Alternative splicing of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) genomic mRNA produces more than 40 unique viral mRNA species, of which more than half remain incompletely spliced within an HIV-1-infected cell. Regulation of splicing at HIV-1 3′ splice sites (3′ss) requires suboptimal polypyrimidine tracts, and positive or negative regulation of splicing occurs through binding of cellular factors to cis-acting splicing regulatory elements. We have previously shown that splicing at HIV-1 3′ss A2, which produces vpr mRNA and promotes inclusion of HIV-1 exon 3, is repressed by the hnRNP A/B-dependent exonic splicing silencer ESSV. Here we show that ESSV activity downstream of 3′ss A2 is localized to a 16-nucleotide element within HIV-1 exon 3. HIV-1 replication was reduced by 95% when ESSV was inactivated by mutagenesis. Reduced replication was concomitant with increased inclusion of exon 3 within spliced viral mRNA and decreased accumulation of unspliced viral mRNA, resulting in decreased cell-associated p55 Gag. Prolonged culture of ESSV mutant viruses resulted in two independent second-site reversions disrupting the splice sites that define exon 3, 3′ss A2 and 5′ splice site D3. Either of these changes restored both HIV-1 replication and regulated viral splicing. Therefore, inhibition of HIV-1 3′ss A2 splicing is necessary for HIV-1 replication.
Inefficient alternative splicing of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1(HIV-1) primary RNA transcript results in greater than half of all viral mRNA remaining unspliced. Regulation of HIV-1 alternative splicing occurs through the presence of suboptimal viral 5' and 3' splice sites (5' and 3'ss), which are positively regulated by exonic splicing enhancers (ESE) and negatively regulated by exonic splicing silencers (ESS) and intronic splicing silencers (ISS). We previously showed that splicing at HIV-1 3'ss A2 is repressed by ESSV and enhanced by the downstream 5'ss D3 signal. Disruption of ESSV results in increased vpr mRNA accumulation and exon 3 inclusion, decreased accumulation of unspliced viral mRNA, and decreased virus production.
Here we show that optimization of the 5'ss D2 signal results in increased splicing at the upstream 3'ss A1, increased inclusion of exon 2 into viral mRNA, decreased accumulation of unspliced viral mRNA, and decreased virus production. Virus production from the 5'ss D2 and ESSV mutants was rescued by transient expression of HIV-1 Gag and Pol. We further show that the increased inclusion of either exon 2 or 3 does not significantly affect the stability of viral mRNA but does result in an increase and decrease, respectively, in HIV-1 mRNA levels. The changes in viral mRNA levels directly correlate with changes in tat mRNA levels observed upon increased inclusion of exon 2 or 3.
These results demonstrate that splicing at HIV-1 3'ss A1 is regulated by the strength of the downstream 5'ss signal and that suboptimal splicing at 3'ss A1 is necessary for virus replication. Furthermore, the replication defective phenotype resulting from increased splicing at 3'ss A1 is similar to the phenotype observed upon increased splicing at 3'ss A2. Further examination of the role of 5'ss D2 and D3 in the alternative splicing of 3'ss A1 and A2, respectively, is necessary to delineate a role for non-coding exon inclusion in HIV-1 replication.
hnRNP A1 binds to RNA in a cooperative manner. Initial hnRNP A1 binding to an exonic splicing silencer at the 3′ end of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) tat exon 3, which is a high-affinity site, is followed by cooperative spreading in a 3′-to-5′ direction. As hnRNP A1 propagates toward the 5′ end of the exon, it antagonizes binding of a serine/arginine-rich (SR) protein to an exonic splicing enhancer, thereby inhibiting splicing at that exon's alternative 3′ splice site. tat exon 3 and the preceding intron of HIV-1 pre-mRNA can fold into an elaborate RNA secondary structure in solution, which could potentially influence hnRNP A1 binding. We report here that hnRNP A1 binding and splicing repression can occur on an unstructured RNA. Moreover, hnRNP A1 can effectively unwind an RNA hairpin upon binding, displacing a bound protein. We further show that hnRNP A1 can also spread in a 5′-to-3′ direction, although when initial binding takes place in the middle of an RNA, spreading preferentially proceeds in a 3′-to-5′ direction. Finally, when two distant high-affinity sites are present on the same RNA, they facilitate cooperative spreading of hnRNP A1 between the two sites.
Correct splice site recognition is critical in pre-mRNA splicing. We find that almost all of a diverse panel of exonic splicing silencer (ESS) elements alter splice site choice when placed between competing sites, consistently inhibiting use of intron-proximal 5′ and 3′ splice sites. Supporting a general role for ESSs in splice site definition, we found that ESSs are both abundant and highly conserved between alternative splice site pairs and that mutation of ESSs located between natural alternative splice site pairs consistently shifted splicing toward the intron-proximal site. Some exonic splicing enhancers (ESEs) promoted use of intron-proximal 5′ splice sites, and tethering of hnRNP A1 and SF2/ASF proteins between competing splice sites mimicked the effects of ESS and ESE elements, respectively. Further, we observed that specific subsets of ESSs had distinct effects on a multifunctional intron retention reporter, and that one of these subsets is likely preferred for regulation of endogenous intron retention events. Together, our findings provide a comprehensive picture of the functions of ESSs in the control of diverse types of splicing decisions.
Polypyrimidine tract binding protein (PTB) represses the splicing of many
alternatively spliced exons. This repression can sometimes involve the direct
occlusion of splice sites by PTB. We show here that PTB prevents splicing of the
c-src N1 exon to downstream exon 4 by a different mechanism. PTB does not
interfere with U1 snRNP binding to the N1 5′ splice site, but instead
prevents formation of the pre-spliceosomal Early (E) complex across the
intervening intron. If only the repressed 5′ splice site of the N1
exon is present, the splicing factor U2AF does not assemble on the downstream
3′ splice site of exon 4. When the unregulated 5′ splice
site of the upstream exon 3 is included in the RNA, U2AF binding is restored and
splicing between exons 3 and 4 proceeds, in spite of the presence of the PTB
bound across the N1 exon. Rather than directly blocking the N1 splice sites, PTB
is blocking the 5′ splice site dependent assembly of U2AF into the E
complex, presumably through an interaction with the U1 snRNP. This mechanism of
repression is likely to also occur in many other alternative exons.
Splicing of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) exon 6D is regulated by the presence of a complex splicing regulatory element (SRE) sequence that interacts with the splicing factors hnRNP H and SC35. In this work, we show that, in the context of the wild-type viral sequence, hnRNP H acts as a repressor of exon 6D inclusion independent of its binding to the SRE. However, hnRNP H binding to the SRE acts as an enhancer of exon 6D inclusion in the presence of a critical T-to-C mutation. These seemingly contrasting functional properties of hnRNP H appear to be caused by a change in the RNA secondary structure induced by the T-to-C mutation that affects the spatial location of bound hnRNP H with respect to the exon 6D splicing determinants. We propose a new regulatory mechanism mediated by RNA folding that may also explain the dual properties of hnRNP H in splicing regulation.
Inefficient splicing of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) RNA is necessary to preserve unspliced and singly spliced viral RNAs for transport to the cytoplasm by the Rev-dependent pathway. Signals within the HIV-1 genome that control the rate of splicing include weak 3′ splice sites, exon splicing enhancers (ESE), and exon splicing silencers (ESS). We have previously shown that an ESS present within tat exon 2 (ESS2) and a suboptimal 3′ splice site together act to inhibit splicing at the 3′ splice site flanking tat exon 2. This occurs at an early step in spliceosome assembly. Splicing at the 3′ splice site flanking tat exon 3 is regulated by a bipartite element composed of an ESE and an ESS (ESS3). Here we show that ESS3 is composed of two smaller elements (AGAUCC and UUAG) that can inhibit splicing independently. We also show that ESS3 is more active in the context of a heterologous suboptimal splice site than of an optimal 3′ splice site. ESS3 inhibits splicing by blocking the formation of a functional spliceosome at an early step, since A complexes are not detected in the presence of ESS3. Competitor RNAs containing either ESS2 or ESS3 relieve inhibition of splicing of substrates containing ESS3 or ESS2. This suggests that a common cellular factor(s) may be required for the inhibition of tat mRNA splicing mediated by ESS2 and ESS3.
The polypyrimidine tract binding protein (PTB) binds pre-mRNAs to alter splice site choice. We characterized a series of spliceosomal complexes that assemble on a pre-mRNA under conditions of either PTB mediated splicing repression or its absence. In the absence of repression, exon-definition complexes assembled downstream of the regulated exon were able to progress to pre-spliceosomal A complexes and functional spliceosomes. Under PTB mediated repression, assembly was arrested at an A-like complex unable to transition to spliceosomal complexes. Trans-splicing experiments indicated that even when the U1 and U2 snRNPs are bound properly to the upstream and downstream exons, the presence of PTB prevents the interaction of the two exon complexes. Proteomic analyses of these complexes provide a new description of exon definition complexes, and indicate that splicing regulators can act on the transition between the exon definition complex and an intron-defined spliceosome.
CHRNA1 gene, encoding the muscle nicotinic acetylcholine receptor alpha subunit, harbors an inframe exon P3A. Inclusion of exon P3A disables assembly of the acetylcholine receptor subunits. A single nucleotide mutation in exon P3A identified in congenital myasthenic syndrome causes exclusive inclusion of exon P3A. The mutation gains a de novo binding affinity for a splicing enhancing RNA-binding protein, hnRNP LL, and displaces binding of a splicing suppressing RNA-binding protein, hnRNP L. The hnRNP L binds to another splicing repressor PTB through the proline-rich region and promotes PTB binding to the polypyrimidine tract upstream of exon P3A, whereas hnRNP LL lacking the proline-rich region cannot bind to PTB. Interaction of hnRNP L with PTB inhibits association of U2AF65 and U1 snRNP with the upstream and downstream of P3A, respectively, which causes a defect in exon P3A definition. HnRNP L and hnRNP LL thus antagonistically modulate PTB-mediated splicing suppression of exon P3A.
Rous sarcoma virus pre-mRNA contains an element known as the negative regulator of splicing (NRS) that acts to inhibit viral RNA splicing. The NRS binds serine/arginine-rich (SR) proteins, hnRNP H and the U1/U11 snRNPs, and appears to inhibit splicing by acting as a decoy 5′ splice site. Deletions within the gag gene that encompass the NRS also lead to increased read-through past the viral polyadenylation site, suggesting a role for the NRS in promoting polyadenylation. Using NRS-specific deletions and mutations, we show here that a polyadenylation stimulatory activity maps directly to the NRS and is most likely dependent upon SR proteins and U1 and/or U11 snRNP. hnRNP H does not appear to mediate splicing control or stimulate RSV polyadenylation, since viral RNAs containing hnRNP H-specific mutations were spliced and polyadenylated normally. However, the ability of hnRNP H mutations to suppress the read-through caused by an SR protein mutation suggests the potential for hnRNP H to antagonize polyadenylation. Interestingly, disruption of splicing control closely correlated with increased read-through, indicating that a functional NRS is necessary for efficient RSV polyadenylation rather than binding of an individual factor. We propose a model in which the NRS serves to enhance polyadenylation of RSV unspliced RNA in a process analogous to the stimulation of cellular pre-mRNA polyadenylation by splicing complexes.
Some exons contain exon splicing silencers. Their activity is frequently balanced by that of splicing enhancers, and this is important to ensure correct relative levels of alternatively spliced mRNAs. Using an immunoprecipitation and UV-cross-linking assay, we show that RNA molecules containing splicing silencers from the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 tat exon 2 or the human fibroblast growth factor receptor 2 K-SAM exon bind to hnRNP A1 in HeLa cell nuclear extracts better than the corresponding RNA molecule without a silencer. Two different point mutations which abolish the K-SAM exon splicing silencer’s activity reduce hnRNP A1 binding twofold. Recruitment of hnRNP A1 in the form of a fusion with bacteriophage MS2 coat protein to a K-SAM exon whose exon splicing silencer has been replaced by a coat binding site efficiently represses splicing of the exon in vivo. Recruitment of only the glycine-rich C-terminal domain of hnRNP A1, which is capable of interactions with other proteins, is sufficient to repress exon splicing. Our results show that hnRNP A1 can function to repress splicing, and they suggest that at least some exon splicing silencers could work by recruiting hnRNP A1.
hnRNP A/B proteins modulate the alternative splicing of several mammalian and viral pre-mRNAs, and are typically viewed as proteins that enforce the activity of splicing silencers. Here we show that intronic hnRNP A/B–binding sites (ABS) can stimulate the in vitro splicing of pre-mRNAs containing artificially enlarged introns. Stimulation of in vitro splicing could also be obtained by providing intronic ABS in trans through the use of antisense oligonucleotides containing a non-hybridizing ABS-carrying tail. ABS-tailed oligonucleotides also improved the in vivo inclusion of an alternative exon flanked by an enlarged intron. Notably, binding sites for hnRNP F/H proteins (FBS) replicate the activity of ABS by improving the splicing of an enlarged intron and by modulating 5′ splice-site selection. One hypothesis formulated to explain these effects is that bound hnRNP proteins self-interact to bring in closer proximity the external pair of splice sites. Consistent with this model, positioning FBS or ABS at both ends of an intron was required to stimulate splicing of some pre-mRNAs. In addition, a computational analysis of the configuration of putative FBS and ABS located at the ends of introns supports the view that these motifs have evolved to support cooperative interactions. Our results document a positive role for the hnRNP A/B and hnRNP F/H proteins in generic splicing, and suggest that these proteins may modulate the conformation of mammalian pre-mRNAs.
Typically viewed as enforcing splicing silencers, hnRNP A/B proteins may facilitate splicing by modulating the conformation of mammalian pre-mRNAs.
In the nucleus of eukaryotic cells, nascent transcripts are associated with heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein (hnRNP) particles that are nucleated by hnRNP C. Despite their abundance however, it remained unclear whether these particles control pre-mRNA processing. Here, we developed individual-nucleotide resolution UV-cross-linking and immunoprecipitation (iCLIP) to study the role of hnRNP C in splicing regulation. iCLIP data demonstrate that hnRNP C recognizes uridine tracts with a defined long-range spacing consistent with hnRNP particle organization. hnRNP particles assemble on both introns and exons, but remain generally excluded from splice sites. Integration of transcriptome-wide iCLIP data and alternative splicing profiles into an ‘RNA map’ indicates how the positioning of hnRNP particles determines their effect on inclusion of alternative exons. The ability of high-resolution iCLIP data to provide insights into the mechanism of this regulation holds promise for studies of other higher-order ribonucleoprotein complexes.
Exon 11 of the insulin receptor gene (INSR) is alternatively spliced in a developmentally and tissue-specific manner. Linker scanning mutations in a 5′ GA-rich enhancer in intron 10 identified AGGGA sequences that are important for enhancer function. Using RNA-affinity purification and mass spectrometry, we identified hnRNP F and hnRNP A1 binding to these AGGGA sites and also to similar motifs at the 3′ end of the intron. The hnRNPs have opposite functional effects with hnRNP F promoting and hnRNP A1 inhibiting exon 11 inclusion, and deletion of the GA-rich elements eliminates both effects. We also observed specific binding of hnRNP A1 to the 5′ splice site of intron 11. The SR protein SRSF1 (SF2/ASF) co-purified on the GA-rich enhancer and, interestingly, also competes with hnRNP A1 for binding to the splice site. A point mutation -3U→C decreases hnRNP A1 binding, increases SRSF1 binding and renders the exon constitutive. Lastly, our data point to a functional interaction between hnRNP F and SRSF1 as a mutant that eliminates SRSF1 binding to exon 11, or a SRSF1 knockdown, which prevents the stimulatory effect of hnRNP F over expression.
We have previously demonstrated that an exon splicing silencer (ESS) is present within human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)tat exon 2. This 20 nucleotide (nt) RNA element acts selectively to inhibit splicing at the upstream 3'splice site (3'ss #3) flanking this exon. In this report, we have used in vitro splicing of mutated RNA substrates to determine the sequences necessary and sufficient for the activity of the ESS. The activity of the ESS within tat exon 2 maps to a 10 nt core sequence CUAGACUAGA. This core sequence was sufficient to inhibit splicing when inserted downstream from the 3'ss of the heterologous Rous sarcoma virus src gene. Mutagenesis of the interspersed purines in the polypyrimidine tract of the tat exon 2 3'ss to pyrimidines resulted in a significant increase in splicing efficiency indicating that 3'ss#3 is suboptimal. The ESS acts to inhibit splicing at the optimized 3'splice sites of both the HIV-1 tat and RSV src constructs but with a reduced efficiency compared to its effect on suboptimal 3'splice sites. The results indicate that both the ESS and a suboptimal 3'splice site act together to control splicing at the 3'splice site flanking at exon 2.
Splicing regulatory proteins often have distinct activities when bound to exons versus introns. However, less clear is whether variables besides location can influence activity. HnRNP L binds to a motif present in both CD45 variable exons 4 and 5 to affect their coordinate repression. Here we show that, in contrast to its direct repression of exon 4, hnRNP L represses exon 5 by countering the activity of a neighboring splicing enhancer. In the absence of the enhancer hnRNP L unexpectedly activates exon inclusion. As the splice sites flanking exon 4 and 5 are distinct, we directly examined the effect of varying splice site strength on the mechanism of hnRNP L function. Remarkably, binding of hnRNP L to an exon represses strong splice sites but enhances weak splice sites. A model in which hnRNP L stabilizes snRNP binding can explain both effects in a manner determined by the inherent snRNP-substrate affinity.
hnRNP L; splicing regulation; alternative splicing; mechanism of regulation; CD45
Small noncoding HIV-1 leader exon 3 is defined by its splice sites A2 and D3. While 3′ splice site (3′ss) A2 needs to be activated for vpr mRNA formation, the location of the vpr start codon within downstream intron 3 requires silencing of splicing at 5′ss D3. Here we show that the inclusion of both HIV-1 exon 3 and vpr mRNA processing is promoted by an exonic splicing enhancer (ESEvpr) localized between exonic splicing silencer ESSV and 5′ss D3. The ESEvpr sequence was found to be bound by members of the Transformer 2 (Tra2) protein family. Coexpression of these proteins in provirus-transfected cells led to an increase in the levels of exon 3 inclusion, confirming that they act through ESEvpr. Further analyses revealed that ESEvpr supports the binding of U1 snRNA at 5′ss D3, allowing bridging interactions across the upstream exon with 3′ss A2. In line with this, an increase or decrease in the complementarity of 5′ss D3 to the 5′ end of U1 snRNA was accompanied by a higher or lower vpr expression level. Activation of 3′ss A2 through the proposed bridging interactions, however, was not dependent on the splicing competence of 5′ss D3 because rendering it splicing defective but still competent for efficient U1 snRNA binding maintained the enhancing function of D3. Therefore, we propose that splicing at 3′ss A2 occurs temporally between the binding of U1 snRNA and splicing at D3.
The molecular basis of cell signal-regulated alternative splicing at the 3′ splice site remains largely unknown. We isolated a protein kinase A-responsive ribonucleic acid (RNA) element from a 3′ splice site of the synaptosomal-associated protein 25 (Snap25) gene for forskolin-inhibited splicing during neuronal differentiation of rat pheochromocytoma PC12 cells. The element binds specifically to heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleo protein (hnRNP) K in a phosphatase-sensitive way, which directly competes with the U2 auxiliary factor U2AF65, an essential component of early spliceosomes. Transcripts with similarly localized hnRNP K target motifs upstream of alternative exons are enriched in genes often associated with neurological diseases. We show that such motifs upstream of the Runx1 exon 6 also bind hnRNP K, and importantly, hnRNP K is required for forskolin-induced repression of the exon. Interestingly, this exon encodes the peptide domain that determines the switch of the transcriptional repressor/activator activity of Runx1, a change known to be critical in specifying neuron lineages. Consistent with an important role of the target genes in neurons, knocking down hnRNP K severely disrupts forskolin-induced neurite growth. Thus, through hnRNP K, the neuronal differentiation stimulus forskolin targets a critical 3′ splice site component of the splicing machinery to control alternative splicing of crucial genes. This also provides a regulated direct competitor of U2AF65 for cell signal control of 3′ splice site usage.
The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) accessory protein Vif is encoded by an incompletely spliced mRNA resulting from splicing of the major splice donor in the HIV-1 genome, 5′ splice site (5′ss) D1, to the first splice acceptor, 3′ss A1. We have shown previously that splicing of HIV-1 vif mRNA is tightly regulated by suboptimal 5′ss D2, which is 50 nucleotides downstream of 3′ss A1; a GGGG silencer motif proximal to 5′ss D2; and an SRp75-dependent exonic splicing enhancer (ESEVif). In agreement with the exon definition hypothesis, mutations within 5′ss D2 that are predicted to increase or decrease U1 snRNP binding affinity increase or decrease the usage of 3′ss A1 (D2-up and D2-down mutants, respectively). In this report, the importance of 5′ss D2 and ESEVif for avoiding restriction of HIV-1 by APOBEC3G (A3G) was determined by testing the infectivities of a panel of mutant viruses expressing different levels of Vif. The replication of D2-down and ESEVif mutants in permissive CEM-SS cells was not significantly different from that of wild-type HIV-1. Mutants that expressed Vif in 293T cells at levels greater than 10% of that of the wild type replicated similarly to the wild type in H9 cells, and Vif levels as low as 4% were affected only modestly in H9 cells. This is in contrast to Vif-deleted HIV-1, whose replication in H9 cells was completely inhibited. To test whether elevated levels of A3G inhibit replication of D2-down and ESEVif mutants relative to wild-type virus replication, a Tet-off Jurkat T-cell line that expressed approximately 15-fold-higher levels of A3G than control Tet-off cells was generated. Under these conditions, the fitness of all D2-down mutant viruses was reduced relative to that of wild-type HIV-1, and the extent of inhibition was correlated with the level of Vif expression. The replication of an ESEVif mutant was also inhibited only at higher levels of A3G. Thus, wild-type 5′ss D2 and ESEVif are required for production of sufficient Vif to allow efficient HIV-1 replication in cells expressing relatively high levels of A3G.
The integrated human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) genome is transcribed in a single pre-mRNA that is alternatively spliced into more than 40 mRNAs. We characterized a novel bidirectional exonic splicing enhancer (ESE) that regulates the expression of the HIV-1 env, vpu, rev, and nef mRNAs. The ESE is localized downstream of the vpu-, env-, and nef-specific 3′ splice site no. 5. SF2/ASF and SRp40 activate the ESE and are required for efficient 3′ splice site usage and binding of the U1 snRNP to the downstream 5′ splice site no. 4. U1 snRNP binding to the 5′ splice site no. 4 is required for splicing of the rev and nef mRNAs and to increase expression of the partially spliced env mRNA. Finally, our results indicate that this ESE is necessary for the recruitment of the U1 snRNP to the 5′ splice site no. 4, even when the 5′ splice site and the U1 snRNA have been mutated to obtain a perfect complementary match. The ESE characterized here is highly conserved in most viral subtypes.
Pre-mRNA processing, including 5' end capping, splicing, and 3' end cleavage/polyadenylation, are events coordinated by transcription that can influence the subsequent export and translation of mRNAs. Coordination of RNA processing is crucial in retroviruses such as HIV-1, where inefficient splicing and the export of intron-containing RNAs are required for expression of the full complement of viral proteins. RNA processing can be affected by both viral and cellular proteins, and in this study we demonstrate that a member of the hnRNP E family of proteins can modulate HIV-1 RNA metabolism and expression. We show that hnRNP E1/E2 are able to interact with the ESS3a element of the bipartite ESS in tat/rev exon 3 of HIV-1 and that modulation of hnRNP E1 expression alters HIV-1 structural protein synthesis. Overexpression of hnRNP E1 leads to a reduction in Rev, achieved in part through a decrease in rev mRNA levels. However, the reduction in Rev levels cannot fully account for the effect of hnRNP E1, suggesting that hmRNP E1 might also act to suppress viral RNA translation. Deletion mutagenesis determined that the C-terminal end of hnRNP E1 was required for the reduction in Rev expression and that replacing this portion of hnRNP E1 with that of hnRNP E2, despite the high degree of conservation, could not rescue the loss of function.
Retroviruses require both spliced and unspliced RNA for replication. Accumulation of unspliced Rous sarcoma virus RNA is facilitated in part by a negative cis element in the gag region, termed the negative regulator of splicing (NRS), which serves to repress splicing of viral RNA but can also block splicing of heterologous introns. The NRS binds components of the splicing machinery including SR proteins, U1 and U2, small nuclear ribonucleoproteins (snRNPs) of the major splicing pathway, and U11 snRNP of the minor pathway, yet splicing does not normally occur from the NRS. A mutation that abolishes U11 binding (RG11) also abrogates NRS splicing inhibition, indicating that U11 is functionally important for NRS activity and suggesting that the NRS is recognized as a minor-class 5′ splice site (5′ ss). We show here, using specific NRS mutations to disrupt U11 binding and coexpression of U11 snRNA genes harboring compensatory mutations, that the NRS U11 site is functional when paired with a minor-class 3′ ss from the human P120 gene. Surprisingly, the expectation that the same NRS mutants would be defective for splicing inhibition proved false; splicing inhibition was as good as, if not better than, that for the wild-type NRS. Comparison of these new mutations with RG11 indicated that the latter may disrupt binding of a factor(s) other than U11. Our data suggest that this factor is U1 snRNP and that a U1 binding site that overlaps the U11 site is also disrupted by RG11. Analysis of mutations which selectively disrupted U1 or U11 binding indicated that splicing inhibition by the NRS correlates most strongly with U1 snRNP. Additionally, we show that U1 binding is facilitated by SR proteins that bind to the 5′ half of the NRS, confirming an earlier proposal that this region is involved in recruiting snRNPs to the NRS. These data indicate a functional role for U1 in NRS-mediated splicing inhibition.
Heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein (hnRNP) A1 is involved in pre-mRNA splicing in the nucleus and translational regulation in the cytoplasm. The cytoplasmic redistribution of hnRNP A1 is a regulated process during viral infection and cellular stress. Here we demonstrate that hnRNP A1 not only is an internal ribosome entry site (IRES) trans-acting factor that binds specifically to the 5′ untranslated region (UTR) of enterovirus 71 (EV71) and regulates IRES-dependent translation but also binds to the 5′ UTR of Sindbis virus (SV) and facilitates its translation. The cytoplasmic relocalization of hnRNP A1 in EV71-infected cells leads to the enhancement of EV71 IRES-mediated translation, and its function can be substituted by hnRNP A2, whereas the cytoplasmic relocalization of hnRNP A1 following SV infection enhances the SV translation, but this function cannot be replaced by hnRNP A2. Our study provides the first direct evidence that the cytoplasmic relocalization of hnRNP A1 controls not only the IRES-dependent but also non-IRES-dependent translation initiations of RNA viruses.
Early recognition of pre-mRNA during spliceosome assembly in mammals proceeds through the association of U1 small nuclear ribonucleoprotein particle (snRNP) with the 5′ splice site as well as the interactions of the branch binding protein SF1 with the branch region and the U2 snRNP auxiliary factor U2AF with the polypyrimidine tract and 3′ splice site. These factors, along with members of the SR protein family, direct the ATP-independent formation of the early (E) complex that commits the pre-mRNA to splicing. We report here the observation in U2AF-depleted HeLa nuclear extract of a distinct, ATP-independent complex designated E′ which can be chased into E complex and itself commits a pre-mRNA to the splicing pathway. The E′ complex is characterized by a U1 snRNA-5′ splice site base pairing, which follows the actual commitment step, an interaction of SF1 with the branch region, and a close association of the 5′ splice site with the branch region. These results demonstrate that both commitment to splicing and the early proximity of conserved sequences within pre-mRNA substrates can occur in a minimal complex lacking U2AF, which may function as a precursor to E complex in spliceosome assembly.
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) pre-mRNA splicing is regulated in order to maintain pools of unspliced and partially spliced viral RNAs as well as the appropriate levels of multiply spliced mRNAs during virus infection. We have previously described an element in tat exon 2 that negatively regulates splicing at the upstream tat 3' splice site 3 (B. A. Amendt, D. Hesslein, L.-J. Chang, and C. M. Stoltzfus, Mol. Cell. Biol. 14:3960-3970, 1994). In this study, we further defined the element to a 20-nucleotide (nt) region which spans the C-terminal vpr and N-terminal tat coding sequences. By analogy with exon splicing enhancer (ESE) elements, we have termed this element an exon splicing silencer (ESS). We show evidence for another negative cis-acting region within tat-rev exon 3 of HIV-1 RNA that has sequence motifs in common with a 20-nt ESS element in tat exon 2. This sequence is juxtaposed to a purine-rich ESE element to form a bipartite element regulating splicing at the upstream tat-rev 3' splice site. Inhibition of the splicing of substrates containing the ESS element in tat exon 2 occurs at an early stage of spliceosome assembly. The inhibition of splicing mediated by the ESS can be specifically abrogated by the addition of competitor RNA. Our results suggest that HIV-1 RNA splicing is regulated by cellular factors that bind to positive and negative cis elements in tat exon 2 and tat-rev exon 3.