Rbfox proteins regulate alternative mRNA splicing through evolutionarily conserved RNA bridges

Lovci, Michael T; Ghanem, Dana; Marr, Henry; Arnold, Justin; Gee, Sherry; Parra, Marilyn; Liang, Tiffany Y; Stark, Thomas J; Gehman, Lauren T; Hoon, Shawn; Massirer, Katlin B; Pratt, Gabriel A; Black, Douglas L; Gray, Joe W; Conboy, John G; Yeo, Gene W
December 2013
Nature Structural & Molecular Biology;Dec2013, Vol. 20 Issue 12, p1434
Academic Journal
Alternative splicing (AS) enables programmed diversity of gene expression across tissues and development. We show here that binding in distal intronic regions (>500 nucleotides (nt) from any exon) by Rbfox splicing factors important in development is extensive and is an active mode of splicing regulation. Similarly to exon-proximal sites, distal sites contain evolutionarily conserved GCATG sequences and are associated with AS activation and repression upon modulation of Rbfox abundance in human and mouse experimental systems. As a proof of principle, we validated the activity of two specific Rbfox enhancers in KIF21A and ENAH distal introns and showed that a conserved long-range RNA-RNA base-pairing interaction (an RNA bridge) is necessary for Rbfox-mediated exon inclusion in the ENAH gene. Thus we demonstrate a previously unknown RNA-mediated mechanism for AS control by distally bound RNA-binding proteins.


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