Secondary structure models of D2-D3 expansion segments of 28S rRNA for Hoplolaiminae species

C. H. Bae, R. T. Robbins, A. L. Szalanski


The D2-D3 expansion segments of the 28S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) were sequenced and compared to predict secondary structures for Hoplolaiminae species based on free energy minimization and comparative sequence analysis. The free energy based prediction method provides putative stem regions within primary structure and these base pairings in stems were confirmed manually by compensatory base changes among closely and distantly related species. Sequence differences ranged from identical between Hoplolaimus columbus and H. seinhorsti to 20.8% between Scutellonema brachyurum and H. concaudajuvencus. The comparative sequence analysis and energy minimization method yielded 9 stems in the D2 and 6 stems in the D3 which showed complete or partial compensatory base changes. At least 75% of nucleotides in the D2 and 68% of nucleotides in the D3 were related with formation of base pairings to maintain secondary structure. GC contents in stems ranged from 61 to 73% for the D2 and from 64 to 71% for the D3 region. These ranges are higher than G-C contents in loops which ranged from 37 to 48% in the D2 and 33-45% in the D3. In stems, G-C/C-G base pairings were the most common in the D2 and the D3 and also non-canonical base pairs including A.A and U.U, C.U/U.C, and G.A/A.G occurred in stems. The predicted secondary model and new sequence alignment based on predicted secondary structures for the D2 and D3 expansion segments provide useful information to assign positional nucleotide homology and reconstruction of more reliable phylogenetic trees.

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