G. Danks and E.M. Thompson. Trans-splicing in metazoans: A link to translational control? Worm, 4(3):e1046030, 2015.

DOI: 10.1080/21624054.2015.1046030

The trans-splicing of a spliced-leader RNA to a subset of mRNAs is a phenomenon that occurs in many species, including Caenorhabditis elegans, and yet the driving force for its evolution in disparate groups of animals remains unclear. Polycistronic mRNA resulting from the transcription of operons is resolved via trans-splicing, but operons comprise only a sub-set of trans-spliced genes. Using the marine chordate, Oikopleura dioica, we recently tested the hypothesis that metazoan operons accelerate recovery from growth arrest. We found no supporting evidence for this in O. dioica. Instead we found a striking relationship between trans-splicing and maternal mRNA in O. dioica, C. elegans and the ascidian, Ciona intestinalis. Furthermore, in O. dioica and C. elegans, we found evidence to suggest a role for mTOR signaling in the translational control of growth-related, trans-spliced maternal mRNAs. We propose that this may be a mechanism for adjusting egg number in response to nutrient levels in these species.