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1.  A method of predicting changes in human gene splicing induced by genetic variants in context of cis-acting elements 
BMC Bioinformatics  2010;11:22.
Background
Polymorphic variants and mutations disrupting canonical splicing isoforms are among the leading causes of human hereditary disorders. While there is a substantial evidence of aberrant splicing causing Mendelian diseases, the implication of such events in multi-genic disorders is yet to be well understood. We have developed a new tool (SpliceScan II) for predicting the effects of genetic variants on splicing and cis-regulatory elements. The novel Bayesian non-canonical 5'GC splice site (SS) sensor used in our tool allows inference on non-canonical exons.
Results
Our tool performed favorably when compared with the existing methods in the context of genes linked to the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). SpliceScan II was able to predict more aberrant splicing isoforms triggered by the mutations, as documented in DBASS5 and DBASS3 aberrant splicing databases, than other existing methods. Detrimental effects behind some of the polymorphic variations previously associated with Alzheimer's and breast cancer could be explained by changes in predicted splicing patterns.
Conclusions
We have developed SpliceScan II, an effective and sensitive tool for predicting the detrimental effects of genomic variants on splicing leading to Mendelian and complex hereditary disorders. The method could potentially be used to screen resequenced patient DNA to identify de novo mutations and polymorphic variants that could contribute to a genetic disorder.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-11-22
PMCID: PMC3098058  PMID: 20067640
2.  Computational prediction of splicing regulatory elements shared by Tetrapoda organisms 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:508.
Background
Auxiliary splicing sequences play an important role in ensuring accurate and efficient splicing by promoting or repressing recognition of authentic splice sites. These cis-acting motifs have been termed splicing enhancers and silencers and are located both in introns and exons. They co-evolved into an intricate splicing code together with additional functional constraints, such as tissue-specific and alternative splicing patterns. We used orthologous exons extracted from the University of California Santa Cruz multiple genome alignments of human and 22 Tetrapoda organisms to predict candidate enhancers and silencers that have reproducible and statistically significant bias towards annotated exonic boundaries.
Results
A total of 2,546 Tetrapoda enhancers and silencers were clustered into 15 putative core motifs based on their Markov properties. Most of these elements have been identified previously, but 118 putative silencers and 260 enhancers (~15%) were novel. Examination of previously published experimental data for the presence of predicted elements showed that their mutations in 21/23 (91.3%) cases altered the splicing pattern as expected. Predicted intronic motifs flanking 3' and 5' splice sites had higher evolutionary conservation than other sequences within intronic flanks and the intronic enhancers were markedly differed between 3' and 5' intronic flanks.
Conclusion
Difference in intronic enhancers supporting 5' and 3' splice sites suggests an independent splicing commitment for neighboring exons. Increased evolutionary conservation for ISEs/ISSs within intronic flanks and effect of modulation of predicted elements on splicing suggest functional significance of found elements in splicing regulation. Most of the elements identified were shown to have direct implications in human splicing and therefore could be useful for building computational splicing models in biomedical research.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-10-508
PMCID: PMC2777938  PMID: 19889216
3.  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
4.  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
5.  Aberrant 3′ splice sites in human disease genes: mutation pattern, nucleotide structure and comparison of computational tools that predict their utilization 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;34(16):4630-4641.
The frequency distribution of mutation-induced aberrant 3′ splice sites (3′ss) in exons and introns is more complex than for 5′ splice sites, largely owing to sequence constraints upstream of intron/exon boundaries. As a result, prediction of their localization remains a challenging task. Here, nucleotide sequences of previously reported 218 aberrant 3′ss activated by disease-causing mutations in 131 human genes were compared with their authentic counterparts using currently available splice site prediction tools. Each tested algorithm distinguished authentic 3′ss from cryptic sites more effectively than from de novo sites. The best discrimination between aberrant and authentic 3′ss was achieved by the maximum entropy model. Almost one half of aberrant 3′ss was activated by AG-creating mutations and ∼95% of the newly created AGs were selected in vivo. The overall nucleotide structure upstream of aberrant 3′ss was characterized by higher purine content than for authentic sites, particularly in position −3, that may be compensated by more stringent requirements for positive and negative nucleotide signatures centred around position −11. A newly developed online database of aberrant 3′ss will facilitate identification of splicing mutations in a gene or phenotype of interest and future optimization of splice site prediction tools.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkl535
PMCID: PMC1636351  PMID: 16963498
6.  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
7.  Identification of Splicing Silencers and Enhancers in Sense Alus: a Role for Pseudoacceptors in Splice Site Repression†  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2005;25(16):6912-6920.
Auxiliary splicing signals in introns play an important role in splice site selection, but these elements are poorly understood. We show that a subset of serine/arginine (SR)-rich proteins activate a cryptic 3′ splice site in a sense Alu repeat located in intron 4 of the human LST1 gene. Utilization of this cryptic splice site is controlled by juxtaposed Alu-derived splicing silencers and enhancers between closely linked short tandem repeats TNFd and TNFe. Systematic mutagenesis of these elements showed that AG dinucleotides that were not preceded by purine residues were critical for repressing exon inclusion of a chimeric splicing reporter. Since the splice acceptor-like sequences are present in excess in exonic splicing silencers, these signals may contribute to inhibition of a large number of pseudosites in primate genomes.
doi:10.1128/MCB.25.16.6912-6920.2005
PMCID: PMC1190243  PMID: 16055705
8.  Exonization of AluYa5 in the human ACE gene requires mutations in both 3′ and 5′ splice sites and is facilitated by a conserved splicing enhancer 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;33(12):3897-3906.
Ancient Alu elements have been shown to be included in mature transcripts by point mutations that improve their 5′ or 3′ splice sites. We have examined requirements for exonization of a younger, disease-associated AluYa5 in intron 16 of the human ACE gene. A single G>C transversion in position −3 of the new Alu exon was insufficient for Alu exonization and a significant inclusion in mRNA was only observed when improving several potential splice donor sites in the presence of 3′ CAG. Since complete Alu exonization was not achieved by optimizing traditional splicing signals, including the branch site, we tested whether auxiliary elements in AluYa5 were required for constitutive inclusion. Exonization was promoted by a SELEX-predicted heptamer in Alu consensus sequence 222–228 and point mutations in highly conserved nucleotides of this heptamer decreased Alu inclusion. In addition, we show that Alu exonization was facilitated by a subset of serine/arginine-rich (SR) proteins through activation of the optimized 3′ splice site. Finally, the haplotype- and allele-specific ACE minigenes generated similar splicing patterns in both ACE-expressing and non-expressing cells, suggesting that previously reported allelic association with plasma ACE activity and cardiovascular disease is not attributable to differential splicing of introns 16 and 17.
doi:10.1093/nar/gki707
PMCID: PMC1175817  PMID: 16027113

Results 1-8 (8)