Research Articles

RNA secondary structure repression of a muscle-specific exon in HeLa cell nuclear extracts

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Science  28 Jun 1991:
Vol. 252, Issue 5014, pp. 1823-1828
DOI: 10.1126/science.2063195


The chicken beta-tropomyosin pre-messenger RNA (pre-mRNA) is spliced in a tissue-specific manner to yield messenger RNA's (mRNA's) coding for different isoforms of this protein. Exons 6A and 6B are spliced in a mutually exclusive manner; exon 6B was included in skeletal muscle, whereas exon 6A was preferred in all other tissues. The distal portion of the intron upstream of exon 6B was shown to form stable double-stranded regions with part of the intron downstream of exon 6B and with sequences in exon 6B. This structure repressed splicing of exon 6B to exon 7 in a HeLa cell extract. Derepression of splicing occurred on disruption of this structure and repression followed when the structure was re-formed, even if the structure was formed between two different RNA molecules. Repression leads to inhibition of formation of spliceosomes. Disrupting either of the two double-stranded regions could lead to derepression, whereas re-forming the helices by suppressor mutations reestablished repression. These results support a simple model of tissue-specific splicing in this region of the pre-mRNA.

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