Recent mobility of plastid encoded group II introns and twintrons in five strains of the unicellular red alga Porphyridium

Marie-Mathilde Perrineau, Dana C Price, Georg Mohr, Debashish Bhattacharya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Group II introns are closely linked to eukaryote evolution because nuclear spliceosomal introns and the small RNAs associated with the spliceosome are thought to trace their ancient origins to these mobile elements. Therefore, elucidating how group II introns move, and how they lose mobility can potentially shed light on fundamental aspects of eukaryote biology. To this end, we studied five strains of the unicellular red alga Porphyridium purpureum that surprisingly contain 42 group II introns in their plastid genomes. We focused on a subset of these introns that encode mobility-conferring intron-encoded proteins (IEPs) and found them to be distributed among the strains in a lineage-specific manner. The reverse transcriptase and maturase domains were present in all lineages but the DNA endonuclease domain was deleted in vertically inherited introns, demonstrating a key step in the loss of mobility. P. purpureum plastid intron RNAs had a classic group IIB secondary structure despite variability in the DIII and DVI domains. We report for the first time the presence of twintrons (introns-within-introns, derived from the same mobile element) in Rhodophyta. The P. purpureum IEPs and their mobile introns provide a valuable model for the study of mobile retroelements in eukaryotes and offer promise for biotechnological applications.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalPeerJ
Volume3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2015

Keywords

  • Group II introns
  • Twintrons
  • Red algae
  • Porphyridium
  • Mobile genetic elements
  • Plastids

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