bims-micpro Biomed News
on Discovery and characterization of microproteins
Issue of 2020‒08‒02
three papers selected by
Thomas Martinez
Salk Institute for Biological Studies

  1. Cell Syst. 2020 Jul 20. pii: S2405-4712(20)30240-4. [Epub ahead of print]
      Genomic analyses in budding yeast have helped define the foundational principles of eukaryotic gene expression. However, in the absence of empirical methods for defining coding regions, these analyses have historically excluded specific classes of possible coding regions, such as those initiating at non-AUG start codons. Here, we applied an experimental approach to globally annotate translation initiation sites in yeast and identified 149 genes with alternative N-terminally extended protein isoforms initiating from near-cognate codons upstream of annotated AUG start codons. These isoforms are produced in concert with canonical isoforms and translated with high specificity, resulting from initiation at only a small subset of possible start codons. The non-AUG initiation driving their production is enriched during meiosis and induced by low eIF5A, which is seen in this context. These findings reveal widespread production of non-canonical protein isoforms and unexpected complexity to the rules by which even a simple eukaryotic genome is decoded.
    Keywords:  alternate protein isoforms; codon; gene expression; genome annotation; meiosis; near-cognate; ribosome profiling; translation; translation initiation site; yeast
  2. Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2020 Jul 27.
      Precise control of protein synthesis by engineering sequence elements in 5' untranslated regions (5' UTRs) remains a fundamental challenge. To accelerate our understanding of the cis-regulatory code embedded in 5' UTRs, we devised massively parallel reporter assays from a synthetic messenger RNA library composed of over one million 5' UTR variants. A completely randomized 10-nucleotide sequence preceding an upstream open reading frame (uORF) and downstream GFP drives a broad range of translational outputs and mRNA stability in mammalian cells. While efficient translation protects mRNA from degradation, uORF translation triggers mRNA decay in a UPF1-dependent manner. We also identified translational inhibitory elements with G-quadruplexes as marks for mRNA decay in P-bodies. Unexpectedly, an unstructured A-rich element in 5' UTRs destabilizes mRNAs in the absence of translation, although it enables cap-independent translation. Our results not only identify diverse sequence features of 5' UTRs that control mRNA translatability, but they also reveal ribosome-dependent and ribosome-independent mRNA-surveillance pathways.
  3. mSphere. 2020 Jul 29. pii: e00439-20. [Epub ahead of print]5(4):
      Regulatory small RNAs (sRNAs) are known to play important roles in the Gram-positive bacterial pathogen Staphylococcus aureus; however, their existence is often overlooked, primarily because sRNA genes are absent from genome annotation files. Consequently, transcriptome sequencing (RNA-Seq)-based experimental approaches, performed using standard genome annotation files as a reference, have likely overlooked data for sRNAs. Previously, we created an updated S. aureus genome annotation file, which included annotations for 303 known sRNAs in USA300. Here, we utilized this updated reference file to reexamine publicly available RNA-Seq data sets in an attempt to recover lost information on sRNA expression, stability, and potential to encode peptides. First, we used transcriptomic data from 22 studies to identify how the expression of 303 sRNAs changed under 64 different experimental conditions. Next, we used RNA-Seq data from an RNA stability assay to identify highly stable/unstable sRNAs. We went on to reanalyze a ribosome profiling (Ribo-seq) data set to identify sRNAs that have the potential to encode peptides and to experimentally confirm the presence of three of these peptides in the USA300 background. Interestingly, one of these sRNAs/peptides, encoded at the tsr37 locus, influences the ability of S. aureus cells to autoaggregate. Finally, we reexamined two recently published in vivo RNA-Seq data sets, from the cystic fibrosis (CF) lung and a murine vaginal colonization study, and identified 29 sRNAs that may play a role in vivo Collectively, these results can help inform future studies of these important regulatory elements in S. aureus and highlight the need for ongoing curating and updating of genome annotation files.IMPORTANCE Regulatory small RNAs (sRNAs) are a class of RNA molecules that are produced in bacterial cells but that typically do not encode proteins. Instead, they perform a variety of critical functions within the cell as RNA. Most bacterial genomes do not include annotations for sRNA genes, and any type of analysis that is performed using a bacterial genome as a reference will therefore overlook data for sRNAs. In this study, we reexamined hundreds of previously generated S. aureus RNA-Seq data sets and reanalyzed them to generate data for sRNAs. To do so, we utilized an updated S. aureus genome annotation file, previously generated by our group, which contains annotations for 303 sRNAs. The data generated (which were previously discarded) shed new light on sRNAs in S. aureus, most of which are unstudied, and highlight certain sRNAs that are likely to play important roles in the cell.
    Keywords:  RNA stability; RNA-Seq; Staphylococcus aureus ; genome annotation; regulatory RNA; sRNA; small peptides