The regulation of the c-src N1 exon is mediated by an intronic splicing enhancer downstream of the N1 5′ splice site. Previous experiments showed that a set of proteins assembles onto the most conserved core of this enhancer sequence specifically in neuronal WERI-1 cell extracts. The most prominent components of this enhancer complex are the proteins hnRNP F, KSRP, and an unidentified protein of 58 kDa (p58). This p58 protein was purified from the WERI-1 cell nuclear extract by ammonium sulfate precipitation, Mono Q chromatography, and immunoprecipitation with anti-Sm antibody Y12. Peptide sequence analysis of purified p58 protein identified it as hnRNP H. Immunoprecipitation of hnRNP H cross-linked to the N1 enhancer RNA, as well as gel mobility shift analysis of the enhancer complex in the presence of hnRNP H-specific antibodies, confirmed that hnRNP H is a protein component of the splicing enhancer complex. Immunoprecipitation of splicing intermediates from in vitro splicing reactions with anti-hnRNP H antibody indicated that hnRNP H remains bound to the src pre-mRNA after the assembly of spliceosome. Partial immunodepletion of hnRNP H from the nuclear extract partially inactivated the splicing of the N1 exon in vitro. This inhibition of splicing can be restored by the addition of recombinant hnRNP H, indicating that hnRNP H is an important factor for N1 splicing. Finally, in vitro binding assays demonstrate that hnRNP H can interact with the related protein hnRNP F, suggesting that hnRNPs H and F may exist as a heterodimer in a single enhancer complex. These two proteins presumably cooperate with each other and with other enhancer complex proteins to direct splicing to the N1 exon upstream.
The human testis has almost as high a frequency of alternative splicing events as brain. While not as extensively studied as brain, a few candidate testis-specific splicing regulator proteins have been identified, including the nuclear RNA binding proteins RBMY and hnRNP G-T, which are germ cell-specific versions of the somatically expressed hnRNP G protein and are highly conserved in mammals. The splicing activator protein Tra2β is also highly expressed in the testis and physically interacts with these hnRNP G family proteins. In this study, we identified a novel testis-specific cassette exon TLE4-T within intron 6 of the human transducing-like enhancer of split 4 (TLE4) gene which makes a more transcriptionally repressive TLE4 protein isoform. TLE4-T splicing is normally repressed in somatic cells because of a weak 5′ splice site and surrounding splicing-repressive intronic regions. TLE4-T RNA pulls down Tra2β and hnRNP G proteins which activate its inclusion. The germ cell-specific RBMY and hnRNP G-T proteins were more efficient in stimulating TLE4-T incorporation than somatically expressed hnRNP G protein. Tra2b bound moderately to TLE4-T RNA, but more strongly to upstream sites to potently activate an alternative 3′ splice site normally weakly selected in the testis. Co-expression of Tra2β with either hnRNP G-T or RBMY re-established the normal testis physiological splicing pattern of this exon. Although they can directly bind pre-mRNA sequences around the TLE4-T exon, RBMY and hnRNP G-T function as efficient germ cell-specific splicing co-activators of TLE4-T. Our study indicates a delicate balance between the activity of positive and negative splicing regulators combinatorially controls physiological splicing inclusion of exon TLE4-T and leads to modulation of signalling pathways in the testis. In addition, we identified a high-affinity binding site for hnRNP G-T protein, showing it is also a sequence-specific RNA binding protein.
This study investigates tissue-specific alternative splicing, which plays a key role in generating diversity in animal cells. We found a new testis-specific exon in a human homologue of the important Drosophila developmental regulator Groucho, which is activated by germ cell RNA binding proteins. By analyzing splicing control of this exon, we elucidated how variations in the activity and expression of splicing regulators together counterbalance splicing activation, and achieve more tightly regulated physiological splicing patterns. We find that although this new human testis-specific exon is not conserved in mice, it is functionally important in that it encodes a peptide which increases the activity of this developmental regulator as a transcriptional repressor. This study provides new insights into how signalling pathways are evolving in human germ cells and the possible molecular defects that might be occurring in infertile men who have genetic deletions of germ cell-specific RNA binding proteins.
Heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein L (hnRNP L) is a multifunctional RNA-binding protein that is involved in many different processes, such as regulation of transcription, translation, and RNA stability. We have previously characterized hnRNP L as a global regulator of alternative splicing, binding to CA-repeat, and CA-rich RNA elements. Interestingly, hnRNP L can both activate and repress splicing of alternative exons, but the precise mechanism of hnRNP L-mediated splicing regulation remained unclear. To analyze activities of hnRNP L on a genome-wide level, we performed individual-nucleotide resolution crosslinking-immunoprecipitation in combination with deep-sequencing (iCLIP-Seq). Sequence analysis of the iCLIP crosslink sites showed significant enrichment of C/A motifs, which perfectly agrees with the in vitro binding consensus obtained earlier by a SELEX approach, indicating that in vivo hnRNP L binding targets are mainly determined by the RNA-binding activity of the protein. Genome-wide mapping of hnRNP L binding revealed that the protein preferably binds to introns and 3′ UTR. Additionally, position-dependent splicing regulation by hnRNP L was demonstrated: The protein represses splicing when bound to intronic regions upstream of alternative exons, and in contrast, activates splicing when bound to the downstream intron. These findings shed light on the longstanding question of differential hnRNP L-mediated splicing regulation. Finally, regarding 3′ UTR binding, hnRNP L binding preferentially overlaps with predicted microRNA target sites, indicating global competition between hnRNP L and microRNA binding. Translational regulation by hnRNP L was validated for a subset of predicted target 3′UTRs.
hnRNP L; CLIP; splicing regulation; microRNA
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.
Heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein (hnRNP) A1 has previously been shown to bind mouse hepatitis virus (MHV) RNA at the 3′ end of both plus and minus strands and modulate MHV RNA synthesis. However, a mouse erythroleukemia cell line, CB3, does not express hnRNP A1 but still supports MHV replication, suggesting that alternative proteins can replace hnRNP A1 in cellular functions and viral infection. In this study, we set out to identify these proteins. UV cross-linking experiments revealed that several CB3 cellular proteins similar in size to hnRNP A1 interacted with the MHV RNA. These proteins were purified by RNA affinity column with biotinylated negative-strand MHV leader RNA and identified by mass spectrometry to be hnRNP A2/B1, hnRNP A/B, and hnRNP A3, all of which belong to the type A/B hnRNPs. All of these proteins contain amino acid sequences with strong similarity to the RNA-binding domains of hnRNP A1. Some of these hnRNPs have previously been shown to replace hnRNP A1 in regulating RNA splicing. These proteins displayed MHV RNA-binding affinity and specificity similar to those of hnRNP A1. hnRNP A2/B1, which is predominantly localized to the nucleus and shuttles between the nucleus and the cytoplasm, was shown to relocalize to the cytoplasm in MHV-infected CB3 cells. Furthermore, overexpression of hnRNP A/B in cells enhanced MHV RNA synthesis. Our findings demonstrate that the functions of hnRNP A1 in MHV RNA synthesis can be replaced by other closely related hnRNPs, further supporting the roles of cellular proteins in MHV RNA synthesis.
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.
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
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.
Muscle specific receptor tyrosine kinase (MuSK) is an essential postsynaptic transmembrane molecule that mediates clustering of acetylcholine receptors (AChR). MUSK exon 10 is alternatively skipped in human, but not in mouse. Skipping of this exon disrupts a cysteine-rich region (Fz-CRD), which is essential for Wnt-mediated AChR clustering. To investigate the underlying mechanisms of alternative splicing, we exploited block-scanning mutagenesis with human minigene and identified a 20-nucleotide block that contained exonic splicing silencers. Using RNA-affinity purification, mass spectrometry, and Western blotting, we identified that hnRNP C, YB-1 and hnRNP L are bound to MUSK exon 10. siRNA-mediated knockdown and cDNA overexpression confirmed the additive, as well as the independent, splicing suppressing effects of hnRNP C, YB-1 and hnRNP L. Antibody-mediated in vitro protein depletion and scanning mutagenesis additionally revealed that binding of hnRNP C to RNA subsequently promotes binding of YB-1 and hnRNP L to the immediate downstream sites and enhances exon skipping. Simultaneous tethering of two splicing trans-factors to the target confirmed the cooperative effect of YB-1 and hnRNP L on hnRNP C-mediated exon skipping. Search for a similar motif in the human genome revealed nine alternative exons that were individually or coordinately regulated by hnRNP C and YB-1.
The regulation of gene expression through alternative pre-mRNA splicing is common in metazoans and is often controlled by intracellular signaling pathways that are important in cell physiology. We have shown that the alternative splicing of a number of genes is controlled by membrane depolarization and Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase IV (CaMKIV) through CaMKIV-responsive RNA elements (CaRRE1 and CaRRE2); however, the trans-acting factors remain unknown. Here we show that the heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein (hnRNP) L is a CaRRE1 binding factor in nuclear extracts. An hnRNP L high affinity CA (cytidine-adenosine) repeat element is sufficient to mediate CaMKIV and hnRNP L repression of splicing in a location (3′-splice site proximity)-dependent way. Depletion of hnRNP L by RNA interference followed by rescue with coexpressed exogenous hnRNP L demonstrates that hnRNP L mediates the CaMKIV-regulated splicing through CA repeats in heterologous contexts. Depletion of hnRNP L also led to increased inclusion of the stress axis-regulated exon and a CA repeat-harboring exon under depolarization or with activated CaMKIV. Moreover, hnRNP L binding to CaRRE1 was increased by CaMKIV and, conversely, was reduced by pretreatments with protein phosphatases. Therefore, hnRNP L is an essential component of CaMKIV-regulated alternative splicing through CA repeats, with its phosphorylation likely playing a critical role.
PMID: 19017650 CAMSID: cams2374
The first component known to recognize and discriminate among potential 5′ splice sites (5′SSs) in pre-mRNA is the U1 snRNP. However, the relative levels of U1 snRNP binding to alternative 5′SSs do not necessarily determine the splicing outcome. Strikingly, SF2/ASF, one of the essential SR protein-splicing factors, causes a dose-dependent shift in splicing to a downstream (intron-proximal) site, and yet it increases U1 snRNP binding at upstream and downstream sites simultaneously. We show here that hnRNP A1, which shifts splicing towards an upstream 5′SS, causes reduced U1 snRNP binding at both sites. Nonetheless, the importance of U1 snRNP binding is shown by proportionality between the level of U1 snRNP binding to the downstream site and its use in splicing. With purified components, hnRNP A1 reduces U1 snRNP binding to 5′SSs by binding cooperatively and indiscriminately to the pre-mRNA. Mutations in hnRNP A1 and SF2/ASF show that the opposite effects of the proteins on 5′SS choice are correlated with their effects on U1 snRNP binding. Cross-linking experiments show that SF2/ASF and hnRNP A1 compete to bind pre-mRNA, and we conclude that this competition is the basis of their functional antagonism; SF2/ASF enhances U1 snRNP binding at all 5′SSs, the rise in simultaneous occupancy causing a shift in splicing towards the downstream site, whereas hnRNP A1 interferes with U1 snRNP binding such that 5′SS occupancy is lower and the affinities of U1 snRNP for the individual sites determine the site of splicing.
The heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein H (hnRNP) family of proteins has been shown to activate exon inclusion by binding intronic G triplets. Much less is known, however, about how hnRNP H and hnRNP F silence exons. In this study, we identify hnRNP H and hnRNP F proteins as being novel silencers of fibroblast growth factor receptor 2 exon IIIc. In cells that normally include this exon, we show that the overexpression of either hnRNP H1 or hnRNP F resulted in the dramatic silencing of exon IIIc. In cells that normally skip exon IIIc, skipping was disrupted when RNA interference was used to knock down both hnRNP H and hnRNP F. We show that an exonic GGG motif overlapped a critical exonic splicing enhancer, which was predicted to bind the SR protein ASF/SF2. Furthermore, the expression of ASF/SF2 reversed the silencing of exon IIIc caused by the expression of hnRNP H1. We show that hnRNP H and hnRNP F proteins are present in a complex with Fox2 and that the presence of Fox allows hnRNP H1 to better compete with ASF/SF2 for binding to exon IIIc. These results establish hnRNP H and hnRNP F as being repressors of exon inclusion and suggest that Fox proteins enhance their ability to antagonize ASF/SF2.
The splicing of the c-src exon N1 is controlled by an intricate combination of positive and negative RNA elements. Most previous work on these sequences focused on intronic elements found upstream and downstream of exon N1. However, it was demonstrated that the 5′ half of the N1 exon itself acts as a splicing enhancer in vivo. Here we examine the function of this regulatory element in vitro. We show that a mutation in this sequence decreases splicing of the N1 exon in vitro. Proteins binding to this element were identified as hnRNP A1, hnRNP H, hnRNP F, and SF2/ASF by site-specific cross-linking and immunoprecipitation. The binding of these proteins to the RNA was eliminated by a mutation in the exonic element. The activities of hnRNP A1 and SF2/ASF on N1 splicing were examined by adding purified protein to in vitro splicing reactions. SF2/ASF and another SR protein, SC35, are both able to stimulate splicing of c-src pre-mRNA. However, splicing activation by SF2/ASF is dependent on the N1 exon enhancer element whereas activation by SC35 is not. In contrast to SF2/ASF and in agreement with other systems, hnRNP A1 repressed c-src splicing in vitro. The negative activity of hnRNP A1 on splicing was compared with that of PTB, a protein previously demonstrated to repress splicing in this system. Both proteins repress exon N1 splicing, and both counteract the enhancing activity of the SR proteins. Removal of the PTB binding sites upstream of N1 prevents PTB-mediated repression but does not affect A1-mediated repression. Thus, hnRNP A1 and PTB use different mechanisms to repress c-src splicing. Our results link the activity of these well-known exonic splicing regulators, SF2/ASF and hnRNP A1, to the splicing of an exon primarily controlled by intronic factors.
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.
The RNA processing factor hnRNP L is required for T cell development and function. However, the spectrum of direct targets of hnRNP L activity in T cells has yet to be defined. In this study, we used cross-linking and immunoprecipitation followed by high-throughput sequencing (CLIP-seq) to identify the RNA binding sites of hnRNP L within the transcriptomes of human CD4+ and cultured Jurkat T cells. We find that hnRNP L binds preferentially to transcripts encoding proteins involved in RNA processing and in Wnt and T cell receptor (TCR) signaling. This binding is largely conserved across both quiescent and activated T cells, in agreement with the critical role of hnRNP L throughout T cell biology. Importantly, based on the binding profile of hnRNP L, we validate numerous instances of hnRNP L-dependent alternative splicing of genes critical to T cell function. We further show that alternative exons with weak 5′ splice site sequences specifically show a strong correlation between hnRNP L binding and hnRNP L-dependent splicing regulation. Together, these data provide the first transcriptome-wide analysis of the RNA targets of hnRNP L in lymphoid cells and add to the functional understanding of hnRNP L in human biology.
There are ∼650,000 Alu elements in transcribed regions of the human genome. These elements contain cryptic splice sites, so they are in constant danger of aberrant incorporation into mature transcripts. Despite posing a major threat to transcriptome integrity, little is known about the molecular mechanisms preventing their inclusion. Here, we present a mechanism for protecting the human transcriptome from the aberrant exonization of transposable elements. Quantitative iCLIP data show that the RNA-binding protein hnRNP C competes with the splicing factor U2AF65 at many genuine and cryptic splice sites. Loss of hnRNP C leads to formation of previously suppressed Alu exons, which severely disrupt transcript function. Minigene experiments explain disease-associated mutations in Alu elements that hamper hnRNP C binding. Thus, by preventing U2AF65 binding to Alu elements, hnRNP C plays a critical role as a genome-wide sentinel protecting the transcriptome. The findings have important implications for human evolution and disease.
► Quantitative iCLIP reveals genome-wide competition of hnRNP C and U2AF65 ► hnRNP C is a global repressor of aberrant exonization of thousands of Alu elements ► Disease-associated mutations in Alu elements hinder hnRNP C-dependent repression ► Selection reinforces strong hnRNP C binding to contain Alu exonization
The RNA-binding protein hnRNP C prevents the formation of aberrant Alu exons by blocking the binding of the splicing factor U2AF65 to potential Alu splice sites. Breakdown of this system leads to expression of thousands of harmful exons and to human disease.
The neurexin genes (NRXN1, NRXN2, and NRXN3) encode polymorphic presynaptic proteins that are implicated in synaptic plasticity and memory processing. In rat brain neurons grown in culture, depolarization induces reversible, calcium-dependent, repression of NRXN2α exon 11 (E11) splicing. Using Neuro2a cells as a model, we explored E11 cis elements and trans-acting factors involved in alternative splicing of NRXN2α E11 pre-mRNA under basal and depolarization conditions. E11 mutation studies revealed two motifs, CTGCCTG (enhancer) and GCACCCA (suppressor) regulating NRXN2α E11 alternative splicing. Subsequent E11 RNA affinity pull-down experiments demonstrated heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein (hnRNP) K and hnRNP L binding to this exon. Under depolarization, the amount of E11-bound hnRNP L (but not of hnRNP K) increased, in parallel to NRXN2α E11 splicing repression. Depletion of hnRNP K or hnRNP L in the Neuro2a cells by specific siRNAs enhanced NRXN2α E11 splicing and ablated the depolarization-induced repression of this exon. In addition, depolarization suppressed whereas hnRNP K depletion enhanced NRXN2α expression. These results indicate a role for hnRNP K in regulation of NRXN2α expression and of hnRNP L in the activity-dependent alternative splicing of neurexins which may potentially govern trans-synaptic signaling required for memory processing.
Neurexin; Splicing; Depolarization; hnRNP K; hnRNP L
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.
Pre-mRNA splicing is catalyzed through the activity of the spliceosome, a dynamic enzymatic complex. Forcing aberrant interactions within the spliceosome can reduce splicing efficiency and alter splice site choice; however, it is unknown whether such alterations are naturally exploited mechanisms of splicing regulation. Here we demonstrate that hnRNP L represses CD45 exon 4 by recruiting hnRNP A1 to a sequence upstream of the 5’ splice site. Together, hnRNP L and A1 induce extended contacts between the 5’ splice site-bound U1 snRNA and neighboring exonic sequences which, in turn, inhibit stable association of U6 snRNA and subsequent catalysis. Importantly, analysis of several exons regulated by hnRNP L shows a clear relationship between the potential for binding of hnRNP A1 and U1 snRNA, and the effect of hnRNP L on splicing. Together our results demonstrate conformational perturbations within the spliceosome are a naturally occurring and generalizable mechanism for controlling alternative splicing decisions.
alternative splicing; U1 snRNA; tri-snRNP; spliceosome assembly; hnRNP L; hnRNP A1
The proteins that are in direct contact with the pre-mRNA in an in vitro splicing reaction were analyzed by UV cross-linking experiments. Six major proteins (120, 55, 44, 42, 39 and 38 KD) and three minor polypeptides (84, 72 and 63 KD) were detected. The predominant proteins 44, 42 KD belong to the class of hnRNP C proteins since they were immunoprecipitated by monoclonal antibodies directed against hnRNP C proteins. The cross-linked proteins were not detected in the absence of Mg2+, ATP or when RNA lacking introns were used as substrates in the splicing reactions. The effect of exon sequences on the binding efficiency for the photocrosslinked proteins was investigated. Transcripts containing a second exon of 24 nucleotides for the beta-globin or 107 nucleotides for the mouse insulin, yielded a reduced amount of cross-linked proteins when compared with "full length" pre-mRNAs. Sequences within the first exon of the beta-globin pre-mRNA did not affect the binding efficiency of these proteins. The reduced binding efficiency of the cross-linked proteins for the truncated beta-globin or mouse insulin pre-mRNAs correlated with the lower efficiency for in vitro splicing. Substitutions with unrelated sequences in the beta-globin second exon restore the binding of the cross-linked proteins indicating that the length of the second exon and not specific sequences are relevant for the binding efficiency of these proteins. The SP6/mouse insulin oligonucleotides cross-linked to the hnRNP C proteins were isolated and sequenced. A 17-mer was located in the second exon (134 nucleotides downstream from the 3' splice site) and a 14-mer in the intron region (25 nucleotides downstream the 5' splice site). The beta-globin oligonucleotides cross-linked to the hnRNP C proteins were a 13-mer in the second exon (28 nucleotides downstream the 3' splice site) and an 8-mer in the first exon (81 nucleotides downstream the 5' end of the pre-mRNA). Our results indicate that the hnRNP C proteins interact with those oligonucleotides located in different regions of the pre-mRNA. The binding efficiency of those proteins, however, depends on the length of the second exon and the presence of intron sequences (secondary and/or tertiary pre-mRNA structure).
In humans and great apes, CHRNA1 encoding the muscle nicotinic acetylcholine receptor α subunit carries an inframe exon P3A, the inclusion of which yields a nonfunctional α subunit. In muscle, the P3A(−) and P3A(+) transcripts are generated in a 1:1 ratio but the functional significance and regulation of the alternative splicing remain elusive. An intronic mutation (IVS3-8G>A), identified in a patient with congenital myasthenic syndrome, disrupts an intronic splicing silencer (ISS) and results in exclusive inclusion of the downstream P3A exon. We found that the ISS-binding splicing trans-factor was heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein (hnRNP) H and the mutation attenuated the affinity of hnRNP for the ISS ∼100-fold. We next showed that direct placement of hnRNP H to the 3′ end of intron 3 silences, and siRNA-mediated downregulation of hnRNP H enhances recognition of exon P3A. Analysis of the human genome suggested that the hnRNPH-binding UGGG motif is overrepresented close to the 3′ ends of introns. Pursuing this clue, we showed that alternative exons of GRIP1, FAS, VPS13C and NRCAM are downregulated by hnRNP H. Our findings imply that the presence of the hnRNP H-binding motif close to the 3′ end of an intron is an essential but underestimated splicing regulator of the downstream exon.
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a recessive neuromuscular disorder caused by the homozygous loss of the SMN1 gene. The human SMN2 gene has a C-to-T transition at position +6 of exon 7 and thus produces exon 7-skipping mRNAs. However, we observed an unexpectedly high level of exon 7-containing SMN2 transcripts as well as SMN protein in testis of smn−/− SMN2 transgenic mice. Using affinity chromatography, we identified several SMN RNA-associating proteins in mouse testis and human HeLa cells, including hnRNP Q. The major hnRNP Q isoform, Q1, directly bound SMN exon 7 in the vicinity of nucleotide +6. Overexpression of hnRNP Q1 promoted the inclusion of exon 7 in SMN2, probably by activating the use of its upstream 3′ splice site. However, the minor isoforms Q2/Q3 could antagonize the activity of hnRNP Q1 and induced exon 7 exclusion. Intriguingly, enhanced exon 7 inclusion was also observed upon concomitant depletion of three hnRNP Q isoforms. Thus, differential expression of hnRNP Q isoforms may result in intricate control of SMN precursor mRNA splicing. Here, we demonstrate that hnRNP Q is a splicing modulator of SMN, further underscoring the potential of hnRNP Q as a therapeutic target for SMA.
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.
Understanding functional distinctions between related splicing regulatory proteins is critical to deciphering tissue-specific control of alternative splicing. The hnRNP (heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein) L and hnRNP LL (hnRNP L-like) proteins are paralogues that have overlapping, but distinct, expression patterns and functional consequences. These two proteins share high sequence similarity in their RRMs (RNA-recognition motifs), but diverge in regions outside of the RRMs. In the present study, we use an MS2-tethering assay to delineate the minimal domains of hnRNP L and hnRNP LL which are required for repressing exon inclusion. We demonstrate that for both proteins, regions outside the RRMs, the N-terminal region, and a linker sequence between RRMs 2 and 3, are necessary for exon repression, but are only sufficient for repression in the case of hnRNP LL. In addition, both proteins require at least one RRM for maximal repression. Notably, we demonstrate that the region encompassing RRMs 1 and 2 of hnRNP LL imparts a second silencing activity not observed for hnRNP L. This additional functional component of hnRNP LL is consistent with the fact that the full-length hnRNP LL has a greater silencing activity than hnRNP L. Thus the results of the present study provide important insight into the functional and mechanistic variations that can exist between two highly related hnRNP proteins.
alternative splicing; heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein L (hnRNP L); heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein LL (hnRNP LL); MS2 tethering; spliceosome regulation
CD45 encodes a trans-membrane protein-tyrosine phosphatase expressed in diverse cells of the immune system. By combinatorial use of three variable exons 4–6, isoforms are generated that differ in their extracellular domain, thereby modulating phosphatase activity and immune response. Alternative splicing of these CD45 exons involves two heterogeneous ribonucleoproteins, hnRNP L and its cell-type specific paralog hnRNP L-like (LL). To address the complex combinatorial splicing of exons 4–6, we investigated hnRNP L/LL protein expression in human B-cells in relation to CD45 splicing patterns, applying RNA-Seq. In addition, mutational and RNA-binding analyses were carried out in HeLa cells. We conclude that hnRNP LL functions as the major CD45 splicing repressor, with two CA elements in exon 6 as its primary target. In exon 4, one element is targeted by both hnRNP L and LL. In contrast, exon 5 was never repressed on its own and only co-regulated with exons 4 and 6. Stable L/LL interaction requires CD45 RNA, specifically exons 4 and 6. We propose a novel model of combinatorial alternative splicing: HnRNP L and LL cooperate on the CD45 pre-mRNA, bridging exons 4 and 6 and looping out exon 5, thereby achieving full repression of the three variable exons.