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Nucleic Acids Res. 2000 Jan 15;28(2):402-10.

An exonic splicing silencer in the testes-specific DNA ligase III beta exon.

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Department of Endocrinology, St Bartholomew's and the Royal London School of Medicine, London EC1A 7BE, UK.


Alternative pre-mRNA splicing of two terminal exons (alpha and beta) regulates the expression of the human DNA ligase III gene. In most tissues, the alpha exon is expressed. In testes and during spermatogenesis, the beta exon is used instead. The alpha exon encodes the interaction domain with a scaffold DNA repair protein, XRCC1, while the beta exon-encoded C-terminal does not. Sequence elements regulating the alternative splicing pattern were mapped by in vitro splicing assays in HeLa nuclear extracts. Deletion of a region beginning in the beta exon and extending into the downstream intron derepressed splicing to the beta exon. Two silencing elements were found within this 101 nt region: a 16 nt exonic splicing silencer immediately upstream of the beta exon polyadenylation signal and a 45 nt intronic splicing silencer. The exonic splicing silencer inhibited splicing, even when the poly-adenylation signal was deleted or replaced by a 5' splice site. This element also enhanced polyadenylation under conditions unfavourable to splicing. The splicing silencer partially inhibited assembly of spliceo-somal complexes and functioned in an adenoviral pre-mRNA context. Silencing of splicing by the element was associated with cross-linking of a 37 kDa protein to the RNA substrate. The element exerts opposite functions in splicing and polyadenylation.

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