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RNA. 2002 May;8(5):671-85.

Region-specific alternative splicing in the nervous system: implications for regulation by the RNA-binding protein NAPOR.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260, USA.


Alternative RNA splicing generates extensive proteomic diversity in the nervous system, yet few neural-specific RNA binding proteins have been implicated in splicing control. Here we show that the biochemical properties and spatial expression of mouse neuroblastoma apoptosis-related RNA-binding protein (NAPOR; also called NAPOR-1) are consistent with its roles in the regulation of the exon 5 and exon 21 splicing events of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor R1 transcript. NAPOR, which is closely related to CUG binding protein 2 (CUG-BP2), promotes exon 21 and represses exon 5 splicing in functional coexpression assays. These NMDA mRNA isoforms are distributed, in vivo, in a region-specific manner in rat brain, such that high levels of exon 21 selection and exon 5 skipping coincide with high NAPOR mRNA expression in the forebrain. Within the forebrain, this spatial correspondence is most striking in the visual cortex. In contrast, low NAPOR expression coincides with the reciprocal pattern of alternative splicing in the hindbrain. Complementary experiments demonstrate a tissue-specific distribution of NAPOR, CUG-BP, and other highly related proteins within the nervous system as assayed by probing forebrain and hindbrain nuclear extracts with monoclonal antibody, mAb 3B1. Thus, NAPOR may be one of a group of closely related proteins involved in splicing regulation within the brain. An intronic RNA element responsible for the silencing of exon 21 splicing is identified by mutational analysis and shown to bind directly to recombinant NAPOR protein, suggesting a model in which exon 21 selection is positively regulated by an antirepression mechanism of action.

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