The compact genome of the unicellular eukaryote Paramecium tetraurelia contains noncoding DNA (ncDNA) distributed into >39,000 intergenic sequences and >90,000 introns of 390 base pairs (bp) and 25 bp on average, respectively. Here we analyzed the molecular features of the ncRNA genes, introns, and intergenic sequences of this genome. We mainly used computational programs and comparative genomics possible because the P. tetraurelia genome had formed throughout whole-genome duplications (WGDs). We characterized 417 5S rRNA, snRNA, snoRNA, SRP RNA, and tRNA putative genes, 415 of which map within intergenic sequences, and two, within introns. The evolution of these ncRNA genes appears to have mainly involved purifying selection and gene deletion. We then compared the introns that interrupt the protein-coding gene duplicates arisen from the recent WGD and identified a population of a few thousands of introns having evolved under most stringent constraints (>95% of identity). We also showed that low nucleotide substitution levels characterize the 50 and 80–115 base pairs flanking, respectively, the stop and start codons of the protein-coding genes. Lower substitution levels mark the base pairs flanking the highly transcribed genes, or the start codons of the genes of the sets with a high number of WGD-related sequences. Finally, adjacent to protein-coding genes, we characterized 32 DNA motifs able to encode stable and evolutionary conserved RNA secondary structures and defining putative expression controlling elements. Fourteen DNA motifs with similar properties map distant from protein-coding genes and may encode regulatory ncRNAs
To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.