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Mol Cell Biol. Jan 1993; 13(1): 720–725.
PMCID: PMC358950

Temporal order of RNA-processing reactions in trypanosomes: rapid trans splicing precedes polyadenylation of newly synthesized tubulin transcripts.


Many trypanosome genes are expressed as part of large polycistronic transcription units. This finding suggests that regulation of mRNA biogenesis may emphasize RNA-processing reactions more so than in other organisms. This study was undertaken to understand the temporal order of two RNA-processing reactions, trans splicing and polyadenylation, in the maturation of trypanosome mRNAs in vivo. Kinetic studies revealed rapid trans splicing of alpha-tubulin, beta-tubulin, and actin pre-mRNAs within 1 to 2 min after synthesis of the 3' splice site. Furthermore, following blockage of pre-mRNA synthesis, newly synthesized spliced leader RNA cannot be used for trans splicing, suggesting that trypanosomes do not accumulate substantial amounts of pre-mRNA which can provide splice acceptor sites. Thus, trans splicing is cotranscriptional. In addition, we show that trans splicing precedes polyadenylation in the processing of trypanosome tubulin pre-mRNAs.

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