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Curr Biol. 1996 Dec 1;6(12):1634-41.

ELAV, a Drosophila neuron-specific protein, mediates the generation of an alternatively spliced neural protein isoform.

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  • 1Biology Department, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts 02254, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Tissue-specific alternative pre-mRNA splicing is a widely used mechanism for gene regulation and the generation of different protein isoforms, but relatively little is known about the factors and mechanisms that mediate this process. Tissue-specific RNA-binding proteins could mediate alternative pre-mRNA splicing. In Drosophila melanogaster, the RNA-binding protein encoded by the elav (embryonic lethal abnormal visual system) gene is a candidate for such a role. The ELAV protein is expressed exclusively in neurons, and is important for the formation and maintenance of the nervous system.

RESULTS:

In this study, photoreceptor neurons genetically depleted of ELAV, and elav-null central nervous system neurons, were analyzed immunocytochemically for the expression of neural proteins. In both situations, the lack of ELAV corresponded with a decrease in the immunohistochemical signal of the neural-specific isoform of Neuroglian, which is generated by alternative splicing. Furthermore, when ELAV was expressed ectopically in cells that normally express only the non-neural isoform of Neuroglian, we observed the generation of the neural isoform of Neuroglian.

CONCLUSIONS:

Drosophila ELAV promotes the generation of the neuron-specific isoform of Neuroglian by the regulation of pre-mRNA splicing. The findings reported in this paper demonstrate that ELAV is necessary, and the ectopic expression of ELAV in imaginal disc cells is sufficient, to mediate neuron-specific alternative splicing.

PMID:
8994828
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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