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Wiley Interdiscip Rev RNA. 2013 Jan-Feb;4(1):77-91. doi: 10.1002/wrna.1142. Epub 2012 Oct 16.

Connections between chromatin signatures and splicing.

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  • 1Laboratorio de Fisiología y Biología Molecular, Departamento de Fisiología, Biología Molecular y Celular, IFIBYNE-CONICET, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Ciudad Universitaria, Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Splicing and alternative splicing are involved in the expression of most human genes, playing key roles in differentiation, cell cycle progression, and development. Misregulation of splicing is frequently associated to disease, which imposes a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying splicing regulation. Accumulated evidence suggests that multiple trans-acting factors and cis-regulatory elements act together to determine tissue-specific splicing patterns. Besides, as splicing is often cotranscriptional, a complex picture emerges in which splicing regulation not only depends on the balance of splicing factor binding to their pre-mRNA target sites but also on transcription-associated features such as protein recruitment to the transcribing machinery and elongation kinetics. Adding more complexity to the splicing regulation network, recent evidence shows that chromatin structure is another layer of regulation that may act through various mechanisms. These span from regulation of RNA polymerase II elongation, which ultimately determines splicing decisions, to splicing factor recruitment by specific histone marks. Chromatin may not only be involved in alternative splicing regulation but in constitutive exon recognition as well. Moreover, splicing was found to be necessary for the proper 'writing' of particular chromatin signatures, giving further mechanistic support to functional interconnections between splicing, transcription and chromatin structure. These links between chromatin configuration and splicing raise the intriguing possibility of the existence of a memory for splicing patterns to be inherited through epigenetic modifications.

Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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