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Genome Res. 2017 Aug;27(8):1360-1370. doi: 10.1101/gr.220517.117. Epub 2017 May 16.

Ancient antagonism between CELF and RBFOX families tunes mRNA splicing outcomes.

Author information

Department of Genetics.
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.
Department of Computer and Information Science, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


Over 95% of human multi-exon genes undergo alternative splicing, a process important in normal development and often dysregulated in disease. We sought to analyze the global splicing regulatory network of CELF2 in human T cells, a well-studied splicing regulator critical to T cell development and function. By integrating high-throughput sequencing data for binding and splicing quantification with sequence features and probabilistic splicing code models, we find evidence of splicing antagonism between CELF2 and the RBFOX family of splicing factors. We validate this functional antagonism through knockdown and overexpression experiments in human cells and find CELF2 represses RBFOX2 mRNA and protein levels. Because both families of proteins have been implicated in the development and maintenance of neuronal, muscle, and heart tissues, we analyzed publicly available data in these systems. Our analysis suggests global, antagonistic coregulation of splicing by the CELF and RBFOX proteins in mouse muscle and heart in several physiologically relevant targets, including proteins involved in calcium signaling and members of the MEF2 family of transcription factors. Importantly, a number of these coregulated events are aberrantly spliced in mouse models and human patients with diseases that affect these tissues, including heart failure, diabetes, or myotonic dystrophy. Finally, analysis of exons regulated by ancient CELF family homologs in chicken, Drosophila, and Caenorhabditis elegans suggests this antagonism is conserved throughout evolution.

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