- Summary Alternative splicing (AS) combines different transcript splice junctions that result in transcripts with shuffled exons, alternative 5¢ or 3¢ splicing sites, retained introns and different transcript termini. In this way, multiple mRNA species and proteins can be created from a single gene expanding the potential informational content of eukaryotic genomes. Search algorithms of AS forms in a variety of Arabidopsis databases showed they contained an unusually high fraction of retained introns (above 30%), compared with 10% that was reported for humans. The preponderance of retained introns (65%) were either part of open reading frames, present in the UTR region or present as the last intron in the transcript, indicating that their occurrence would not participate in non-sense-mediated decay. Interestingly, the functional distribution of the transcripts with retained introns is skewed towards stress and external/internal stimuli-related functions. A sampling of the alternative transcripts with retained introns were confirmed by RT-PCR and were shown to co-purify with polyribosomes, indicating their nuclear export. Thus, retained introns are a prominent feature of AS in Arabidopsis and as such may play a regulatory function.