Order of removal of conventional and nonconventional introns from nuclear transcripts of <i>Euglena gracilis</i>

by Natalia Gumińska, Magdalena Płecha, Bożena Zakryś, Rafał Milanowski

Nuclear genes of euglenids and marine diplonemids harbor atypical, nonconventional introns which are not observed in the genomes of other eukaryotes. Nonconventional introns do not have the conserved borders characteristic for spliceosomal introns or the sequence complementary to U1 snRNA at the 5′ end. They form a stable secondary structure bringing together both exon/intron junctions, nevertheless, this conformation does not resemble the form of self-splicing or tRNA introns. In the genes studied so far, frequent nonconventional introns insertions at new positions have been observed, whereas conventional introns have been either found at the conserved positions, or simply lost. In this work, we examined the order of intron removal from Euglena gracilis transcripts of the tubA and gapC genes, which contain two types of introns: nonconventional and spliceosomal. The relative order of intron excision was compared for pairs of introns belonging to different types. Furthermore, intermediate products of splicing were analyzed using the PacBio Next Generation Sequencing system. The analysis led to the main conclusion that nonconventional introns are removed in a rapid way but later than spliceosomal introns. Moreover, the observed accumulation of transcripts with conventional introns removed and nonconventional present may suggest the existence of a time gap between the two types of splicing.

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