Structural and sequence evolution of U17 small nucleolar RNA (snoRNA) and its phylogenetic congruence in chelonians

Manuela Cervelli, Marco Oliverio, Alessandro Bellini, Marco Bologna, Francesco Cecconi, Paolo Mariottini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Vertebrate U17 RNA is an intron-encoded H/CA box containing snoRNA, which has been intensively studied in the last decade, though its precise role in ribosome biogenesis is not yet clear. A consensus secondary structure for the U17 RNA molecule has been derived from the comparative sequence and structural evolution analysis of U17 snoRNA among vertebrates. Its phylogenetic congruence above class level has been tested and preliminary data on chelonians suggest that also in this order, U17 snoRNA evolved congruently with phylogeny. We herein extend our analysis to other components of this reptile group. According to the sequence data that have also emerged from chelonians, the U17 RNA molecule can be divided into two main domains: the 5′-variable domain, which presents the sequence motifs capable of base-pairing with the 18S rRNA target and spanning STEM 1, -2, and -3, and the 3′-conserved domain, consisting of STEM4. In vertebrates, the latter RNA region shows a high conservation both in secondary structure and in the presence of the three sequence motifs 5′-AUUCCUA-3′, 5′-U(G/U)ACU-3′, and 5′-AACCC-3′. We tested the phylogenetic congruence of U17 evolution with chelonian relationships: Our results are significantly similar to those emerging from mtDNA and morphological systematics. Some discrepancies (e.g., the position of Platysternon) need to be addressed in greater depth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-84
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Molecular Evolution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2003


  • Chelonian evolution
  • H/ACA snoRNA
  • Molecular phylogeny
  • RNA/RNA interaction
  • Secondary structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)


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