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J Comput Biol. 2009 Aug;16(8):1117-40. doi: 10.1089/cmb.2009.0108.

Complete alternative splicing events are bubbles in splicing graphs.

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Bioinformatics and Genomics, Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) , Barcelona, Spain.


Eukaryotic splicing structures are known to involve a high degree of alternative forms derived from a premature transcript by alternative splicing (AS). With the advent of new sequencing technologies, evidence for new splice forms becomes increasingly available-bit by bit revealing that the true splicing diversity of "AS events" often comprises more than two alternatives and therefore cannot be sufficiently described by pairwise comparisons as conducted in analyzes hitherto. Especially, I emphasize on "complete" AS events which include all hitherto known variants of a splicing variation. Challenges emerge from the richness of data (millions of transcripts) and artifacts introduced during the technical process of obtaining transcript sequences ("noise")-especially when dealing with single-read sequences known as expressed sequence tags (ESTs). Herein, I describe a novel method to efficiently predict AS events in different resolutions ("dimensions") from transcript annotations that allows for combination of fragmented EST data with full-length cDNAs and can cope with large datasets containing noise. At the doorstep of many new splice forms becoming available by novel high-throughput sequencing technologies, the presented method helps to dynamically update AS databases. Applying this method to estimate the real complexity of alternative splicing, I found in human and murine annotations thousands of novel AS events that either have been disregarded or mischaracterized in earlier works. The growth of evidence for such events suggests that the number still keeps climbing. When considering complete events, the majority of exons that are observed as "mutually exclusive" in pairwise comparisons in fact involves at least one other alternative splice form that disagrees with their mutual exclusion. Similar observations also hold for the alternative skipping of two subsequent exons. Results suggest that the systematical analysis of complete AS events on large scale provides subtle insights in the mechanisms that drive (alternative) splicing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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