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Genetics. Apr 2002; 160(4): 1481–1487.
PMCID: PMC1462063

Trans-splicing as a novel mechanism to explain interallelic complementation in Drosophila.


Two mutant alleles of the same gene, each located in one of the two homologous chromosomes, may in some instances restore the wild-type function of the gene. This is the case with certain combinations of mutant alleles in the mod(mdg4) gene. This gene encodes several different proteins, including Mod(mdg4)2.2, a component of the gypsy insulator. This protein is encoded by two separate transcription units that can be combined in a trans-splicing reaction to form the mature Mod(mdg4)2.2-encoding RNA. Molecular characterization of complementing alleles shows that they affect the two different transcription units. Flies homozygous for each allele are missing the Mod(mdg4)2.2 protein, whereas wild-type trans-heterozygotes are able to synthesize almost normal levels of the Mod(mdg4)2.2 product. This protein is functional as judged by its ability to form a functional insulator complex. The results suggest that the interallelic complementation in the mod(mdg4) gene is a consequence of trans-splicing between two different mutant transcripts. A conclusion from this observation is that the trans-splicing reaction that takes place between transcripts produced on two different mutant chromosomes ensures wild-type levels of functional protein.

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