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Eukaryot Cell. 2010 May;9(5):762-73. doi: 10.1128/EC.00013-10. Epub 2010 Mar 19.

Abundant 5S rRNA-like transcripts encoded by the mitochondrial genome in amoebozoa.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Room 8-F2, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building, Dalhousie University, 5840 College Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 1X5, Canada.


5S rRNAs are ubiquitous components of prokaryotic, chloroplast, and eukaryotic cytosolic ribosomes but are apparently absent from mitochondrial ribosomes (mitoribosomes) of many eukaryotic groups including animals and fungi. Nevertheless, a clearly identifiable, mitochondrion-encoded 5S rRNA is present in Acanthamoeba castellanii, a member of Amoebozoa. During a search for additional mitochondrial 5S rRNAs, we detected small abundant RNAs in other members of Amoebozoa, namely, in the lobose amoeba Hartmannella vermiformis and in the myxomycete slime mold Physarum polycephalum. These RNAs are encoded by mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), cosediment with mitoribosomes in glycerol gradients, and can be folded into a secondary structure similar to that of bona fide 5S rRNAs. Further, in the mtDNA of another slime mold, Didymium nigripes, we identified a region that in sequence, potential secondary structure, and genomic location is similar to the corresponding region encoding the Physarum small RNA. A mtDNA-encoded small RNA previously identified in Dictyostelium discoideum is here shown to share several characteristics with known 5S rRNAs. Again, we detected genes encoding potential homologs of this RNA in the mtDNA of three other species of the genus Dictyostelium as well as in a related genus, Polysphondylium. Taken together, our results indicate a widespread occurrence of small, abundant, mtDNA-encoded RNAs with 5S rRNA-like structures that are associated with the mitoribosome in various amoebozoan taxa. Our working hypothesis is that these novel small abundant RNAs represent radically divergent mitochondrial 5S rRNA homologs. We posit that currently unrecognized 5S-like RNAs may exist in other mitochondrial systems in which a conventional 5S rRNA cannot be identified.

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