Conserved sequences in the Drosophila mod(mdg4) intron promote poly(A)-independent transcription termination and trans-splicing.
ABSTRACT: Alternative splicing (AS) is a regulatory mechanism of gene expression that greatly expands the coding capacities of genomes by allowing the generation of multiple mRNAs from a single gene. In Drosophila, the mod(mdg4) locus is an extreme example of AS that produces more than 30 different mRNAs via trans-splicing that joins together the common exons and the 3' variable exons generated from alternative promoters. To map the regions required for trans-splicing, we have developed an assay for measuring trans-splicing events and identified a 73-bp region in the last common intron that is critical for trans-splicing of three pre-mRNAs synthesized from different DNA strands. We have also found that conserved sequences in the distal part of the last common intron induce polyadenylation-independent transcription termination and are enriched by paused RNA polymerase II (RNAP II). These results suggest that all mod(mdg4) mRNAs are formed by joining in trans the 5' splice site in the last common exon with the 3' splice site in one of the alternative exons.
Project description:The Drosophila BTB domain containing gene mod(mdg4) produces a large number of protein isoforms combining a common N-terminal region of 402 aa with different C termini. We have deduced the genomic structure of this complex locus and found that at least seven of the mod(mdg4) isoforms are encoded on both of its antiparallel DNA strands, suggesting the generation of mature mRNAs by trans-splicing. In transgenic assays, we demonstrate the ability of Drosophila to produce mod(mdg4) mRNAs by trans-splicing of pre-mRNAs generated from transgenes inserted at distant chromosomal positions. Furthermore, evidence is presented for occurring of trans-splicing of mod(mdg4)-specific exons encoded by the parallel DNA strand. The mod(mdg4) locus represents a new type of complex gene structure in which genetic complexity is resolved by extensive trans-splicing, giving important implications for genome sequencing projects. Demonstration of naturally occurring trans-splicing in the model organism Drosophila opens new experimental approaches toward an analysis of the underlying mechanisms.
Project description:The mod(mdg4) locus of Drosophila melanogaster contains several transcription units encoded on both DNA strands. The mod(mdg4) pre-mRNAs are alternatively spliced, and a very significant fraction of the mature mod(mdg4) mRNAs are formed by trans-splicing. We have studied the transcripts derived from one of the anti-sense regions within the mod(mdg4) locus in order to shed light on the expression of this complex locus. We have characterized the expression of anti-sense mod(mdg4) transcripts in S2 cells, mapped their transcription start sites and cleavage sites, identified and quantified alternatively spliced transcripts, and obtained insight into the regulation of the mod(mdg4) trans-splicing. In a previous study, we had shown that the alternative splicing of some mod(mdg4) transcripts was regulated by Brahma (BRM), the ATPase subunit of the SWI/SNF chromatin-remodeling complex. Here we show, using RNA interference and overexpression of recombinant BRM proteins, that the levels of BRM affect specifically the abundance of a trans-spliced mod(mdg4) mRNA isoform in both S2 cells and larvae. This specific effect on trans-splicing is accompanied by a local increase in the density of RNA polymerase II and by a change in the phosphorylation state of the C-terminal domain of the large subunit of RNA polymerase II. Interestingly, the regulation of the mod(mdg4) splicing by BRM is independent of the ATPase activity of BRM, which suggests that the mechanism by which BRM modulates trans-splicing is independent of its chromatin-remodeling activity.
Project description:The modifier of mdg4, mod(mdg4), locus in Drosophila melanogaster represents a new type of complex gene in which functional diversity is resolved by mRNA trans-splicing. A protein family of >30 transcriptional regulators, which are supposed to be involved in higher-order chromatin structure, is encoded by both DNA strands of this locus. Mutations in mod(mdg4) have been identified independently in a number of genetic screens involving position-effect variegation, modulation of chromatin insulators, apoptosis, pathfinding of nerve cells, and chromosome pairing, indicating pleiotropic effects. The unusual gene structure and mRNA trans-splicing are evolutionary conserved in the distantly related species Drosophila virilis. Chimeric mod(mdg4) transcripts encoded from nonhomologous chromosomes containing the splice donor from D. virilis and the acceptor from D. melanogaster are produced in transgenic flies. We demonstrate that a significant amount of protein can be produced from these chimeric mRNAs. The evolutionary and functional conservation of mod(mdg4) and mRNA trans-splicing in both Drosophila species is furthermore demonstrated by the ability of D. virilis mod(mdg4) transgenes to rescue recessive lethality of mod(mdg4) mutant alleles in D. melanogaster.
Project description:The relative position of exons in genes can be altered only after large structural mutations. These mutations are frequently deleterious, impairing transcription, splicing, RNA stability, or protein function, as well as imposing strong inflexibility to protein evolution. Alternative cis- or trans-splicing may overcome the need for genomic structural stability, allowing genes to encode new proteins without the need to maintain a specific exon order. Trans-splicing in the Drosophila melanogaster modifier of mdg4 (mod[mdg4]) gene is the best documented example in which this process plays a major role in the maturation of mRNAs. Comparison of the genomic organization of this locus among several insect species suggests that the divergence between the lineages of the mosquito Anopheles gambiae and D. melanogaster involved an extensive exon rearrangement, requiring >11 breakpoints within the mod(mdg4) gene. The massive reorganization of the locus also included the deletion or addition of a new function as well as exon duplications. Whereas both DNA strands are sense strands in the Drosophila gene, the coding region in mosquito lays in a single strand, suggesting that trans-splicing may have originated in the Drosophila lineage and might have been the triggering factor for such a dramatic reorganization.
Project description:mod(mdg4), also known as E(var)3-93D, is involved in a variety of processes, such as gene silencing in position effect variegation (PEV), the control of gypsy insulator sequences, regulation of homeotic gene expression, and programmed cell death. We have isolated a large number of mod(mdg4) cDNAs, representing 21 different isoforms generated by alternative splicing. The deduced proteins are characterized by a common N terminus of 402 amino acids, including the BTB/POZ-domain. Most of the variable C termini contain a new consensus sequence, including four positioned hydrophobic amino acids and a Cys(2)His(2) motif. Using specific antibodies for two protein isoforms, we demonstrate different distributions of the corresponding proteins on polytene chromosomes. Mutations in the genomic region encoding exons 1-4 show enhancement of PEV and homeotic transformation and affect viability and fertility. Homeotic and PEV phenotypes are enhanced by mutations in other trx-group genes. A transgene containing the common 5' region of mod(mdg4) that is present in all splice variants known so far partially rescues the recessive lethality of mod(mdg4) mutant alleles. Our data provide evidence that the molecular and genetic complexity of mod(mdg4) is caused by a large set of individual protein isoforms with specific functions in regulating the chromatin structure of different sets of genes throughout development.
Project description:Unlike typical cis-splicing, trans-splicing joins exons from two separate transcripts to produce chimeric mRNA and has been detected in most eukaryotes. Trans-splicing in trypanosomes and nematodes has been characterized as a spliced leader RNA-facilitated reaction; in contrast, its mechanism in higher eukaryotes remains unclear. Here we investigate mod(mdg4), a classic trans-spliced gene in Drosophila, and report that two critical RNA sequences in the middle of the last 5' intron, TSA and TSB, promote trans-splicing of mod(mdg4). In TSA, a 13-nucleotide (nt) core motif is conserved across Drosophila species and is essential and sufficient for trans-splicing, which binds U1 small nuclear RNP (snRNP) through strong base-pairing with U1 snRNA. In TSB, a conserved secondary structure acts as an enhancer. Deletions of TSA and TSB using the CRISPR/Cas9 system result in developmental defects in flies. Although it is not clear how the 5' intron finds the 3' introns, compensatory changes in U1 snRNA rescue trans-splicing of TSA mutants, demonstrating that U1 recruitment is critical to promote trans-splicing in vivo. Furthermore, TSA core-like motifs are found in many other trans-spliced Drosophila genes, including lola. These findings represent a novel mechanism of trans-splicing, in which RNA motifs in the 5' intron are sufficient to bring separate transcripts into close proximity to promote trans-splicing.
Project description:Alternative splicing and trans-splicing events have not been systematically studied in the silkworm Bombyx mori. Here, the silkworm transcriptome was analyzed by RNA-seq. We identified 320 novel genes, modified 1140 gene models, and found thousands of alternative splicing and 58 trans-splicing events. Studies of three SR proteins show that both their alternative splicing patterns and mRNA products are conserved from insect to human, and one isoform of Srsf6 with a retained intron is expressed sex-specifically in silkworm gonads. Trans-splicing of mod(mdg4) in silkworm was experimentally confirmed. We identified integrations from a common 5'-gene with 46 newly identified alternative 3'-exons that are located on both DNA strands over a 500-kb region. Other trans-splicing events in B. mori were predicted by bioinformatic analysis, in which 12 events were confirmed by RT-PCR, six events were further validated by chimeric SNPs, and two events were confirmed by allele-specific RT-PCR in F(1) hybrids from distinct silkworm lines of JS and L10, indicating that trans-splicing is more widespread in insects than previously thought. Analysis of the B. mori transcriptome by RNA-seq provides valuable information of regulatory alternative splicing events. The conservation of splicing events across species and newly identified trans-splicing events suggest that B. mori is a good model for future studies.
Project description:Precursor mRNA (pre-mRNA) splicing can join exons contained on either a single pre-mRNA (cis) or on separate pre-mRNAs (trans). It is exceedingly rare to have trans-splicing between protein-coding exons and has been demonstrated for only two Drosophila genes: mod(mdg4) and lola. It has also been suggested that trans-splicing is a mechanism for the generation of chimeric RNA products containing sequence from multiple distant genomic sites. Because most high-throughput approaches cannot distinguish cis- and trans-splicing events, the extent to which trans-splicing occurs between protein-coding exons in any organism is unknown. Here, we used paired-end deep sequencing of mRNA to identify genes that undergo trans-splicing in Drosophila interspecies hybrids. We did not observe credible evidence for the existence of chimeric RNAs generated by trans-splicing of RNAs transcribed from distant genomic loci. Rather, our data suggest that experimental artifacts are the source of most, if not all, apparent chimeric RNA products. We did, however, identify 80 genes that appear to undergo trans-splicing between homologous alleles and can be classified into three categories based on their organization: (i) genes with multiple 3' terminal exons, (ii) genes with multiple first exons, and (iii) genes with very large introns, often containing other genes. Our results suggest that trans-splicing between homologous alleles occurs more commonly in Drosophila than previously believed and may facilitate expression of architecturally complex genes.
Project description:To explore the landscape of intergenic trans-splicing events and characterize their functions and evolutionary dynamics, we conduct a mega-data study of a phylogeny containing eight species across five orders of class Insecta, a model system spanning 400 million years of evolution. A total of 1,627 trans-splicing events involving 2,199 genes are identified, accounting for 1.58% of the total genes. Homology analysis reveals that mod(mdg4)-like trans-splicing is the only conserved event that is consistently observed in multiple species across two orders, which represents a unique case of functional diversification involving trans-splicing. Thus, evolutionarily its potential for generating proteins with novel function is not broadly utilized by insects. Furthermore, 146 non-mod trans-spliced transcripts are found to resemble canonical genes from different species. Trans-splicing preserving the function of 'breakup' genes may serve as a general mechanism for relaxing the constraints on gene structure, with profound implications for the evolution of genes and genomes.
Project description:Replacement of mRNA 5' UTR sequences by short sequences trans-spliced from specialized, noncoding, spliced leader (SL) RNAs is an enigmatic phenomenon, occurring in a set of distantly related animal groups including urochordates, nematodes, flatworms, and hydra, as well as in Euglenozoa and dinoflagellates. Whether SL trans-splicing has a common evolutionary origin and biological function among different organisms remains unclear. We have undertaken a systematic identification of SL exons in cDNA sequence data sets from non-bilaterian metazoan species and their closest unicellular relatives. SL exons were identified in ctenophores and in hydrozoan cnidarians, but not in other cnidarians, placozoans, or sponges, or in animal unicellular relatives. Mapping of SL absence/presence obtained from this and previous studies onto current phylogenetic trees favors an evolutionary scenario involving multiple origins for SLs during eumetazoan evolution rather than loss from a common ancestor. In both ctenophore and hydrozoan species, multiple SL sequences were identified, showing high sequence diversity. Detailed analysis of a large data set generated for the hydrozoan Clytia hemisphaerica revealed trans-splicing of given mRNAs by multiple alternative SLs. No evidence was found for a common identity of trans-spliced mRNAs between different hydrozoans. One feature found specifically to characterize SL-spliced mRNAs in hydrozoans, however, was a marked adenosine enrichment immediately 3' of the SL acceptor splice site. Our findings of high sequence divergence and apparently indiscriminate use of SLs in hydrozoans, along with recent findings in other taxa, indicate that SL genes have evolved rapidly in parallel in diverse animal groups, with constraint on SL exon sequence evolution being apparently rare.