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Biochem Soc Trans. 2012 Aug;40(4):804-9. doi: 10.1042/BST20120060.

Mechanisms of Drosophila Dscam mutually exclusive splicing regulation.

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School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK.


Alternative splicing of pre-mRNA is a major mechanism to increase protein diversity in higher eukaryotes. Dscam, the Drosophila homologue of human DSCAM (Down's syndrome cell adhesion molecule), generates up to 38016 isoforms through mutually exclusive splicing in four variable exon clusters. This enormous molecular diversity is functionally important for wiring of the nervous system and phagocytosis of invading pathogens. Current models explaining this complex splicing regulation include a default repressed state of the variable exon clusters to prevent the splicing together of adjacent exons, the presence of RNA secondary structures important for the release of one specific variable exon from the repressed state and combinatorial interaction of RNA-binding proteins for choosing a specific exon.

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