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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Activation of a p44 pseudogene in Anaplasma phagocytophila by bacterial RNA splicing: a novel mechanism for post-transcriptional regulation of a multigene family encoding immunodominant major outer membrane proteins.

Immunodominant 44 kDa major outer membrane proteins of Anaplasma phagocytophila (human granulocytic ehrlichiosis agent) are encoded by the p44 multigene family. One of the paralogues, p44-18 is predominantly expressed by A. phagocytophila in mammalian hosts, but is downregulated in the arthropod vector. The expression of p44-18 was upregulated in A. phagocytophila cultivated in HL-60 cells at 37 degrees C compared with 24 degrees C. However, the molecular mechanism of such gene expression was unclear, as p44-18 has a pseudogene-like structure, i.e. it lacks an AUG start codon and is out of frame with an upstream overlapping paralogue, p44-1. In the present study, we found that an amplicon detected by reverse transciption-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) [808 basepair (bp)] for the p44-1/p44-18 gene locus was smaller than that detected by PCR with the genomic DNA (1652 bp) in the A. phagocytophila-infected HL-60 cells cultured at 37 degrees C. A circularized RNA molecule corresponding to the 844 bp region missing from the locus in the RT-PCR product was detected by inverse RT-PCR, indicating that this is an intron (designated p44-1 intervening sequence, p44-1 IVS). The splicing event of p44-1 IVS was also observed when the p44-1 IVS-carrying plasmid was introduced into Escherichia coli, suggesting that the splicing is sequence-dependent. Structural analysis and in vitro splicing experiments of p44-1 IVS suggested that this is likely to represent a new class of introns in eubacteria. The primer extension analysis showed the presence of a putative sigma(32)-type promoter in region upstream from p44-1. Collectively, the novel RNA splicing and the temperature-dependent transcription may account for the dominant p44-18 expression in mammals.[1]


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