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1.  Identification of cis-Acting Elements and Splicing Factors Involved in the Regulation of BIM Pre-mRNA Splicing 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95210.
Aberrant changes in the expression of the pro-apoptotic protein, BCL-2-like 11 (BIM), can result in either impaired or excessive apoptosis, which can contribute to tumorigenesis and degenerative disorders, respectively. Altering BIM pre-mRNA splicing is an attractive approach to modulate apoptosis because BIM activity is partly determined by the alternative splicing of exons 3 or 4, whereby exon 3-containing transcripts are not apoptotic. Here we identified several cis-acting elements and splicing factors involved in BIM alternative splicing, as a step to better understand the regulation of BIM expression. We analyzed a recently discovered 2,903-bp deletion polymorphism within BIM intron 2 that biased splicing towards exon 3, and which also impaired BIM-dependent apoptosis. We found that this region harbors multiple redundant cis-acting elements that repress exon 3 inclusion. Furthermore, we have isolated a 23-nt intronic splicing silencer at the 3′ end of the deletion that is important for excluding exon 3. We also show that PTBP1 and hnRNP C repress exon 3 inclusion, and that downregulation of PTBP1 inhibited BIM-mediated apoptosis. Collectively, these findings start building our understanding of the cis-acting elements and splicing factors that regulate BIM alternative splicing, and also suggest potential approaches to alter BIM splicing for therapeutic purposes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0095210
PMCID: PMC3990581  PMID: 24743263
2.  Recognition of atypical 5' splice sites by shifted base-pairing to U1 snRNA 
Accurate pre-mRNA splicing is critical for gene expression. The 5' splice site (5' ss) — the highly diverse element at the 5' end of introns — is initially recognized via base-pairing to the 5' end of U1 small nuclear RNA (snRNA). However, many natural 5' ss have a very poor match to the consensus sequence, and are predicted to be very weak. Using genetic suppression experiments in human cells, we demonstrate that some atypical 5' ss are actually efficiently recognized by U1, in an alternative base-pairing register that is shifted by one nucleotide. These atypical 5' ss are phylogenetically widespread, and many of them are conserved. Moreover, shifted base-pairing provides an explanation for the effect of a 5' ss mutation associated with pontocerebellar hypoplasia. The unexpected flexibility in 5' ss/U1 base-pairing challenges an established paradigm, and has broad implications for splice-site prediction algorithms and gene-annotation efforts in genome projects.
doi:10.1038/nsmb.1546
PMCID: PMC2719486  PMID: 19169258
3.  Antisense oligonucleotide-induced alternative splicing of the APOB mRNA generates a novel isoform of APOB 
Background
Apolipoprotein B (APOB) is an integral part of the LDL, VLDL, IDL, Lp(a) and chylomicron lipoprotein particles. The APOB pre-mRNA consists of 29 constitutively-spliced exons. APOB exists as two natural isoforms: the full-length APOB100 isoform, assembled into LDL, VLDL, IDL and Lp(a) and secreted by the liver in humans; and the C-terminally truncated APOB48, assembled into chylomicrons and secreted by the intestine in humans. Down-regulation of APOB100 is a potential therapy to lower circulating LDL and cholesterol levels.
Results
We investigated the ability of 2'O-methyl RNA antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) to induce the skipping of exon 27 in endogenous APOB mRNA in HepG2 cells. These ASOs are directed towards the 5' and 3' splice-sites of exon 27, the branch-point sequence (BPS) of intron 26–27 and several predicted exonic splicing enhancers within exon 27. ASOs targeting either the 5' or 3' splice-site, in combination with the BPS, are the most effective. The splicing of other alternatively spliced genes are not influenced by these ASOs, suggesting that the effects seen are not due to non-specific changes in alternative splicing. The skip 27 mRNA is translated into a truncated isoform, APOB87SKIP27.
Conclusion
The induction of APOB87SKIP27 expression in vivo should lead to decreased LDL and cholesterol levels, by analogy to patients with hypobetalipoproteinemia. As intestinal APOB mRNA editing and APOB48 expression rely on sequences within exon 26, exon 27 skipping should not affect APOB48 expression unlike other methods of down-regulating APOB100 expression which also down-regulate APOB48.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-8-3
PMCID: PMC1784105  PMID: 17233885
4.  Comprehensive splice-site analysis using comparative genomics 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;34(14):3955-3967.
We have collected over half a million splice sites from five species—Homo sapiens, Mus musculus, Drosophila melanogaster, Caenorhabditis elegans and Arabidopsis thaliana—and classified them into four subtypes: U2-type GT–AG and GC–AG and U12-type GT–AG and AT–AC. We have also found new examples of rare splice-site categories, such as U12-type introns without canonical borders, and U2-dependent AT–AC introns. The splice-site sequences and several tools to explore them are available on a public website (SpliceRack). For the U12-type introns, we find several features conserved across species, as well as a clustering of these introns on genes. Using the information content of the splice-site motifs, and the phylogenetic distance between them, we identify: (i) a higher degree of conservation in the exonic portion of the U2-type splice sites in more complex organisms; (ii) conservation of exonic nucleotides for U12-type splice sites; (iii) divergent evolution of C.elegans 3′ splice sites (3′ss) and (iv) distinct evolutionary histories of 5′ and 3′ss. Our study proves that the identification of broad patterns in naturally-occurring splice sites, through the analysis of genomic datasets, provides mechanistic and evolutionary insights into pre-mRNA splicing.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkl556
PMCID: PMC1557818  PMID: 16914448
5.  Intrinsic differences between authentic and cryptic 5′ splice sites 
Nucleic Acids Research  2003;31(21):6321-6333.
Cryptic splice sites are used only when use of a natural splice site is disrupted by mutation. To determine the features that distinguish authentic from cryptic 5′ splice sites (5′ss), we systematically analyzed a set of 76 cryptic 5′ss derived from 46 human genes. These cryptic 5′ss have a similar frequency distribution in exons and introns, and are usually located close to the authentic 5′ss. Statistical analysis of the strengths of the 5′ss using the Shapiro and Senapathy matrix revealed that authentic 5′ss have significantly higher score values than cryptic 5′ss, which in turn have higher values than the mutant ones. β-Globin provides an interesting exception to this rule, so we chose it for detailed experimental analysis in vitro. We found that the sequences of the β-globin authentic and cryptic 5′ss, but not their surrounding context, determine the correct 5′ss choice, although their respective scores do not reflect this functional difference. Our analysis provides a statistical basis to explain the competitive advantage of authentic over cryptic 5′ss in most cases, and should facilitate the development of tools to reliably predict the effect of disease-associated 5′ss-disrupting mutations at the mRNA level.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkg830
PMCID: PMC275472  PMID: 14576320

Results 1-5 (5)