Molecular Ecology Resources
As a model organism for studies of cell and environmental biology, the free-living and cosmopolitan ciliate Euplotes vannus shows intriguing features like dual genome architecture (i.e., separate germline and somatic nuclei in each cell/organism), “gene-sized” chromosomes, stop codon reassignment, programmed ribosomal frameshifting (PRF) and strong resistance to environmental stressors. However, the molecular mechanisms that account for these remarkable traits remain largely unknown. Here we report a combined analysis of de novo assembled high-quality macronuclear (MAC; i.e., somatic) and partial micronuclear (MIC; i.e., germline) genome sequences for E. vannus, and transcriptome profiling data under varying conditions. The results demonstrate that: (a) the MAC genome contains more than 25,000 complete “gene-sized” nanochromosomes (~85 Mb haploid genome size) with the N50 ~2.7 kb; (b) although there is a high frequency of frameshifting at stop codons UAA and UAG, we did not observe impaired transcript abundance as a result of PRF in this species as has been reported for other euplotids; (c) the sequence motif 5′-TA-3′ is conserved at nearly all internally-eliminated sequence (IES) boundaries in the MIC genome, and chromosome breakage sites (CBSs) are duplicated and retained in the MAC genome; (d) by profiling the weighted correlation network of genes in the MAC under different environmental stressors, including nutrient scarcity, extreme temperature, salinity and the presence of ammonia, we identified gene clusters that respond to these external physical or chemical stimulations, and (e) we observed a dramatic increase in HSP70 gene transcription under salinity and chemical stresses but surprisingly, not under temperature changes; we link this temperature-resistance to the evolved loss of temperature stress-sensitive elements in regulatory regions. Together with the genome resources generated in this study, which are available online at Euplotes vannus Genome Database (http://evan.ciliate.org), these data provide molecular evidence for understanding the unique biology of highly adaptable microorganisms.
ciliated protist, environmental stress, frameshifting, genome rearrangement
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
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Chen, Xiao; Jiang, Yaohan; Gao, Feng; Zheng, Weibo; Krock, Timothy J.; Stover, Naomi A.; Lu, Chao; Katz, Laura A.; and Song, Weibo, "Genome Analyses of the New Model Protist Euplotes vannus Focusing on Genome Rearrangement and Resistance to Environmental Stressors" (2019). Biological Sciences: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.