Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Genomics and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Homology-based annotation of non-coding RNAs in the genomes of Schistosoma mansoni and Schistosoma japonicum

Claudia S Copeland12, Manja Marz1, Dominic Rose1, Jana Hertel1, Paul J Brindley2, Clara Bermudez Santana18, Stephanie Kehr1, Camille Stephan-Otto Attolini3 and Peter F Stadler14567*

Author Affiliations

1 Bioinformatics Group, Department of Computer Science and Interdisciplinary Center for Bioinformatics, University of Leipzig, Härtelstraße 16-18, D-04107 Leipzig, Germany

2 Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Tropical Medicine, George Washington University Medical Center, 2300 I Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037, USA

3 Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Computational Biology Department, 1275 York Avenue, Box # 460, New York, NY 10065, USA

4 Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences, Inselstrasse 22, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany

5 Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology, Perlickstraße 1, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany

6 Santa Fe Institute, 1399 Hyde Park Rd, Santa Fe, NM 87501, USA

7 Institute for Theoretical Chemistry, University of Vienna, Währingerstraße 17, A-1090 Wien, Austria

8 Department of Biology, National University of Colombia, Carrera 45 No. 26-85, Bogotá, D.C., Colombia

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Genomics 2009, 10:464  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-10-464

Published: 8 October 2009

Abstract

Background

Schistosomes are trematode parasites of the phylum Platyhelminthes. They are considered the most important of the human helminth parasites in terms of morbidity and mortality. Draft genome sequences are now available for Schistosoma mansoni and Schistosoma japonicum. Non-coding RNA (ncRNA) plays a crucial role in gene expression regulation, cellular function and defense, homeostasis, and pathogenesis. The genome-wide annotation of ncRNAs is a non-trivial task unless well-annotated genomes of closely related species are already available.

Results

A homology search for structured ncRNA in the genome of S. mansoni resulted in 23 types of ncRNAs with conserved primary and secondary structure. Among these, we identified rRNA, snRNA, SL RNA, SRP, tRNAs and RNase P, and also possibly MRP and 7SK RNAs. In addition, we confirmed five miRNAs that have recently been reported in S. japonicum and found two additional homologs of known miRNAs. The tRNA complement of S. mansoni is comparable to that of the free-living planarian Schmidtea mediterranea, although for some amino acids differences of more than a factor of two are observed: Leu, Ser, and His are overrepresented, while Cys, Meth, and Ile are underrepresented in S. mansoni. On the other hand, the number of tRNAs in the genome of S. japonicum is reduced by more than a factor of four. Both schistosomes have a complete set of minor spliceosomal snRNAs. Several ncRNAs that are expected to exist in the S. mansoni genome were not found, among them the telomerase RNA, vault RNAs, and Y RNAs.

Conclusion

The ncRNA sequences and structures presented here represent the most complete dataset of ncRNA from any lophotrochozoan reported so far. This data set provides an important reference for further analysis of the genomes of schistosomes and indeed eukaryotic genomes at large.