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A purine-rich intronic element enhances alternative splicing of thyroid hormone receptor mRNA

A purine-rich intronic element enhances alternative splicing of thyroid hormone receptor mRNA

Rna 7(6): 859-874

ISSN/ISBN: 1355-8382

PMID: 11421362

DOI: 10.1017/s1355838201002084

The mammalian thyroid hormone receptor gene c-erbAalpha gives rise to two mRNAs that code for distinct isoforms, TRalpha1 and TRalpha2, with antagonistic functions. Alternative processing of these mRNAs involves the mutually exclusive use of a TRalpha1-specific polyadenylation site or TRalpha2-specific 5' splice site. A previous investigation of TRalpha minigene expression defined a critical role for the TRalpha2 5' splice site in directing alternative processing. Mutational analysis reported here shows that purine residues within a highly conserved intronic element, SEalpha2, enhance splicing of TRalpha2 in vitro as well as in vivo. Although SEalpha2 is located within the intron of TRalpha2 mRNA, it activates splicing of a heterologous dsx pre-mRNA when located in the downstream exon. Competition with wild-type and mutant RNAs indicates that SEalpha2 functions by binding trans-acting factors in HeLa nuclear extract. Protein-RNA crosslinking identifies several proteins, including SF2/ASF and hnRNP H, that bind specifically to SEalpha2. SEalpha2 also includes an element resembling a 5' splice site consensus sequence that is critical for splicing enhancer activity. Mutations within this pseudo-5' splice site sequence have a dramatic effect on splicing and protein binding. Thus SEalpha2 and its associated factors are required for splicing of TRalpha2 pre-mRNA.

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