A Post-Transcriptional Feedback Mechanism for Noise Suppression and Fate Stabilization.
ABSTRACT: Diverse biological systems utilize fluctuations ("noise") in gene expression to drive lineage-commitment decisions. However, once a commitment is made, noise becomes detrimental to reliable function, and the mechanisms enabling post-commitment noise suppression are unclear. Here, we find that architectural constraints on noise suppression are overcome to stabilize fate commitment. Using single-molecule and time-lapse imaging, we find that-after a noise-driven event-human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) strongly attenuates expression noise through a non-transcriptional negative-feedback circuit. Feedback is established through a serial cascade of post-transcriptional splicing, whereby proteins generated from spliced mRNAs auto-deplete their own precursor unspliced mRNAs. Strikingly, this auto-depletion circuitry minimizes noise to stabilize HIV's commitment decision, and a noise-suppression molecule promotes stabilization. This feedback mechanism for noise suppression suggests a functional role for delayed splicing in other systems and may represent a generalizable architecture of diverse homeostatic signaling circuits.
Project description:Fundamental to biological decision-making is the ability to generate bimodal expression patterns where 2 alternate expression states simultaneously exist. Here, we use a combination of single-cell analysis and mathematical modeling to examine the sources of bimodality in the transcriptional program controlling HIV's fate decision between active replication and viral latency. We find that the HIV transactivator of transcription (Tat) protein manipulates the intrinsic toggling of HIV's promoter, the long terminal repeat (LTR), to generate bimodal ON-OFF expression and that transcriptional positive feedback from Tat shifts and expands the regime of LTR bimodality. This result holds for both minimal synthetic viral circuits and full-length virus. Strikingly, computational analysis indicates that the Tat circuit's noncooperative "nonlatching" feedback architecture is optimized to slow the promoter's toggling and generate bimodality by stochastic extinction of Tat. In contrast to the standard Poisson model, theory and experiment show that nonlatching positive feedback substantially dampens the inverse noise-mean relationship to maintain stochastic bimodality despite increasing mean expression levels. Given the rapid evolution of HIV, the presence of a circuit optimized to robustly generate bimodal expression appears consistent with the hypothesis that HIV's decision between active replication and latency provides a viral fitness advantage. More broadly, the results suggest that positive-feedback circuits may have evolved not only for signal amplification but also for robustly generating bimodality by decoupling expression fluctuations (noise) from mean expression levels.
Project description:In female fruit flies, Sex-lethal (Sxl) turns off the X chromosome dosage compensation system by a mechanism involving a combination of alternative splicing and translational repression of the male specific lethal-2 (msl-2) mRNA. A genetic screen identified the translation initiation factor eif4e as a gene that acts together with Sxl to repress expression of the Msl-2 protein. However, eif4e is not required for Sxl mediated repression of msl-2 mRNA translation. Instead, eif4e functions as a co-factor in Sxl-dependent female-specific alternative splicing of msl-2 and also Sxl pre-mRNAs. Like other factors required for Sxl regulation of splicing, eif4e shows maternal-effect female-lethal interactions with Sxl. This female lethality can be enhanced by mutations in other co-factors that promote female-specific splicing and is caused by a failure to properly activate the Sxl-positive autoregulatory feedback loop in early embryos. In this feedback loop Sxl proteins promote their own synthesis by directing the female-specific alternative splicing of Sxl-Pm pre-mRNAs. Analysis of pre-mRNA splicing when eif4e activity is compromised demonstrates that Sxl-dependent female-specific splicing of both Sxl-Pm and msl-2 pre-mRNAs requires eif4e activity. Consistent with a direct involvement in Sxl-dependent alternative splicing, eIF4E is associated with unspliced Sxl-Pm pre-mRNAs and is found in complexes that contain early acting splicing factors--the U1/U2 snRNP protein Sans-fils (Snf), the U1 snRNP protein U1-70k, U2AF38, U2AF50, and the Wilms' Tumor 1 Associated Protein Fl(2)d--that have been directly implicated in Sxl splicing regulation.
Project description:Nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) eliminates transcripts carrying premature translation termination codons, but the role of NMD on yeast unspliced pre-mRNA degradation is controversial. Using tiling arrays, we show that many unspliced yeast pre-mRNAs accumulate in strains mutated for the NMD component Upf1p and the exonuclease Xrn1p. Intron identity and suboptimal splicing signals resulting in weak splicing were found to be important determinants in NMD targeting. In the absence of functional NMD, unspliced precursors accumulate in the cytoplasm, possibly in P-bodies. NMD can also complement RNase III-mediated nuclear degradation of unspliced RPS22B pre-mRNAs, degrades most unspliced precursors generated by a 5' splice site mutation in RPS10B, and limits RPS29B unspliced precursors accumulation during amino acid starvation. These results show that NMD has a wider impact than previously thought on the degradation of yeast-unspliced transcripts and plays an important role in discarding precursors of regulated or suboptimally spliced transcripts.
Project description:In eukaryotes, mRNAs are synthesized in the nucleus and then exported to the cytoplasm where they are translated into proteins. We have mapped an element, which when present in the 3'terminal exon or in an unspliced mRNA, inhibits mRNA nuclear export. This element has the same sequence as the consensus 5'splice site motif that is used to define the start of introns. Previously it was shown that when this motif is retained in the mRNA, it causes defects in 3'cleavage and polyadenylation and promotes mRNA decay. Our new data indicates that this motif also inhibits nuclear export and promotes the targeting of transcripts to nuclear speckles, foci within the nucleus which have been linked to splicing. The motif, however, does not disrupt splicing or the recruitment of UAP56 or TAP/Nxf1 to the RNA, which are normally required for nuclear export. Genome wide analysis of human mRNAs, lncRNA and eRNAs indicates that this motif is depleted from naturally intronless mRNAs and eRNAs, but less so in lncRNAs. This motif is also depleted from the beginning and ends of the 3'terminal exons of spliced mRNAs, but less so for lncRNAs. Our data suggests that the presence of the 5'splice site motif in mature RNAs promotes their nuclear retention and may help to distinguish mRNAs from misprocessed transcripts and transcriptional noise.
Project description:The goose parvovirus (GPV) Rep 1 and Rep 2 proteins are encoded by P9-generated mRNAs that are either unspliced or spliced within the rep gene region, respectively. These mRNAs are present in an approximately equal ratio. The translation of Rep 1 was initiated from the first AUG in unspliced P9-generated mRNA; however, this AUG was bypassed in spliced P9-generated RNA and Rep 2 translation initiated predominately at the next initiating AUG downstream. We show that the choice of the site of initiation of translation of GPV Rep-encoding mRNAs is governed both by the splicing process itself and by the nature of the excised intron.
Project description:Pre-mRNA splicing is accomplished by the spliceosome, a megadalton complex that assembles de novo on each intron. Because spliceosome assembly and catalysis occur cotranscriptionally, we hypothesized that introns are removed in the order of their transcription in genomes dominated by constitutive splicing. Remarkably little is known about splicing order and the regulatory potential of nascent transcript remodeling by splicing, due to the limitations of existing methods that focus on analysis of mature splicing products (mRNAs) rather than substrates and intermediates. Here, we overcome this obstacle through long-read RNA sequencing of nascent, multi-intron transcripts in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe Most multi-intron transcripts were fully spliced, consistent with rapid cotranscriptional splicing. However, an unexpectedly high proportion of transcripts were either fully spliced or fully unspliced, suggesting that splicing of any given intron is dependent on the splicing status of other introns in the transcript. Supporting this, mild inhibition of splicing by a temperature-sensitive mutation in prp2, the homolog of vertebrate U2AF65, increased the frequency of fully unspliced transcripts. Importantly, fully unspliced transcripts displayed transcriptional read-through at the polyA site and were degraded cotranscriptionally by the nuclear exosome. Finally, we show that cellular mRNA levels were reduced in genes with a high number of unspliced nascent transcripts during caffeine treatment, showing regulatory significance of cotranscriptional splicing. Therefore, overall splicing of individual nascent transcripts, 3' end formation, and mRNA half-life depend on the splicing status of neighboring introns, suggesting crosstalk among spliceosomes and the polyA cleavage machinery during transcription elongation.
Project description:RNA splicing is an essential part of eukaryotic gene expression. Although the mechanism of splicing has been extensively studied in vitro, in vivo kinetics for the two-step splicing reaction remain poorly understood. Here, we combine transient transcriptome sequencing (TT-seq) and mathematical modeling to quantify RNA metabolic rates at donor and acceptor splice sites across the human genome. Splicing occurs in the range of minutes and is limited by the speed of RNA polymerase elongation. Splicing kinetics strongly depends on the position and nature of nucleotides flanking splice sites, and on structural interactions between unspliced RNA and small nuclear RNAs in spliceosomal intermediates. Finally, we introduce the 'yield' of splicing as the efficiency of converting unspliced to spliced RNA and show that it is highest for mRNAs and independent of splicing kinetics. These results lead to quantitative models describing how splicing rates and yield are encoded in the human genome.
Project description:In the human genome, most genes undergo splicing, and patterns of codon usage are splicing dependent: guanine and cytosine (GC) content is the highest within single-exon genes and within first exons of multi-exon genes. However, the effects of codon usage on gene expression are typically characterized in unspliced model genes. Here, we measured the effects of splicing on expression in a panel of synonymous reporter genes that varied in nucleotide composition. We found that high GC content increased protein yield, mRNA yield, cytoplasmic mRNA localization, and translation of unspliced reporters. Splicing did not affect the expression of GC-rich variants. However, splicing promoted the expression of AT-rich variants by increasing their steady-state protein and mRNA levels, in part through promoting cytoplasmic localization of mRNA. We propose that splicing promotes the nuclear export of AU-rich mRNAs and that codon- and splicing-dependent effects on expression are under evolutionary pressure in the human genome.
Project description:The nuclear envelope serves as important mRNA surveillance system. In yeast and human, several control systems act in parallel to prevent nuclear export of unprocessed mRNAs. Trypanosomes lack homologues to most of the involved proteins and their nuclear mRNA metabolism is non-conventional exemplified by polycistronic transcription and mRNA processing by trans-splicing. We here visualised nuclear export in trypanosomes by probing large, endogenous mRNA by intramolecular multi-colour single molecule FISH (smFISH). In addition, unspliced mRNAs were visualised by co-probing two adjacent introns or intergenic regions. We found that the initation of nuclear export requires neither the completion of transcription nor trans-splicing. Nevertheless, the inhibition of trans-splicing blocked cytoplasmic transport of the of unspliced mRNAs and only a small fraction reached the nucleus-distant cytoplasm. Most of the unspliced transcripts remained at the nuclear periphery, within transport and in nuclear periphery granules (NPGs) localised at the cytoplasmic site of nuclear pores that resemble stress granules in composition. Our work shows that, in striking contrast to other eukaryotes, trypanosomes can start nuclear export while the mRNA is still transcribed, but unspliced transcripts remain ‘stuck’ in nuclear pores, probably awaiting processing or decay. Our data indicate that trypanosomes regulate the completion of nuclear export rather than the start.
Project description:HIV-1 non-coding exon 3 can either be spliced to exons 4, 4a, 4b, 4c, and 5 to generate tat, rev, and nef mRNAs or remain unspliced to produce the 13a7 vpr mRNA. Here we show that serine- and arginine-rich proteins 55 and 75 (SRp55 and SRp75) inhibit splicing from the 5'-splice site of exon 3 thereby causing an accumulation of the partially unspliced 13a7 vpr mRNA. In contrast, serine- and arginine-rich protein 40 (SRp40) induces splicing from exon 3 to exon 4, thereby promoting the production of the 1347 tat mRNA. We demonstrate that SRp55 stimulates vpr mRNA production by interacting with the previously identified HIV-1 splicing enhancer named GAR and inhibiting its function. This inhibition requires both serine arginine-rich and RNA-binding domains of SRp55, indicating that production of HIV-1 vpr mRNA depends on the interaction of SRp55 with an unknown factor.