Format of Original
Taylor & Francis
The discovery of increasing numbers of genes with overlapping sequences highlights the problem of expression in the context of constraining regulatory elements from more than one gene. This study identifies regulatory sequences encompassed within two genes that overlap in an antisense orientation at their 3’ ends. The genes encode the α-thyroid hormone receptor gene (TRα or NR1A1) and Rev-erbα (NR1D1). In mammals TRα pre-mRNAs are alternatively spliced to yield mRNAs encoding functionally antagonistic proteins: TRα1, an authentic thyroid hormone receptor; and TRα2, a non-hormone-binding variant that acts as a repressor. TRα2-specific splicing requires two regulatory elements that overlap with Rev-erbα sequences. Functional mapping of these elements reveals minimal splicing enhancer elements that have evolved within the constraints of the overlapping Rev-erbα sequence. These results provide insight into the evolution of regulatory elements within the context of bidirectional coding sequences. They also demonstrate the ability of the genetic code to accommodate multiple layers of information within a given sequence, an important property of the code recently suggested on theoretical grounds.