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      snoRNA, a Novel Precursor of microRNA in Giardia lamblia

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      PLoS Pathogens

      Public Library of Science

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          Abstract

          An Argonaute homolog and a functional Dicer have been identified in the ancient eukaryote Giardia lamblia, which apparently lacks the ability to perform RNA interference (RNAi). The Giardia Argonaute plays an essential role in growth and is capable of binding specifically to the m 7G-cap, suggesting a potential involvement in microRNA (miRNA)-mediated translational repression. To test such a possibility, small RNAs were isolated from Giardia trophozoites, cloned, and sequenced. A 26-nucleotide (nt) small RNA (miR2) was identified as a product of Dicer-processed snoRNA GlsR17 and localized to the cytoplasm by fluorescence in situ hybridization, whereas GlsR17 was found primarily in the nucleolus of only one of the two nuclei in Giardia. Three other small RNAs were also identified as products of snoRNAs, suggesting that the latter could be novel precursors of miRNAs in Giardia. Putative miR2 target sites were identified at the 3′-untranslated regions (UTR) of 22 variant surface protein mRNAs using the miRanda program. In vivo expression of Renilla luciferase mRNA containing six identical miR2 target sites in the 3′-UTR was reduced by 40% when co-transfected with synthetic miR2, while the level of luciferase mRNA remained unaffected. Thus, miR2 likely affects translation but not mRNA stability. This repression, however, was not observed when Argonaute was knocked down in Giardia using a ribozyme-antisense RNA. Instead, an enhancement of luciferase expression was observed, suggesting a loss of endogenous miR2-mediated repression when this protein is depleted. Additionally, the level of miR2 was significantly reduced when Dicer was knocked down. In all, the evidence indicates the presence of a snoRNA-derived miRNA-mediated translational repression in Giardia.

          Author Summary

          Gene regulation in Giardia lamblia, a primitive parasitic protozoan responsible for the diarrheal disease giardiasis, is poorly understood. There is no consensus promoter sequence. A simple eight–base pair AT-rich region is sufficient to initiate gene transcription in this organism. Thus, the main control of gene expression may occur after the stage of transcription. The presence of Dicer and Argonaute homologs in Giardia suggested that microRNA (miRNA)-mediated translational repression could be one mechanism of gene regulation. In this work, we characterized the presence of the miRNA pathway in Giardia as well as identified the novel use of small nucleolar RNA (snoRNA) as miRNA precursors. Potential target sites for one small RNA (miR2) were identified with the miRanda program. In vivo reporter assays confirmed the specific interaction between the target sites and miR2. A ribozyme-mediated reduction of Dicer and Argonaute in Giardia showed that the former is required for miR2 production whereas the latter functions in mediating the inhibition of reporter expression, which agrees with the roles of these two proteins. This is the first evidence of miRNA-mediated gene regulation in Giardia and the first demonstration of the use of snoRNAs as miRNA precursors.

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          Most cited references 47

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              MicroRNAs (miRNAs), which function as regulators of gene expression in eukaryotes, are processed from larger transcripts by sequential action of nuclear and cytoplasmic ribonuclease III-like endonucleases. We show that Exportin-5 (Exp5) mediates efficient nuclear export of short miRNA precursors (pre-miRNAs) and that its depletion by RNA interference results in reduced miRNA levels. Exp5 binds correctly processed pre-miRNAs directly and specifically, in a Ran guanosine triphosphate-dependent manner, but interacts only weakly with extended pre-miRNAs that yield incorrect miRNAs when processed by Dicer in vitro. Thus, Exp5 is key to miRNA biogenesis and may help coordinate nuclear and cytoplasmic processing steps.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Editor
                Journal
                PLoS Pathog
                plos
                plospath
                PLoS Pathogens
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                1553-7366
                1553-7374
                November 2008
                November 2008
                28 November 2008
                : 4
                : 11
                Affiliations
                Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, United States of America
                Washington University School of Medicine, United States of America
                Author notes

                Conceived and designed the experiments: AAS CCW. Performed the experiments: AAS. Analyzed the data: AAS CCW. Wrote the paper: AAS CCW.

                Article
                08-PLPA-RA-0742R3
                10.1371/journal.ppat.1000224
                2583053
                19043559
                Saraiya and Wang. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
                Page count
                Pages: 10
                Categories
                Research Article
                Microbiology/Parasitology
                Molecular Biology/Translation Mechanisms
                Molecular Biology/Translational Regulation

                Infectious disease & Microbiology

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