Factors affecting splicing of plant U12-dependent introns have been examined by extensive mutational analyses in an in vivo tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) protoplast system using introns from three different Arabidopsis thaliana genes: CBP20, GSH2, and LD. The results provide evidence that splicing efficiency of plant U12 introns depends on a combination of factors, including UA content, exon bridging interactions between the U12 intron and flanking U2-dependent introns, and exon splicing enhancer sequences (ESEs). Unexpectedly, all three plant U12 introns required an adenosine at the upstream purine position in the branchpoint consensus UCCUURAUY. The exon upstream of the LD U12 intron is a major determinant of its higher level of splicing efficiency and potentially contains two ESE regions. These results suggest that in plants, U12 introns represent a level at which expression of their host genes can be regulated.
- Plant science