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EMBO J. 1984 Oct;3(10):2387-92.

Discontinuous synthesis of mRNA in trypanosomes.


Many trypanosome mRNAs have the same sequence of 35 nucleotides at their 5' end, encoded by a mini-exon located in 1.35-kb tandemly linked repeats. We have analysed nascent and steady-state mini-exon transcripts to determine how the mini-exon sequence is joined to the main part of trypanosome mRNAs. We show here that steady-state RNA from Trypanosoma brucei contains a transcript of 141 nucleotides that starts at the 5' border of the mini-exon. Isolated nuclei transcribe the segment corresponding to the 141 nucleotide RNA at a high rate; transcription of other areas of the 1.35-kb mini-exon repeat is approximately 750-fold lower. We propose that transcription of protein-coding genes in trypanosomes is discontinuous and involves the 141-nucleotide transcript as an intermediate.

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