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Hum Mol Genet. 1997 Jun;6(6):909-12.

A novel mechanism of aberrant pre-mRNA splicing in humans.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN 37232-2578, USA.


Eukaryotic pre-mRNA splicing is regulated by consensus sequences at the intron boundaries and branch site. Recently, Sirand-Pugnet et al. reported the importance of an additional intronic sequence, an (A/U)GGG repeat in chicken beta-tropomyosin that is a binding site for a protein required for spliceosome assembly. Interestingly, we have detected mutations in IVS3 of the human growth hormone (GH) gene that affect a putative, homologous consensus sequence and which also perturb splicing. In a series of dominant-negative GH mutations that cause exon skipping, we found two mutations that do not occur within the 5' and 3' splice sites, or branch consensus sites. The first mutation is a G-->A transition of the 28th base (+28G-->A) of and the second deletes 18 bp (del+28-45) of IVS3 of the human GH gene. These mutations segregated with autosomal dominant GH deficiency in both kindreds and no other allelic GH gene changes were detected. RT-PCR amplification of transcripts from expression vectors containing the +28G-->A or del+28-45 alleles yielded products showing a >10-fold preferred use of alternative splicing, similar to findings previously reported for IVS3 donor site mutations. Both mutations are located 28 bp downstream from the 5' splice site and examination of the sequences perturbed revealed an intronic XGGG repeat similar to the repeat found to regulate mRNA splicing in chicken beta-tropomyosin. Interestingly, the XGGG repeats involved in our mutations exhibit homologous spacing to those in a so-called 'winner' RNA sequence. Binding of A1 heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein (hnRNP) by 'winner' sequences in pre-mRNA transcripts is thought to play an important role in pre-mRNA packaging and transport as well as 5' splice site selection in pre-mRNAs that contain multiple 5' splice sites. Our findings suggest that (i) XGGG repeats may regulate alternative splicing in the human GH gene and (ii) mutations of these repeats cause GH deficiency by perturbing alternative splicing. Mutations of homologous intron sequences may underlie other human diseases.

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