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The 5′ UTR intron-mediated enhancement of constitutive splicing of the tobacco microsome ω-3 fatty acid desaturase gene

Ohta, Sayuri, Nakagawara, Sakie, Hirai, Sayaka, Miyagishima, Kumi, Horiguchi, Gorou, Kodama, Hiroaki
Plant biotechnology reports 2018 v.12 no.2 pp. 105-114
Arabidopsis, exons, explants, gene expression, introns, leaves, messenger RNA, omega-3 fatty acids, protein synthesis, stearoyl-CoA desaturase, tobacco
Several plant genes have their first intron in the 5′ untranslated region (5′ UTR), and such 5′ UTR introns often show several biological functions, including the intron-mediated enhancement of protein expression through an increase of mRNA level (IME), intron-dependent spatial expression, and intron-mediated enhancement of translation. Here, we show another function of the 5′ UTR intron, i.e., the 5′ UTR intron-mediated enhancement of constitutive splicing. The NtFAD3 gene, which encodes a tobacco microsome ω-3 fatty acid desaturase, has a 552 nucleotide-long 5′ UTR intron (intron 1), and the other seven introns are located in the coding sequence. The splicing of the 5′ half region of the NtFAD3 was studied through an in vivo splicing assay using Arabidopsis leaf explants. The low splicing efficiency of intron 2 was much improved when the assay construct harbored intron 1. Deletion of intron 1 and the replacement of intron 1 to the NtFAD3 intron 8 decreased the splicing efficiency of intron 2. The splicing enhancers were redundant and dispersed in the 5′ splice site-proximal, 284-nucleotides region of intron 1. In addition, the interaction among the cis-elements, i.e., the splicing enhancers in the intron 1 and exon 2, were necessary for the efficient splicing of intron 2. The 5′ UTR intron-mediated constitutive splicing was partially inhibited when an SR-like protein, SR45, was deficient. These results indicated a novel function of the 5′ UTR intron, namely an enhancement of the constitutive splicing.