U12-type or minor introns are found in most multicellular eukaryotes and constitute ∼0.5% of all introns in species with a minor spliceosome. Although the biological significance for the evolutionary conservation of U12-type introns is debated, mutations disrupting U12 splicing cause developmental defects in both plants and animals. In human hematopoietic stem cells, U12 splicing defects disrupt proper differentiation of myeloid lineages and are associated with myelodysplastic syndrome, predisposing individuals to acute myeloid leukemia. Mutants in the maize ortholog of RNA binding motif protein 48 (RBM48) have aberrant U12-type intron splicing. Human RBM48 was recently purified biochemically as part of the minor spliceosome and shown to recognize the 5′ end of the U6atac snRNA. In this report, we use CRISPR/Cas9-mediated ablation of RBM48 in human K-562 cells to show the genetic function of RBM48. RNA-seq analysis comparing wild-type and mutant K-562 genotypes found that 48% of minor intron-containing genes have significant U12-type intron retention in RBM48 mutants. Comparing these results to maize rbm48 mutants defined a subset of minor intron-containing genes disrupted in both species. Mutations in the majority of these orthologous minor intron-containing genes have been reported to cause developmental defects in both plants and animals. Our results provide genetic evidence that the primary defect of human RBM48 mutants is aberrant U12-type intron splicing, while a comparison of human and maize RNA-seq data identifies candidate genes likely to mediate mutant phenotypes of U12-type splicing defects.
Spliceosomal introns are gene segments removed from RNA transcripts by ribonucleoprotein machineries called spliceosomes. In some eukaryotes a second ‘minor’ spliceosome is responsible for processing a tiny minority of introns. Despite its seemingly modest role, minor splicing has persisted for roughly 1.5 billion years of eukaryotic evolution. Identifying minor introns in over 3000 eukaryotic genomes, we report diverse evolutionary histories including surprisingly high numbers in some fungi and green algae, repeated loss, as well as general biases in their positional and genic distributions. We estimate that ancestral minor intron densities were comparable to those of vertebrates, suggesting a trend of long-term stasis. Finally, three findings suggest a major role for neutral processes in minor intron evolution. First, highly similar patterns of minor and major intron evolution contrast with both functionalist and deleterious model predictions. Second, observed functional biases among minor intron-containing genes are largely explained by these genes’ greater ages. Third, no association of intron splicing with cell proliferation in a minor intron-rich fungus suggests that regulatory roles are lineage-specific and thus cannot offer a general explanation for minor splicing’s persistence. These data constitute the most comprehensive view of minor introns and their evolutionary history to date, and provide a foundation for future studies of these remarkable genetic elements.more » « less
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- Oxford University Press
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Nucleic Acids Research
- Medium: X Size: p. 10884-10908
- ["p. 10884-10908"]
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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Abstract During nuclear maturation of most eukaryotic pre-messenger RNAs and long non-coding RNAs, introns are removed through the process of RNA splicing. Different classes of introns are excised by the U2-type or the U12-type spliceosomes, large complexes of small nuclear ribonucleoprotein particles and associated proteins. We created intronIC, a program for assigning intron class to all introns in a given genome, and used it on 24 eukaryotic genomes to create the Intron Annotation and Orthology Database (IAOD). We then used the data in the IAOD to revisit several hypotheses concerning the evolution of the two classes of spliceosomal introns, finding support for the class conversion model explaining the low abundance of U12-type introns in modern genomes.more » « less
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