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PLoS One. 2009 Nov 16;4(11):e7853. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007853.

The peculiarities of large intron splicing in animals.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio, USA.

Abstract

In mammals a considerable 92% of genes contain introns, with hundreds and hundreds of these introns reaching the incredible size of over 50,000 nucleotides. These "large introns" must be spliced out of the pre-mRNA in a timely fashion, which involves bringing together distant 5' and 3' acceptor and donor splice sites. In invertebrates, especially Drosophila, it has been shown that larger introns can be spliced efficiently through a process known as recursive splicing-a consecutive splicing from the 5'-end at a series of combined donor-acceptor splice sites called RP-sites. Using a computational analysis of the genomic sequences, we show that vertebrates lack the proper enrichment of RP-sites in their large introns, and, therefore, require some other method to aid splicing. We analyzed over 15,000 non-redundant, large introns from six mammals, 1,600 from chicken and zebrafish, and 560 non-redundant large introns from five invertebrates. Our bioinformatic investigation demonstrates that, unlike the studied invertebrates, the studied vertebrate genomes contain consistently abundant amounts of direct and complementary strand interspersed repetitive elements (mainly SINEs and LINEs) that may form stems with each other in large introns. This examination showed that predicted stems are indeed abundant and stable in the large introns of mammals. We hypothesize that such stems with long loops within large introns allow intron splice sites to find each other more quickly by folding the intronic RNA upon itself at smaller intervals and, thus, reducing the distance between donor and acceptor sites.

PMID:
19924226
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2773006
Free PMC Article

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