Alternative splicing leads to two cholinergic proteins in Caenorhabditis elegans

J Mol Biol. 1994 Aug 26;241(4):627-30. doi: 10.1006/jmbi.1994.1538.


The cha-1 gene of Caenorhabditis elegans encodes choline acetyl-transferase (the acetylcholine synthetic enzyme). The C. elegans unc-17 gene encodes a synaptic vesicle-associated acetylcholine transporter. The two genes thus define sequential biochemical steps in the metabolism of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Cloning, sequencing, and molecular analysis of the unc-17 region indicate that cha-1 and unc-17 transcripts share a 5' untranslated exon, and the rest of the unc-17 transcript is nested within the long first intron of cha-1. Thus, two proteins with related functions but with no sequences in common are produced as a result of alternative splicing of a common mRNA precursor. The structure of this transcription unit suggests a novel type of coordinate gene expression, and a temporal processing model is proposed for the regulation of cha-1 and unc-17 expression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Alternative Splicing*
  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / enzymology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins*
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics*
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase / genetics*
  • Exons
  • Helminth Proteins / genetics*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Operon
  • Restriction Mapping
  • Vesicular Acetylcholine Transport Proteins
  • Vesicular Transport Proteins*


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Helminth Proteins
  • Unc-17 protein, C elegans
  • Vesicular Acetylcholine Transport Proteins
  • Vesicular Transport Proteins
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase

Associated data

  • GENBANK/L08790
  • GENBANK/U09277