Background: Nucleomorphs are remnants of secondary endosymbiotic events between two eukaryote cells wherein the endosymbiont has retained its eukaryotic nucleus. Nucleomorphs have evolved at least twice independently, in chlorarachniophytes and cryptophytes, yet they have converged on a remarkably similar genomic architecture, characterized by the most extreme compression and miniaturization among all known eukaryotic genomes. Previous computational studies have suggested that nucleomorph chromatin likely exhibits a number of divergent features.
Results: In this work, we provide the first maps of open chromatin, active transcription, and three-dimensional organization for the nucleomorph genome of the chlorarachniophyte Bigelowiella natans. We find that the B. natans nucleomorph genome exists in a highly accessible state, akin to that of ribosomal DNA in some other eukaryotes, and that it is highly transcribed over its entire length, with few signs of polymerase pausing at transcription start sites (TSSs). At the same time, most nucleomorph TSSs show very strong nucleosome positioning. Chromosome conformation (Hi-C) maps reveal that nucleomorph chromosomes interact with one other at their telomeric regions and show the relative contact frequencies between the multiple genomic compartments of distinct origin that B. natans cells contain.
Conclusions: We provide the first study of a nucleomorph genome using modern functional genomic tools, and derive numerous novel insights into the physical and functional organization of these unique genomes.
© 2022. The Author(s).