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Open Access Research

Dynamic regulation of genome-wide pre-mRNA splicing and stress tolerance by the Sm-like protein LSm5 in Arabidopsis

Peng Cui, Shoudong Zhang, Feng Ding, Shahjahan Ali and Liming Xiong*

Author Affiliations

Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering Division, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Thuwal 23955-6900, Saudi Arabia

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Genome Biology 2014, 15:R1  doi:10.1186/gb-2014-15-1-r1

Published: 7 January 2014

Abstract

Background

Sm-like proteins are highly conserved proteins that form the core of the U6 ribonucleoprotein and function in several mRNA metabolism processes, including pre-mRNA splicing. Despite their wide occurrence in all eukaryotes, little is known about the roles of Sm-like proteins in the regulation of splicing.

Results

Here, through comprehensive transcriptome analyses, we demonstrate that depletion of the Arabidopsis supersensitive to abscisic acid and drought 1 gene (SAD1), which encodes Sm-like protein 5 (LSm5), promotes an inaccurate selection of splice sites that leads to a genome-wide increase in alternative splicing. In contrast, overexpression of SAD1 strengthens the precision of splice-site recognition and globally inhibits alternative splicing. Further, SAD1 modulates the splicing of stress-responsive genes, particularly under salt-stress conditions. Finally, we find that overexpression of SAD1 in Arabidopsis improves salt tolerance in transgenic plants, which correlates with an increase in splicing accuracy and efficiency for stress-responsive genes.

Conclusions

We conclude that SAD1 dynamically controls splicing efficiency and splice-site recognition in Arabidopsis, and propose that this may contribute to SAD1-mediated stress tolerance through the metabolism of transcripts expressed from stress-responsive genes. Our study not only provides novel insights into the function of Sm-like proteins in splicing, but also uncovers new means to improve splicing efficiency and to enhance stress tolerance in a higher eukaryote.