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Global mapping transcriptional start sites revealed both transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of cold adaptation in the methanogenic archaeon Methanolobus psychrophilus

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Psychrophilic methanogenic Archaea contribute significantly to global methane emissions, but archaeal cold adaptation mechanisms remain poorly understood. Hinted by that mRNA architecture determined secondary structure respond to cold more promptly than proteins, differential RNA-seq was used in this work to examine the genome-wide transcription start sites (TSSs) of the psychrophilic methanogen Methanolobus psychrophilus R15 and its response to cold. Unlike most prokaryotic mRNAs with short 5' untranslated regions (5' UTR, median lengths of 20-40 nt), 51% mRNAs of this methanogen have large 5' UTR (>50 nt). For 24% of the mRNAs, the 5' UTR is >150 nt. This implies that post-transcriptional regulation may be significance in the psychrophile. Remarkably, 219 (14%) genes possessed multiple gene TSSs (gTSSs), and 84 genes exhibited temperature-regulated gTSS selection to express alternative 5' UTR. Primer extension studies confirmed the temperature-dependent TSS selection and a stem-loop masking of ribosome binding sites was predicted from the longer 5' UTRs, suggesting alternative 5' UTRs-mediated translation regulation in the cold adaptation as well. In addition, 195 small RNAs (sRNAs) were detected, and Northern blots confirmed that many sRNAs were induced by cold. Thus, this study revealed an integrated transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation for cold adaptation in a psychrophilic methanogen.

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