RNA-seq analysis of small RNPs in Trypanosoma brucei reveals a rich repertoire of non-coding RNAs

Nucleic Acids Res. 2012 Feb;40(3):1282-98. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkr786. Epub 2011 Oct 5.


The discovery of a plethora of small non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) has fundamentally changed our understanding of how genes are regulated. In this study, we employed the power of deep sequencing of RNA (RNA-seq) to examine the repertoire of ncRNAs present in small ribonucleoprotein particles (RNPs) of Trypanosoma brucei, an important protozoan parasite. We identified new C/D and H/ACA small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs), as well as tens of putative novel non-coding RNAs; several of these are processed from trans-spliced and polyadenylated transcripts. The RNA-seq analysis provided information on the relative abundance of the RNAs, and their 5'- and 3'-termini. The study demonstrated that three highly abundant snoRNAs are involved in rRNA processing and highlight the unique trypanosome-specific repertoire of these RNAs. Novel RNAs were studied using in situ hybridization, association in RNP complexes, and 'RNA walk' to detect interaction with their target RNAs. Finally, we showed that the abundance of certain ncRNAs varies between the two stages of the parasite, suggesting that ncRNAs may contribute to gene regulation during the complex parasite's life cycle. This is the first study to provide a whole-genome analysis of the large repertoire of small RNPs in trypanosomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cells, Cultured
  • Gene Library
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional
  • RNA, Protozoan / chemistry*
  • RNA, Protozoan / isolation & purification
  • RNA, Protozoan / metabolism
  • RNA, Ribosomal / metabolism
  • RNA, Small Nucleolar / chemistry
  • RNA, Small Nucleolar / genetics
  • RNA, Small Nucleolar / metabolism
  • RNA, Small Untranslated / chemistry*
  • RNA, Small Untranslated / isolation & purification
  • RNA, Small Untranslated / metabolism
  • Ribonucleoproteins / isolation & purification
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Trypanosoma brucei brucei / genetics*


  • RNA, Protozoan
  • RNA, Ribosomal
  • RNA, Small Nucleolar
  • RNA, Small Untranslated
  • Ribonucleoproteins