurring in M. leprae itself but not when expressed in Escherichia coli, unlike most previously described protein introns. These observations suggest that protein introns may perform a function for their host, rather than being just selfish elements.
Project description:A previous report described the discovery of a group I, self-splicing intron in the DNA polymerase gene of the Bacillus subtilis bacteriophage SPO1 (1). In this study, the DNA polymerase genes of three close relatives of SPO1: SP82, 2C and phi e, were also found to be interrupted by an intron. All of these introns have group I secondary structures that are extremely similar to one another in primary sequence. Each is interrupted by an open reading frame (ORF) that, unlike the intron core or exon sequences, are highly diverged. Unlike the relatives of Escherichia coli bacteriophage T4, most of which do not have introns (2), this intron seems to be common among the relatives of SPO1.
Project description:The essential Bacillus anthracis nrdE gene carries a self-splicing group I intron with a putative homing endonuclease belonging to the GIY-YIG family. Here, we show that the nrdE pre-mRNA is spliced and that the homing endonuclease cleaves an intronless nrdE gene 5 nucleotides (nt) upstream of the intron insertion site, producing 2-nt 3' extensions. We also show that the sequence required for efficient cleavage spans at least 4 bp upstream and 31 bp downstream of the cleaved coding strand. The position of the recognition sequence in relation to the cleavage position is as expected for a GIY-YIG homing endonuclease. Interestingly, nrdE genes from several other Bacillaceae were also susceptible to cleavage, with those of Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus epidermidis (nrdE1), B. anthracis, and Bacillus thuringiensis serovar konkukian being better substrates than those of Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus lichenformis, and S. epidermidis (nrdE2). On the other hand, nrdE genes from Lactococcus lactis, Escherichia coli, Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, and Corynebacterium ammoniagenes were not cleaved. Intervening sequences (IVSs) residing in protein-coding genes are often found in enzymes involved in DNA metabolism, and the ribonucleotide reductase nrdE gene is a frequent target for self-splicing IVSs. A comparison of nrdE genes from seven gram-positive low-G+C bacteria, two bacteriophages, and Nocardia farcinica showed five different insertion sites for self-splicing IVSs within the coding region of the nrdE gene.
Project description:Analysis of RNA that can be labeled with GTP indicates the existence of group I introns in genes of at least three transcriptional classes in the genome of Staphylococcus aureus bacteriophage Twort. A single ORF of 142 amino acids (Orf142) is interrupted by three self-splicing group I introns, providing the first example of a phage gene with multiple intron insertions. Twort Orf142 is encoded in a message that is abundant 15-20 min after infection and is highly similar to a late gene product (Orf8) of the morphologically related Listeria phage A511. The introns in orf142 are spliced in vivo and contain all the conserved features of primary sequence and secondary structure of group I introns in subgroup IA2, which includes the introns in Escherichia coli phage T4 and the Bacillus phages beta22 and SPO1. Introns I2 and I3 in orf142 are highly similar, and their intron insertion sites are closely spaced. The presence of transcripts with a skipped exon between these introns indicates that they may fold into a single active ribozyme resulting in alternative splicing. Alternatively, the cleaved 5' exon preceding I2 may undergo trans splicing to the 3' exon that follows I3. Regardless of the detailed mechanism, these results demonstrate a new means whereby a single gene can give rise to multiple messenger RNAs.
Project description:The DNA polymerase gene from the Archaea Thermococcus litoralis has been cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli. It is split by two intervening sequences (IVSs) that form one continuous open reading frame with the three polymerase exons. To our knowledge, neither IVS is similar to previously described introns. However, the deduced amino acid sequences of both IVSs are similar to open reading frames present in mobile group I introns. The second IVS (IVS2) encodes an endonuclease, I-Tli I, that cleaves at the exon 2-exon 3 junction after IVS2 has been deleted. IVS2 self-splices in E. coli to yield active polymerase, but processing is abolished if the IVS2 reading frame is disrupted. Silent changes in the DNA sequence at the exon 2-IVS2 junction that maintain the original protein sequence do not inhibit splicing. These data suggest that protein rather than mRNA splicing may be responsible for production of the mature polymerase.
Project description:We investigated the self-splicing properties of two introns from the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. One intron (B.a.I1) splices poorly in vitro despite having typical structural motifs, while the second (B.a.I2) splices well while having apparently degenerated features. The spliced exons of B.a.I2 were sequenced, and splicing was found to occur at a 3' site shifted one nucleotide from the expected position, thus restoring missing gamma-gamma' and IBS3-EBS3 pairings, but leaving the two conserved exonic ORFs out of frame. Because of the unexpected splice site, the principles for 3' intron definition were examined, which showed that the 3' splice site is flexible but contingent on gamma-gamma' and IBS3-EBS3 pairings, and can be as far away as four nucleotides from the wild-type site. Surprisingly, alternative splicing occurs at position +4 for wild-type B.a.I2 intron, both in vitro and in vivo, and the alternative event fuses the two conserved exon ORFs, presumably leading to translation of the downstream ORF. The finding suggests that the structural irregularities of B.a.I2 may be an adaptation to facilitate gene expression in vivo.
Project description:Group II introns are self-splicing RNAs that also act as retroelements in bacteria, mitochondria, and chloroplasts. Group II introns were identified in Escherichia coli in 1994, but have not been characterized since, and, instead, other bacterial group II introns have been studied for splicing and mobility properties. Despite their apparent intractability, at least five distinct group II introns exist naturally in E. coli strains. To illuminate their function and learn how the introns have dispersed in their natural host, we have investigated their distribution in the ECOR reference collection. Two introns were cloned and sequenced to complete their partial sequences. Unexpectedly, southern blots showed all ECOR strains to contain fragments and/or full-length copies of group II introns, with some strains containing up to 15 intron copies. One intron, E.c.14, has two natural homing sites in IS629 and IS911 elements, and the intron can be present in one, both, or neither homing site in a given strain. Nearly all strains that contain full-length introns also contain unfilled homing sites, suggesting either that mobility is highly inefficient or that most full-length copies are nonfunctional. The data indicate independent mobility of the introns, as well as mobility via the host DNA elements, and overall, the pattern of intron distribution resembles that of IS elements.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Group II introns are widespread genetic elements endowed with a dual functionality. They are catalytic RNAs (ribozymes) that are able of self-splicing and they are also mobile retroelements that can invade genomic DNA. The group II intron RNA secondary structure is typically made up of six domains. However, a number of unusual group II introns carrying a unique extension of 53-56 nucleotides at the 3' end have been identified previously in bacteria of the Bacillus cereus group. METHODS:In the present study, we conducted combined sequence comparisons and phylogenetic analyses of introns, host gene, plasmid and chromosome of host strains in order to gain insights into mobility, dispersal, and evolution of the unusual introns and their extension. We also performed in vitro mutational and kinetic experiments to investigate possible functional features related to the extension. RESULTS:We report the identification of novel copies of group II introns carrying a 3' extension including the first two copies in bacteria not belonging to the B. cereus group, Bacillus pseudofirmus OF4 and Bacillus sp. 2_A_57_CT2, an uncharacterized species phylogenetically close to B. firmus. Interestingly, the B. pseudofirmus intron has a longer extension of 70 bases. From sequence comparisons and phylogenetic analyses, several possible separate events of mobility involving the atypical introns could be identified, including both retrohoming and retrotransposition events. In addition, identical extensions were found in introns that otherwise exhibit little sequence conservation in the rest of their structures, with the exception of the conserved and catalytically critical domains V and VI, suggesting either separate acquisition of the extra segment by different group II introns or a strong selection pressure acting on the extension. Furthermore, we show by in vitro splicing experiments that the 3' extension affects the splicing properties differently in introns belonging to separate evolutionary branches. CONCLUSIONS:Altogether this study provides additional insights into the structural and functional evolution of unusual introns harboring a 3' extension and lends further evidence that these introns are mobile with their extension.
Project description:The DEAD-box proteins CYT-19 in Neurospora crassa and Mss116p in Saccharomyces cerevisiae are broadly acting RNA chaperones that function in mitochondria to stimulate group I and group II intron splicing and to activate mRNA translation. Previous studies showed that the S. cerevisiae cytosolic/nuclear DEAD-box protein Ded1p could stimulate group II intron splicing in vitro. Here, we show that Ded1p complements mitochondrial translation and group I and group II intron splicing defects in mss116Delta strains, stimulates the in vitro splicing of group I and group II introns, and functions indistinguishably from CYT-19 to resolve different nonnative secondary and/or tertiary structures in the Tetrahymena thermophila large subunit rRNA-DeltaP5abc group I intron. The Escherichia coli DEAD-box protein SrmB also stimulates group I and group II intron splicing in vitro, while the E. coli DEAD-box protein DbpA and the vaccinia virus DExH-box protein NPH-II gave little, if any, group I or group II intron splicing stimulation in vitro or in vivo. The four DEAD-box proteins that stimulate group I and group II intron splicing unwind RNA duplexes by local strand separation and have little or no specificity, as judged by RNA-binding assays and stimulation of their ATPase activity by diverse RNAs. In contrast, DbpA binds group I and group II intron RNAs nonspecifically, but its ATPase activity is activated specifically by a helical segment of E. coli 23S rRNA, and NPH-II unwinds RNAs by directional translocation. The ability of DEAD-box proteins to stimulate group I and group II intron splicing correlates primarily with their RNA-unwinding activity, which, for the protein preparations used here, was greatest for Mss116p, followed by Ded1p, CYT-19, and SrmB. Furthermore, this correlation holds for all group I and group II intron RNAs tested, implying a fundamentally similar mechanism for both types of introns. Our results support the hypothesis that DEAD-box proteins have an inherent ability to function as RNA chaperones by virtue of their distinctive RNA-unwinding mechanism, which enables refolding of localized RNA regions or structures without globally disrupting RNA structure.
Project description:Of 62 Streptococcus thermophilus bacteriophages isolated from various ecological settings, half contain a lysin gene interrupted by a group IA2 intron. Phage mRNA splicing was demonstrated. Five phages possess a variant form of the intron resulting from three distinct deletion events located in the intron-harbored open reading frame (orf 253). The predicted orf 253 gene sequence showed a significantly lower GC content than the surrounding intron and lysin gene sequences, and the predicted protein shared a motif with endonucleases found in phages from both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. A comparison of the phage lysin genes revealed a clear division between intron-containing and intron-free alleles, leading to the establishment of a 14-bp consensus sequence associated with intron possession. The conserved intron was not found elsewhere in the phage or S. thermophilus bacterial genomes. Folding of the intron RNA revealed secondary structure elements shared with other phage introns: first, a 38-bp insertion between regions P3 and P4 that can be folded into two stem-loop structures (shared with introns from Bacillus phage SPO1 and relatives); second, a conserved P7.2 region (shared with all phage introns); third, the location of the stop codon from orf 253 in the P8 stem (shared with coliphage T4 and Bacillus phage SPO1 introns); fourth, orf 253, which has sequence similarity with the H-N-H motif of putative endonuclease genes found in introns from Lactococcus, Lactobacillus, and Bacillus phages.