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PLoS One. 2011 Feb 2;6(2):e16769. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0016769.

Sense and antisense transcripts of convergent gene pairs in Arabidopsis thaliana can share a common polyadenylation region.

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  • 1University of Leeds, Centre for Plant Sciences, Leeds, United Kingdom.


The Arabidopsis genome contains a large number of gene pairs that encode sense and antisense transcripts with overlapping 3' regions, indicative for a potential role of natural antisense transcription in regulating sense gene expression or transcript processing. When we mapped poly(A) transcripts of three plant gene pairs with long overlapping antisense transcripts, we identified an unusual transcript composition for two of the three gene pairs. Both genes pairs encoded a class of long sense transcripts and a class of short sense transcripts that terminate within the same polyadenylation region as the antisense transcripts encoded by the opposite strand. We find that the presence of the short sense transcript was not dependent on the expression of an antisense transcript. This argues against the assumption that the common termination region for sense and antisense poly(A) transcripts is the result of antisense-specific regulation. We speculate that for some genes evolution may have especially favoured alternative polyadenylation events that shorten transcript length for gene pairs with overlapping sense/antisense transcription, if this reduces the likelihood for dsRNA formation and transcript degradation.

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