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Mol Cell Biol. 2011 May;31(9):1812-21. doi: 10.1128/MCB.01149-10. Epub 2011 Feb 22.

RNA helicase p68 (DDX5) regulates tau exon 10 splicing by modulating a stem-loop structure at the 5' splice site.

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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, 303 E. Superior St., Lurie 6-117, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.


Regulation of tau exon 10 splicing plays an important role in tauopathy. One of the cis elements regulating tau alternative splicing is a stem-loop structure at the 5' splice site of tau exon 10. The RNA helicase(s) modulating this stem-loop structure was unknown. We searched for splicing regulators interacting with this stem-loop region using an RNA affinity pulldown-coupled mass spectrometry approach and identified DDX5/RNA helicase p68 as an activator of tau exon 10 splicing. The activity of p68 in stimulating tau exon 10 inclusion is dependent on RBM4, an intronic splicing activator. RNase H cleavage and U1 protection assays suggest that p68 promotes conformational change of the stem-loop structure, thereby increasing the access of U1snRNP to the 5' splice site of tau exon 10. This study reports the first RNA helicase interacting with a stem-loop structure at the splice site and regulating alternative splicing in a helicase-dependent manner. Our work uncovers a previously unknown function of p68 in regulating tau exon 10 splicing. Furthermore, our experiments reveal functional interaction between two splicing activators for tau exon 10, p68 binding at the stem-loop region and RBM4 interacting with the intronic splicing enhancer region.

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