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Neuroscience. 2010 Mar 10;166(1):195-200. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2009.12.011. Epub 2009 Dec 17.

Differential expression of exon 5 splice variants of sodium channel alpha subunit mRNAs in the developing mouse brain.

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Howard Florey Institute, The University of Melbourne, 3010, Victoria, Australia.


Sodium channel alpha subunit genes expressed in the human brain, SCN1A, SCN2A, SCN3A and SCN8A, are subject to alternative splicing of coding exons 5N and 5A. In this study we examined expression of alpha subunit mRNA and exon 5 splicing in the developing mouse brain. Expression levels of Scn1a, Scn2a and Scn8a mRNAs increase postnatally, whereas Scn3a mRNA expression levels decrease. Scn1a mRNA contains only exon 5A, due to the absence of exon 5N in the mouse Scn1a gene. At birth, Scn2a is the only sodium channel alpha subunit mRNA that contains higher or equal amounts of the 5N isoform compared to the 5A isoform in most brain regions. In contrast, the predominant isoform of Scn3a and Scn8a mRNAs in the newborn mouse brain is 5A. 5N/5A ratios for each of the three mRNAs vary across brain regions, with cortex >or= hippocampus>thalamus>cerebellum. In all brain regions and for all three alpha subunits, 5N/5A ratios gradually decrease with age, levelling at a value between 0.1 and 0.2. These findings suggest potential involvement of common factors in the alternative splicing of exon 5 for all three transcripts, and that expression of these factors varies between brain regions and changes during development. Differences in the strength of exon 5N and/or exon 5A splice sites in Scn2a pre-mRNA as compared to Scn1a and Scn8a may underlie the observed differences in 5N/5A ratios in the three alpha subunit mRNAs.

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