Small RNAs Are Implicated in Regulation of Gene and Transposable Element Expression in the Protist Trichomonas vaginalis

Sally D. Warring, Frances Blow, Grace Avecilla, Jordan C. Orosco, Steven A. Sullivan, Jane M. Carlton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Trichomonas vaginalis is the causative agent of trichomoniasis, the most prevalent nonviral sexually transmitted infection worldwide. Repetitive elements, including transposable elements (TEs) and virally derived repeats, comprise more than half of the;160-Mb T. vaginalis genome. An intriguing question is how the parasite controls its potentially lethal complement of mobile elements, which can disrupt transcription of protein-coding genes and genome functions. In this study, we generated high-throughput RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) and small RNA-Seq data sets in triplicate for the T. vaginalis G3 reference strain and characterized the mRNA and small RNA populations and their mapping patterns along all six chromosomes. Mapping the RNA-Seq transcripts to the genome revealed that the majority of genes predicted within repetitive elements are not expressed. Interestingly, we identified a novel species of small RNA that maps bidirectionally along the chromosomes and is correlated with reduced protein-coding gene expression and reduced RNA-Seq coverage in repetitive elements. This novel small RNA family may play a regulatory role in gene and repetitive element expression. Our results identify a possible small RNA pathway mechanism by which the parasite regulates expression of genes and TEs and raise intriguing questions as to the role repeats may play in shaping T. vaginalis genome evolution and the diversity of small RNA pathways in general.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • Trichomonas vaginalis
  • small RNA
  • transposable element

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Small RNAs Are Implicated in Regulation of Gene and Transposable Element Expression in the Protist Trichomonas vaginalis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this