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PLoS Genet. 2009 May;5(5):e1000470. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1000470. Epub 2009 May 8.

SWI/SNF associates with nascent pre-mRNPs and regulates alternative pre-mRNA processing.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Functional Genomics, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.


The SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complexes regulate the transcription of many genes by remodeling nucleosomes at promoter regions. In Drosophila, SWI/SNF plays an important role in ecdysone-dependent transcription regulation. Studies in human cells suggest that Brahma (Brm), the ATPase subunit of SWI/SNF, regulates alternative pre-mRNA splicing by modulating transcription elongation rates. We describe, here, experiments that study the association of Brm with transcribed genes in Chironomus tentans and Drosophila melanogaster, the purpose of which was to further elucidate the mechanisms by which Brm regulates pre-mRNA processing. We show that Brm becomes incorporated into nascent Balbiani ring pre-mRNPs co-transcriptionally and that the human Brm and Brg1 proteins are associated with RNPs. We have analyzed the expression profiles of D. melanogaster S2 cells in which the levels of individual SWI/SNF subunits have been reduced by RNA interference, and we show that depletion of SWI/SNF core subunits changes the relative abundance of alternative transcripts from a subset of genes. This observation, and the fact that a fraction of Brm is not associated with chromatin but with nascent pre-mRNPs, suggest that SWI/SNF affects pre-mRNA processing by acting at the RNA level. Ontology enrichment tests indicate that the genes that are regulated post-transcriptionally by SWI/SNF are mostly enzymes and transcription factors that regulate postembryonic developmental processes. In summary, the data suggest that SWI/SNF becomes incorporated into nascent pre-mRNPs and acts post-transcriptionally to regulate not only the amount of mRNA synthesized from a given promoter but also the type of alternative transcript produced.

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