In an attempt to further increase transgene expression levels in plants over and above the enhancement obtained with a 5′ untranslated leader intron, three different maize introns were inserted at three different positions within the coding sequence of the luciferase reporter gene. Constructs were transformed into maize (Black Mexican Sweet) cells and protoplasts, and their activity determined. Although all introns tested were correctly spliced, only one of them in a particular position was able to enhance gene expression. Correct splicing sites were used for intron removal and the quantity of luciferase mRNA produced did not differ significantly. These data indicate that both the position and the sequence of an intron have marked effects on expression levels, suggesting that nuclear processing of the pre‐mRNA determines final expression levels through the structure of the mRNP.
- Received November 2, 2000.
- Revision received December 12, 2000.
- Accepted March 1, 2001.
- Copyright © 2001 European Molecular Biology Organization