The limited locations of tRNA introns are crucial for eukaryal tRNA-splicing endonuclease recognition. However, our analysis of the nuclear genome of an early-diverged red alga, Cyanidioschyzon merolae, demonstrated the first evidence of nuclear-encoded tRNA genes that contain ectopic and/or multiple introns. Some genes exhibited both intronic and permuted structures in which the 39-half of the tRNA coding sequence lies upstream of the 59-half, and an intron is inserted into either half. These highly disrupted tRNA genes, which account for 63% of all nuclear tRNA genes, are expressed via the orderly and sequential processing of bulge-helix-bulge (BHB) motifs at intron-exon junctions and termini of permuted tRNA precursors, probably by a C. merolae tRNA-splicing endonuclease with an unidentified subunit architecture. The results revealed a considerable diversity in eukaryal tRNA intron properties and endonuclease architectures, which will help to elucidate the acquisition mechanism of the BHB-mediated disrupted tRNA genes.
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