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Cell. 2009 May 15;137(4):708-20. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2009.03.010.

DNA damage regulates alternative splicing through inhibition of RNA polymerase II elongation.

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Laboratorio de Fisiología y Biología Molecular, Departamento de Fisiología, Biología Molecular y Celular, IFIBYNE-CONICET, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Ciudad Universitaria, Argentina.

Erratum in

  • Cell. 2009 Oct 2;139(1):211.


DNA damage induces apoptosis and many apoptotic genes are regulated via alternative splicing (AS), but little is known about the control mechanisms. Here we show that ultraviolet irradiation (UV) affects cotranscriptional AS in a p53-independent way, through the hyperphosphorylation of RNA polymerase II carboxy-terminal domain (CTD) and a subsequent inhibition of transcriptional elongation, estimated in vivo and in real time. Phosphomimetic CTD mutants not only display lower elongation but also duplicate the UV effect on AS. Consistently, nonphosphorylatable mutants prevent the UV effect. Apoptosis promoted by UV in cells lacking p53 is prevented when the change in AS of the apoptotic gene bcl-x is reverted, confirming the relevance of this mechanism. Splicing-sensitive microarrays revealed a significant overlap of the subsets of genes that have changed AS with UV and those that have reduced expression, suggesting that transcriptional coupling to AS is a key feature of the DNA-damage response.

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