Structural diversity of eukaryotic 18S rRNA and its impact on alignment and phylogenetic reconstruction
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- Xie, Q., Lin, J., Qin, Y. et al. Protein Cell (2011) 2: 161. doi:10.1007/s13238-011-1017-2
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Ribosomal RNAs are important because they catalyze the synthesis of peptides and proteins. Comparative studies of the secondary structure of 18S rRNA have revealed the basic locations of its many length-conserved and length-variable regions. In recent years, many more sequences of 18S rDNA with unusual lengths have been documented in GenBank. These data make it possible to recognize the diversity of the secondary and tertiary structures of 18S rRNAs and to identify the length-conserved parts of 18S rDNAs. The longest 18S rDNA sequences of almost every known eukaryotic phylum were included in this study. We illustrated the bioinformatics-based structure to show that, the regions that are more length-variable, regions that are less length-variable, the splicing sites for introns, and the sites of A-minor interactions are mostly distributed in different parts of the 18S rRNA. Additionally, this study revealed that some length-variable regions or insertion positions could be quite close to the functional part of the 18S rRNA of Foraminifera organisms. The tertiary structure as well as the secondary structure of 18S rRNA can be more diverse than what was previously supposed. Besides revealing how this interesting gene evolves, it can help to remove ambiguity from the alignment of eukaryotic 18S rDNAs and to improve the performance of 18S rDNA in phylogenetic reconstruction. Six nucleotides shared by Archaea and Eukaryota but rarely by Bacteria are also reported here for the first time, which might further support the supposed origin of eukaryote from archaeans.