Courtesy of @lopsidedlablife, here is another alternative splicing visual. This follows on from ‘Let’s eat grandma‘, and is based on the idea of how punctuation can greatly influence the meaning of a statement, akin to how the inclusion/exclusion of alternative exons during pre-messenger RNA splicing can massively influence the ‘meaning” of the spliced message e.g. the introduction of new coding sequence that might adapt protein function by adding an extra functional domain(s), for example, or might influence the levels of functional or ‘translatable’ message if a premature termination codon is included in the alternative exon. The review ‘Alternative splicing in plants – coming of age‘ by Syed et al. 2012 gives a great overview of pre-messenger RNA splicing in plants.
The visual is of course greatly influenced by the famous Banksy graffiti….however there is some speculation as to whether it was actually a true Banksy. Here the Panda is proudly shooting ‘Splice’ & ‘Sites’ from a couple of clown guns.
See how a single comma can totally change the meaning of what Pandas do best (they ‘Eat shoots and leaves’), turning the cute Panda into a (clown) gun-toting splicing bear, that ‘leaves’ the scene of the splicing crime (‘Eats, shoots and leaves)…
..or put another way:
See Panda alternative splicing, see pandAS…
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Back to thinking about how to explain alternative splicing in an easy, graphical or pictorial way.
Here’s an attempt at sketching plant cells under a microscope. Grid like arrangement of cells, with chloroplasts (photosynthesis organelles) as greenish circles, and the cell nucleus as dark circles/blobs.
Not entirely sure where this is going…maybe a cartoon. Still hope to include Pandas somewhere along the line…
I was asked the other day if I could explain our research in 45 seconds, and after fumbling about with cumbersome nuggets such as ‘post-transcriptional mechanism’ and ‘spliceosome‘ and ‘exon-intron junctions’ decided it probably needed a drastic change of tact!
Anyway, it struck me that one of the key things to get across about alternative splicing is how important the inclusion (or exclusion) of an exon in a pre-mRNA has on how the mRNA is read or interpreted. If you substitute reading RNA messages with English grammar it reminds me of a funny Panda-related sentence that Hugh introduced me to a while back. It emphasises just how important a comma (or alternate exon, for example) has on the whole interpretation of the message. Compare these two sentences describing Pandas:
Eats shoots and leaves OR Eats, shoots and leaves
Notice how the comma completely changes the whole meaning and interpretation of the statement.
I think that this could be a good way to try to put across the key feature of splicing. Can it be done in 45 secs? Watch this space!
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