A meiosis-specific Spt5 homolog involved in non-coding transcription.
ABSTRACT: Spt5 is a conserved and essential transcriptional regulator that binds directly to RNA polymerase and is involved in transcription elongation, polymerase pausing and various co-transcriptional processes. To investigate the role of Spt5 in non-coding transcription, we used the unicellular model Paramecium tetraurelia. In this ciliate, development is controlled by epigenetic mechanisms that use different classes of non-coding RNAs to target DNA elimination. We identified two SPT5 genes. One (STP5v) is involved in vegetative growth, while the other (SPT5m) is essential for sexual reproduction. We focused our study on SPT5m, expressed at meiosis and associated with germline nuclei during sexual processes. Upon Spt5m depletion, we observed absence of scnRNAs, piRNA-like 25 nt small RNAs produced at meiosis. The scnRNAs are a temporal copy of the germline genome and play a key role in programming DNA elimination. Moreover, Spt5m depletion abolishes elimination of all germline-limited sequences, including sequences whose excision was previously shown to be scnRNA-independent. This suggests that in addition to scnRNA production, Spt5 is involved in setting some as yet uncharacterized epigenetic information at meiosis. Our study establishes that Spt5m is crucial for developmental genome rearrangements and necessary for scnRNA production.
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:In the ciliate Paramecium tetraurelia, differentiation of the somatic nucleus from the zygotic nucleus is characterized by massive and reproducible deletion of transposable elements and of 45,000 short, dispersed, single-copy sequences. A specific class of small RNAs produced by the germline during meiosis, the scnRNAs, are involved in the epigenetic regulation of DNA deletion but the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. Here, we show that trimethylation of histone H3 (H3K27me3 and H3K9me3) displays a dynamic nuclear localization that is altered when the endonuclease required for DNA elimination is depleted. We identified the putative histone methyltransferase Ezl1 necessary for H3K27me3 and H3K9me3 establishment and show that it is required for correct genome rearrangements. Genome-wide analyses show that scnRNA-mediated H3 trimethylation is necessary for the elimination of long, repeated germline DNA, while single copy sequences display differential sensitivity to depletion of proteins involved in the scnRNA pathway, Ezl1- a putative histone methyltransferase and Dcl5- a protein required for iesRNA biogenesis. Our study reveals cis-acting determinants, such as DNA length, also contribute to the definition of germline sequences to delete. We further show that precise excision of single copy DNA elements, as short as 26 bp, requires Ezl1, suggesting that development specific H3K27me3 and H3K9me3 ensure specific demarcation of very short germline sequences from the adjacent somatic sequences.
Project description:The ciliated protozoan Tetrahymena undergoes extensive programmed DNA elimination when the germline micronucleus produces the new macronucleus during sexual reproduction. DNA elimination is epigenetically controlled by DNA sequences of the parental macronuclear genome, and this epigenetic regulation is mediated by small RNAs (scan RNAs [scnRNAs]) of ?28-30 nucleotides that are produced and function by an RNAi-related mechanism. Here, we examine scnRNA production and turnover by deep sequencing. scnRNAs are produced exclusively from the micronucleus and nonhomogeneously from a variety of chromosomal locations. scnRNAs are preferentially derived from the eliminated sequences, and this preference is mainly determined at the level of transcription. Despite this bias, a significant fraction of scnRNAs is also derived from the macronuclear-destined sequences, and these scnRNAs are degraded during the course of sexual reproduction. These results indicate that the pattern of DNA elimination in the new macronucleus is shaped by the biased transcription in the micronucleus and the selective degradation of scnRNAs in the parental macronucleus.
Project description:Epigenetic inheritance of acquired traits is widespread among eukaryotes but how and to what extent such information is trans-generationally inherited is still unclear. The patterns of programmed DNA elimination in ciliates are epigenetically and trans-generationally inherited, and it has been proposed that small RNAs, which shuttle between the germline and the soma, regulate this epigenetic inheritance. In this study, we test the existence of such small RNA-mediated communication by epigenetically disturbing the pattern of DNA elimination in Tetrahymena. We show that the pattern of DNA elimination is indeed determined by the selective turnover of small RNAs, which is induced by the interaction between germline-derived small RNAs and the somatic genome. In addition, we show that DNA elimination of an element is regulated by small RNA-mediated communication with other eliminated elements. By contrast, no evidence obtained thus far supports the notion that transfer of epigenetic information from the soma to the germline, if any, regulates DNA elimination. Our results indicate that small RNA-mediated trans-nuclear and trans-element communication, in addition to unknown information in the germline genome, contributes to determining the pattern of DNA elimination. Overall design: In this study, we aim to test the following three predictions regarding small RNA-directed DNA elimination in Tetrahymena by epigenetically disturbing DNA elimination: 1) selective turnover of Early-scnRNAs in scnRNA selection shapes the pattern of DNA elimination through communication between the MIC, the parental MAC and the developing new zygotic MAC; 2) trans-recognition between IESs via scnRNAs and the cis-spreading of Late-scnRNA production in the new MAC buffer against fluctuations in Early-scnRNA accumulation to ensure robust DNA elimination; and 3) IES-biased Early-scnRNA production in the MIC is determined at the end of the preceding conjugation by scnRNAs that translocate from the MAC to the new MIC.
Project description:The ciliated protozoan Tetrahymena undergoes extensive programmed DNA elimination when the germline micronucleus produces the new macronucleus during sexual reproduction. DNA elimination is epigenetically controlled by DNA sequences of the parental macronuclear genome, and this epigenetic regulation is mediated by small RNAs (scnRNAs) of approximately 28-30 nucleotides that are produced and function by an RNAi-related mechanism. Here, we examine scnRNA production and turnover by deep sequencing. scnRNAs are produced exclusively from the micronucleus and non-homogeneously from a variety of chromosomal locations. scnRNAs are preferentially derived from the eliminated sequences, and this preference is mainly determined at the level of transcription. Despite this bias, a significant fraction of scnRNAs is also derived from the macronuclear-destined sequences, and these scnRNAs are degraded during the course of sexual reproduction. These results indicate that the pattern of DNA elimination in the new macronucleus is shaped by the biased transcription in the micronucleus and by the selective degradation of scnRNAs in the parental macronucleus. GRO-Seq and Examination of siRNAs in wild-type,nullisomic 4, EMA1 KO, and TWI1 KO Tetrahymena cells
Project description:Small RNAs approximately 20-30 nucleotides (nt) in length regulate gene expression at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels. In the plant Arabidopsis, all small RNAs are 3'-terminal 2'-O-methylated by HEN1, whereas only a subset of small RNAs carry this modification in metazoans. This methylation is known to stabilize small RNAs, but its biological significance remains unclear. In the ciliated protozoan Tetrahymena thermophila, two classes of small RNAs have been identified: RNAs approximately 28-29 nt long (scnRNAs) that are expressed only during sexual reproduction, and constitutively expressed approximately 23-24 nt siRNAs. In this study, we demonstrate that scnRNAs, but not siRNAs, are 2'-O-methylated at their 3' ends. The Tetrahymena HEN1 homolog Hen1p is responsible for scnRNA 2'-O-methylation. Loss of Hen1p causes a gradual reduction in the level and length of scnRNAs, defects in programmed DNA elimination, and inefficient production of sexual progeny. Therefore, Hen1p-mediated 2'-O-methylation stabilizes scnRNA and ensures DNA elimination in Tetrahymena. This study clearly shows that 3'-terminal 2'-O-methylation on a selected class of small RNAs regulates the function of a specific RNAi pathway.
Project description:During the development of the somatic genome from the Paramecium germline genome the bulk of the copies of ?45 000 unique, internal eliminated sequences (IESs) are deleted. IES targeting is facilitated by two small RNA (sRNA) classes: scnRNAs, which relay epigenetic information from the parental nucleus to the developing nucleus, and iesRNAs, which are produced and used in the developing nucleus. Why only certain IESs require sRNAs for their removal has been enigmatic. By analyzing the silencing effects of three genes: PGM (responsible for DNA excision), DCL2/3 (scnRNA production) and DCL5 (iesRNA production), we identify key properties required for IES elimination. Based on these results, we propose that, depending on the exact combination of their lengths and end bases, some IESs are less efficiently recognized or excised and have a greater requirement for targeting by scnRNAs and iesRNAs. We suggest that the variation in IES retention following silencing of DCL2/3 is not primarily due to scnRNA density, which is comparatively uniform relative to IES retention, but rather the genetic properties of IESs. Taken together, our analyses demonstrate that in Paramecium the underlying genetic properties of developmentally deleted DNA sequences are essential in determining the sensitivity of these sequences to epigenetic control.
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:Genome-wide DNA remodelling in the ciliate Paramecium is ensured by RNA-mediated trans-nuclear crosstalk between the germline and the somatic genomes during sexual development. The rearrangements include elimination of transposable elements, minisatellites and tens of thousands non-coding elements called internally eliminated sequences (IESs). The trans-nuclear genome comparison process employs a distinct class of germline small RNAs (scnRNAs) that are compared against the parental somatic genome to select the germline-specific subset of scnRNAs that subsequently target DNA elimination in the progeny genome. Only a handful of proteins involved in this process have been identified so far and the mechanism of DNA targeting is unknown. Here we describe chromatin assembly factor-1-like protein (PtCAF-1), which we show is required for the survival of sexual progeny and localizes first in the parental and later in the newly developing macronucleus. Gene silencing shows that PtCAF-1 is required for the elimination of transposable elements and a subset of IESs. PTCAF-1 depletion also impairs the selection of germline-specific scnRNAs during development. We identify specific histone modifications appearing during Paramecium development which are strongly reduced in PTCAF-1 depleted cells. Our results demonstrate the importance of PtCAF-1 for the epigenetic trans-nuclear cross-talk mechanism.
Project description:Tetrahymena eliminates micronuclear-limited sequences from the developing macronucleus during sexual reproduction. Homology between the sequences to be eliminated and approximately 28-nucleotide small RNAs (scnRNAs) associated with an Argonaute family protein Twi1p likely underlies this elimination process. However, the mechanism by which Twi1p-scnRNA complexes identify micronuclear-limited sequences is not well understood. We show that a Twi1p-associated putative RNA helicase Ema1p is required for the interaction between Twi1p and chromatin. This requirement explains the phenotypes of EMA1 KO strains, including loss of selective down-regulation of scnRNAs homologous to macronuclear-destined sequences, loss of H3K9 and K27 methylation in the developing new macronucleus, and failure to eliminate DNA. We further demonstrate that Twi1p interacts with noncoding transcripts derived from parental and developing macronuclei and this interaction is greatly reduced in the absence of Ema1p. We propose that Ema1p functions in DNA elimination by stimulating base-pairing interactions between scnRNAs and noncoding transcripts in both parental and developing new macronuclei.