Distribution of Ribonucleoprotein and Protein-Only RNase P in Eukarya

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RNase P is the endonuclease that removes 5′ leader sequences from tRNA precursors. In Eukarya, separate RNase P activities exist in the nucleus and mitochondria/plastids. Although all RNase P enzymes catalyze the same reaction, the different architectures found in Eukarya range from ribonucleoprotein (RNP) enzymes with a catalytic RNA and up to 10 protein subunits to single-subunit protein-only RNase P (PRORP) enzymes. Here, analysis of the phylogenetic distribution of RNP and PRORP enzymes in Eukarya revealed 1) a wealth of novel P RNAs in previously unexplored phylogenetic branches and 2) that PRORP enzymes are more widespread than previously appreciated, found in four of the five eukaryal supergroups, in the nuclei and/or organelles. Intriguingly, the occurrence of RNP RNase P and PRORP seems mutually exclusive in genetic compartments of modern Eukarya. Our comparative analysis provides a global picture of the evolution and diversification of RNase P throughout Eukarya.

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