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Schmidt, C.A., Giusto, J.D., Bao, A., Hopper, A.K., Matera, A.G. (2019). Molecular determinants of metazoan tricRNA biogenesis.  Nucleic Acids Res. 47(12): 6452--6465.
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Research paper

Mature tRNAs are generated by multiple post-transcriptional processing steps, which can include intron removal. Recently, we discovered a new class of circular non-coding RNAs in metazoans, called tRNA intronic circular (tric)RNAs. To investigate the mechanism of tricRNA biogenesis, we generated constructs that replace native introns of human and fruit fly tRNA genes with the Broccoli fluorescent RNA aptamer. Using these reporters, we identified cis-acting elements required for tricRNA formation in vivo. Disrupting a conserved base pair in the anticodon-intron helix dramatically reduces tricRNA levels. Although the integrity of this base pair is necessary for proper splicing, it is not sufficient. In contrast, strengthening weak bases in the helix also interferes with splicing and tricRNA production. Furthermore, we identified trans-acting factors important for tricRNA biogenesis, including several known tRNA processing enzymes such as the RtcB ligase and components of the TSEN endonuclease complex. Depletion of these factors inhibits Drosophila tRNA intron circularization. Notably, RtcB is missing from fungal genomes and these organisms normally produce linear tRNA introns. Here, we show that in the presence of ectopic RtcB, yeast lacking the tRNA ligase Rlg1/Trl1 are converted into producing tricRNAs. In summary, our work characterizes the major players in eukaryotic tricRNA biogenesis.

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PMC6614914 (PMC) (EuropePMC)
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    Nucleic Acids Res.
    Nucleic Acids Research
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