Behra PRK, Pettersson BMF, Das S, Dasgupta S, Kirsebom LA
BMC Evol. Biol. 19 (1) 124 [2019-06-18; online 2019-06-18]
Mycobacteria occupy various ecological niches and can be isolated from soil, tap water and ground water. Several cause diseases in humans and animals. To get deeper insight into our understanding of mycobacterial evolution focusing on tRNA and non-coding (nc)RNA, we conducted a comparative genome analysis of Mycobacterium mucogenicum (Mmuc) and Mycobacterium neoaurum (Mneo) clade members. Genome sizes for Mmuc- and Mneo-clade members vary between 5.4 and 6.5 Mbps with the complete Mmuc T (type strain) genome encompassing 6.1 Mbp. The number of tRNA genes range between 46 and 79 (including one pseudo tRNA gene) with 39 tRNA genes common among the members of these clades, while additional tRNA genes were probably acquired through horizontal gene transfer. Selected tRNAs and ncRNAs (RNase P RNA, tmRNA, 4.5S RNA, Ms1 RNA and 6C RNA) are expressed, and the levels for several of these are higher in stationary phase compared to exponentially growing cells. The rare tRNAIleTAT isoacceptor and two for mycobacteria novel ncRNAs: the Lactobacillales-derived GOLLD RNA and a homolog to the antisense Salmonella typhimurium phage Sar RNA, were shown to be present and expressed in certain Mmuc-clade members. Phages, IS elements, horizontally transferred tRNA gene clusters, and phage-derived ncRNAs appears to have influenced the evolution of the Mmuc- and Mneo-clades. While the number of predicted coding sequences correlates with genome size, the number of tRNA coding genes does not. The majority of the tRNA genes in mycobacteria are transcribed mainly from single genes and the levels of certain ncRNAs, including RNase P RNA (essential for the processing of tRNAs), are higher at stationary phase compared to exponentially growing cells. We provide supporting evidence that Ms1 RNA represents a mycobacterial 6S RNA variant. The evolutionary routes for the ncRNAs RNase P RNA, tmRNA and Ms1 RNA are different from that of the core genes.