Xenopus microRNA genes are predominantly located within introns and are differentially expressed in adult frog tissues via post-transcriptional regulation.
The amphibian Xenopus provides a model organism for investigating microRNA expression during vertebrate embryogenesis and development. Searching available Xenopus genome databases using known human pre-miRNAs as query sequences, more than 300 genes encoding 142 Xenopus tropicalis miRNAs were identified. Analysis of Xenopus tropicalis miRNA genes revealed a predominate positioning within introns of protein-coding and nonprotein-coding RNA Pol II-transcribed genes. MiRNA genes were also located in pre-mRNA exons and positioned intergenically between known protein-coding genes. Many miRNA species were found in multiple locations and in more than one genomic context. MiRNA genes were also clustered throughout the genome, indicating the potential for the cotranscription and coordinate expression of miRNAs located in a given cluster. Northern blot analysis confirmed the expression of many identified miRNAs in both X. tropicalis and X. laevis. Comparison of X. tropicalis and X. laevis blots revealed comparable expression profiles, although several miRNAs exhibited species-specific expression in different tissues. More detailed analysis revealed that for some miRNAs, the tissue-specific expression profile of the pri-miRNA precursor was distinctly different from that of the mature miRNA profile. Differential miRNA precursor processing in both the nucleus and cytoplasm was implicated in the observed tissue-specific differences. These observations indicated that post-transcriptional processing plays an important role in regulating miRNA expression in the amphibian Xenopus.
PubMed ID: 18032731
PMC ID: PMC2134782
Article link: Genome Res.