Trans-splicing of mRNAs links gene transcription to translational control regulated by mTOR
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Background: In phylogenetically diverse organisms, the 5′ ends of a subset of mRNAs are trans-spliced with a spliced leader (SL) RNA. The functions of SL trans-splicing, however, remain largely enigmatic. Results: We quantified translation genome-wide in the marine chordate, Oikopleura dioica, under inhibition of mTOR, a central growth regulator. Translation of trans-spliced TOP mRNAs was suppressed, consistent with a role of the SL sequence in nutrient-dependent translational control of growth-related mRNAs. Under crowded, nutrient-limiting conditions, O. dioica continued to filter-feed, but arrested growth until favorable conditions returned. Upon release from unfavorable conditions, initial recovery was independent of nutrient-responsive, trans-spliced genes, suggesting animal density sensing as a first trigger for resumption of development. Conclusion: Our results are consistent with a proposed role of trans-splicing in the coordinated translational down-regulation of nutrient-responsive genes under growth-limiting conditions.