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EMBO J. 1991 Sep;10(9):2621-5.

Short leader sequences may be transferred from small RNAs to pre-mature mRNAs by trans-splicing in Euglena.

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Institut de Biologie Moléculaire des Plantes du CNRS, Université Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg, France.


Very closely related short sequences are present at the 5' end of cytoplasmic mRNAs in Euglena as evidenced by comparison of cDNA sequences and hybrid-arrested translation experiments. By cloning Euglena gracilis nuclear DNA and isolating the rbcS gene (encoding the small subunit of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase), we have shown that the short leader sequence does not flank the nuclear gene sequence. The leader sequences were found to constitute the 5' extremities of a family of small RNAs. Sequencing six members of this family revealed a striking similarity to vertebrate U snRNAs. We propose that a trans-splicing mechanism transfers the spliced leader (SL) sequence from these small RNAs (SL RNAs) to pre-mature mRNAs. Transfer of leader sequences to mRNAs by trans-splicing has been shown only in trypanosomes where cis-splicing is unknown, and in nematodes where not more than 10% of the mRNAs have leader sequences. Our results strongly suggest that Euglena is a unique organism in which both a widespread trans-splicing and a cis-splicing mechanism co-exist.

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