Premessenger RNA (pre-mRNA) splicing can occur within an individual pre-mRNA (cis-splicing) or between separate pre-mRNAs (trans-splicing). Although a number of examples of mammalian trans-splicing have been reported, the molecular mechanisms involved are poorly understood. Here, we investigate the mechanisms of Sp1 pre-mRNA trans-splicing with human cells expressing modified Sp1 transgenes. We find that the presence of a long intron or the insertion of an RNA polymerase II pause site within an intron promotes trans-splicing. We also add examples of naturally occurring trans-splicing. We propose that Sp1 trans-splicing, and other examples of mammalian trans-splicing, are a consequence of low-frequency disruption of the normal mechanisms that couple transcription and splicing. Copyright ©2005 by Elsevier Inc.
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