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Plant Mol Biol. 1996 Oct;32(1-2):1-41.

Splicing of precursors to mRNA in higher plants: mechanism, regulation and sub-nuclear organisation of the spliceosomal machinery.

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Friedrich Miescher-Institut, Basel, Switzerland.


The removal of introns from pre-mRNA transcripts and the concomitant ligation of exons is known as pre-mRNA splicing. It is a fundamental aspect of constitutive eukaryotic gene expression and an important level at which gene expression is regulated. The process is governed by multiple cis-acting elements of limited sequence content and particular spatial constraints, and is executed by a dynamic ribonucleoprotein complex termed the spliceosome. The mechanism and regulation of pre-mRNA splicing, and the sub-nuclear organisation of the spliceosomal machinery in higher plants is reviewed here. Heterologous introns are often not processed in higher plants indicating that, although highly conserved, the process of pre-mRNA splicing in plants exhibits significant differences that distinguish it from splicing in yeast and mammals. A fundamental distinguishing feature is the presence of and requirement for AU or U-rich intron sequence in higher-plant pre-mRNA splicing. In this review we document the properties of higher-plant introns and trans-acting spliceosomal components and discuss the means by which these elements combine to determine the accuracy and efficiency of pre-mRNA processing. We also detail examples of how introns can effect regulated gene expression by affecting the nature and abundance of mRNA in plants and list the effects of environmental stresses on splicing. Spliceosomal components exhibit a distinct pattern of organisation in higher-plant nuclei. Effective probes that reveal this pattern have only recently become available, but the domains in which spliceosomal components concentrate were identified in plant nuclei as enigmatic structures some sixty years ago. The organisation of spliceosomal components in plant nuclei is reviewed and these recent observations are unified with previous cytochemical and ultrastructural studies of plant ribonuleoprotein domains.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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