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Keywords:

  • Didymium iridis;
  • group I intron;
  • ribozyme;
  • pre-rRNA processing

During starvation induced encystment, cells of the myxomycete Didymium iridis accumulate a 7.5-kb RNA that is the result of alternative processing of pre-rRNA. The 5′ end corresponds to an internal processing site cleaved by the group I-like ribozyme DiGIR1, located within the twin-ribozyme intron Dir.S956-1. The RNA retains the majority of Dir.S956-1 including the homing endonuclease gene and a small spliceosomal intron, the internal transcribed spacers ITS1 and ITS2, and the large subunit rRNA lacking its two group I introns. The formation of this RNA implies cleavage by DiGIR1 in a new RNA context, and presents a new example of the cost to the host of intron load. This is because the formation of the 7.5-kb RNA is incompatible with the formation of functional ribosomal RNA from the same transcript. In the formation of the 7.5-kb RNA, DiGIR1 catalysed cleavage takes place without prior splicing performed by DiGIR2. This contrasts with the processing order leading to mature rRNA and I-DirI mRNA in growing cells, suggesting an interplay between the two ribozymes of a twin-ribozyme intron.