Spliced leader trans-splicing in the nematode Trichinella spiralis uses highly polymorphic, noncanonical spliced leaders

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The trans-splicing of short spliced leader (SL) RNAs onto the 5' ends of mRNAs occurs in a diverse range of taxa. In nematodes, all species so far characterized utilize a characteristic, conserved spliced leader, SL1, as well as variants that are employed in the resolution of operons. Here we report the identification of spliced leader trans-splicing in the basal nematode Trichinella spiralis, and show that this nematode does not possess a canonical SL1, but rather has at least 15 distinct spliced leaders, encoded by at least 19 SL RNA genes. The individual spliced leaders vary in both size and primary sequence, showing a much higher degree of diversity compared to other known trans-spliced leaders. In a survey of T. spiralis mRNAs, individual mRNAs were found to be trans-spliced to a number of different spliced leader sequences. These data provide the first indication that the last common ancestor of the phylum Nematoda utilized spliced leader trans-splicing and that the canonical spliced leader, SL1, found in Caenorhabditis elegans, evolved after the divergence of the major nematode clades. This discovery sheds important light on the nature and evolution of mRNA processing in the Nematoda.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)760-770
Number of pages11
Issue number4
Early online date6 Feb 2008
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • 5' Untranslated Regions
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA, Complementary
  • DNA, Helminth
  • Expressed Sequence Tags
  • Genes, Helminth
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • RNA, Helminth
  • RNA, Spliced Leader
  • Trans-Splicing
  • Trichinella spiralis

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