RNA editing is a process of post-transcriptional level of gene regulation by nucleotide modification. Previously, the chloroplast DNA of Taiwan endemic moth orchid, P. aphrodite subsp. formosana was determined, and 44 RNA editing sites were identified from 24 plastid protein-coding transcripts of leaf tissue via RT-PCR and then conventional Sanger sequencing. However, the RNA editing status of whole-plastid transcripts in leaf and other distinct tissue types in moth orchids has not been addressed. To sensitively and extensively examine the plastid RNA editing status of moth orchid, RNA-Seq was used to investigate the editing status of whole-plastid transcripts from leaf and floral tissues by mapping the sequence reads to the corresponding cpDNA template. With the threshold of at least 5% C-to-U or U-to-C conversion events observed in sequence reads considered as RNA editing sites.
In total, 137 edits with 126 C-to-U and 11 U-to-C conversions, including 93 newly discovered edits, were identified in plastid transcripts, representing an average of 0.09% of the nucleotides examined in moth orchid. Overall, 110 and 106 edits were present in leaf and floral tissues, respectively, with 79 edits in common. As well, 79 edits were involved in protein-coding transcripts, and the 58 nucleotide conversions caused the non-synonymous substitution. At least 32 edits showed significant (≧20%) differential editing between leaf and floral tissues. Finally, RNA editing in trnM is required for the formation of a standard clover-leaf structure.
We identified 137 edits in plastid transcripts of moth orchid, the highest number reported so far in monocots. The consequence of RNA editing in protein-coding transcripts mainly cause the amino acid change and tend to increase the hydrophobicity as well as conservation among plant phylogeny. RNA editing occurred in non-protein-coding transcripts such as tRNA, introns and untranslated regulatory regions could affect the formation and stability of secondary structure, which might play an important role in the regulation of gene expression. Furthermore, some unidentified tissue-specific factors might be required for regulating RNA editing in moth orchid.