1887

Abstract

Although RNA helicases are essentially ubiquitous and perform roles in all stages of RNA metabolism, phylogenetic analysis of the DEAD (Asp-Glu-Ala-Asp)-box RNA helicase family in a single phylum has not been performed. Here, we performed a phylogenetic analysis on DEAD-box helicases from all currently available cyanobacterial genomes, comprising a total of 362 helicase protein sequences from 280 strains. DEAD-box helicases belonging to three distinct clades were observed. Two clades, the CsdA (cold shock DEAD-box A)-like and RhlE (RNA helicase E)-like helicases, cluster with the homologous proteins from . The third clade, the CrhR (cyanobacterial RNA helicase Redox)-like helicases, is unique to cyanobacteria and characterized by a conserved sequence motif in the C-terminal extension. Restricted distribution is observed across cyanobacterial diversity with respect to both helicase type and strain. CrhR-like and CsdA-like helicases essentially never occur together, while RhlE always occurs with either a CrhR-like or CsdA-like helicase. CrhR-like and RhlE-like proteins occurred in filamentous cyanobacteria of the orders , and . Similarly, CsdA- and RhlE-like proteins are restricted to unicellular cyanobacteria of the genera and . In addition, the unexpected occurrence of RhlE in two strains suggests recent acquisition and evolutionary divergence. This study, therefore, raises physiological and evolutionary questions as to why DEAD-box RNA helicases encoded in cyanobacterial lineages display restricted distributions, suggesting niches that require either CrhR or CsdA RNA helicase activity but not both. Extensive conservation of gene synteny surrounding the previously described operon is also observed, indicating a role in the maintenance of photosynthesis. The analysis provides insights into the evolution, origin and dissemination of sequences within a single gene family to yield divergent functional roles.

Funding
This study was supported by the:
  • GeorgeW. Owttrim , Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada , (Award 171319)
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2021-02-04
2021-02-26
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