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RNA. 2011 May;17(5):775-91. doi: 10.1261/rna.2603911. Epub 2011 Mar 17.

Networking in a global world: establishing functional connections between neural splicing regulators and their target transcripts.

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Banting and Best Department of Medical Research, Donnelly Centre, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Recent genome-wide analyses have indicated that almost all primary transcripts from multi-exon human genes undergo alternative pre-mRNA splicing (AS). Given the prevalence of AS and its importance in expanding proteomic complexity, a major challenge that lies ahead is to determine the functional specificity of isoforms in a cellular context. A significant fraction of alternatively spliced transcripts are regulated in a tissue- or cell-type-specific manner, suggesting that these mRNA variants likely function in the generation of cellular diversity. Complementary to these observations, several tissue-specific splicing factors have been identified, and a number of methodological advances have enabled the identification of large repertoires of target transcripts regulated by these proteins. An emerging theme is that tissue-specific splicing factors regulate coherent sets of splice variants in genes known to function in related biological pathways. This review focuses on the recent progress in our understanding of neural-specific splicing factors and their regulatory networks and outlines existing and emerging strategies for uncovering important biological roles for the isoforms that comprise these networks.

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