Spliced-leader RNA silencing: a novel stress-induced mechanism in Trypanosoma brucei.
ABSTRACT: The signal-recognition particle (SRP) mediates the translocation of membrane and secretory proteins across the endoplasmic reticulum upon interaction with the SRP receptor. In trypanosomes, the main RNA molecule is the spliced-leader (SL) RNA, which donates the SL sequence to all messenger RNA through trans-splicing. Here, we show that RNA interference silencing of the SRP receptor (SRalpha) in Trypanosoma brucei caused the accumulation of SRP on ribosomes and triggered silencing of SL RNA (SLS). SLS was elicited due to the failure of the SL RNA-specific transcription factor tSNAP42 to bind to its promoter. SL RNA reduction, in turn, eliminated mRNA processing and resulted in a significant reduction of all mRNA tested. SLS was also induced under pH stress and might function as a master regulator in trypanosomes. SLS is reminiscent of, but distinct from, the unfolded protein response and can potentially act as a new target for parasite eradication.
Project description:Trypanosomes are parasites that cycle between the insect host (procyclic form) and mammalian host (bloodstream form). These parasites lack conventional transcription regulation, including factors that induce the unfolded protein response (UPR). However, they possess a stress response mechanism, the spliced leader RNA silencing (SLS) pathway. SLS elicits shut-off of spliced leader RNA (SL RNA) transcription by perturbing the binding of the transcription factor tSNAP42 to its cognate promoter, thus eliminating trans-splicing of all mRNAs. Induction of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in procyclic trypanosomes elicits changes in the transcriptome similar to those induced by conventional UPR found in other eukaryotes. The mechanism of up-regulation under ER stress is dependent on differential stabilization of mRNAs. The transcriptome changes are accompanied by ER dilation and elevation in the ER chaperone, BiP. Prolonged ER stress induces SLS pathway. RNAi silencing of SEC63, a factor that participates in protein translocation across the ER membrane, or SEC61, the translocation channel, also induces SLS. Silencing of these genes or prolonged ER stress led to programmed cell death (PCD), evident by exposure of phosphatidyl serine, DNA laddering, increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, increase in cytoplasmic Ca(2+), and decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential, as well as typical morphological changes observed by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). ER stress response is also induced in the bloodstream form and if the stress persists it leads to SLS. We propose that prolonged ER stress induces SLS, which serves as a unique death pathway, replacing the conventional caspase-mediated PCD observed in higher eukaryotes.
Project description:Under persistent ER stress, Trypanosoma brucei parasites induce the spliced leader silencing (SLS) pathway. In SLS, transcription of the SL RNA gene, the SL donor to all mRNAs, is extinguished, arresting transsplicing and leading to programmed cell death(PCD). In this study, we investigated the transcriptome following silencing of SEC63, a factor essential for protein translocation across the ER membrane, and whose silencing induces SLS. The proteome of SEC63-silenced cells was analyzed with an emphasis on SLS-specific alterations in protein expression, and modifications that do not directly result from perturbations in trans-splicing. One such protein identified is an atypical calpain SKCRP7.1/7.2. Cosilencing of SKCRP7.1/7.2 and SEC63 eliminated SLS induction due its role in translocating the PK3 kinase. This kinase initiates SLS by migrating to the nucleus and phosphorylating TRF4 leading to shut-off of SL RNA transcription. Thus, SKCRP7.1 is involved in SLS signaling and the accompanying PCD. The role of autophagy in SLS was also investigated; eliminating autophagy through VPS34 or ATG7 silencing demonstrated that autophagy is not essential for SLS induction, but is associated with PCD. Thus, this study identified factors that are used by the parasite to cope with ER stress and to induce SLS and PCD. Overall design: The transcriptome was analyzed by microarray for 3 days following induction of SEC63 silencing, and was compared to the transcriptome of uninduced cells (silenced cells from days 1, 2 and 3 days versus un-induced cells). Normalized data from two to four biological replicates were analyzed.
Project description:A search of databases with the sequence from the 5' untranslated region of a Hydra cDNA clone encoding a receptor protein-tyrosine kinase revealed that a number of Hydra cDNAs contain one of two different sequences at their 5' ends. This finding suggested the possibility that mRNAs in Hydra receive leader sequences by trans-splicing. This hypothesis was confirmed by the finding that the leader sequences are transcribed as parts of small RNAs encoded by genes located in the 5S rRNA clusters of Hydra. The two spliced leader (SL) RNAs (SL-A and -B) contain splice donor dinucleotides at the predicted positions, and genes that receive SLs contain splice acceptor dinucleotides at the predicted positions. Both of the SL RNAs are bound by antibody against trimethylguanosine, suggesting that they contain a trimethylguanosine cap. The predicted secondary structures of the Hydra SL RNAs show significant differences from the structures predicted for the SLs of other organisms. Messenger RNAs have been identified that can receive either SL-A or -B, although the impact of the two different SLs on the function of the mRNA is unknown. The presence and features of SL addition in the phylum Cnidaria raise interesting questions regarding the evolution of this process.
Project description:Trans-splicing mechanisms have been documented in many lineages that are widely distributed phylogenetically, including dinoflagellates. The spliced leader (SL) sequence itself is conserved in dinoflagellates, although its gene sequences and arrangements have diversified within or across different species. In this study, we present 18 Fugacium kawagutii SL genes identified from stranded RNA-seq reads. These genes typically have a single SL but can contain several partial SLs with lengths ranging from 103 to 292 bp. Unexpectedly, we find the SL gene transcripts contain sequences upstream of the canonical SL, suggesting that generation of mature transcripts will require additional modifications following trans-splicing. We have also identified 13 SL-like genes whose expression levels and length are comparable to Dino-SL genes. Lastly, introns in these genes were identified and a new site for Sm-protein binding was proposed. Overall, this study provides a strategy for fast identification of SL genes and identifies new sequences of F. kawagutii SL genes to supplement our understanding of trans-splicing.
Project description:Spliced leader trans-splicing (SLTS) plays a part in the maturation of pre-mRNAs in select species across multiple phyla but is particularly prevalent in Nematoda. The role of spliced leaders (SL) within the cell is unclear and an accurate assessment of SL occurrence within an organism is possible only after extensive sequencing data are available, which is not currently the case for many nematode species. SL discovery is further complicated by an absence of SL sequences from high-throughput sequencing results due to incomplete sequencing of the 5'-ends of transcripts during RNA-seq library preparation, known as 5'-bias. Existing datasets and novel methodology were used to identify both conserved SLs and unique hypervariable SLs within Heterodera glycines, the soybean cyst nematode. In H. glycines, twenty-one distinct SL sequences were found on 2,532 unique H. glycines transcripts. The SL sequences identified on the H. glycines transcripts demonstrated a high level of promiscuity, meaning that some transcripts produced as many as nine different individual SL-transcript combinations. Most uniquely, transcriptome analysis revealed that H. glycines is the first nematode to demonstrate a higher SL trans-splicing rate using a species-specific SL over well-conserved Caenorhabditis elegans SL-like sequences.
Project description:In trypanosomes a 39 nucleotide exon, the spliced leader (SL) is donated to all mRNAs from a small RNA, the SL RNA, by trans-splicing. Since the discovery of trans-splicing in trypanosomes two decades ago, numerous attempts failed to reconstitute the reaction in vitro. In this study, a crude whole-cell extract utilizing the endogenous SL RNA and synthetic tubulin pre-mRNA were used to reconstitute the trans-splicing reaction. An RNase protection assay was used to detect the trans-spliced product. The reaction was optimized and shown to depend on ATP and intact U2 and U6 snRNPs. Mutations introduced at the polypyrimidine tract and the AG splice site reduced the reaction efficiency. To simplify the assay, RT-PCR and quantitative real-time PCR assays were established. The system was used to examine the structural requirements for SL RNA as a substrate in the reaction. Interestingly, synthetic SL RNA assembled poorly to its cognate particle and was not utilized in the reaction. However, SL RNA synthesized in cells lacking Sm proteins, which is defective in cap-4 modification, was active in the reaction. This study is the first step towards further elucidating the mechanism of trans-splicing, an essential reaction which determines the trypanosome transcriptome.
Project description:In Euglena gracilis, a 26 nucleotide leader sequence (spliced leader sequence = SL) is transferred by trans-splicing to the 5' end of a vast majority of cytoplasmic mRNAs (8). The SL originates from the 5' extremity of a family of closely related snRNAs (SL-RNAs) which are about 100 nucleotide long. In this paper we present the nucleotide sequences of two SL-RNA genes, confirming the sequences previously established by sequencing purified SL-RNAs. Although some SL-RNA genes are dispersed throughout the genome, we show that the majority of SL-RNA genes are located on 0.6 kb repeated units which also encode the cytoplasmic 5S rRNA. We estimate that the copy number of these repeated units is about 300 per haploid genome. The association of SL-RNA and 5S rRNA genes in tandemly repeated units is also found in nematodes but paradoxically does not exist in trypanosomes which are phylogenically much closer to Euglena. We also show that a high number of sequences analogous to the 26 nucleotide SL are dispersed throughout the genome and are not associated with SL-RNAs.
Project description:High throughput sequencing techniques are poorly adapted for in vivo studies of parasites, which require prior in vitro culturing and purification. Trypanosomatids, a group of kinetoplastid protozoans, possess a distinctive feature in their transcriptional mechanism whereby a specific Spliced Leader (SL) sequence is added to the 5'end of each mRNA by trans-splicing. This allows to discriminate Trypansomatid RNA from mammalian RNA and forms the basis of our new multiplexed protocol for high-throughput, selective RNA-sequencing called SL-seq. We provided a proof-of-concept of SL-seq in Leishmania donovani, the main causative agent of visceral leishmaniasis in humans, and successfully applied the method to sequence Leishmania mRNA directly from infected macrophages and from highly diluted mixes with human RNA. mRNA profiles obtained with SL-seq corresponded largely to those obtained from conventional poly-A tail purification methods, indicating both enumerate the same mRNA pool. However, SL-seq offers additional advantages, including lower sequencing depth requirements, fast and simple library prep and high resolution splice site detection. SL-seq is therefore ideal for fast and massive parallel sequencing of parasite transcriptomes directly from host tissues. Since SLs are also present in Nematodes, Cnidaria and primitive chordates, this method could also have high potential for transcriptomics studies in other organisms.
Project description:Transcription by RNA polymerase II in trypanosomes deviates from the standard eukaryotic paradigm. Genes are transcribed polycistronically and subsequently cleaved into functional mRNAs, requiring trans splicing of a capped 39-nucleotide leader RNA derived from a short transcript, the spliced leader (SL) RNA. The only identified trypanosome RNA polymerase II promoter is that of the SL RNA gene. We have previously shown that transcription of SL RNA requires divergent trypanosome homologs of RNA polymerase II, TATA binding protein, and the small nuclear RNA (snRNA)-activating protein complex. In other eukaryotes, TFIIB is an additional key component of transcription for both mRNAs and polymerase II-dependent snRNAs. We have identified a divergent homolog of the usually highly conserved basal transcription factor, TFIIB, from the pathogenic parasite Trypanosoma brucei. T. brucei TFIIB (TbTFIIB) interacted directly with the trypanosome TATA binding protein and RNA polymerase II, confirming its identity. Functionally, in vitro transcription studies demonstrated that TbTFIIB is indispensable in SL RNA gene transcription. RNA interference (RNAi) studies corroborated the essential nature of TbTFIIB, as depletion of this protein led to growth arrest of parasites. Furthermore, nuclear extracts prepared from parasites depleted of TbTFIIB, after the induction of RNAi, required recombinant TbTFIIB to support spliced leader transcription. The information gleaned from TbTFIIB studies furthers our understanding of SL RNA gene transcription and the elusive overall transcriptional processes in trypanosomes.
Project description:Eukaryotic mRNA translation begins with recruitment of the 40S ribosome complex to the mRNA 5' end through the eIF4F initiation complex binding to the 5' m(7)G-mRNA cap. Spliced leader (SL) RNA trans splicing adds a trimethylguanosine (TMG) cap and a sequence, the SL, to the 5' end of mRNAs. Efficient translation of TMG-capped mRNAs in nematodes requires the SL sequence. Here we define a core set of nucleotides and a stem-loop within the 22-nucleotide nematode SL that stimulate translation of mRNAs with a TMG cap. The structure and core nucleotides are conserved in other nematode SLs and correspond to regions of SL1 required for early Caenorhabditis elegans development. These SL elements do not facilitate translation of m(7)G-capped RNAs in nematodes or TMG-capped mRNAs in mammalian or plant translation systems. Similar stem-loop structures in phylogenetically diverse SLs are predicted. We show that the nematode eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E/G (eIF4E/G) complex enables efficient translation of the TMG-SL RNAs in diverse in vitro translation systems. TMG-capped mRNA translation is determined by eIF4E/G interaction with the cap and the SL RNA, although the SL does not increase the affinity of eIF4E/G for capped RNA. These results suggest that the mRNA 5' untranslated region (UTR) can play a positive and novel role in translation initiation through interaction with the eIF4E/G complex in nematodes and raise the issue of whether eIF4E/G-RNA interactions play a role in the translation of other eukaryotic mRNAs.