The Consensus 5' Splice Site Motif Inhibits mRNA Nuclear Export
In eukaryotes, mRNAs are synthesized in the nucleus and then exported to the cytoplasm where they are translated into proteins. We have mapped an element, which when present in the 3’terminal exon or in an unspliced mRNA, inhibits mRNA nuclear export. This element has the same sequence as the consensus 5’splice site motif that is used to define the start of introns. Previously it was shown that when this motif is retained in the mRNA, it causes defects in 3’cleavage and polyadenylation and promotes mRNA decay. Our new data indicates that this motif also inhibits nuclear export and promotes the targeting of transcripts to nuclear speckles, foci within the nucleus which have been linked to splicing. The motif, however, does not disrupt splicing or the recruitment of UAP56 or TAP/Nxf1 to the RNA, which are normally required for nuclear export. Genome wide analysis of human mRNAs, lncRNA and eRNAs indicates that this motif is depleted from naturally intronless mRNAs and eRNAs, but less so in lncRNAs. This motif is also depleted from the beginning and ends of the 3’terminal exons of spliced mRNAs, but less so for lncRNAs. Our data suggests that the presence of the 5’splice site motif in mature RNAs promotes their nuclear retention and may help to distinguish mRNAs from misprocessed transcripts and transcriptional noise.