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Nucleic Acids Res. 2003 Aug 1;31(15):4561-72.

Identification, characterization and molecular phylogeny of U12-dependent introns in the Arabidopsis thaliana genome.

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Department of Zoology and Genetics, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011-3260, USA.


U12-dependent introns are spliced by the minor U12-type spliceosome and occur in a variety of eukaryotic organisms, including Arabidopsis. In this study, a set of putative U12-dependent introns was compiled from a large collection of cDNA/EST- confirmed introns in the Arabidopsis thaliana genome by means of high-throughput bioinformatic analysis combined with manual scrutiny. A total of 165 U12-type introns were identified based upon stringent criteria. This number of sequences well exceeds the total number of U12-type introns previously reported for plants and allows a more thorough statistical analysis of U12-type signals. Of particular note is the discovery that the distance between the branch site adenosine and the acceptor site ranges from 10 to 39 nt, significantly longer than the previously postulated limit of 21 bp. Further analysis indicates that, in addition to the spacing constraint, the sequence context of the potential acceptor site may have an important role in 3' splice site selection. Several alternative splicing events involving U12-type introns were also captured in this study, providing evidence that U12-dependent acceptor sites can also be recognized by the U2-type spliceosome. Furthermore, phylogenetic analysis suggests that both U12-type AT-AC and U12-type GT-AG introns occurred in Na+/H+ antiporters in a progenitor of animals and plants.

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