Anti-NeuN (Neuronal Nuclei) is a monoclonal antibody used extensively to specifically detect post-mitotic neurons. Anti-NeuN reactivity is predominantly nuclear; by western it detects multiple bands ranging in molecular weight from 45 kDa to >75 kDa. Expression screening putatively identified R3hdm2 as NeuN; however immunoprecipitation and mass spectrometry of the two major NeuN species at 45–50 kDa identified both as the RNA binding protein Rbfox3 (a member of the Fox family of alternative splicing factors), confirming and extending the identification of the 45 kDa band as Rbfox3 by Kim et al. Mapping of the anti-NeuN reactive epitopes in both R3hdm2 and Rbfox3 reveals a common proline- and glutamine-rich domain that lies at the N-terminus of the Rbfox3 protein. Our data suggests that alternative splicing of the Rbfox3 pre-mRNA itself leads to the production of four protein isoforms that migrate in the 45–50 kDa range, and that one of these splicing choices regulates Rbfox3/NeuN sub-cellular steady-state distribution, through the addition or removal of a short C-terminal extension containing the second half of a bipartite hydrophobic proline-tyrosine nuclear localization signal. Rbfox3 regulates alternative splicing of the Rbfox2 pre-mRNA, producing a message encoding a dominant negative form of the Rbfox2 protein. We show here that nuclear Rbfox3 isoforms can also enhance the inclusion of cryptic exons in the Rbfox2 mRNA, resulting in nonsense-mediated decay of the message, thereby contributing to the negative regulation of Rbfox2 by Rbfox3 through a novel mechanism.
The generation of diversity and plasticity of transcriptional programs are key components of effective vertebrate immune responses. The role of Alternative Splicing has been recognized, but it is underappreciated and poorly understood as a critical mechanism for the regulation and fine-tuning of physiological immune responses. Here we report the generation of loss-of-function phenotypes for a large collection of genes known or predicted to be involved in the splicing reaction and the identification of 19 novel regulators of IL-1β secretion in response to E. coli challenge of THP-1 cells. Twelve of these genes are required for IL-1β secretion, while seven are negative regulators of this process. Silencing of SFRS3 increased IL-1β secretion due to elevation of IL-1β and caspase-1 mRNA in addition to active caspase-1 levels. This study points to the relevance of splicing in the regulation of auto-inflammatory diseases.
CUG-BP and ETR-3-like factor (CELF) proteins regulate tissue- and developmental stage-specific alternative splicing in striated muscle. We previously demonstrated that heart muscle-specific expression of a nuclear dominant negative CELF protein in transgenic mice (MHC-CELFΔ) effectively disrupts endogenous CELF activity in the heart in vivo, resulting in impaired cardiac function. In this study, transgenic mice that express the dominant negative protein under a skeletal muscle-specific promoter (Myo-CELFΔ) were generated to investigate the role of CELF-mediated alternative splicing programs in normal skeletal muscle.
Myo-CELFΔ mice exhibit modest changes in CELF-mediated alternative splicing in skeletal muscle, accompanied by a reduction of endomysial and perimysial spaces, an increase in fiber size variability, and an increase in slow twitch muscle fibers. Weight gain and mean body weight, total number of muscle fibers, and overall muscle strength were not affected.
Although these findings demonstrate that CELF activity contributes to the normal alternative splicing of a subset of muscle transcripts in vivo, the mildness of the effects in Myo-CELFΔ muscles compared to those in MHC-CELFΔ hearts suggests CELF activity may be less determinative for alternative splicing in skeletal muscle than in heart muscle. Nonetheless, even these small changes in CELF-mediated splicing regulation were sufficient to alter muscle organization and muscle fiber properties affected in myotonic dystrophy. This lends further evidence to the hypothesis that dysregulation of CELF-mediated alternative splicing programs may be responsible for the disruption of these properties during muscle pathogenesis.
Despite significant advances in high-throughput DNA sequencing, many important
species remain understudied at the genome level. In this study we addressed a
question of what can be predicted about the genome-wide characteristics of less
studied species, based on the genomic data from completely sequenced species.
Using NCBI databases we performed a comparative genome-wide analysis of such
characteristics as alternative splicing, number of genes, gene products and
exons in 36 completely sequenced model species. We created statistical
regression models to fit these data and applied them to loblolly pine
(Pinus taeda L.), an example of an important species whose
genome has not been completely sequenced yet. Using these models, the
genome-wide characteristics, such as total number of genes and exons, can be
roughly predicted based on parameters estimated from available limited genomic
data, e.g. exon length and exon/gene ratio.
The pathophysiology of HFE-derived Hereditary Hemochromatosis and the function of HFE protein in iron homeostasis remain uncertain. Also, the role of alternative splicing in HFE gene expression regulation and the possible function of the corresponding protein isoforms are still unknown. The aim of this study was to gain insights into the physiological significance of these alternative HFE variants.
Alternatively spliced HFE transcripts in diverse human tissues were identified by RT-PCR, cloning and sequencing. Total HFE transcripts, as well as two alternative splicing transcripts were quantified using a real-time PCR methodology. Intracellular localization, trafficking and protein association of GFP-tagged HFE protein variants were analysed in transiently transfected HepG2 cells by immunoprecipitation and immunofluorescence assays.
Alternatively spliced HFE transcripts present both level- and tissue-specificity. Concerning the exon 2 skipping and intron 4 inclusion transcripts, the liver presents the lowest relative level, while duodenum presents one of the highest amounts. The protein resulting from exon 2 skipping transcript is unable to associate with β2M and TfR1 and reveals an ER retention. Conversely, the intron 4 inclusion transcript gives rise to a truncated, soluble protein (sHFE) that is mostly secreted by cells to the medium in association with β2M.
HFE gene post-transcriptional regulation is clearly affected by a tissue-dependent alternative splicing mechanism. Among the corresponding proteins, a sHFE isoform stands out, which upon being secreted into the bloodstream, may act in remote tissues. It could be either an agonist or antagonist of the full length HFE, through hepcidin expression regulation in the liver or by controlling dietary iron absorption in the duodenum.
Sequences governing RNA splicing are difficult to study in situ due to the great difficulty of traditional targeted mutagenesis. Zinc-finger nuclease (ZFN) technology allows for the rapid and efficient introduction of site-specific mutations into mammalian chromosomes. Using a ZFN pair along with a donor plasmid to manipulate the outcomes of DNA repair, we introduced several discrete, targeted mutations into the fourth intron of the endogenous BAX gene in Chinese hamster ovary cells. Putative lariat branch points, the polypyrimidine tract, and the splice acceptor site were targeted. We recovered numerous otherwise isogenic clones carrying the intended mutations and analyzed the effect of each on BAX pre-mRNA splicing. Mutation of one of three possible branch points, the polypyrimidine tract, and the splice acceptor site all caused exclusion of exon five from BAX mRNA. Interestingly, these exon-skipping mutations allowed usage of cryptic splice acceptor sites within intron four. These data demonstrate that ZFN-mediated gene editing is a highly effective tool for dissection of pre-mRNA splicing regulatory sequences in their endogenous context.
There is increasing evidence to suggest that splicing decisions are largely made when the nascent RNA is still associated with chromatin. Here we demonstrate that activity of histone deacetylases (HDACs) influences splice site selection. Using splicing-sensitive microarrays, we identified ∼700 genes whose splicing was altered after HDAC inhibition. We provided evidence that HDAC inhibition induced histone H4 acetylation and increased RNA Polymerase II (Pol II) processivity along an alternatively spliced element. In addition, HDAC inhibition reduced co-transcriptional association of the splicing regulator SRp40 with the target fibronectin exon. We further showed that the depletion of HDAC1 had similar effect on fibronectin alternative splicing as global HDAC inhibition. Importantly, this effect was reversed upon expression of mouse HDAC1 but not a catalytically inactive mutant. These results provide a molecular insight into a complex modulation of splicing by HDACs and chromatin modifications.
Familial Dysautonomia (FD) is an autosomal recessive congenital neuropathy that results from abnormal development and progressive degeneration of the sensory and autonomic nervous system. The mutation observed in almost all FD patients is a point mutation at position 6 of intron 20 of the IKBKAP gene; this gene encodes the IκB kinase complex-associated protein (IKAP). The mutation results in a tissue-specific splicing defect: Exon 20 is skipped, leading to reduced IKAP protein expression. Here we show that phosphatidylserine (PS), an FDA-approved food supplement, increased IKAP mRNA levels in cells derived from FD patients. Long-term treatment with PS led to a significant increase in IKAP protein levels in these cells. A conjugate of PS and an omega-3 fatty acid also increased IKAP mRNA levels. Furthermore, PS treatment released FD cells from cell cycle arrest and up-regulated a significant number of genes involved in cell cycle regulation. Our results suggest that PS has potential for use as a therapeutic agent for FD. Understanding its mechanism of action may reveal the mechanism underlying the FD disease.
Clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) is the most common type of renal cancer. One of the processes disturbed in this cancer type is alternative splicing, although phenomena underlying these disturbances remain unknown. Alternative splicing consists of selective removal of introns and joining of residual exons of the primary transcript, to produce mRNA molecules of different sequence. Splicing aberrations may lead to tumoral transformation due to synthesis of impaired splice variants with oncogenic potential. In this paper we hypothesized that disturbed alternative splicing in ccRCC may result from improper expression of splicing factors, mediators of splicing reactions.
Using real-time PCR and Western-blot analysis we analyzed expression of seven splicing factors belonging to SR proteins family (SF2/ASF, SC35, SRp20, SRp75, SRp40, SRp55 and 9G8), and one non-SR factor, hnRNP A1 (heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein A1) in 38 pairs of tumor-control ccRCC samples. Moreover, we analyzed splicing patterns of five genes involved in carcinogenesis and partially regulated by analyzed splicing factors: RON, CEACAM1, Rac1, Caspase-9, and GLI1.
We found that the mRNA expression of splicing factors was disturbed in tumors when compared to paired controls, similarly as levels of SF2/ASF and hnRNP A1 proteins. The correlation coefficients between expression levels of specific splicing factors were increased in tumor samples. Moreover, alternative splicing of five analyzed genes was also disturbed in ccRCC samples and splicing pattern of two of them, Caspase-9 and CEACAM1 correlated with expression of SF2/ASF in tumors. We conclude that disturbed expression of splicing factors in ccRCC may possibly lead to impaired alternative splicing of genes regulating tumor growth and this way contribute to the process of carcinogenesis.
The U12-type spliceosome is responsible for the removal of a subset of introns from eukaryotic mRNAs. U12-type introns are spliced less efficiently than normal U2-type introns, which suggests a rate-limiting role in gene expression. The Drosophila genome contains about 20 U12-type introns, many of them in essential genes, and the U12-type spliceosome has previously been shown to be essential in the fly.
We have used a Drosophila line with a P-element insertion in U6atac snRNA, an essential component of the U12-type spliceosome, to investigate the impact of U12-type introns on gene expression at the organismal level during fly development. This line exhibits progressive accumulation of unspliced U12-type introns during larval development and the death of larvae at the third instar stage. Surprisingly, microarray and RT-PCR analyses revealed that most genes containing U12-type introns showed only mild perturbations in the splicing of U12-type introns. In contrast, we detected widespread downstream effects on genes that do not contain U12-type introns, with genes related to various metabolic pathways constituting the largest group.
U12-type intron-containing genes exhibited variable gene-specific responses to the splicing defect, with some genes showing up- or downregulation, while most did not change significantly. The observed residual U12-type splicing activity could be explained with the mutant U6atac allele having a low level of catalytic activity. Detailed analysis of all genes suggested that a defect in the splicing of the U12-type intron of the mitochondrial prohibitin gene may be the primary cause of the various downstream effects detected in the microarray analysis.
Variation in pre-mRNA splicing is common and in some cases caused by genetic variants in intronic splicing motifs. Recent studies into the insulin gene (INS) discovered a polymorphism in a 5′ non-coding intron that influences the likelihood of intron retention in the final mRNA, extending the 5′ untranslated region and maintaining protein quality. Retention was also associated with increased insulin levels, suggesting that such variants - splice translational efficiency polymorphisms (STEPs) - may relate to disease phenotypes through differential protein expression. We set out to explore the prevalence of STEPs in the human genome and validate this new category of protein quantitative trait loci (pQTL) using publicly available data.
Gene transcript and variant data were collected and mined for candidate STEPs in motif regions. Sequences from transcripts containing potential STEPs were analysed for evidence of splice site recognition and an effect in expressed sequence tags (ESTs). 16 publicly released genome-wide association data sets of common diseases were searched for association to candidate polymorphisms with HapMap frequency data. Our study found 3324 candidate STEPs lying in motif sequences of 5′ non-coding introns and further mining revealed 170 with transcript evidence of intron retention. 21 potential STEPs had EST evidence of intron retention or exon extension, as well as population frequency data for comparison.
Results suggest that the insulin STEP was not a unique example and that many STEPs may occur genome-wide with potentially causal effects in complex disease. An online database of STEPs is freely accessible at http://dbstep.genes.org.uk/.
To survive, bacteria must be able to adapt to environmental stresses. Small regulatory RNAs have been implicated as intermediates in a variety of stress-response pathways allowing dynamic gene regulation. The RNA binding protein Hfq facilitates this process in many cases, helping sRNAs base pair with their target mRNAs and initiate gene regulation. Although Hfq has been identified as a critical component in many RNPs, the manner by which Hfq controls these interactions is not known.
To test the requirement of Hfq in these mRNA-sRNA complexes, the OxyS-fhlA system was used as a model. OxyS is induced in response to oxidative stress and down regulates the translation of fhlA, a gene encoding a transcriptional activator for formate metabolism. Biophysical characterization of this system previously used a minimal construct of the fhlA mRNA which inadvertently removed a critical element within the leader sequence of this mRNA that effected thermodynamics and kinetics for the interaction with Hfq.
Herein, we report thermodynamic, kinetic and structural mapping studies during binary and ternary complex formation between Hfq, OxyS and fhlA mRNA. Hfq binds fhlA mRNA using both the proximal and distal surfaces and stimulates association kinetics between the sRNA and mRNA but remains bound to fhlA forming a ternary complex. The upstream Hfq binding element within fhlA is similar to (ARN)x elements recently identified in other mRNAs regulated by Hfq. This work leads to a kinetic model for the dynamics of these complexes and the regulation of gene expression by bacterial sRNAs.
Splicing event identification is one of the most important issues in the comprehensive analysis of transcription profile. Recent development of next-generation sequencing technology has generated an extensive profile of alternative splicing. However, while many of these splicing events are between exons that are relatively close on genome sequences, reads generated by RNA-Seq are not limited to alternative splicing between close exons but occur in virtually all splicing events. In this work, a novel method, SAW, was proposed for the identification of all splicing events based on short reads from RNA-Seq. It was observed that short reads not in known gene models are actually absent words from known gene sequences. An efficient method to filter and cluster these short reads by fingerprint fragments of splicing events without aligning short reads to genome sequences was developed. Additionally, the possible splicing sites were also determined without alignment against genome sequences. A consensus sequence was then generated for each short read cluster, which was then aligned to the genome sequences. Results demonstrated that this method could identify more than 90% of the known splicing events with a very low false discovery rate, as well as accurately identify, a number of novel splicing events between distant exons.
In eukaryotes mRNA transcripts of protein-coding genes in which an intron has been retained in the coding region normally result in premature stop codons and are therefore degraded through the nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) pathway. There is evidence in the form of selective pressure for in-frame stop codons in introns and a depletion of length three introns that this is an important and conserved quality-control mechanism. Yet recent reports have revealed that the efficiency of NMD varies across tissues and between individuals, with important clinical consequences.
Using previously published Affymetrix exon microarray data from cell lines genotyped as part of the International HapMap project, we investigated whether there are heritable, inter-individual differences in the abundance of intron-containing transcripts, potentially reflecting differences in the efficiency of NMD. We identified intronic probesets using EST data and report evidence of heritability in the extent of intron expression in 56 HapMap trios. We also used a genome-wide association approach to identify genetic markers associated with intron expression. Among the top candidates was a SNP in the DCP1A gene, which forms part of the decapping complex, involved in NMD.
While we caution that some of the apparent inter-individual difference in intron expression may be attributable to different handling or treatments of cell lines, we hypothesize that there is significant polymorphism in the process of NMD, resulting in heritable differences in the abundance of intronic mRNA. Part of this phenotype is likely to be due to a polymorphism in a decapping enzyme on human chromosome 3.
TIA-1-related (TIAR) protein is a shuttling RNA-binding protein involved in several steps of RNA metabolism. While in the nucleus TIAR participates to alternative splicing events, in the cytoplasm TIAR acts as a translational repressor on specific transcripts such as those containing AU-Rich Elements (AREs). Due to its ability to assemble abortive pre-initiation complexes coalescing into cytoplasmic granules called stress granules, TIAR is also involved in the general translational arrest observed in cells exposed to environmental stress. However, the in vivo role of this protein has not been studied so far mainly due to severe embryonic lethality upon tiar invalidation.
To examine potential TIAR tissue-specificity in various cellular contexts, either embryonic or adult, we constructed a TIAR transgenic allele (loxPGFPloxPTIAR) allowing the conditional expression of TIAR protein upon Cre recombinase activity. Here, we report the role of TIAR during mouse embryogenesis. We observed that early TIAR overexpression led to low transgene transmission associated with embryonic lethality starting at early post-implantation stages. Interestingly, while pre-implantation steps evolved correctly in utero, in vitro cultured embryos were very sensitive to culture medium. Control and transgenic embryos developed equally well in the G2 medium, whereas culture in M16 medium led to the phosphorylation of eIF2α that accumulated in cytoplasmic granules precluding transgenic blastocyst hatching. Our results thus reveal a differential TIAR-mediated embryonic response following artificial or natural growth environment.
This study reports the importance of the tightly balanced expression of the RNA-binding protein TIAR for normal embryonic development, thereby emphasizing the role of post-transcriptional regulations in early embryonic programming.
Allelic gene structure variations and alternative splicing are responsible for transcript structure variations. More than 75% of human genes have structural isoforms of transcripts, but to date few studies have been conducted to verify the alternative splicing systematically.
The present study used expressed sequence tags (ESTs) and EST tagged SNP patterns to examine the transcript structure variations resulting from allelic gene structure variations in the major human malaria vector, Anopheles gambiae. About 80% of 236,004 available A. gambiae ESTs were successfully aligned to A. gambiae reference genomes. More than 2,340 transcript structure variation events were detected. Because the current A. gambiae annotation is incomplete, we re-annotated the A. gambiae genome with an A. gambiae-specific gene model so that the effect of variations on gene coding could be better evaluated. A total of 15,962 genes were predicted. Among them, 3,873 were novel genes and 12,089 were previously identified genes. The gene completion rate improved from 60% to 84%. Based on EST support, 82.5% of gene structures were predicted correctly. In light of the new annotation, we found that ∼78% of transcript structure variations were located within the coding sequence (CDS) regions, and >65% of variations in the CDS regions have the same open-reading-frame. The association between transcript structure isoforms and SNPs indicated that more than 28% of transcript structure variation events were contributed by different gene alleles in A. gambiae.
We successfully expanded the A. gambiae genome annotation. We predicted and analyzed transcript structure variations in A. gambiae and found that allelic gene structure variation plays a major role in transcript diversity in this important human malaria vector.
The transcription factor Snail1 induces epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), a process responsible for the acquisition of invasiveness during tumorigenesis. Several transcriptomic studies have reported Snail1-regulated genes in different cell types, many of them involved in cell adhesion. However, only a few studies have used proteomics as a tool for the characterization of proteins mediating EMT.
We identified by proteomic analysis using 2D-DIGE electrophoresis combined with MALDI-TOF-TOF and ESI-linear ion trap mass spectrometry a number of proteins with variable functions whose expression is modulated by Snail1 in SW480-ADH human colon cancer cells. Validation was performed by Western blot and immunofluorescence analyses. Snail1 repressed several members of the 14-3-3 family of phosphoserine/phosphothreonine binding proteins and also the expression of the Proliferation-associated protein 2G4 (PA2G4) that was mainly localized at the nuclear Cajal bodies. In contrast, the expression of two proteins involved in RNA processing, the Cleavage and polyadenylation specificity factor subunit 6 (CPSF6) and the Splicing factor proline/glutamine-rich (SFPQ), was higher in Snail1-expressing cells than in controls. The regulation of 14-3-3ε, 14-3-3τ, 14-3-3ζ and PA2G4 by Snail1 was reproduced in HT29 colon cancer cells. In addition, we found an inverse correlation between 14-3-3σ and Snail1 expression in human colorectal tumors.
We have identified a set of novel Snail1 target proteins in colon cancer that expand the cellular processes affected by Snail1 and thus its relevance for cell function and phenotype.
SELEX is a well established in vitro selection tool to analyze the structure of ligand-binding nucleic acid sequences called aptamers. Genomic SELEX transforms SELEX into a tool to discover novel, genomically encoded RNA or DNA sequences binding a ligand of interest, called genomic aptamers. Concerns have been raised regarding requirements imposed on RNA sequences undergoing SELEX selection.
To evaluate SELEX and assess the extent of these effects, we designed and performed a Neutral SELEX experiment omitting the selection step, such that the sequences are under the sole selective pressure of SELEX's amplification steps. Using high-throughput sequencing, we obtained thousands of full-length sequences from the initial genomic library and the pools after each of the 10 rounds of Neutral SELEX. We compared these to sequences obtained from a Genomic SELEX experiment deriving from the same initial library, but screening for RNAs binding with high affinity to the E. coli regulator protein Hfq. With each round of Neutral SELEX, sequences became less stable and changed in nucleotide content, but no sequences were enriched. In contrast, we detected substantial enrichment in the Hfq-selected set with enriched sequences having structural stability similar to the neutral sequences but with significantly different nucleotide selection.
Our data indicate that positive selection in SELEX acts independently of the neutral selective requirements imposed on the sequences. We conclude that Genomic SELEX, when combined with high-throughput sequencing of positively and neutrally selected pools, as well as the gnomic library, is a powerful method to identify genomic aptamers.
UDP-glucuronosyltransferases (Ugts) are a supergene family of phase II drug-metabolizing enzymes that catalyze the conjugation of numerous hydrophobic small molecules with the UDP-glucuronic acid, converting them into hydrophilic molecules. Here, we report the identification and cloning of the complete zebrafish Ugt gene repertoire. We found that the zebrafish genome contains 45 Ugt genes that can be divided into three families: Ugt1, Ugt2, and Ugt5. Both Ugt1 and Ugt2 have two unlinked clusters: a and b. The Ugt1a, Ugt1b, Ugt2a, and Ugt2b clusters each contain variable and constant regions, similar to that of the protocadherin (Pcdh), immunoglobulin (Ig), and T-cell receptor (Tcr) clusters. Cloning the full-length coding sequences confirmed that each of the variable exons is separately spliced to the set of constant exons within each zebrafish Ugt cluster. Comparative analyses showed that both a and b clusters of the zebrafish Ugt1 and Ugt2 genes have orthologs in other teleosts, suggesting that they may be resulted from the “fish-specific” whole-genome duplication event. The Ugt5 genes are a novel family of Ugt genes that exist in teleosts and amphibians. Their entire open reading frames are encoded by single large exons. The zebrafish Ugt1, Ugt2, and Ugt5 genes can generate additional transcript diversity through alternative splicing. Based on phylogenetic analyses, we propose that the ancestral tetrapod and teleost Ugt1 clusters contained multiple Ugt1 paralogs. After speciation, these ancestral Ugt1 clusters underwent lineage-specific gene loss and duplication. The ancestral vertebrate Ugt2 cluster also underwent lineage-specific duplication. The intronless Ugt5 open reading frames may be derived from retrotransposition followed by gene duplication. They have been expanded dramatically in teleosts and have become the most abundant Ugt family in these lineages. These findings have interesting implications regarding the molecular evolution of genes with diversified variable exons in vertebrates.
Deep sequencing of transcriptome (RNA-seq) provides unprecedented opportunity to interrogate plausible mRNA splicing patterns by mapping RNA-seq reads to exon junctions (thereafter junction reads). In most previous studies, exon junctions were detected by using the quantitative information of junction reads. The quantitative criterion (e.g. minimum of two junction reads), although is straightforward and widely used, usually results in high false positive and false negative rates, owning to the complexity of transcriptome. Here, we introduced a new metric, namely Minimal Match on Either Side of exon junction (MMES), to measure the quality of each junction read, and subsequently implemented an empirical statistical model to detect exon junctions. When applied to a large dataset (>200M reads) consisting of mouse brain, liver and muscle mRNA sequences, and using independent transcripts databases as positive control, our method was proved to be considerably more accurate than previous ones, especially for detecting junctions originated from low-abundance transcripts. Our results were also confirmed by real time RT-PCR assay. The MMES metric can be used either in this empirical statistical model or in other more sophisticated classifiers, such as logistic regression.
The 3′ untranslated regions (3′UTRs) of mRNAs contain cis elements involved in post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression. Over half of all mammalian genes contain multiple polyadenylation sites that lead to different 3′UTRs for a gene. Studies have shown that the alternative polyadenylation (APA) pattern varies across tissues, and is dynamically regulated in proliferating or differentiating cells. Generation of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, in which differentiated cells are reprogrammed to an embryonic stem (ES) cell-like state, has been intensively studied in recent years. However, it is not known how 3′UTRs are regulated during cell reprogramming.
Using a computational method that robustly examines APA across DNA microarray data sets, we analyzed 3′UTR dynamics in generation of iPS cells from different cell types. We found that 3′UTRs shorten during reprogramming of somatic cells, the extent of which depends on the type of source cell. By contrast, reprogramming of spermatogonial cells involves 3′UTR lengthening. The alternative polyadenylation sites that are highly responsive to change of cell state in generation of iPS cells are also highly regulated during embryonic development in opposite directions. Compared with other sites, they are more conserved, can lead to longer alternative 3′UTRs, and are associated with more cis elements for polyadenylation. Consistently, reprogramming of somatic cells and germ cells involves significant upregulation and downregulation, respectively, of mRNAs encoding polyadenylation factors, and RNA processing is one of the most significantly regulated biological processes during cell reprogramming. Furthermore, genes containing target sites of ES cell-specific microRNAs (miRNAs) in different portions of 3′UTR are distinctively regulated during cell reprogramming, suggesting impact of APA on miRNA targeting.
Taken together, these findings indicate that reprogramming of 3′UTRs by APA, which result from regulation of both general polyadenylation activity and cell type-specific factors and can reset post-transcriptional gene regulatory programs in the cell, is an integral part of iPS cell generation, and the APA pattern can be a good biomarker for cell type and state, useful for sample classification. The results also suggest that perturbation of the mRNA polyadenylation machinery or RNA processing activity may facilitate generation of iPS cells.
Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) is an autosomal recessive disease that leads to specific loss of motor neurons. It is caused by deletions or mutations of the survival of motor neuron 1 gene (SMN1). The remaining copy of the gene, SMN2, generates only low levels of the SMN protein due to a mutation in SMN2 exon 7 that leads to exon skipping.
To correct SMN2 splicing, we use Adenovirus type 5–derived vectors to express SMN2-antisense U7 snRNA oligonucleotides targeting the SMN intron 7/exon 8 junction. Infection of SMA type I–derived patient fibroblasts with these vectors resulted in increased levels of exon 7 inclusion, upregulating the expression of SMN to similar levels as in non–SMA control cells.
These results show that Adenovirus type 5–derived vectors delivering U7 antisense oligonucleotides can efficiently restore full-length SMN protein and suggest that the viral vector-mediated oligonucleotide application may be a suitable therapeutic approach to counteract SMA.
Notch receptor regulates differentiation of almost all tissues and organs during animal development. Many mechanisms function at the protein level to finely regulate Notch activity. Here we provide evidence for Notch regulation at an earlier step - mRNA 3′ processing. Processing at the Notch consensus polyadenylation site appears by default to be suppressed in Drosophila embryos. Interference with this suppression, by a mutation, results in increased levels of polyadenylated Notch mRNA, excess Notch signaling, and severe developmental defects. We propose that Notch mRNA 3′ processing is negatively regulated to limit the production of Notch protein and render it a controlling factor in the generation of Notch signaling.
Alternative splicing of pre-mRNA is a mechanism that increases the protein diversity of a single gene by differential exon inclusion/exclusion during post-transcriptional processing. While alternative splicing is established to occur during lymphocyte activation, little is known about the role it plays during the immune response. Our study is among the first reports of a systematic genome-wide analysis of activated human T and B lymphocytes using whole exon DNA microarrays integrating alternative splicing and differential gene expression. Purified human CD2+ T or CD19+ B cells were activated using protocols to model the early events in post-transplant allograft immunity and sampled as a function of time during the process of immune activation. Here we show that 3 distinct classes of alternatively spliced and/or differentially expressed genes change in an ordered manner as a function of immune activation. We mapped our results to function-based canonical pathways and demonstrated that some are populated by only one class of genes, like integrin signaling, while other pathways, such as purine metabolism and T cell receptor signaling, are populated by all three classes of genes. Our studies augment the current view of T and B cell activation in immunity that has been based exclusively upon differential gene expression by providing evidence for a large number of molecular networks populated as a function of time and activation by alternatively spliced genes, many of which are constitutively expressed.