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Nucleic Acids Res. 2008 Nov;36(20):6386-95. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkn677. Epub 2008 Oct 5.

Low conservation and species-specific evolution of alternative splicing in humans and mice: comparative genomics analysis using well-annotated full-length cDNAs.

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Integrated Database and Systems Biology Team, Biomedicinal Information Research Center, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, AIST Bio-IT Research Building, Aomi 2-42, Koto-ku, Tokyo, Japan.


Using full-length cDNA sequences, we compared alternative splicing (AS) in humans and mice. The alignment of the human and mouse genomes showed that 86% of 199 426 total exons in human AS variants were conserved in the mouse genome. Of the 20 392 total human AS variants, however, 59% consisted of all conserved exons. Comparing AS patterns between human and mouse transcripts revealed that only 431 transcripts from 189 loci were perfectly conserved AS variants. To exclude the possibility that the full-length human cDNAs used in the present study, especially those with retained introns, were cloning artefacts or prematurely spliced transcripts, we experimentally validated 34 such cases. Our results indicate that even retained-intron type transcripts are typically expressed in a highly controlled manner and interact with translating ribosomes. We found non-conserved AS exons to be predominantly outside the coding sequences (CDSs). This suggests that non-conserved exons in the CDSs of transcripts cause functional constraint. These findings should enhance our understanding of the relationship between AS and species specificity of human genes.

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