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Cell. 2011 Nov 23;147(5):1054-65. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2011.10.024.

Single-molecule imaging of transcriptionally coupled and uncoupled splicing.

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  • 1Public Health Research Institute, New Jersey Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark, NJ 07103, USA.


Introns are removed from pre-mRNAs during transcription while the pre-mRNA is still tethered to the gene locus via RNA polymerase. However, during alternative splicing, it is important that splicing be deferred until all of the exons and introns involved in the choice have been synthesized. We have developed an in situ RNA imaging method with single-molecule sensitivity to define the intracellular sites of splicing. Using this approach, we found that the normally tight coupling between transcription and splicing is broken in situations where the intron's polypyrimidine tract is sequestered within strong secondary structures. We also found that in two cases of alternative splicing, in which certain exons are skipped due to the activity of the RNA-binding proteins Sxl and PTB, splicing is uncoupled from transcription. This uncoupling occurs only on the perturbed introns, whereas the preceding and succeeding introns are removed cotranscriptionally. PAPERCLIP:

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