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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2012 Feb;78(4):1015-22. doi: 10.1128/AEM.06811-11. Epub 2011 Dec 9.

Metatranscriptomic analysis of microbes in an Oceanfront deep-subsurface hot spring reveals novel small RNAs and type-specific tRNA degradation.

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Institute for Advanced Biosciences, Keio University, Tsuruoka, Japana; Systems Biology Program, Graduate School of Media and Governance, Keio University, Fujisawa,Japan.


Studies of small noncoding RNAs (sRNAs) have been conducted predominantly using culturable organisms, and the acquisition of further information about sRNAs from global environments containing uncultured organisms now is very important. In this study, hot spring water (57°C, pH 8.1) was collected directly from the underground environment at depths of 250 to 1,000 m in Yunohama, Japan, and small RNA sequences obtained from the environment were analyzed. A phylogenetic analysis of both archaeal and bacterial 16S rRNA gene sequences was conducted, and the results suggested the presence of unique species in the environment, corresponding to the Archaeal Richmond Mine Acidophilic Nanoorganisms (ARMAN) group and three new Betaproteobacteria. A metatranscriptomic analysis identified 64,194 (20,057 nonredundant) cDNA sequences. Of these cDNAs, 90% were either tRNAs, tRNA fragments, rRNAs, or rRNA fragments, whereas 2,181 reads (10%) were classified as previously uncharacterized putative candidate sRNAs. Among these, 15 were particularly abundant, 14 of which showed no sequence similarity to any known noncoding RNA, and at least six of which form very stable RNA secondary structures. The analysis of a large number of tRNA fragments suggested that unique relationships exist between the anticodons of the tRNAs and the sites of tRNA degradation. Previous bacterial tRNA degradation studies have been limited to specific organisms, such as Escherichia coli and Streptomyces coelicolor, and the current results suggest that specific tRNA decay occurs more frequently than previously expected.

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