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Keywords:

  • 18S rRNA;
  • Algae;
  • poly(A) polymerase;
  • polyadenylation;
  • RNA degradation

Polyadenylation is best known for occurring to mRNA of eukaryotes transcribed by RNA polymerase II to stabilize mRNA molecules and promote their translation. rRNAs transcribed by RNA polymerase I or III are typically believed not to be polyadenylated. However, there is increasing evidence that polyadenylation occurs to nucleus-encoded rRNAs as part of the RNA degradation pathway. To examine whether the same polyadenylation-assisted degradation pathway occurs in algae, we surveyed representative species of algae including diatoms, chlorophytes, dinoflagellates and pelagophytes using oligo (dT)-primed reversed transcription PCR (RT-PCR). In all the algal species examined, truncated 18S rRNA or its precursor molecules with homo- or hetero-polymeric poly(A) tails were detected. Mining existing algal expressed sequence tag (EST) data revealed polyadenylated truncated 18S rRNA in four additional phyla of algae. rRNA polyadenylation occurred at various internal positions along the 18S rRNA and its precursor sequences. Moreover, putative homologs of noncanonical poly(A) polymerase (ncPAP) Trf4p, which is responsible for polyadenylating nuclear-encoded RNA and targeting it for degradation, were detected from the genomes and transcriptomes of five phyla of algae. Our results suggest that polyadenylation-assisted RNA degradation mechanism widely exists in algae, particularly for the nucleus-encoded rRNA and its precursors.