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Genes Dev. 2007 Jan 1;21(1):71-84.

MicroRNAs regulate the expression of the alternative splicing factor nPTB during muscle development.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.


Alternative pre-mRNA splicing determines many changes in gene expression during development. Two regulators known to control splicing patterns during neuron and muscle differentiation are the polypyrimidine tract-binding protein (PTB) and its neuronal homolog nPTB. These proteins repress certain exons in early myoblasts, but upon differentiation of mature myotubes PTB/nPTB expression is reduced, leading to increased inclusion of their target exons. We show here that the repression of nPTB expression during myoblast differentiation results from its targeting by the muscle-restricted microRNA miR-133. During differentiation of C2C12 myoblasts, nPTB protein but not mRNA expression is strongly reduced, concurrent with the up-regulation of miR-133 and the induction of splicing for several PTB-repressed exons. Introduction of synthetic miR-133 into undifferentiated C2C12 cells leads to a decrease in endogenous nPTB expression. Both the miR-133 and the coexpressed miR-1/206 microRNAs are extremely conserved across animal species, and PTB proteins are predicted targets for these miRNAs in Drosophila, mice, and humans. There are two potential miR-133-responsive elements (MRE) within the nPTB 3' untranslated region (UTR), and a luciferase reporter carrying this 3' UTR is repressed by miR-133 in an MRE-dependent manner. Transfection of locked nucleic acid (LNA) oligonucleotides designed to block the function of miR-133 and miR-1/206 increases expression of nPTB and decreases the inclusion of PTB dependent exons. These results indicate that miR-133 directly down-regulates a key splicing factor during muscle development and establishes a role for microRNAs in the control of a developmentally dynamic splicing program.

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