Small ncRNA transcriptome analysis from Aspergillus fumigatus suggests a novel mechanism for regulation of protein synthesis
Small non-protein-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) have systematically been studied in various model organisms from Escherichia coli to Homo sapiens. Here, we analyse the small ncRNA transcriptome from the pathogenic filamentous fungus Aspergillus fumigatus. To that aim, we experimentally screened for ncRNAs, expressed under various growth conditions or during specific developmental stages, by generating a specialized cDNA library from size-selected small RNA species. Our screen revealed 30 novel ncRNA candidates from known ncRNA classes such as small nuclear RNAs (snRNAs) and C/D box-type small nucleolar RNAs (C/D box snoRNAs). Additionally, several candidates for H/ACA box snoRNAs could be predicted by a bioinformatical screen. We also identified 15 candidates for ncRNAs, which could not be assigned to any known ncRNA class. Some of these ncRNA species are developmentally regulated implying a possible novel function in A. fumigatus development. Surprisingly, in addition to full-length tRNAs, we also identified 5- or 3-halves of tRNAs, only, which are likely generated by tRNA cleavage within the anti-codon loop. We show that conidiation induces tRNA cleavage resulting in tRNA depletion within conidia. Since conidia represent the resting state of A. fumigatus we propose that conidial tRNA depletion might be a novel mechanism to down-regulate protein synthesis in a filamentous fungus.