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Genes Dev. 1991 Jul;5(7):1237-51.

Characterization and molecular cloning of polypyrimidine tract-binding protein: a component of a complex necessary for pre-mRNA splicing.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Cardiology, Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.


alpha-Tropomyosin exons 2 and 3 are spliced in a mutually exclusive manner. Exon 3 is included as the default exon in the mRNA of most cell types, whereas exon 2 is only included in the mRNA of smooth muscle cells. The primary determinant for the default selection of exon 3 is the branchpoint/polypyrimidine tract. This element upstream of exon 3 clearly and effectively outcompetes the corresponding element upstream of exon 2. To identify trans-acting factors that bind to this important cis element, we used UV cross-linking to identify a 57-kD protein whose binding characteristics directly correlate with 3'-splice-site selection in cis-competition splicing assays. This protein appears to be identical to polypyrimidine tract-binding protein. In this report we have used oligonucleotides derived from peptide sequences to isolate and sequence cDNA clones encoding this 57.2-kD protein. The primary sequence reveals a novel protein with significant homology to other RNA-binding proteins. Expression of the mRNA is detected in all tissues and cells examined, although its levels exhibit tissue-specific and developmental regulation. Using a biochemical complementation assay, we have found that this protein, along with a 100-kD protein, exists as part of a large complex that is required to rescue splicing from depleted nuclear extracts.

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