Ciona intestinalis is a useful model organism to analyze chordate development and genetics. However, unlike vertebrates, it shares a unique mechanism called trans-splicing with lower eukaryotes. In the computational analysis of trans-splicing in C. intestinalis we report here, we discovered that although the amount of non-trans-spliced and trans-spliced genes is usually equivalent, the expression ratio between the two groups varies significantly with tissues and developmental stages. Among the seven tissues studied, the observed ratios ranged from 2.53 in "gonad" to 19.53 in "endostyle", and during development they increased from 1.68 at the "egg" stage to 7.55 at the "juvenile" stage. We further hypothesize that this enrichment in trans-spliced mRNAs in early developmental stages might be related to the abundance of trans-spliced mRNAs in "gonad". Our analysis indicates that in C. intestinalis, although there may not exist strong fundamental requirements for genes to be trans-spliced, the populations of non-trans-spliced and trans-spliced genes are likely to be spatially and temporally regulated differently.
- Sequence analysis
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