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ISME J. 2014 Oct;8(10):2056-68. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2014.57. Epub 2014 Apr 17.

Comparative transcriptomics of two environmentally relevant cyanobacteria reveals unexpected transcriptome diversity.

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  • 1Faculty of Biology, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany.
  • 2Research Center for Infectious Diseases (ZINF), University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany.

Abstract

Prochlorococcus is a genus of abundant and ecologically important marine cyanobacteria. Here, we present a comprehensive comparison of the structure and composition of the transcriptomes of two Prochlorococcus strains, which, despite their similarities, have adapted their gene pool to specific environmental constraints. We present genome-wide maps of transcriptional start sites (TSS) for both organisms, which are representatives of the two most diverse clades within the two major ecotypes adapted to high- and low-light conditions, respectively. Our data suggest antisense transcription for three-quarters of all genes, which is substantially more than that observed in other bacteria. We discovered hundreds of TSS within genes, most notably within 16 of the 29 prochlorosin genes, in strain MIT9313. A direct comparison revealed very little conservation in the location of TSS and the nature of non-coding transcripts between both strains. We detected extremely short 5' untranslated regions with a median length of only 27 and 29 nt for MED4 and MIT9313, respectively, and for 8% of all protein-coding genes the median distance to the start codon is only 10 nt or even shorter. These findings and the absence of an obvious Shine-Dalgarno motif suggest that leaderless translation and ribosomal protein S1-dependent translation constitute alternative mechanisms for translation initiation in Prochlorococcus. We conclude that genome-wide antisense transcription is a major component of the transcriptional output from these relatively small genomes and that a hitherto unrecognized high degree of complexity and variability of gene expression exists in their transcriptional architecture.

PMID:
24739626
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC4184020
[Available on 2015-10-01]
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