Concepts

Self-splicing introns are of two types: group I introns and group II introns. These introns have complex secondary structures that enable them to catalyze their excision from RNA molecules without the aid of enzymes or other proteins.

exons and five introns (I Figure 14.17a). The entire gene is transcribed into pre-mRNA (IFigure 14.17b). There are two possible 3' cleavage sites. In cells of the thyroid gland, 3' cleavage and polyadenylation take place after the fourth exon, and the first three introns are then removed to produce a mature mRNA consisting of exons 1, 2, 3, and 4 (iFigure 14.17c). This mRNA is translated into the hormone calcitonin. In brain cells, the identical pre-RNA is transcribed from DNA, but it is processed differently. Cleavage and polyadenylation take place after the sixth exon, yielding an initial transcript that includes all six exons. During splicing, exon 4 (part of the calcitonin mRNA) is removed, along with all the introns; so only exons 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 are present in the mature mRNA (I Figure 14.17d). When translated, this mRNA produces a protein called calcitonin-gene-related peptide (CGRP), which has an amino acid sequence quite different from that of calcitonin. Alternative splicing may produce different combinations of exons in the mRNA, but the order of the exons is not usually changed. Different processing pathways contribute to gene regulation, as discussed in Chapter 16.

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