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Nucleic Acids Res. 2005 Jul 14;33(12):3897-906. Print 2005.

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.

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  • 1University of Southampton School of Medicine, Division of Human Genetics Duthie Building, Mailpoint 808, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK.


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.

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