Cotranscriptional splicing efficiency differs dramatically between Drosophila and mouse

RNA. 2012 Dec;18(12):2174-86. doi: 10.1261/rna.034090.112. Epub 2012 Oct 24.


Spliceosome assembly and/or splicing of a nascent transcript may be crucial for proper isoform expression and gene regulation in higher eukaryotes. We recently showed that cotranscriptional splicing occurs efficiently in Drosophila, but there are not comparable genome-wide nascent splicing data from mammals. To provide this comparison, we analyze a recently generated, high-throughput sequencing data set of mouse liver nascent RNA, originally studied for circadian transcriptional regulation. Cotranscriptional splicing is approximately twofold less efficient in mouse liver than in Drosophila, i.e., nascent intron levels relative to exon levels are ∼0.55 in mouse versus 0.25 in the fly. An additional difference between species is that only mouse cotranscriptional splicing is optimal when 5'-exon length is between 50 and 500 bp, and intron length does not correlate with splicing efficiency, consistent with exon definition. A similar analysis of intron and exon length dependence in the fly is more consistent with intron definition. Contrasted with these differences are many similarities between the two systems: Alternatively annotated introns are less efficiently spliced cotranscriptionally than constitutive introns, and introns of single-intron genes are less efficiently spliced than introns from multi-intron genes. The most striking common feature is intron position: Cotranscriptional splicing is much more efficient when introns are far from the 3' ends of their genes. Additionally, absolute gene length correlates positively with cotranscriptional splicing efficiency independently of intron location and position, in flies as well as in mice. The gene length and distance effects indicate that more "nascent time" gives rise to greater cotranscriptional splicing efficiency in both systems.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing
  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Drosophila / metabolism
  • Exons
  • Genes, Insect
  • Introns
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Mice
  • RNA Precursors / genetics*
  • RNA Precursors / metabolism*
  • RNA Splice Sites
  • RNA Splicing*
  • Species Specificity
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • RNA Precursors
  • RNA Splice Sites