In trypanosomatids, the majority of the guide (g) RNAs that provide the information for U-insertion/deletion RNA editing are encoded by minicircles that are catenated into large networks. In contrast, in the distantly related cryptobiid Trypanoplasma borreli, gRNA genes appear to reside in large 180-kb noncatenated DNA circles. To shed light on the evolutionary history and function of the minicircle network, we have analyzed minicircle organization in the free-living bodonid Bodo saltans, which is more closely related to trypanosomatids than T. borreli. We identified 1.4-kb circular DNAs as the B. saltans equivalent of minicircles via sequence analysis of 4 complete minicircles, 14 minicircle fragments, and 14 gRNAs. We show that each minicircle harbors two gRNA gene cassettes of opposite polarity residing in variable regions of about 200 nt in otherwise highly conserved molecules. In the conserved region, B. saltans minicircles contain a putative bent helix sequence and a degenerate dodecamer motif (CSB-3). Electron microscopy, sedimentation, and gel electrophoresis analyses showed no evidence for the existence of large minicircle networks in B. saltans, the large majority of the minicircles being present as circular and linear monomers (85-90%) with small amounts of catenated dimers and trimers. Our results provide the first example of a kinetoplastid species with noncatenated, gRNA gene-containing minicircles, which implies that the creation of minicircles and minicircle networks are separate evolutionary event
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