Front. Genet., 13 April 2012
The function of introns
Michal Chorev 1,2 and Liran Carmel 1*
1 Department of Genetics, The Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, Faculty of Science, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel
2 School of Computer Science and Engineering, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel
Source/Fonte: Nature Chemical Biology
The intron–exon architecture of many eukaryotic genes raises the intriguing question of whether this unique organization serves any function, or is it simply a result of the spread of functionless introns in eukaryotic genomes. In this review, we show that introns in contemporary species fulfill a broad spectrum of functions, and are involved in virtually every step of mRNA processing. We propose that this great diversity of intronic functions supports the notion that introns were indeed selfish elements in early eukaryotes, but then independently gained numerous functions in different eukaryotic lineages. We suggest a novel criterion of evolutionary conservation, dubbed intron positional conservation, which can identify functional introns.
Keywords: intron function, gene architecture, intron–exon structure, intron positional conservation, expression regulation, non-coding RNAs, exon-junction complex, splicing
Citation: Chorev M and Carmel L (2012) The function of introns. Front. Gene. 3:55. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2012.00055
Received: 19 February 2012; Paper pending published: 05 March 2012;
Accepted: 26 March 2012; Published online: 13 April 2012.
Edited by: Galina Glazko, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, USA
Reviewed by: Boris L. Zybailov, University of Arkansas Medical Sciences, USA
Ancha Baranova, George Mason University, USA
Copyright: © 2012 Chorev and Carmel. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial License, which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited.
*Correspondence: Liran Carmel, Department of Genetics, The Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, Faculty of Science, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Edmond J. Safra Campus, Givat Ram, Jerusalem 91904, Israel. e-mail: email@example.com
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