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Comp Funct Genomics. 2003;4(6):609-25. doi: 10.1002/cfg.343.

Structure and sequence of the human fast skeletal troponin T (TNNT3) gene: insight into the evolution of the gene and the origin of the developmentally regulated isoforms.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Cellular Biology, Tufts University, Health Science Campus, 136 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA 02111, USA.

Erratum in

  • Comp Funct Genomics. 2004;5(2):205.


We describe the cloning, sequencing and structure of the human fast skeletal troponin T (TNNT3) gene located on chromosome 11p15.5. The single-copy gene encodes 19 exons and 18 introns. Eleven of these exons, 1-3, 9-15 and 18, are constitutively spliced, whereas exons 4-8 are alternatively spliced. The gene contains an additional subset of developmentally regulated and alternatively spliced exons, including a foetal exon located between exon 8 and 9 and exon 16 or alpha (adult) and 17 or beta (foetal and neonatal). Exon phasing suggests that the majority of the alternatively spliced exons located at the 5' end of the gene may have evolved as a result of exon shuffling, because they are of the same phase class. In contrast, the 3' exons encoding an evolutionarily conserved heptad repeat domain, shared by both TnT and troponin I (TnI), may be remnants of an ancient ancestral gene. The sequence of the 5' flanking region shows that the putative promoter contains motifs including binding sites for MyoD, MEF-2 and several transcription factors which may play a role in transcriptional regulation and tissue-specific expression of TnT. The coding region of TNNT3 exhibits strong similarity to the corresponding rat sequence. However, unlike the rat TnT gene, TNNT3 possesses two repeat regions of CCA and TC. The exclusive presence of these repetitive elements in the human gene indicates divergence in the evolutionary dynamics of mammalian TnT genes. Homologous muscle-specific splicing enhancer motifs are present in the introns upstream and downstream of the foetal exon, and may play a role in the developmental pattern of alternative splicing of the gene. The genomic correlates of TNNT3 are relevant to our understanding of the evolution and regulation of expression of the gene, as well as the structure and function of the protein isoforms. The nucleotide sequence of TNNT3 has been submitted to EMBL/GenBank under Accession No. AF026276.

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