Evolution of miRNA Tailing by 30 Terminal Uridylyl Transferases in Metazoa

Vengamanaidu Modepalli*, Yehu Moran

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


In bilaterian animals the 30 ends of microRNAs (miRNAs) are frequently modified by tailing and trimming. These modifications affect miRNA-mediated gene regulation by modulating miRNA stability. Here, we analyzed data from three nonbilaterian animals: two cnidarians (Nematostella vectensis and Hydra magnipapillata) and one poriferan (Amphimedon queenslandica). Our analysis revealed that nonbilaterian miRNAs frequently undergo modifications like the bilaterian counterparts: the majority are expressed as different length isoforms and frequent modifications of the 30 end by mono U or mono A tailing are observed. Moreover, as the factors regulating miRNA modifications are largely uncharacterized in nonbilaterian animal phyla, in present study, we investigated the evolution of 30 terminal uridylyl transferases (TUTases) that are known to involved in miRNA 30 nontemplated modifications in Bilateria. Phylogenetic analysis on TUTases showed that TUTase1 and TUTase6 are a result of duplication in bilaterians and that TUTase7 and TUTase4 are the result of a vertebrate-specific duplication. We also find an unexpected number of Drosophila-specific gene duplications and domain losses in most of the investigated gene families. Overall, our findings shed new light on the evolutionary history of TUTases in Metazoa, as they reveal that this core set of enzymes already existed in the last common ancestor of all animals and was probably involved in modifying small RNAs in a similar fashion to its present activity in bilaterians.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1547-1560
Number of pages14
JournalGenome Biology and Evolution
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


  • MicroRNA
  • RNA modification
  • RNA tailing
  • TUTase


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