Jean Beggs is Professor of Molecular Biology in the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology at the University of Edinburgh. She graduated BSc and PhD in Biochemistry, from Glasgow University. She was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Edinburgh and then at the Plant Breeding Institute, Cambridge, UK. During this time she cloned the yeast 2 micron plasmid and developed a highly efficient method for gene cloning in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which was key to the development of yeast molecular genetics. She became a lecturer at Imperial College, London, then a Royal Society Research Fellow and Professor at the University of Edinburgh. In the meantime, her research turned to investigating the mechanism and regulation of pre-mRNA splicing, combining biochemical, molecular genetic and systems biology approaches. Her lab now studies functional links between splicing, transcription and chromatin. She is a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator and a Fellow of the Royal Society. She was awarded the Gabor Medal of the Royal Society, the Novartis Medal of the UK Biochemical Society, and a CBE for services to science.
Interactions between transcription, splicing and chromatin
Splicing is the process of removing introns from precursor messenger RNAs, joining adjacent exons to produce spliced mRNA. There is extensive evidence that in both metazoans and budding yeast the process of splicing occurs as soon as the intron is transcribed and before transcription termination, i.e. co-transcriptionally. As a result, RNA polymerase II elongation rate can influence splicing. This coupling effect is not unidirectional. For example, my lab showed that splicing can affect transcription elongation, causing RNA polymerase to pause transiently while splicing takes place. More recently, links between splicing and chromatin modification have also become evident. To investigate the molecular basis of the interactions between these three important cellular process, my lab has developed methods to analyse transcription and splicing at high kinetic resolution and we combine this with rapid degradation of individual transcription, splicing and chromatin factors. Based on our results, we propose that transcription and chromatin likely respond to signals from splicing fidelity checkpoints that may be related to decisions regarding alternative splicing events in higher eukaryotes.
Chathoth, K., Barrass, J.D., Webb, S. and Beggs, J.D. (2014) A splicing-dependent transcriptional checkpoint associated with pre-spliceosome formation. Mol. Cell. 53: 779-790.
Alexander, R. and Beggs, J.D. (2010) Cross-talk in transcription, splicing and chromatin: who makes the first call? Biochem. Soc. Trans. 38:1251-6.