A team of OU students publish article in G3

A Team of OU Students Publish Article in G3


A team of biology students published a paper in the August 2015 issue of the journal G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics Mission. The lead author was Brian Lunch, who earned a masters degree in biology in 2013. Coauthors include graduate students Donya Shodja and Amy Siebert, and undergraduates Tara Patrick, Jennifer Moreno, and Katie Klusman. The students work in the laboratory of Prof. Shailesh Lal. The abstract of their paper, titled “Differential Pre-mRNA Splicing Alters the Transcript Diversity of Helitrons Between the Maize Inbred Lines” (Volume 5, Pages 1703-1711) is given below.


The propensity to capture and mobilize gene fragments by the highly abundant Helitron family of transposable elements likely impacts the evolution of genes in Zea mays. These elements provide a substrate for natural selection by giving birth to chimeric transcripts by intertwining exons of disparate genes. They also capture flanking exons by read-through transcription. Here, we describe the expression of selected Helitrons in different maize inbred lines. We recently reported that these Helitrons produce multiple isoforms of transcripts in inbred B73 via alternative splicing. Despite sharing high degrees of sequence similarity, the splicing profile of Helitrons differed among various maize inbred lines. The comparison of Helitron sequences identified unique polymorphisms in inbred B73, which potentially give rise to the alternatively spliced sites utilized by transcript isoforms. Some alterations in splicing, however, do not have obvious explanations. These observations not only add another level to the creation of transcript diversity by Helitrons among inbred lines but also provide novel insights into the cis-acting elements governing splice-site selection during pre-mRNA processing.


Lal’s research is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation