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1.  Primary transcriptome map of the hyperthermophilic archaeon Thermococcus kodakarensis 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):684.
Prokaryotes have relatively small genomes, densely-packed with protein-encoding sequences. RNA sequencing has, however, revealed surprisingly complex transcriptomes and here we report the transcripts present in the model hyperthermophilic Archaeon, Thermococcus kodakarensis, under different physiological conditions.
Sequencing cDNA libraries, generated from RNA isolated from cells under different growth and metabolic conditions has identified >2,700 sites of transcription initiation, established a genome-wide map of transcripts, and consensus sequences for transcription initiation and post-transcription regulatory elements. The primary transcription start sites (TSS) upstream of 1,254 annotated genes, plus 644 primary TSS and their promoters within genes, are identified. Most mRNAs have a 5'-untranslated region (5'-UTR) 10 to 50 nt long (median = 16 nt), but ~20% have 5'-UTRs from 50 to 300 nt long and ~14% are leaderless. Approximately 50% of mRNAs contain a consensus ribosome binding sequence. The results identify TSS for 1,018 antisense transcripts, most with sequences complementary to either the 5'- or 3'-region of a sense mRNA, and confirm the presence of transcripts from all three CRISPR loci, the RNase P and 7S RNAs, all tRNAs and rRNAs and 69 predicted snoRNAs. Two putative riboswitch RNAs were present in growing but not in stationary phase cells. The procedure used is designed to identify TSS but, assuming that the number of cDNA reads correlates with transcript abundance, the results also provide a semi-quantitative documentation of the differences in T. kodakarensis genome expression under different growth conditions and confirm previous observations of substrate-dependent specific gene expression. Many previously unanticipated small RNAs have been identified, some with relative low GC contents (≤50%) and sequences that do not fold readily into base-paired secondary structures, contrary to the classical expectations for non-coding RNAs in a hyperthermophile.
The results identify >2,700 TSS, including almost all of the primary sites of transcription initiation upstream of annotated genes, plus many secondary sites, sites within genes and sites resulting in antisense transcripts. The T. kodakarensis genome is small (~2.1 Mbp) and tightly packed with protein-encoding genes, but the transcriptomes established also contain many non-coding RNAs and predict extensive RNA-based regulation in this model Archaeon.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-684) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4247193  PMID: 25127548
Transcriptome; Archaea; Promoters; Antisense RNAs; Small non-coding RNAs; Riboswitch; Hyperthermophile; Hydrogen regulation
2.  Two CRISPR-Cas systems inMethanosarcina mazeistrain Gö1 display common processing features despite belonging to different types I and III 
RNA Biology  2013;10(5):779-791.
The clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) system represents a highly adaptive and heritable defense system against foreign nucleic acids in bacteria and archaea. We analyzed the two CRISPR-Cas systems in Methanosarcina mazei strain Gö1. Although belonging to different subtypes (I-B and III-B), the leaders and repeats of both loci are nearly identical. Also, despite many point mutations in each array, a common hairpin motif was identified in the repeats by a bioinformatics analysis and in vitro structural probing. The expression and maturation of CRISPR-derived RNAs (crRNAs) were studied in vitro and in vivo. Both respective potential Cas6b-type endonucleases were purified and their activity tested in vitro. Each protein showed significant activity and could cleave both repeats at the same processing site. Cas6b of subtype III-B, however, was significantly more efficient in its cleavage activity compared with Cas6b of subtype I-B. Northern blot and differential RNAseq analyses were performed to investigate in vivo transcription and maturation of crRNAs, revealing generally very low expression of both systems, whereas significant induction at high NaCl concentrations was observed. crRNAs derived proximal to the leader were generally more abundant than distal ones and in vivo processing sites were clarified for both loci, confirming the previously well-established 8 nt 5′ repeat tags. The 3′-ends were more diverse, but generally ended in a prefix of the following repeat sequence (3′-tag). The analysis further revealed a 5′-hydroxy and 3′-phosphate termini architecture of small crRNAs specific for cleavage products of Cas6 endonucleases from type I-E and I-F and type III-B.
PMCID: PMC3737336  PMID: 23619576
methanoarchaea; CRISPR-Cas system; immunity of prokaryotes; regulatory RNA; phages; Methanosarcina mazei
3.  An archaeal sRNA targeting cis- and trans-encoded mRNAs via two distinct domains 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(21):10964-10979.
We report on the characterization and target analysis of the small (s)RNA162 in the methanoarchaeon Methanosarcina mazei. Using a combination of genetic approaches, transcriptome analysis and computational predictions, the bicistronic MM2441-MM2440 mRNA encoding the transcription factor MM2441 and a protein of unknown function was identified as a potential target of this sRNA, which due to processing accumulates as three stabile 5′ fragments in late exponential growth. Mobility shift assays using various mutants verified that the non-structured single-stranded linker region of sRNA162 (SLR) base-pairs with the MM2440-MM2441 mRNA internally, thereby masking the predicted ribosome binding site of MM2441. This most likely leads to translational repression of the second cistron resulting in dis-coordinated operon expression. Analysis of mutant RNAs in vivo confirmed that the SLR of sRNA162 is crucial for target interactions. Furthermore, our results indicate that sRNA162-controlled MM2441 is involved in regulating the metabolic switch between the carbon sources methanol and methylamine. Moreover, biochemical studies demonstrated that the 5′ end of sRNA162 targets the 5′-untranslated region of the cis-encoded MM2442 mRNA. Overall, this first study of archaeal sRNA/mRNA-target interactions unraveled that sRNA162 acts as an antisense (as)RNA on cis- and trans-encoded mRNAs via two distinct domains, indicating that cis-encoded asRNAs can have larger target regulons than previously anticipated.
PMCID: PMC3510493  PMID: 22965121
4.  Small RNAs for defence and regulation in archaea 
Extremophiles  2012;16(5):685-696.
Non-coding RNAs are key players in many cellular processes within organisms from all three domains of life. The range and diversity of small RNA functions beyond their involvement in translation and RNA processing was first recognized for eukaryotes and bacteria. Since then, small RNAs were also found to be abundant in archaea. Their functions include the regulation of gene expression and the establishment of immunity against invading mobile genetic elements. This review summarizes our current knowledge about small RNAs used for regulation and defence in archaea.
PMCID: PMC3432209  PMID: 22763819
sRNA; Lsm; Hfq; Archaea; CRISPR; crRNA
5.  Establishing a Markerless Genetic Exchange System for Methanosarcina mazei Strain Gö1 for Constructing Chromosomal Mutants of Small RNA Genes 
Archaea  2011;2011:439608.
A markerless genetic exchange system was successfully established in Methanosarcina mazei strain Gö1 using the hpt gene coding for hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase. First, a chromosomal deletion mutant of the hpt gene was generated conferring resistance to the purine analog 8-aza-2,6-diaminopurine (8-ADP). The nonreplicating allelic exchange vector (pRS345) carrying the pac-resistance cassette for direct selection of chromosomal integration, and the hpt gene for counterselection was introduced into this strain. By a pop-in and ultimately pop-out event of the plasmid from the chromosome, allelic exchange is enabled. Using this system, we successfully generated a M. mazei deletion mutant of the gene encoding the regulatory non-coding RNA sRNA154. Characterizing M. mazeiΔsRNA154 under nitrogen limiting conditions demonstrated differential expression of at least three cytoplasmic proteins and reduced growth strongly arguing for a prominent role of sRNA154 in regulation of nitrogen fixation by posttranscriptional regulation.
PMCID: PMC3177094  PMID: 21941461

Results 1-5 (5)