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Alternative splicing is an important mechanism for fine tuning of gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. SR proteins govern splice site selection and spliceosome assembly. The Arabidopsis genome encodes 19 SR proteins, several of which have no orthologues in metazoan. Three of the plant specific subfamilies are characterized by the presence of a relatively long alternatively spliced intron located in their first RNA recognition motif, which potentially results in an extremely truncated protein. In atRSZ33, a member of the RS2Z subfamily, this alternative splicing event was shown to be autoregulated. Here we show that atRSp31, a member of the RS subfamily, does not autoregulate alternative splicing of its similarly positioned intron. Interestingly, this alternative splicing event is regulated by atRSZ33. We demonstrate that the positions of these long introns and their capability for alternative splicing are conserved from green algae to flowering plants. Moreover, in particular alternative splicing events the splicing signals are embedded into highly conserved sequences. In different taxa, these conserved sequences occur in at least one gene within a subfamily. The evolutionary preservation of alternative splice forms together with highly conserved intron features argues for additional functions hidden in the genes of these plant-specific SR proteins.


Maria Kalyna, Sergiy Lopato, Viktor Voronin, Andrea Barta. Evolutionary conservation and regulation of particular alternative splicing events in plant SR proteins. Nucleic acids research. 2006;34(16):4395-405

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PMID: 16936312

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