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1.  Global control of aberrant splice-site activation by auxiliary splicing sequences: evidence for a gradient in exon and intron definition 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(19):6399-6413.
Auxiliary splicing signals play a major role in the regulation of constitutive and alternative pre-mRNA splicing, but their relative importance in selection of mutation-induced cryptic or de novo splice sites is poorly understood. Here, we show that exonic sequences between authentic and aberrant splice sites that were activated by splice-site mutations in human disease genes have lower frequencies of splicing enhancers and higher frequencies of splicing silencers than average exons. Conversely, sequences between authentic and intronic aberrant splice sites have more enhancers and less silencers than average introns. Exons that were skipped as a result of splice-site mutations were smaller, had lower SF2/ASF motif scores, a decreased availability of decoy splice sites and a higher density of silencers than exons in which splice-site mutation activated cryptic splice sites. These four variables were the strongest predictors of the two aberrant splicing events in a logistic regression model. Elimination or weakening of predicted silencers in two reporters consistently promoted use of intron-proximal splice sites if these elements were maintained at their original positions, with their modular combinations producing expected modification of splicing. Together, these results show the existence of a gradient in exon and intron definition at the level of pre-mRNA splicing and provide a basis for the development of computational tools that predict aberrant splicing outcomes.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkm680
PMCID: PMC2095810  PMID: 17881373
2.  Aberrant 5′ splice sites in human disease genes: mutation pattern, nucleotide structure and comparison of computational tools that predict their utilization 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(13):4250-4263.
Despite a growing number of splicing mutations found in hereditary diseases, utilization of aberrant splice sites and their effects on gene expression remain challenging to predict. We compiled sequences of 346 aberrant 5′splice sites (5′ss) that were activated by mutations in 166 human disease genes. Mutations within the 5′ss consensus accounted for 254 cryptic 5′ss and mutations elsewhere activated 92 de novo 5′ss. Point mutations leading to cryptic 5′ss activation were most common in the first intron nucleotide, followed by the fifth nucleotide. Substitutions at position +5 were exclusively G>A transitions, which was largely attributable to high mutability rates of C/G>T/A. However, the frequency of point mutations at position +5 was significantly higher than that observed in the Human Gene Mutation Database, suggesting that alterations of this position are particularly prone to aberrant splicing, possibly due to a requirement for sequential interactions with U1 and U6 snRNAs. Cryptic 5′ss were best predicted by computational algorithms that accommodate nucleotide dependencies and not by weight-matrix models. Discrimination of intronic 5′ss from their authentic counterparts was less effective than for exonic sites, as the former were intrinsically stronger than the latter. Computational prediction of exonic de novo 5′ss was poor, suggesting that their activation critically depends on exonic splicing enhancers or silencers. The authentic counterparts of aberrant 5′ss were significantly weaker than the average human 5′ss. The development of an online database of aberrant 5′ss will be useful for studying basic mechanisms of splice-site selection, identifying splicing mutations and optimizing splice-site prediction algorithms.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkm402
PMCID: PMC1934990  PMID: 17576681
3.  Biased exon/intron distribution of cryptic and de novo 3′ splice sites 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;33(15):4882-4898.
We compiled sequences of previously published aberrant 3′ splice sites (3′ss) that were generated by mutations in human disease genes. Cryptic 3′ss, defined here as those resulting from a mutation of the 3′YAG consensus, were more frequent in exons than in introns. They clustered in ∼20 nt region adjacent to authentic 3′ss, suggesting that their under-representation in introns is due to a depletion of AG dinucleotides in the polypyrimidine tract (PPT). In contrast, most aberrant 3′ss that were induced by mutations outside the 3′YAG consensus (designated ‘de novo’) were in introns. The activation of intronic de novo 3′ss was largely due to AG-creating mutations in the PPT. In contrast, exonic de novo 3′ss were more often induced by mutations improving the PPT, branchpoint sequence (BPS) or distant auxiliary signals, rather than by direct AG creation. The Shapiro–Senapathy matrix scores had a good prognostic value for cryptic, but not de novo 3′ss. Finally, AG-creating mutations in the PPT that produced aberrant 3′ss upstream of the predicted BPS in vivo shared a similar ‘BPS-new AG’ distance. Reduction of this distance and/or the strength of the new AG PPT in splicing reporter pre-mRNAs improved utilization of authentic 3′ss, suggesting that AG-creating mutations that are located closer to the BPS and are preceded by weaker PPT may result in less severe splicing defects.
doi:10.1093/nar/gki811
PMCID: PMC1197134  PMID: 16141195

Results 1-3 (3)