Histone Gene Complement, Variant Expression, and mRNA Processing in a Urochordate Oikopleura dioica that Undergoes Extensive Polyploidization
Molecular biology and evolution
Considerable data exist on coding sequences of histones in a wide variety of organisms. Much more restricted information is available on total histone gene complement, gene organization, transcriptional regulation, and histone mRNA processing. In particular, there is a significant phylogenetic gap in information for the urochordates, a subphylum near the invertebrate-vertebrate transition. In this study, we show that the appendicularian Oikopleura dioica has a histone gene complement that is
... mplement that is similar to that of humans, though its genome size is 40-to 50-fold smaller. At a total length of 3.5 kb, the H3, H4, H1, H2A, and H2B quintet cluster is the most compact described thus far, but despite very rapid early developmental cleavage cycles, no extensive tandem repeats of the cluster were present. The high degree of variation within each of the complements of O. dioica H2A and H2B subtypes resembled that found in plants as opposed to more closely related vertebrate and invertebrate species, and developmental stage-specific expression of different subtypes was observed. The linker histone H1 was present in relatively few copies per haploid genome and contained short N-and C-terminal tails, a feature similar to that of copepods but different from many standard model organisms. The 3ЈUTRs of the histone genes contained both the consensus stem-loop sequence and the polyadenylation signals but lacked the consensus histone downstream element that is involved in the processing of histone mRNAs in echinoderms and vertebrates. Two types of transcripts were found, i.e., those containing both the stem-loop and a polyA tail as well as those cleaved at the normal site just 3Ј of the stem-loop. The O. dioica data are an important addition to the limited number of eukaryotes for which sufficiently extensive information on histone gene complements is available. Increasingly, it appears that understanding the evolution of histone gene organization, transcriptional regulation, and mRNA processing will depend at least as much on comparative analysis of constraints imposed by certain life history features and cell biological characteristics as on projections based on simple phylogenetic relationships.