Evolution of intron splicing towards optimized gene expression is based on various Cis- and Trans-molecular mechanisms
Frumkin, Idan ; Yofe, Ido ; Bar-Ziv, Raz ; Gurvich, Yonat ; Lu, Yen-Yun ; Voichek, Yoav ; Towers, Ruth ; Schirman, Dvir et al.
Citable Link (URL):http://resolver.sub.uni-goettingen.de/purl?gs-1/16463
Splicing expands, reshapes, and regulates the transcriptome of eukaryotic organisms. Despite its importance, key questions remain unanswered, including the following: Can splicing evolve when organisms adapt to new challenges? How does evolution optimize inefficiency of introns' splicing and of the splicing machinery? To explore these questions, we evolved yeast cells that were engineered to contain an inefficiently spliced intron inside a gene whose protein product was under selection for an increased expression level. We identified a combination of mutations in Cis (within the gene of interest) and in Trans (in mRNA-maturation machinery). Surprisingly, the mutations in Cis resided outside of known intronic functional sites and improved the intron's splicing efficiency potentially by easing tight mRNA structures. One of these mutations hampered a protein's domain that was not under selection, demonstrating the evolutionary flexibility of multi-domain proteins as one domain functionality was improved at the expense of the other domain. The Trans adaptations resided in two proteins, Npl3 and Gbp2, that bind pre-mRNAs and are central to their maturation. Interestingly, these mutations either increased or decreased the affinity of these proteins to mRNA, presumably allowing faster spliceosome recruitment or increased time before degradation of the pre-mRNAs, respectively. Altogether, our work reveals various mechanistic pathways toward optimizations of intron splicing to ultimately adapt gene expression patterns to novel demands.