# These authors contributed equally to this work.
* To whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received November 25, 2011; Revision received February 20, 2012
In most insects and some other protostomes, a small stretch of nucleotides can be removed from mature 28S rRNA molecules, which could create two 28S rRNA subunits (28Sα and 28Sβ). Thus, during electrophoresis, the rRNA profiles of these organisms may differ significantly from the standard benchmark since the two subunits co-migrate with the 18S rRNA. To understand the structure and mechanism of the atypical 28S rRNA molecule, partial fragments of 28Sα and 28Sβ in brine shrimp Artemia parthenogenetica and planarian Dugesia japonica were cloned using a modified technology based on terminal transferase. Alignment with the corresponding sequences of 28S rDNAs indicates that there are 41 nucleotides in A. parthenogenetica and 42 nucleotides in D. japonica absent from the mature rRNAs. The AU content of the gap sequences of D. japonica and A. parthenogenetica is high. Both the gaps may form stem-loop structure. In D. japonica a UAAU cleavage signal is identified in the loop, but it is absent in A. parthenogenetica. Thus, it is proposed that the gap processing of 28S rRNA was a late enzyme-dependent cleavage event in the rRNA maturational process based on the AU rich gap sequence and the formation of the stem-loop structure to expose the processing segment, while the deletion of the gap region would not affect the structure and function of the 28S rRNA molecule.
KEY WORDS: 28S rRNA, gap region, fragmentation, Artemia parthenogenetica, Dugesia japonica