How genetic variations mediate normal and abnormal biological function is a major issue in biology and medicine. The enormous number of genomic sequences, and their frequent and rare variations identified in humans, require efficient approaches aimed at dissecting functional correlates. In this review we will focus on the importance of the assessment of well-defined intermediate phenotypes, on the set up of transcriptomic approaches in diseased cells and on the modulation of expression by sequence variations modulating mRNA splicing or influencing protein multimerization. These information provide the molecular bases of associations discovered through genomic approaches, and might open new avenues toward the design of novel and specific diagnostic, prophylactic or therapeutic interventions. Taking into account our previous and current experimental activities we shall focus on a few examples and open issues in cardiovascular disorders, the main clinical topic of this short review.
"The expression of genes can be controlled at many levels, these include transcriptional regulation, post-transcriptional regulation, translational regulation, mRNA degradation, protein degradation and through the actions of inhibitory proteins. One of the most important and complex mechanisms of post-transcriptional control involves alternate selection of splice sites within the pre-mRNA, which allows multiple different protein products with different functions to be coded for by a single gene . There are five basic forms of alternative splicing (Figure 1). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Endo-parasites that affect humans include Plasmodium, the causative agent of malaria, which remains one of the leading causes of death in human beings. Despite decades of research, vaccines to this and other endo-parasites remain elusive. This is in part due to the hyper-variability of the parasites surface proteins. Generally these surface proteins are encoded by a large family of genes, with only one being dominantly expressed at certain life stages. Another layer of complexity can be introduced through the alternative splicing of these surface proteins. The resulting isoforms may differ from each other with regard to cell localisation, substrate affinities and functions. They may even differ in structure to the extent that they are no longer recognised by the host's immune system. In many cases this leads to changes in the N terminus of these proteins. The geographical localisation of endo-parasitic infections around the tropics and the highest incidences of HIV-1 infection in the same areas, adds a further layer of complexity as parasitic infections affect the host immune system resulting in higher HIV infection rates, faster disease progression, and an increase in the severity of infections and complications in HIV diagnosis. This review discusses some examples of parasite surface proteins that are alternatively spliced in trypanosomes, Plasmodium and the parasitic worm Schistosoma as well as what role alternate splicing may play in the interaction between HIV and these endo-parasites.
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