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Genome Res. 2011 Aug;21(8):1203-12. doi: 10.1101/gr.113431.110. Epub 2011 Jun 30.

Extensive relationship between antisense transcription and alternative splicing in the human genome.

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British Columbia Cancer Agency, Genome Sciences Centre, Vancouver, British Columbia V5Z 1L3, Canada.


To analyze the relationship between antisense transcription and alternative splicing, we developed a computational approach for the detection of antisense-correlated exon splicing events using Affymetrix exon array data. Our analysis of expression data from 176 lymphoblastoid cell lines revealed that the majority of expressed sense-antisense genes exhibited alternative splicing events that were correlated to the expression of the antisense gene. Most of these events occurred in areas of sense-antisense (SAS) gene overlap, which were significantly enriched in both exons and nucleosome occupancy levels relative to nonoverlapping regions of the same genes. Nucleosome occupancy was highly correlated with Pol II abundance across overlapping regions and with concomitant increases in local alternative exon usage. These results are consistent with an antisense transcription-mediated mechanism of splicing regulation in normal human cells. A comparison of the prevalence of antisense-correlated splicing events between individuals of Mormon versus African descent revealed population-specific events that may indicate the continued evolution of new SAS loci. Furthermore, the presence of antisense transcription was correlated to alternative splicing across multiple metazoan species, suggesting that it may be a conserved mechanism contributing to splicing regulation.

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