Changes in snoRNA and snRNA abundance in the human, chimpanzee, macaque, and mouse brain

Bin Zhang, Dingding Han, Yuriy Korostelev, Zheng Yan, Ningyi Shao, Ekaterina Khrameeva, Boris M. Velichkovsky, Yi Ping Phoebe Chen, Mikhail S. Gelfand, Philipp Khaitovich

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    Small nuclear and nucleolar RNAs (snRNAs and snoRNAs) are known to be functionally and evolutionarily conserved elements of transcript processing machinery. Here, we investigated the expression evolution of snRNAs and snoRNAs by measuring their abundance in the frontal cortex of humans, chimpanzees, rhesus monkeys, and mice. Although snRNA expression is largely conserved, 44% of the 185 measured snoRNA and 40% of the 134 snoRNA families showed significant expression divergence among species. The snRNA and snoRNA expression divergence included drastic changes unique to humans: A 10-fold elevated expression of U1 snRNA and a 1,000-fold drop in expression of SNORA29. The decreased expression of SNORA29 might be due to two mutations that affect secondary structure stability. Using in situ hybridization, we further localized SNORA29 expression to nucleolar regions of neuronal cells. Our study presents the first observation of snoRNA abundance changes specific to the human lineage and suggests a possible mechanism underlying these changes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)840-850
    Number of pages11
    JournalGenome Biology and Evolution
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • Brain
    • Evolution
    • Human
    • SnoRNA
    • SnRNA


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