[Tu, Shih-Long] Molecular mechanism of light-regulated alternative splicing in plants

Alternative splicing is of importance to eukaryotic organisms, producing multiple mRNA isoforms from a single gene in response to environmental changes. Dr. Tu’s group discovered that in moss Physcomitrella patens, the red light photoreceptor phytochrome interacts with the splicing regulator PphnRNP-H1 in a red light dependent manner. Furthermore, PphnRNP-H1 associates with the PpPRP39-1, one of spliceosome components which functions in pre-mRNA splicing, to control splicing activities. Their results suggest that phytochromes target the early step of spliceosome assembly via a cascade of protein–protein interactions to control pre-mRNA splicing.