Wiley interdisciplinary reviews. RNA 2017 07 13() doi 10.1002/wrna.1428
A nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is an intron-rich organism and up to 25% of its pre-mRNAs are estimated to be alternatively processed. Its compact genomic organization enables construction of fluorescence splicing reporters with intact genomic sequences and visualization of alternative processing patterns of interest in the transparent living animals with single-cell resolution. Genetic analysis with the reporter worms facilitated identification of trans-acting factors and cis-acting elements, which are highly conserved in mammals. Analysis of unspliced and partially spliced pre-mRNAs in vivo raised models for alternative splicing regulation relying on specific order of intron excision. RNA-seq analysis of splicing factor mutants and CLIP-seq analysis of the factors allow global search for target genes in the whole animal. An mRNA surveillance system is not essential for its viability or fertility, allowing analysis of unproductively spliced noncoding mRNAs. These features offer C. elegans as an ideal model organism for elucidating alternative pre-mRNA processing mechanisms in vivo. Examples of isoform-specific functions of alternatively processed genes are summarized. For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.