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Hum Mol Genet. 2003 Dec 1;12(23):3181-94. Epub 2003 Oct 14.

Plectin 5'-transcript diversity: short alternative sequences determine stability of gene products, initiation of translation and subcellular localization of isoforms.

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Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Cell Biology, University of Vienna, Austria.


Plectin is a large cytoskeletal linker protein expressed as several different isoforms from a highly complex gene. This transcript diversity is mainly caused by short 5'-sequences contained in alternative first exons. To elucidate the influence of these sequence differences and to determine potential differential functionality of the resulting protein forms, we conducted a systematic investigation of plectin isoforms on transcript and protein levels. Isoform expression was highly dependent on the different 5' ends, largely due to effects of the 5'-untranslated regions. Initiation of translation downstream of the expected start site led to loss of actin- and integrin beta4-binding in some isoforms. The small alternative N-terminal sequences (5-180 residues) profoundly affected the subcelluar localization of this >500 kDa protein. Specifically, plectin 1f was concentrated at focal adhesion contacts and plectin 1b was exclusively targeted to mitochondria, providing a connection of these organelles to intermediate filaments. Thus, with plectin as a model, we demonstrate a role for 5'-untranslated regions and alternative 5'-splicing as an important regulatory mechanism of protein expression and protein function.

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