Intron sequences that stimulate gene expression in Arabidopsis

Alan B. Rose, Amanda Carter, Ian F Korf, Noah Kojima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Key message: Related motifs strongly increase gene expression when added to an intron located in coding sequences. Abstract: Many introns greatly increase gene expression through a mechanism that remains elusive. An obstacle to understanding intron-mediated enhancement (IME) has been the difficulty of locating the specific intron sequences responsible for boosting expression because they are redundant, dispersed, and degenerate. Previously we used the IMEter algorithm in two independent ways to identify two motifs (CGATT and TTNGATYTG) that are candidates for involvement in IME in Arabidopsis. Here we show that both motifs are sufficient to increase expression. An intron that has little influence on expression was converted into one that increased mRNA accumulation 24-fold and reporter enzyme activity 40-fold relative to the intronless control by introducing 11 copies of the more active TTNGATYTG motif. This degree of stimulation is twice as large as that of the strongest of 15 natural introns previously tested in the same reporter gene. Even though the CGATT and TTNGATYTG motifs each increased expression, and CGATT matches the NGATY core of the longer motif, combining the motifs to make TTCGATTTG reduced the stimulating ability of the TTNGATYTG motif. Additional substitutions were used to test the contribution to IME of other residues in the TTNGATYTG motif. The verification that these motifs are active in IME will improve our ability to predict the stimulating ability of introns, to engineer any intron to increase expression to a desired level, and to explore the mechanism of IME by seeking factors that might interact with these sequences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-346
Number of pages10
JournalPlant Molecular Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • Arabidopsis
  • Cis-element
  • Gene expression
  • Intron
  • Motif

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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