Messenger RNA (mRNA) processing plays important roles in gene expression in all domains of life. A number of cases of mRNA cleavage have been documented in Archaea, but available data are fragmentary. We have examined RNAs present in Methanocaldococcus (Methanococcus) jannaschii for evidence of RNA processing upstream of protein-coding genes. Of 123 regions covered by the data, 31 were found to be processed, with 30 including a cleavage site 12-16 nucleotides upstream of the corresponding translation start site. Analyses with 3′-RACE (rapid amplification of cDNA ends) and 5′-RACE indicate that the processing is endonucleolytic. Analyses of the sequences surrounding the processing sites for functional sites, sequence motifs, or potential RNA secondary structure elements did not reveal any recurring features except for an AUG translation start codon and (in most cases) a ribosome binding site. These properties differ from those of all previously described mRNA processing systems. Our data suggest that the processing alters the representation of various genes in the RNA pool and therefore, may play a significant role in defining the balance of proteins in the cell.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology