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J Biol Chem. 2000 Jul 14;275(28):21041-7.

Splicing factors induce cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator exon 9 skipping through a nonevolutionary conserved intronic element.

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  • 1International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Padriciano 99 and IRCCS, Burlo Garofolo, via dell'Istria 65/1, Trieste, TS 34012 Italy.


In monosymptomatic forms of cystic fibrosis such as congenital bilateral absence of vas deferens, variations in the TG(m) and T(n) polymorphic repeats at the 3' end of intron 8 of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator (CFTR) gene are associated with the alternative splicing of exon 9, which results in a nonfunctional CFTR protein. Using a minigene model system, we have previously shown a direct relationship between the TG(m)T(n) polymorphism and exon 9 splicing. We have now evaluated the role of splicing factors in the regulation of the alternative splicing of this exon. Serine-arginine-rich proteins and the heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein A1 induced exon skipping in the human gene but not in its mouse counterpart. The effect of these proteins on exon 9 exclusion was strictly dependent on the composition of the TG(m) and T(n) polymorphic repeats. The comparative and functional analysis of the human and mouse CFTR genes showed that a region of about 150 nucleotides, present only in the human intron 9, mediates the exon 9 splicing inhibition in association with exonic regulatory elements. This region, defined as the CFTR exon 9 intronic splicing silencer, is a target for serine-arginine-rich protein interactions. Thus, the nonevolutionary conserved CFTR exon 9 alternative splicing is modulated by the TG(m) and T(n) polymorphism at the 3' splice region, enhancer and silencer exonic elements, and the intronic splicing silencer in the proximal 5' intronic region. Tissue levels and individual variability of splicing factors would determine the penetrance of the TG(m)T(n) locus in monosymptomatic forms of cystic fibrosis.

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