Species-specific signals for the splicing of a short Drosophila intron in vitro.


The effects of branchpoint sequence, the pyrimidine stretch, and intron size on the splicing efficiency of the Drosophila white gene second intron were examined in nuclear extracts from Drosophila and human cells. This 74-nucleotide intron is typical of many Drosophila introns in that it lacks a significant pyrimidine stretch and is below the minimum size required for splicing in human nuclear extracts. Alteration of sequences of adjacent to the 3' splice site to create a pyrimidine stretch was necessary for splicing in human, but not Drosophila, extracts. Increasing the size of this intron with insertions between the 5' splice site and the branchpoint greatly reduced the efficiency of splicing of introns longer than 79 nucleotides in Drosophila extracts but had an opposite effect in human extracts, in which introns longer than 78 nucleotides were spliced with much greater efficiency. The white-apricot copia insertion is immediately adjacent to the branchpoint normally used in the splicing of this intron, and a copia long terminal repeat insertion prevents splicing in Drosophila, but not human, extracts. However, a consensus branchpoint does not restore the splicing of introns containing the copia long terminal repeat, and alteration of the wild-type branchpoint sequence alone does not eliminate splicing. These results demonstrate species specificity of splicing signals, particularly pyrimidine stretch and size requirements, and raise the possibility that variant mechanisms not found in mammals may operate in the splicing of small introns in Drosophila and possibly other species.

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