Characterization of the small RNA transcriptome of the diatom, Thalassiosira pseudonana
Norden-Krichmar TM, Allen AE, Gaasterland T, Hildebrand M
This study presents the first characterization of endogenous small RNAs in a diatom, Thalassiosira pseudonana. Small RNAs act as transcriptional and translational regulators, controlling specific target genes involved in various cellular functions. Diatoms are unicellular photosynthetic organisms that play major roles in environmental processes, such as food webs and global carbon fixation. Small RNA cDNA libraries were constructed for exponentially growing T. pseudonana, and then subjected to highly parallel pyrosequencing (454) and sequencing-by-ligation (Applied Biosystems SOLiD). From the computational analysis of approximately 300,000 sequences in the 454 library and over 17 million sequences in the SOLiD libraries, there exists evidence of a core set of small RNA genes including: novel microRNAs, repeat-associated short interfering RNAs, and endogenous short interfering RNAs. The diatom genome contains elements similar to plant small RNA systems, such as the RNAi machinery, a high percentage of short interfering RNAs originating from protein-coding and repetitive regions of the genome, and putative binding sites of the small RNAs occurring primarily in the coding section of the predicted targets. The characterization of the small RNA transcriptome of T. pseudonana establishes the possibility of a wide range of gene regulatory mechanisms in diatoms.