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EMBO J. May 15, 1998; 17(10): 2904–2913.
PMCID: PMC1170631

Coupling of signal transduction to alternative pre-mRNA splicing by a composite splice regulator.


Alternative splicing of pre-mRNA is a fundamental mechanism of differential gene expression in that it can give rise to functionally distinct proteins from a single gene, according to the developmental or physiological state of cells in multicellular organisms. In the pre-mRNA of the cell surface molecule CD44, the inclusion of up to 10 variant exons (v1-v10) is regulated during development, upon activation of lymphocytes and dendritic cells, and during tumour progression. Using minigene constructs containing CD44 exon v5, we have discovered exonic RNA elements that couple signal transduction to alternative splicing. They form a composite splice regulator encompassing an exon recognition element and splice silencer elements. Both type of elements are necessary to govern cell type-specific inclusion of the exon as well as inducible inclusion in T cells after stimulation by concanavalin A, by Ras signalling or after activation of protein kinase C by phorbol ester. Inducible splicing does not depend on de novo protein synthesis. The coupling of signal transduction to alternative splicing by such elements probably represents the mechanism whereby splice patterns of genes are established during development and can be changed under physiological and pathological conditions.

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Selected References

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