Date of Original Version




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Copyright © 2011 RNA Society

Abstract or Description

Alternative splicing of eukaryotic pre-mRNAs is an important mechanism for generating proteome diversity and regulating gene expression. The Drosophila melanogaster Down Syndrome Cell Adhesion Molecule (Dscam) gene is an extreme example of mutually exclusive splicing. Dscam contains 95 alternatively spliced exons that potentially encode 38,016 distinct mRNA and protein isoforms. We previously identified two sets of conserved sequence elements, the docking site and selector sequences in the Dscam exon 6 cluster, which contains 48 mutually exclusive exons. These elements were proposed to engage in competing RNA secondary structures required for mutually exclusive splicing, though this model has not yet been experimentally tested. Here we describe a new system that allowed us to demonstrate that the docking site and selector sequences are indeed required for exon 6 mutually exclusive splicing and that the strength of these RNA structures determines the frequency of exon 6 inclusion. We also show that the function of the docking site has been conserved for ~500 million years of evolution. This work demonstrates that conserved intronic sequences play a functional role in mutually exclusive splicing of the Dscam exon 6 cluster.



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Published In

RNA, 17, 2, 222-229.