Intron involvement in the regulation of MuSVts110 RNA splicing

Jeffrey William Touchman, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The murine sarcoma virus MuSVts110 exhibits an alternative RNA splicing pattern. Like other simple retroviruses, MuSVts110 pre-mRNA splicing is balanced to allow the production of both spliced and unspliced RNA during the replicative cycle. In addition to balance, MuSVts110 RNA splicing exhibits a unique growth-temperature restriction to splicing; temperatures below 33$\sp\circ$C are permissive for splicing while temperatures of 37$\sp\circ$C or above are non-permissive. Previous work has established that this thermosensitive splicing phenotype is mediated in cis by viral transcript features. Here we show that at least three sequence elements regulate the MuSVts110 splicing phenotype. First, the MuSVts110 branchpoint (BP) and poly-pyrimidine tract (PPT) were found to be determinants of overall splicing efficiency. Wild-type MuSVts110 possesses a weak BP and PPT adjacent to the 3$\sp\prime$ splice site. Introduction of a strong BP caused MuSVts110 splicing to proceed to virtual completion in vivo, thus losing any vestige of balance or thermosensitivity. In in vitro splicing extracts, the strong BP overcame a blockade to wt MuSVts110 splicing at both the first and second catalytic steps. Weakening the consensus nature of the strong BP allowed the recovery of thermosensitive splicing in vivo, and reinstated the blockades to splicing in vitro, arguing that a suboptimal BP is an unusual manifestation of the proportional splicing pattern of retroviruses. The PPT is essential for accurate recognition of the BP sequence by the splicing machinery. Lengthening the PPT of MuSVts110 from 9 to 19 consecutive pyrimidines increased the overall efficiency of splicing in vivo dramatically, but was less effective than the strong BP in overriding the restriction on splicing imposed by high growth temperatures. Finally, decreasing gradually the overall size of the intron unexpectedly reduced splicing efficiency at growth temperatures permissive for splicing, suggesting that non-conserved sequences within the intron of MuSVts110 participate in splicing regulation as well. Taken together, these results suggest a mechanism of control in which MuSVts110 splicing is modulated by the entire intron, but principally by suboptimal signals at the splice acceptor site. Furthermore, this retroviral system provides a powerful genetic method for selection and analysis of mutations that affect splicing.

Subject Area

Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Touchman, Jeffrey William, "Intron involvement in the regulation of MuSVts110 RNA splicing" (1994). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9504713.