Alternative splicing (AS) of precursor mRNAs is a widespread phenomenon in plants; however, many questions, especially regarding its regulation and functional implications, remain to be elucidated. In vertebrates, polypyrimidine tract-binding proteins (PTBs) have been identified as key splicing factors influencing splice site selection and orchestrating coordinated splicing programmes during developmental processes. Here, we analysed three PTB homologues from Arabidopsis thaliana and provide evidence for their gene regulatory potential based on AS and a splicing-independent mechanism. Our data reveal that Arabidopsis PTB homologues are subject to extensive auto- and cross-regulation via AS-coupled nonsense-mediated decay, thereby establishing a basis for interlinking their expression. Furthermore, the multiple modes of action of Arabidopsis PTB homologues are reflected in their subcellular localization in the nucleus, cytosol and processing bodies. This work provides insight into the regulation of AS in plants and highlights the regulatory potential of the multifunctional plant PTB homologues, which might have important implications in diverse biological processes.
© 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.