The expression of eukaryotic mRNAs is achieved though an intricate series of molecular processes that provide many steps for regulating the production of a final gene product. However, the relationships between individual steps in mRNA biosynthesis and the rates at which they occur are poorly understood. By applying RNA-seq to chromatin-associated and soluble nucleoplasmic fractions of RNA from Lipid A-stimulated macrophages, we examined the timing of exon ligation and transcript release from chromatin relative to the induction of transcription. We find that for a subset of genes in the Lipid A response, the ligation of certain exon pairs is delayed relative to the synthesis of the complete transcript. In contrast, 3' end cleavage and polyadenylation occur rapidly once transcription extends through the cleavage site. Our data indicate that these transcripts with delayed splicing are not released from the chromatin fraction until all the introns have been excised. These unusual kinetics result in a chromatin-associated pool of completely transcribed and 3'-processed transcripts that are not yet fully spliced. We also find that long introns containing repressed exons that will be excluded from the final mRNA are excised particularly slowly relative to other introns in a transcript. These results indicate that the kinetics of splicing and transcript release contribute to the timing of expression for multiple genes of the inflammatory response.
Keywords: gene expression; inflammatory response; mRNA maturation; pre-mRNA splicing; splicing kinetics.