The cloning by complementation of the pawn-A gene in Paramecium.
ABSTRACT: The genetic dissection of a simple avoidance reaction behavior in Paramecium tetraurelia has shown that ion channels are a critical molecular element in signal transduction. Pawn mutants, for example, were originally selected for their inability to swim backward, a trait that has since been shown to result from the loss of a voltage-dependent calcium current. The several genes defined by this phenotype were anticipated to be difficult to clone since the 800-ploid somatic macronucleus of P. tetraurelia is a formidable obstacle to cloning by complementation. Nonetheless, when the macronucleus of a pawn mutant (pwA/pwA) was injected with total wild-type DNA or a fractional library of DNA, its clonal descendants all responded to stimuli like the wild type. By sorting a fractional library, we cloned and sequenced a 2.3-kb fragment that restores the Ca2+ current and excitability missing in pawn-A. Data from RNase protection assays, followed by the sequencing of mutant alleles and cDNA clones, established an open reading frame. The conceptually translated product suggests a novel protein that may be glycophosphatidylinositol anchored. We also discuss the general usefulness of this method in cloning other unknown DNA sequences from Paramecium that are functionally responsible for various mutant phenotypes.
Project description:In Paramecium tetraurelia, mating type is determined during the differentiation of the somatic macronucleus from a zygotic nucleus genetically competent for both types, O and E. Determination of the developing macronucleus is controlled by the parental macronucleus through an unknown mechanism resulting in the maternal inheritance of mating types. The pleiotropic mutation mtFE affects macronuclear differentiation. Determination for E is constitutive in mutant homozygotes; a number of unrelated mutant characters are also acquired during development. We have examined the possibility that the mutation causes a defect in the developmental rearrangements of the germ-line genome. We show that the excision of an IES (internal eliminated sequence) interrupting the coding sequence of a surface antigen gene is impaired in the mutant, resulting in an alternative macronuclear version of the gene. Once established, the excision defect is indefinitely transmitted across sexual generations in the cytoplasmic lineage, even in a wild-type genetic context. Thus, the processes of mating-type determination and excision of this IES, in addition to their common sensitivity to the mtFE mutation, show a similar maternal inheritance of developmental alternatives in wild-type cells, suggesting a molecular model for mating-type determination.
Project description:The paramecium tetraurelia mutant called d48 has a complete copy of the A surface protein gene in its micronuclei, but lacks the A gene in the macronucleus. Previous experiments have shown that microinjection of a plasmid containing the entire A gene or a large portion of the gene into the macronucleus of d48 rescued the cell line after formation of a new macronucleus (autogamy). Here we show that several different regions of the A gene can rescue d48, but 100% of the activity cannot be localized to a single, defined region. Inversion of a sequence contained within an A gene plasmid had no measurable effect on rescue efficiency and co-injection of two different plasmids results in enhancement of rescue activity despite the non-contiguous form of the DNA sequences. Both these results suggest that no specific product (RNA or protein) with defined end points is made from the rescuing fragment. A unique restriction site was created in the A gene and used to demonstrate that the injected DNA does not serve as a direct template for the synthesis of the new macronuclear DNA. Models to explain the action of the injected DNA are discussed.
Project description:In ciliates, the development of the somatic macronucleus involves the programmed excision of thousands of internal eliminated sequences (IES) scattered throughout the germ line genome. Previous work with Tetrahymena thermophila has suggested that excision is initiated by a staggered double-strand break (DSB) at one IES end. Nucleophilic attack of the other end by the 3'OH group carried by the firstly broken chromosome end leads to macronuclear junction closure. In this study, we mapped the 3'OH and 5'PO(4) groups that are developmentally released at Paramecium IES boundaries, which are marked by two conserved TA dinucleotides, one of which remains in the macronuclear genome after excision. We show that initiating DSBs at both ends generate 4-base 5' overhangs centered on the TA. Based on the observed processing of the 5'-terminal residue of each overhang, we present a new model for the precise closure of macronuclear chromosomes in Paramecium tetraurelia, different from that previously proposed for tetrahymena. In our model, macronucleus-destined broken ends are aligned through the partial pairing of their 5'-nTAn-3' extensions and joined after trimming of the 5' flaps.
Project description:DNA elimination is developmentally programmed in a wide variety of eukaryotes, including unicellular ciliates, and leads to the generation of distinct germline and somatic genomes. The ciliate Paramecium tetraurelia harbors two types of nuclei with different functions and genome structures. The transcriptionally inactive micronucleus contains the complete germline genome, while the somatic macronucleus contains a reduced genome streamlined for gene expression. During development of the somatic macronucleus, the germline genome undergoes massive and reproducible DNA elimination events. Availability of both the somatic and germline genomes is essential to examine the genome changes that occur during programmed DNA elimination and ultimately decipher the mechanisms underlying the specific removal of germline-limited sequences.We developed a novel experimental approach that uses flow cell imaging and flow cytometry to sort subpopulations of nuclei to high purity. We sorted vegetative micronuclei and macronuclei during development of P. tetraurelia. We validated the method by flow cell imaging and by high throughput DNA sequencing. Our work establishes the proof of principle that developing somatic macronuclei can be sorted from a complex biological sample to high purity based on their size, shape and DNA content. This method enabled us to sequence, for the first time, the germline DNA from pure micronuclei and to identify novel transposable elements. Sequencing the germline DNA confirms that the Pgm domesticated transposase is required for the excision of all ~45,000 Internal Eliminated Sequences. Comparison of the germline DNA and unrearranged DNA obtained from PGM-silenced cells reveals that the latter does not provide a faithful representation of the germline genome.We developed a flow cytometry-based method to purify P. tetraurelia nuclei to high purity and provided quality control with flow cell imaging and high throughput DNA sequencing. We identified 61 germline transposable elements including the first Paramecium retrotransposons. This approach paves the way to sequence the germline genomes of P. aurelia sibling species for future comparative genomic studies.
Project description:In the ciliate Paramecium tetraurelia, the analysis of the tubulin gene family has revealed the existence of four alpha and three beta genes. We show here that the coding sequence of the first beta-tubulin gene to be cloned and sequenced is interrupted by two short non-coding sequences of 27 bp each, which present at their extremities the pairs GT/AG, characteristic of eukaryotic pre-mRNA introns, and the internal pentanucleotide TTAAT, consensual in Tetrahymena introns. We demonstrate by PCR experiments that the three macronuclear beta-tubulin genes contain these sequences in similar positions, thereby ruling out the possibility that these sequences are ciliate IES present in the micronucleus and eliminated in the transcriptionally active macronucleus. S1 mapping analysis and mRNA sequencing show that the sequences are absent from the beta-tubulin transcripts. These sequences are the first introns described in protein encoding genes in P. tetraurelia and the shortest known introns altogether.
Project description:The germline genome of ciliates is extensively rearranged during the development of a new somatic macronucleus from the germline micronucleus, after sexual events. In Paramecium tetraurelia, single-copy internal eliminated sequences (IESs) are precisely excised from coding sequences and intergenic regions. For a subset of IESs, introduction of the IES sequence into the maternal macronucleus specifically inhibits excision of the homologous IES in the developing zygotic macronucleus, suggesting that epigenetic regulation of excision involves a global comparison of germline and somatic genomes. ScanRNAs (scnRNAs) produced during micronuclear meiosis by a developmentally regulated RNAi pathway have been proposed to mediate this transnuclear cross-talk. In this study, microinjection experiments provide direct evidence that 25-nucleotide (nt) scnRNAs promote IES excision. We further show that noncoding RNAs are produced from the somatic maternal genome, both during vegetative growth and during sexual events. Maternal inhibition of IES excision is abolished when maternal somatic transcripts containing an IES are targeted for degradation by a distinct RNAi pathway involving 23-nt siRNAs. The results strongly support a scnRNA/macronuclear RNA scanning model in which a natural genomic subtraction, occurring during meiosis between deletion-inducing scnRNAs and antagonistic transcripts from the maternal macronucleus, regulates rearrangements of the zygotic genome.
Project description:A repeated DNA sequence has been identified in the macronucleus of several Paramecium species. In P.tetraurelia the repeat was identified in the subtelomeric region of four randomly selected telomere clones, as well as downstream of the A type variable surface protein gene. The complete sequence of the A gene linked repeat consists of 15 tandem repeats of exactly 126 nucleotides that contain an open reading frame with significant similarity to the beta subunits of trimeric G proteins. The most striking consensus feature is the amino acid sequence DX omega WD where X is any amino acid and omega is I, L, or V spaced at precise 42 amino acids intervals. This sequence and spacing are found in G-protein beta subunits and other members of this protein motif family. Analysis of the five cloned telomeric restriction fragments showed the repeats can be found in either orientation with respect to the telomere. Poly(A) RNA transcripts containing this sequence have been identified in Paramecium tetraurelia. The conserved presence of this sequence in several species of Paramecium suggests an important physiological function, and the study of this repeat may reveal information about the evolution of this common protein motif.
Project description:Insertions of parasitic DNA within coding sequences are usually deleterious and are generally counter-selected during evolution. Thanks to nuclear dimorphism, ciliates provide unique models to study the fate of such insertions. Their germline genome undergoes extensive rearrangements during development of a new somatic macronucleus from the germline micronucleus following sexual events. In Paramecium, these rearrangements include precise excision of unique-copy Internal Eliminated Sequences (IES) from the somatic DNA, requiring the activity of a domesticated piggyBac transposase, PiggyMac. We have sequenced Paramecium tetraurelia germline DNA, establishing a genome-wide catalogue of -45,000 IESs, in order to gain insight into their evolutionary origin and excision mechanism. We obtained direct evidence that PiggyMac is required for excision of all IESs. Homology with known P. tetraurelia Tc1/mariner transposons, described here, indicates that at least a fraction of IESs derive from these elements. Most IES insertions occurred before a recent whole-genome duplication that preceded diversification of the P. aurelia species complex, but IES invasion of the Paramecium genome appears to be an ongoing process. Once inserted, IESs decay rapidly by accumulation of deletions and point substitutions. Over 90% of the IESs are shorter than 150 bp and present a remarkable size distribution with a -10 bp periodicity, corresponding to the helical repeat of double-stranded DNA and suggesting DNA loop formation during assembly of a transpososome-like excision complex. IESs are equally frequent within and between coding sequences; however, excision is not 100% efficient and there is selective pressure against IES insertions, in particular within highly expressed genes. We discuss the possibility that ancient domestication of a piggyBac transposase favored subsequent propagation of transposons throughout the germline by allowing insertions in coding sequences, a fraction of the genome in which parasitic DNA is not usually tolerated.
Project description:Proteins of the Argonaute family are small RNA carriers that guide regulatory complexes to their targets. The family comprises two major subclades. Members of the Ago subclade, which are present in most eukaryotic phyla, bind different classes of small RNAs and regulate gene expression at both transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels. Piwi subclade members appear to have been lost in plants and fungi and were mostly studied in metazoa, where they bind piRNAs and have essential roles in sexual reproduction. Their presence in ciliates, unicellular organisms harbouring both germline micronuclei and somatic macronuclei, offers an interesting perspective on the evolution of their functions. Here, we report phylogenetic and functional analyses of the 15 Piwi genes from Paramecium tetraurelia. We show that four constitutively expressed proteins are involved in siRNA pathways that mediate gene silencing throughout the life cycle. Two other proteins, specifically expressed during meiosis, are required for accumulation of scnRNAs during sexual reproduction and for programmed genome rearrangements during development of the somatic macronucleus. Our results indicate that Paramecium Piwi proteins have evolved to perform both vegetative and sexual functions through mechanisms ranging from post-transcriptional mRNA cleavage to epigenetic regulation of genome rearrangements.
Project description:The thermosensitive allelic mutations sm19-1 and sm19-2 of Paramecium tetraurelia cause defective basal body duplication: growth at the nonpermissive temperature yields smaller and smaller cells with fewer and fewer basal bodies. Complementation cloning of the SM19 gene identified a new tubulin, eta-tubulin, showing low homology with each of the other five tubulins, alpha to epsilon, characterized in P. tetraurelia. In order to analyze eta-tubulin functions, we used a genetic approach to identify interacting molecules. Among a series of extragenic suppressors of the sm19-1 mutation, the su3-1 mutation was characterized as an E288K substitution in the beta-PT2 gene coding for a beta-tubulin, while the mutation nocr1 conferring nocodazole resistance and localized in another beta-tubulin gene, beta-PT3, was shown to enhance the mutant phenotype. The interaction between eta-tubulin and microtubules, revealed by genetic data, is supported by two further types of evidence: first, the mutant phenotype is rescued by taxol, which stabilizes microtubules; second, molecular modeling suggests that eta-tubulin, like gamma- and delta-tubulins, might be a microtubule minus-end capping molecule. The likely function of eta-tubulin as part of a complex specifically involved in basal body biogenesis is discussed.