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J Mol Biol. 2001 Aug 3;311(1):57-73.

Identification of 66 box C/D snoRNAs in Arabidopsis thaliana: extensive gene duplications generated multiple isoforms predicting new ribosomal RNA 2'-O-methylation sites.

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  • 1Laboratoire Génome et Développement des Plantes, Université de Perpignan, UMR CNRS 5096, 52 Avenue de Villeneuve, Perpignan Cedex, 66860, France.


Dozens of box C/D small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs) have recently been found in eukaryotes (vertebrates, yeast), ancient eukaryotes (trypanosomes) and archae, that specifically target ribosomal RNA sites for 2'-O-ribose methylation. Although early biochemical data revealed that plant rRNAs are among the most highly ribomethylated in eukaryotes, only a handful of methylation guide snoRNAs have been characterized in this kingdom. We report 66 novel box C/D snoRNAs identified by computational screening of Arabidopsis genomic sequences that are expressed in vivo from either single genes, 17 different clusters or three introns. At the structural level, many box C/D snoRNAs have dual antisense elements often matching rRNA regions close to each other on the rRNA secondary structure, which is reminiscent of their archaeal counterparts. Remarkable specimens are found that display two antisense elements having the potential to form an extended snoRNA-rRNA duplex of 23 to 30 nt, in line with the hypothetical function of box C/D snoRNAs in pre-rRNA folding or chaperoning. In contrast to other species, many Arabidopsis snoRNAs are found in multiple isoforms mainly resulting from two different mechanisms: large chromosomal duplications and small tandem duplications producing polycistronic genes. The discovery of numerous different snoRNAs, some of them arising from common ancestors, provide new insights to understand snoRNAs evolution and the birth of new rRNA methylation sites in plants and other organisms.

Copyright 2001 Academic Press.

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