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Annu Rev Plant Biol. 2007;58:267-94.

Alternative splicing of pre-messenger RNAs in plants in the genomic era.

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Department of Biology and Program in Molecular Plant Biology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.


Primary transcripts (precursor-mRNAs) with introns can undergo alternative splicing to produce multiple transcripts from a single gene by differential use of splice sites, thereby increasing the transcriptome and proteome complexity within and between cells and tissues. Alternative splicing in plants is largely an unexplored area of gene expression, as this phenomenon used to be considered rare. However, recent genome-wide computational analyses have revealed that alternative splicing in flowering plants is far more prevalent than previously thought. Interestingly, pre-mRNAs of many spliceosomal proteins, especially serine/arginine-rich (SR) proteins, are extensively alternatively spliced. Furthermore, stresses have a dramatic effect on alternative splicing of pre-mRNAs including those that encode many spliceosomal proteins. Although the mechanisms that regulate alternative splicing in plants are largely unknown, several reports strongly suggest a key role for SR proteins in spliceosome assembly and regulated splicing. Recent studies suggest that alternative splicing in plants is an important posttranscriptional regulatory mechanism in modulating gene expression and eventually plant form and function.

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