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Genome-wide analysis of light-regulated alternative splicing mediated by photoreceptors in Physcomitrella patens

Hshin-Ping Wu, Yi-shin Su, Hsiu-Chen Chen, Yu-Rong Chen, Chia-Chen Wu, Wen-Dar Lin and Shih-Long Tu*

Author Affiliations

Institute of Plant and Microbial Biology, Academia Sinica, Taipei 11529, Taiwan

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Genome Biology 2014, 15:R10  doi:10.1186/gb-2014-15-1-r10

Published: 7 January 2014

Abstract

Background

Light is one of the most important factors regulating plant growth and development. Light-sensing photoreceptors tightly regulate gene expression to control photomorphogenic responses. Although many levels of gene expression are modulated by photoreceptors, regulation at the mRNA splicing step remains unclear.

Results

We performed high-throughput mRNA sequencing to analyze light-responsive changes in alternative splicing in the moss Physcomitrella patens, and found that a large number of alternative splicing events were induced by light in the moss protonema. Light-responsive intron retention preferentially occurred in transcripts involved in photosynthesis and translation. Many of the alternatively spliced transcripts were expressed from genes with a function relating to splicing or light signaling, suggesting a potential impact on pre-mRNA splicing and photomorphogenic gene regulation in response to light. Moreover, most light-regulated intron retention was induced immediately upon light exposure, while motif analysis identified a repetitive GAA motif that may function as an exonic regulatory cis element in light-mediated alternative splicing. Further analysis in gene-disrupted mutants was consistent with a function for multiple red-light photoreceptors in the upstream regulation of light-responsive alternative splicing.

Conclusions

Our results indicate that intensive alternative splicing occurs in non-vascular plants and that, during photomorphogenesis, light regulates alternative splicing with transcript selectivity. We further suggest that alternative splicing is rapidly fine-tuned by light to modulate gene expression and reorganize metabolic processes, and that pre-mRNA cis elements are involved in photoreceptor-mediated splicing regulation.