Early introns

The discovery of canonical introns in simple eukaryotic organisms challenges ideas about the origins of spliceosomal introns.

Jonathan Weitzman(jonathanweitzman@hotmail.com)
Sep 18, 2002

The discovery of a single intron with aberrant splice boundaries in the primitive protozoan Giardia, raises questions about the origins of splicing. In September 19 Nature, Simpson and colleagues report the discovery of introns with canonical boundary sequences in the closely related microbial eukaryote Carpediemonas membranifera (Nature, 419:270, September 19, 2002).

Simpson et al. analyzed two distinct carbamate kinase genes from Carpediemonas and found short introns flanked by characteristic GT and AG sequences, at the 5' and 3' boundaries, respectively. The Giardia intron has a non-canonical CT dinucleotide at the 5' boundary. The authors conclude that "there is now every reason to assume that canonical introns were present in the most recent common ancestor of living eukaryotes."

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