Genome-wide computational identification of microRNAs and their targets in the deep-branching eukaryote Giardialamblia
Using a combined computational program, we identified 50 potential microRNAs (miRNAs) in Giardia lamblia, one of the most primitive unicellular eukaryotes. These miRNAs are unique to G. lamblia and no homologues have been found in other organisms; miRNAs, currently known in other species, were not found in G. lamblia. This suggests that miRNA biogenesis and miRNA-mediated gene regulation pathway may evolve independently, especially in evolutionarily distant lineages. A majority (43) of the predicted miRNAs are located at one single locus; however, some miRNAs have two or more copies in the genome. Among the 58 miRNA genes, 28 are located in the intergenic regions whereas 30 are present in the anti-sense strands of the protein-coding sequences. Five predicted miRNAs are expressed in G. lamblia trophozoite cells evidenced by expressed sequence tags or RT-PCR. Thirty-seven identified miRNAs may target 50 protein-coding genes, including seven variant-specific surface proteins (VSPs). Our findings provide a clue that miRNA-mediated gene regulation may exist in the early stage of eukaryotic evolution, suggesting that it is an important regulation system ubiquitous in eukaryotes.
Journal: Computational Biology and Chemistry - Volume 33, Issue 5, October 2009, Pages 391–396