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1.  Unproductive alternative splicing and nonsense mRNAs: A widespread phenomenon among plant circadian clock genes 
Biology Direct  2012;7:20.
Background
Recent mapping of eukaryotic transcriptomes and spliceomes using massively parallel RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) has revealed that the extent of alternative splicing has been considerably underestimated. Evidence also suggests that many pre-mRNAs undergo unproductive alternative splicing resulting in incorporation of in-frame premature termination codons (PTCs). The destinies and potential functions of the PTC-harboring mRNAs remain poorly understood. Unproductive alternative splicing in circadian clock genes presents a special case study because the daily oscillations of protein expression levels require rapid and steep adjustments in mRNA levels.
Results
We conducted a systematic survey of alternative splicing of plant circadian clock genes using RNA-seq and found that many Arabidopsis thaliana circadian clock-associated genes are alternatively spliced. Results were confirmed using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR), and/or Sanger sequencing. Intron retention events were frequently observed in mRNAs of the CCA1/LHY-like subfamily of MYB transcription factors. In contrast, the REVEILLE2 (RVE2) transcript was alternatively spliced via inclusion of a "poison cassette exon" (PCE). The PCE type events introducing in-frame PTCs are conserved in some mammalian and plant serine/arginine-rich splicing factors. For some circadian genes such as CCA1 the ratio of the productive isoform (i.e., a representative splice variant encoding the full-length protein) to its PTC counterpart shifted sharply under specific environmental stress conditions.
Conclusions
Our results demonstrate that unproductive alternative splicing is a widespread phenomenon among plant circadian clock genes that frequently generates mRNA isoforms harboring in-frame PTCs. Because LHY and CCA1 are core components of the plant central circadian oscillator, the conservation of alternatively spliced variants between CCA1 and LHY and for CCA1 across phyla [2] indicates a potential role of nonsense transcripts in regulation of circadian rhythms. Most of the alternatively spliced isoforms harbor in-frame PTCs that arise from full or partial intron retention events. However, a PTC in the RVE2 transcript is introduced through a PCE event. The conservation of AS events and modulation of the relative abundance of nonsense isoforms by environmental and diurnal conditions suggests possible regulatory roles for these alternatively spliced transcripts in circadian clock function. The temperature-dependent expression of the PTC transcripts among members of CCA1/LHY subfamily indicates that alternative splicing may be involved in regulation of the clock temperature compensation mechanism.
Reviewers
This article was reviewed by Dr. Eugene Koonin, Dr. Chungoo Park (nominated by Dr. Kateryna Makova), and Dr. Marcelo Yanovsky (nominated by Dr. Valerian Dolja).
doi:10.1186/1745-6150-7-20
PMCID: PMC3403997  PMID: 22747664
Arabidopsis thaliana; Alternative splicing; Circadian clock; RNA-seq; Intron retention; Cassette exon; Nonsense mRNAs; Premature termination codon; CIRCADIAN CLOCK ASSOCIATED 1 (CCA1); LATE ELONGATED HYPOCOTYL (LHY); REVEILLE 2 (RVE2).
2.  The genome of woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca) 
Nature Genetics  2010;43(2):109-116.
The woodland strawberry, Fragaria vesca (2n = 2x = 14), is a versatile experimental plant system. This diminutive herbaceous perennial has a small genome (240 Mb), is amenable to genetic transformation and shares substantial sequence identity with the cultivated strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa) and other economically important rosaceous plants. Here we report the draft F. vesca genome, which was sequenced to ×39 coverage using second-generation technology, assembled de novo and then anchored to the genetic linkage map into seven pseudochromosomes. This diploid strawberry sequence lacks the large genome duplications seen in other rosids. Gene prediction modeling identified 34,809 genes, with most being supported by transcriptome mapping. Genes critical to valuable horticultural traits including flavor, nutritional value and flowering time were identified. Macrosyntenic relationships between Fragaria and Prunus predict a hypothetical ancestral Rosaceae genome that had nine chromosomes. New phylogenetic analysis of 154 protein-coding genes suggests that assignment of Populus to Malvidae, rather than Fabidae, is warranted.
doi:10.1038/ng.740
PMCID: PMC3326587  PMID: 21186353
3.  Global Profiling of Rice and Poplar Transcriptomes Highlights Key Conserved Circadian-Controlled Pathways and cis-Regulatory Modules 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e16907.
Background
Circadian clocks provide an adaptive advantage through anticipation of daily and seasonal environmental changes. In plants, the central clock oscillator is regulated by several interlocking feedback loops. It was shown that a substantial proportion of the Arabidopsis genome cycles with phases of peak expression covering the entire day. Synchronized transcriptome cycling is driven through an extensive network of diurnal and clock-regulated transcription factors and their target cis-regulatory elements. Study of the cycling transcriptome in other plant species could thus help elucidate the similarities and differences and identify hubs of regulation common to monocot and dicot plants.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Using a combination of oligonucleotide microarrays and data mining pipelines, we examined daily rhythms in gene expression in one monocotyledonous and one dicotyledonous plant, rice and poplar, respectively. Cycling transcriptomes were interrogated under different diurnal (driven) and circadian (free running) light and temperature conditions. Collectively, photocycles and thermocycles regulated about 60% of the expressed nuclear genes in rice and poplar. Depending on the condition tested, up to one third of oscillating Arabidopsis-poplar-rice orthologs were phased within three hours of each other suggesting a high degree of conservation in terms of rhythmic gene expression. We identified clusters of rhythmically co-expressed genes and searched their promoter sequences to identify phase-specific cis-elements, including elements that were conserved in the promoters of Arabidopsis, poplar, and rice.
Conclusions/Significance
Our results show that the cycling patterns of many circadian clock genes are highly conserved across poplar, rice, and Arabidopsis. The expression of many orthologous genes in key metabolic and regulatory pathways is diurnal and/or circadian regulated and phased to similar times of day. Our results confirm previous findings in Arabidopsis of three major classes of cis-regulatory modules within the plant circadian network: the morning (ME, GBOX), evening (EE, GATA), and midnight (PBX/TBX/SBX) modules. Identification of identical overrepresented motifs in the promoters of cycling genes from different species suggests that the core diurnal/circadian cis-regulatory network is deeply conserved between mono- and dicotyledonous species.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0016907
PMCID: PMC3111414  PMID: 21694767
4.  The Infectivities of Turnip Yellow Mosaic Virus Genomes with Altered tRNA Mimicry Are Not Dependent on Compensating Mutations in the Viral Replication Protein† 
Journal of Virology  2000;74(18):8368-8375.
Five highly infectious turnip yellow mosaic virus (TYMV) genomes with sequence changes in their 3′-terminal regions that result in altered aminoacylation and eEF1A binding have been studied. These genomes were derived from cloned parental RNAs of low infectivity by sequential passaging in plants. Three of these genomes that are incapable of aminoacylation have been reported previously (J. B. Goodwin, J. M. Skuzeski, and T. W. Dreher, Virology 230:113–124, 1997). We now demonstrate by subcloning the 3′ untranslated regions into wild-type TYMV RNA that the high infectivities and replication rates of these genomes compared to their progenitors are mostly due to a small number of mutations acquired in the 3′ tRNA-like structure during passaging. Mutations in other parts of the genome, including the replication protein coding region, are not required for high infectivity but probably do play a role in optimizing viral amplification and spread in plants. Two other TYMV RNA variants of suboptimal infectivities, one that accepts methionine instead of the usual valine and one that interacts less tightly with eEF1A, were sequentially passaged to produce highly infectious genomes. The improved infectivities of these RNAs were not associated with increased replication in protoplasts, and no mutations were acquired in their 3′ tRNA-like structures. Complete sequencing of one genome identified two mutations that result in amino acid changes in the movement protein gene, suggesting that improved infectivity may be a function of improved viral dissemination in plants. Our results show that the wild-type TYMV replication proteins are able to amplify genomes with 3′ termini of variable sequence and tRNA mimicry. These and previous results have led to a model in which the binding of eEF1A to the 3′ end to antagonize minus-strand initiation is a major role of the tRNA-like structure.
PMCID: PMC116347  PMID: 10954536

Results 1-4 (4)