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Mol Cell Biol. 2007 Oct;27(19):6972-84. Epub 2007 Jul 30.

Combinatorial control of signal-induced exon repression by hnRNP L and PSF.

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Department of Biochemistry, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX 75390-9038, USA.


Cells can regulate their protein repertoire in response to extracellular stimuli via alternative splicing; however, the mechanisms controlling this process are poorly understood. The CD45 gene undergoes alternative splicing in response to T-cell activation to regulate T-cell function. The ESS1 splicing silencer in CD45 exon 4 confers basal exon skipping in resting T cells through the activity of hnRNP L and confers activation-induced exon skipping in T cells via previously unknown mechanisms. Here we have developed an in vitro splicing assay that recapitulates the signal-induced alternative splicing of CD45 and demonstrate that cellular stimulation leads to two changes to the ESS1-bound splicing regulatory complex. Activation-induced posttranslational modification of hnRNP L correlates with a modest increase in the protein's repressive activity. More importantly, the splicing factor PSF is recruited to the ESS1 complex in an activation-dependent manner and accounts for the majority of the signal-regulated ESS1 activity. The associations of hnRNP L and PSF with the ESS1 complex are largely independent of each other, but together these proteins account for the total signal-regulated change in CD45 splicing observed in vitro and in vivo. Such a combinatorial effect on splicing allows for precise regulation of signal-induced alternative splicing.

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