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Front Plant Sci. 2014 May 21;5:214. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2014.00214. eCollection 2014.

The splicing fate of plant SPO11 genes.

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Biosafety in Plant Biotechnology, Julius Kühn Institute Quedlinburg, Germany.


Toward the global understanding of plant meiosis, it seems to be essential to decipher why all as yet sequenced plants need or at least encode for two different meiotic SPO11 genes. This is in contrast to mammals and fungi, where only one SPO11 is present. Both SPO11 in Arabidopsis thaliana are essential for the initiation of double strand breaks (DSBs) during the meiotic prophase. In nearly all eukaryotic organisms DSB induction during prophase I by SPO11 leads to meiotic DSB repair, thereby ensuring the formation of a necessary number of crossovers (CO) as physical connections between the homologous chromosomes. We aim to investigate the specific functions and evolution of both SPO11 genes in land plants. Therefore, we identified and cloned the respective orthologous genes from Brassica rapa, Carica papaya, Oryza sativa, and Physcomitrella patens. In parallel we determined the full length cDNA sequences of SPO11-1 and -2 from all of these plants by RT-PCR. During these experiments we observed that the analyzed plants exhibit a pattern of alternative splicing products of both SPO11 mRNAs. Such an aberrant splicing has previously been described for Arabidopsis and therefore seems to be conserved throughout evolution. Most of the splicing forms of SPO11-1 and -2 seem to be non-functional as they either showed intron retention (IR) or shortened exons. However, the positional distribution and number of alternative splicing events vary strongly between the different plants. The cDNAs showed in most cases premature termination codons (PTCs) due to frameshift. Nevertheless, in some cases we found alternatively spliced but functional cDNAs. These findings let us suggest that alternative splicing of SPO11 depends on the respective gene sequence and on the plant species. Therefore, this conserved mechanism might play a role concerning regulation of SPO11.


Arabidopsis thaliana; SPO11; alternative splicing; double strand breaks; meiosis

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