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Identification of Eukaryotic Open Reading Frames in Metagenomic cDNA Libraries Made from Environmental Samples

Grant, Susan, Grant, William D., Cowan, Don A., Jones, Brian E., Ma, Yanhe, Ventosa, Antonio, Heaphy, Shaun
Applied and environmental microbiology 2006 v.72 no.1 pp. 135-143
Acanthamoeba, RNA libraries, activated sludge, amino acid sequences, amino acids, application technology, cDNA libraries, clones, complementary DNA, enzymes, genomic libraries, messenger RNA, open reading frames, ribosomal RNA, ribosomal proteins, sewage sludge, sewage treatment, springs (water), trophozoites, China, United Kingdom
Here we describe the application of metagenomic technologies to construct cDNA libraries from RNA isolated from environmental samples. RNAlater (Ambion) was shown to stabilize RNA in environmental samples for periods of at least 3 months at -20°C. Protocols for library construction were established on total RNA extracted from Acanthamoeba polyphaga trophozoites. The methodology was then used on algal mats from geothermal hot springs in Tengchong county, Yunnan Province, People's Republic of China, and activated sludge from a sewage treatment plant in Leicestershire, United Kingdom. The Tenchong libraries were dominated by RNA from prokaryotes, reflecting the mainly prokaryote microbial composition. The majority of these clones resulted from rRNA; only a few appeared to be derived from mRNA. In contrast, many clones from the activated sludge library had significant similarity to eukaryote mRNA-encoded protein sequences. A library was also made using polyadenylated RNA isolated from total RNA from activated sludge; many more clones in this library were related to eukaryotic mRNA sequences and proteins. Open reading frames (ORFs) up to 378 amino acids in size could be identified. Some resembled known proteins over their full length, e.g., 36% match to cystatin, 49% match to ribosomal protein L32, 63% match to ribosomal protein S16, 70% to CPC2 protein. The methodology described here permits the polyadenylated transcriptome to be isolated from environmental samples with no knowledge of the identity of the microorganisms in the sample or the necessity to culture them. It has many uses, including the identification of novel eukaryotic ORFs encoding proteins and enzymes.