The ciliate Oxytricha trifallax maintains two genomes: a germline genome that is active only during sexual conjugation and a transcriptionally active, somatic genome that derives from the germline via extensive sequence reduction and rearrangement. Previously, we found that long noncoding (lnc) RNA "templates"-telomere-containing, RNA-cached copies of mature chromosomes-provide the information to program the rearrangement process. Here we used a modified RNA-seq approach to conduct the first genome-wide search for endogenous, telomere-to-telomere RNA transcripts. We find that during development, Oxytricha produces long noncoding RNA copies for over 10,000 of its 16,000 somatic chromosomes, consistent with a model in which Oxytricha transmits an RNA-cached copy of its somatic genome to the sexual progeny. Both the primary sequence and expression profile of a somatic chromosome influence the temporal distribution and abundance of individual template RNAs. This suggests that Oxytricha may undergo multiple rounds of DNA rearrangement during development. These observations implicate a complex set of thousands of long RNA molecules in the wiring and maintenance of a highly elaborate somatic genome architecture.
Keywords: Oxytricha; ciliate; epigenetics; lncRNA; long noncoding RNA.
© 2017 Lindblad et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press for the RNA Society.