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Bioessays. 2017 Jun;39(6). doi: 10.1002/bies.201600157. Epub 2017 Apr 27.

Alternative splicing switches: Important players in cell differentiation.

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Instituto de Fisiología, Biología Molecular y Neurociencias (IFIBYNE-UBA-CONICET) and Departamento de Fisiología, Biología Molecular y Celular, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Ciudad Universitaria, C1428EHA Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Alternative splicing (AS) greatly expands the coding capacities of genomes by allowing the generation of multiple mature mRNAs from a limited number of genes. Although the massive switch in AS profiles that often accompanies variations in gene expression patterns occurring during cell differentiation has been characterized for a variety of models, their causes and mechanisms remain largely unknown. Here, we integrate foundational and recent studies indicating the AS switches that govern the processes of cell fate determination. We include some distinct AS events in pluripotent cells and somatic reprogramming and discuss new progresses on alternative isoform expression in adipogenesis, myogenic differentiation and stimulation of immune cells. Finally, we cover novel insights on AS mechanisms during neuronal differentiation, paying special attention to the role of chromatin structure.


RNA binding proteins; alternative splicing; cell differentiation; chromatin structure; neuronal differentiation; spliceosome; splicing factors

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