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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Apr 2, 1996; 93(7): 3074–3079.

Pre-mRNA splicing in plants: characterization of Ser/Arg splicing factors.


The fact that animal introns are not spliced out in plants suggests that recognition of pre-mRNA splice sites differs between the two kingdoms. In plants, little is known about proteins required for splicing, as no plant in vitro splicing system is available. Several essential splicing factors from animals, such as SF2/ASF and SC-35, belong to a family of highly conserved proteins consisting of one or two RNA binding domain(s) (RRM) and a C-terminal Ser/Arg-rich (SR or RS) domain. These animal SR proteins are required for splice site recognition and spliceosome assembly. We have screened for similar proteins in plants by using monoclonal antibodies specific for a phosphoserine epitope of the SR proteins (mAb1O4) or for SF2/ASF. These experiments demonstrate that plants do possess SR proteins, including SF2/ASF-like proteins. Similar to the animal SR proteins, this group of proteins can be isolated by two salt precipitations. However, compared to the animal SR proteins, which are highly conserved in size and number, SR proteins from Arabidopsis, carrot, and tobacco exhibit a complex pattern of intra- and interspecific variants. These plant SR proteins are able to complement inactive HeLa cell cytoplasmic S1OO extracts that are deficient in SR proteins, yielding functional splicing extracts. In addition, plant SR proteins were active in a heterologous alternative splicing assay. Thus, these plant SR proteins are authentic plant splicing factors.

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