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Genome Res. 2011 Sep;21(9):1478-86. doi: 10.1101/gr.114744.110. Epub 2011 Aug 3.

Transcriptome dynamics through alternative polyadenylation in developmental and environmental responses in plants revealed by deep sequencing.

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  • 1Department of Botany, Miami University, Oxford, OH 45056, USA


Polyadenylation sites mark the ends of mRNA transcripts. Alternative polyadenylation (APA) may alter sequence elements and/or the coding capacity of transcripts, a mechanism that has been demonstrated to regulate gene expression and transcriptome diversity. To study the role of APA in transcriptome dynamics, we analyzed a large-scale data set of RNA "tags" that signify poly(A) sites and expression levels of mRNA. These tags were derived from a wide range of tissues and developmental stages that were mutated or exposed to environmental treatments, and generated using digital gene expression (DGE)-based protocols of the massively parallel signature sequencing (MPSS-DGE) and the Illumina sequencing-by-synthesis (SBS-DGE) sequencing platforms. The data offer a global view of APA and how it contributes to transcriptome dynamics. Upon analysis of these data, we found that ∼60% of Arabidopsis genes have multiple poly(A) sites. Likewise, ∼47% and 82% of rice genes use APA, supported by MPSS-DGE and SBS-DGE tags, respectively. In both species, ∼49%-66% of APA events were mapped upstream of annotated stop codons. Interestingly, 10% of the transcriptomes are made up of APA transcripts that are differentially distributed among developmental stages and in tissues responding to environmental stresses, providing an additional level of transcriptome dynamics. Examples of pollen-specific APA switching and salicylic acid treatment-specific APA clearly demonstrated such dynamics. The significance of these APAs is more evident in the 3034 genes that have conserved APA events between rice and Arabidopsis.

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