Most human pre-mRNAs contain introns that are removed by splicing. Such a complex process needs strict control and regulation in order to prevent the expression of aberrant or unprocessed transcripts. To analyse the fate of pre-mRNAs that cannot be spliced, we inhibited splicing using an anti-sense morpholino (AMO) against U4 snRNA. As a consequence, splicing of several selected transcripts was strongly inhibited. This was accompanied by the formation of enlarged nuclear speckles containing polyadenylated RNA, splicing factors and the nuclear poly(A) binding protein. Consistently, more polyadenylated pre-mRNA could be isolated from nucleoplasmic as well as chromatin-associated RNA fractions following U4 inhibition. Further analysis demonstrated that accumulated pre-mRNAs were stable in the nucleus and that nuclear RNA degradation factors did not re-localise to nuclear speckles following splicing inhibition. The accumulation of pre-mRNA and the formation of enlarged speckles were sensitive to depletion of the 3' end processing factor, CPSF73, suggesting a requirement for poly(A) site processing in this mechanism. Finally, we provide evidence that the pre-mRNAs produced following U4 snRNA inhibition remain competent for splicing, perhaps providing a biological explanation for their stability. These data further characterise processes ensuring the nuclear retention of pre-mRNA that cannot be spliced and suggest that, in some cases, unspliced transcripts can complete splicing sometime after their initial synthesis.
Leuciscine fishes represent an important component of freshwater ichthyofauna endemic to northern Mediterranean areas. This lineage shows high intra-specific morphological variability and exhibits high levels of hybridization, two characteristics that contribute to systematic uncertainties, misclassification of taxa and, potentially, the mismanagement of biodiversity. This study focused on brook chub, Squalius lucumonis, an endemic taxon of Central Italy. The taxonomic status of this species has long been questioned, and a hybrid origin from sympatric leusciscines (S. squalus x Rutilus rubilio, or S. squalus x Telestes muticellus) has been hypothesised. A phenotypic (evaluating shape and meristic counts) and genetic (using mitochondrial and nuclear markers) investigation of these four taxa was conducted to test species delimitation in sympatric areas and to evaluate the taxonomic status of S. lucumonis. One hundred and forty-five individuals of all four taxa were collected within streams of the lowest portion of the Tiber River basin and analysed; this region encompasses a large portion of the S. lucumonis distribution. The different morphological and genetic approaches were individually examined, compared, and then combined in a quantitative model to both investigate the limits of each approach and to identify cases of misclassification. The results obtained confirm the cladogenetic non-hybrid origin of S. lucumonis, highlight the need for immediate conservation actions and emphasise the value of an integrated approach in the study of leuciscines evolution.
Karyotype and other chromosomal characteristics of the Appenine endemic cyprinid fish, Toscana stream chub Squalius lucumonis, were analysed using conventional banding and FISH with 45S and 5S rDNA probes. The diploid chromosome number (2n = 50) and karyotype characteristics including pericentromeric heterochromatic blocks and GC-rich CMA(3)-positive sites corresponding to both positive Ag-NORs and 45S rDNA loci on the short arms of a single medium-sized submetacentric chromosome pair were consistent with those found in most European leuciscine cyprinids. On other hand, 5S rDNA FISH in the Toscana stream chub and three other Italian leuciscines, S. squalus, Rutilus rubilio and Telestes muticellus, revealed a species-specific hybridization pattern, i.e. signals on four (S. lucumonis), three (S. squalus and R. rubilio) and two (T. muticellus) chromosome pairs. Whereas all the species shared the 5S rDNA loci on the largest subtelocentric chromosome pair, a "leuciscine" cytotaxonomic marker, S. lucumonis showed both classes of rDNA loci tandem aligned on the short arms of chromosome pair No. 12. The present findings suggest that the observed high variability of 5S rDNA loci provides a powerful tool for investigation of karyotype differentiation in karyologically conservative leuciscine fishes.
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