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RNA. 2016 Jan;22(1):96-110. doi: 10.1261/rna.053314.115. Epub 2015 Nov 9.

Long-range RNA pairings contribute to mutually exclusive splicing.

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Institute of Biochemistry, College of Life Sciences, Zhejiang University (Zijingang Campus), Hangzhou, Zhejiang, ZJ310058, China.
Institute of Life Sciences, Zhejiang University (Zijingang Campus), Hangzhou, Zhejiang, ZJ310058, China.


Mutually exclusive splicing is an important means of increasing the protein repertoire, by which the Down's syndrome cell adhesion molecule (Dscam) gene potentially generates 38,016 different isoforms in Drosophila melanogaster. However, the regulatory mechanisms remain obscure due to the complexity of the Dscam exon cluster. Here, we reveal a molecular model for the regulation of the mutually exclusive splicing of the serpent pre-mRNA based on competition between upstream and downstream RNA pairings. Such dual RNA pairings confer fine tuning of the inclusion of alternative exons. Moreover, we demonstrate that the splicing outcome of alternative exons is mediated in relative pairing strength-correlated mode. Combined comparative genomics analysis and experimental evidence revealed similar bidirectional structural architectures in exon clusters 4 and 9 of the Dscam gene. Our findings provide a novel mechanistic framework for the regulation of mutually exclusive splicing and may offer potentially applicable insights into long-range RNA-RNA interactions in gene regulatory networks.


Dscam; bidirectional RNA pairing; mutually exclusive splicing; regulatory mechanism; serpent

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