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Nucleic Acids Res. 2010 Apr;38(6):1964-81. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkp1197. Epub 2009 Dec 30.

Alternative splicing of Tcf7l2 transcripts generates protein variants with differential promoter-binding and transcriptional activation properties at Wnt/beta-catenin targets.

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  • 1Institute of Molecular Medicine and Cell Research, Center for Biochemistry and Molecular Cell Research, Spemann Graduate School of Biology and Medicine, Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg, Germany.


Alternative splicing can produce multiple protein products with variable domain composition from a single gene. The mouse Tcf7l2 gene is subject to alternative splicing. It encodes TCF4, a member of the T-cell factor (TCF) family of DNA-binding proteins and a nuclear interaction partner of beta-catenin which performs essential functions in Wnt growth factor signalling. Multiple TCF4 isoforms, potentially exhibiting cell-type-specific distribution and differing in gene regulatory properties, could strongly influence tissue-specific Wnt responses. Therefore, we have examined mouse Tcf7l2 splice variants in neonatal tissues, embryonic stem cells and neural progenitors. By polymerase chain reaction amplification, cloning and sequencing, we identify a large number of alternatively spliced transcripts and report a highly flexible combinatorial repertoire of alternative exons. Many, but not all of the variants exhibit a broad tissue distribution. Moreover, two functionally equivalent versions of the C-clamp, thought to represent an auxiliary DNA-binding domain, were identified. Depending upon promoter context and precise domain composition, TCF4 isoforms exhibit strikingly different transactivation potentials at natural Wnt/beta-catenin target promoters. However, differences in C-clamp-mediated DNA binding can only partially explain functional differences among TCF4 variants. Still, the cell-type-specific complement of TCF4 isoforms is likely to be a major determinant for the context-dependent transcriptional output of Wnt/beta-catenin signalling.

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