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J Mol Biol. 1998 Feb 13;276(1):85-104.

Prediction of splice sites in plant pre-mRNA from sequence properties.

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Department of Mathematics, Stanford University, CA 94305-2125, USA.


Heterologous introns are often inaccurately or inefficiently processed in higher plants. The precise features that distinguish the process of pre-mRNA splicing in plants from splicing in yeast and mammals are unclear. One contributing factor is the prominent base compositional contrast between U-rich plant introns and flanking G + C-rich exons. Inclusion of this contrast factor in recently developed statistical methods for splice site prediction from sequence inspection significantly improved prediction accuracy. We applied the prediction tools to re-analyze experimental data on splice site selection and splicing efficiency for native and more than 170 mutated plant introns. In almost all cases, the experimentally determined preferred sites correspond to the highest scoring sites predicted by the model. In native genes, about 90% of splice sites are the locally highest scoring sites within the bounds of the flanking exon and intron. We propose that, in most cases, local context (about 50 bases upstream and downstream from a potential intron end) is sufficient to account for intrinsic splice site strength, and that competition for transacting factors determines splice site selection in vivo. We suggest that computer-aided splice site prediction can be a powerful tool for experimental design and interpretation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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