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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 264314, 14 pages
Review Article

The Role of Canonical and Noncanonical Pre-mRNA Splicing in Plant Stress Responses

Laboratory of Biotechnology, Institute of Biology and Soil Science, Far East Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladivostok 690022, Russia

Received 3 August 2012; Revised 2 October 2012; Accepted 11 October 2012

Academic Editor: Juan Francisco Jiménez Bremont

Copyright © 2013 A. S. Dubrovina et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Plants are sessile organisms capable of adapting to various environmental constraints, such as high or low temperatures, drought, soil salinity, or pathogen attack. To survive the unfavorable conditions, plants actively employ pre-mRNA splicing as a mechanism to regulate expression of stress-responsive genes and reprogram intracellular regulatory networks. There is a growing evidence that various stresses strongly affect the frequency and diversity of alternative splicing events in the stress-responsive genes and lead to an increased accumulation of mRNAs containing premature stop codons, which in turn have an impact on plant stress response. A number of studies revealed that some mRNAs involved in plant stress response are spliced counter to the traditional conception of alternative splicing. Such noncanonical mRNA splicing events include trans-splicing, intraexonic deletions, or variations affecting multiple exons and often require short direct repeats to occur. The noncanonical alternative splicing, along with common splicing events, targets the spliced transcripts to degradation through nonsense-mediated mRNA decay or leads to translation of truncated proteins. Investigation of the diversity, biological consequences, and mechanisms of the canonical and noncanonical alternative splicing events will help one to identify those transcripts which are promising for using in genetic engineering and selection of stress-tolerant plants.