[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tissue- and cell-type-specific regulators of alternative splicing (AS) are essential components of posttranscriptional gene regulation, necessary for normal cellular function, patterning, and development. Mice with ablation of Epithelial splicing regulatory protein (Esrp1) develop cleft lip and palate. Loss of both Esrp1 and its paralog Esrp2 results in widespread developmental defects with broad implications to human disease. Deletion of the Esrps in the epidermis revealed their requirement for establishing a proper skin barrier, a primary function of epithelial cells comprising the epidermis. We profiled the global Esrp-mediated splicing regulatory program in epidermis, which revealed large-scale programs of epithelial cell-type-specific splicing required for epithelial cell functions. These mice represent a valuable model for evaluating the essential role for AS in development and function of epithelial cells, which play essential roles in tissue homeostasis in numerous organs, and provide a genetic tool to evaluate important functional properties of epithelial-specific splice variants in vivo.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is an important developmental process that is also implicated in disease pathophysiology, such as cancer progression and metastasis. A wealth of literature in recent years has identified important transcriptional regulators and large-scale changes in gene expression programs that drive the phenotypic changes that occur during the EMT. However, in the past couple of years it has become apparent that extensive changes in alternative splicing also play a profound role in shaping the changes in cell behavior that characterize the EMT. While long known splicing switches in FGFR2 and p120-catenin provided hints of a larger program of EMT-associated alternative splicing, the recent identification of the epithelial splicing regulatory proteins 1 and 2 (ESRP1 and ESRP2) began to reveal this genome-wide post-transcriptional network. Several studies have now demonstrated the truly vast extent of this alternative splicing program. The global switches in splicing associated with the EMT add an important additional layer of post-transcriptional control that works in harmony with transcriptional and epigenetic regulation to effect complex changes in cell shape, polarity, and behavior that mediate transitions between epithelial and mesenchymal cell states. Future challenges include the need to investigate the functional consequences of these splicing switches at both the individual gene as well as systems level.
Seminars in Cancer Biology 04/2012; 22(5-6):417-27. DOI:10.1016/j.semcancer.2012.04.003 · 9.33 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alternative splicing of pre-mRNA transcripts is a critical and extensively utilized mechanism of gene regulation. In this chapter, we describe a series of fluorescent and luminescent minigene reporters our lab has used to facilitate the study of alternative splicing regulation in cultured cells. Through the use of different versions of these minigenes, the inclusion level of a cassette exon can be directly ascertained by fluorescence or luciferase activity, thereby making it possible to establish cell-based assays for induced exon splicing or skipping. A successful application of these minigenes in a high-throughput cDNA screen led to the identification of a cell type-specific regulator of FGFR2 splicing, illustrating the power of these reporters to yield novel insights into alternative splicing. The methods and minigenes described are adaptable for genetic screens to uncover novel regulators of a broader set of alternative splicing events in other gene transcripts. These reporters also have a dynamic range that is suitable for small molecule screening for compounds that can regulate splicing.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alternative splicing achieves coordinated changes in post-transcriptional gene expression programmes through the activities of diverse RNA-binding proteins. Epithelial splicing regulatory proteins 1 and 2 (ESRP1 and ESRP2) are cell-type-specific regulators of transcripts that switch splicing during the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). To define a comprehensive programme of alternative splicing that is regulated during the EMT, we identified an extensive ESRP-regulated splicing network of hundreds of alternative splicing events within numerous genes with functions in cell-cell adhesion, polarity, and migration. Loss of this global ESRP-regulated epithelial splicing programme induces the phenotypic changes in cell morphology that are observed during the EMT. Components of this splicing signature provide novel molecular markers that can be used to characterize the EMT. Bioinformatics and experimental approaches revealed a high-affinity ESRP-binding motif and a predictive RNA map that governs their activity. This work establishes the ESRPs as coordinators of a complex alternative splicing network that adds an important post-transcriptional layer to the changes in gene expression that underlie epithelial-mesenchymal transitions during development and disease.
The EMBO Journal 10/2010; 29(19):3286-300. DOI:10.1038/emboj.2010.195 · 10.43 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cell-type and tissue-specific alternative splicing events are regulated by combinatorial control involving both abundant RNA binding proteins as well as those with more discrete expression and specialized functions. Epithelial Splicing Regulatory Proteins 1 and 2 (ESRP1 and ESRP2) are recently discovered epithelial-specific RNA binding proteins that promote splicing of the epithelial variant of the FGFR2, ENAH, CD44 and CTNND1 transcripts. To catalogue a larger set of splicing events under the regulation of the ESRPs we profiled splicing changes induced by RNA interference-mediated knockdown of ES RP1 and ES RP2 expression in a human epithelial cell line using the splicing sensitive Affymetrix Exon ST1.0 Arrays. Analysis of the microarray data resulted in the identification of over a hundred candidate ESRP regulated splicing events. We were able to independently validate 38 of these targets by RT-PCR. The ESRP regulated events encompass all known types of alternative splicing events, most prominent being alternative cassette exons and splicing events leading to alternative 3' terminal exons. Importantly, a number of these regulated splicing events occur in gene transcripts that encode proteins with well-described roles in the regulation of actin cytoskeleton organization, cell-cell adhesion, cell polarity and cell migration. In sum, this work reveals a novel list of transcripts differentially spliced in epithelial and mesenchymal cells, implying that coordinated alternative splicing plays a critical role in determination of cell type identity. These results further establish ESRP1 and ESRP2 as global regulators of an epithelial splicing regulatory network.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Motivation: The Affymetrix Human Exon Junction Array is a newly designed high-density exon-sensitive microarray for global analysis of alternative splicing. Contrary to the Affymetrix exon 1.0 array, which only contains four probes per exon and no probes for exon–exon junctions, this new junction array averages eight probes per probeset targeting all exons and exon–exon junctions observed in the human mRNA/EST transcripts, representing a significant increase in the probe density for alternative splicing events. Here, we present MADS+, a computational pipeline to detect differential splicing events from the Affymetrix exon junction array data. For each alternative splicing event, MADS+ evaluates the signals of probes targeting competing transcript isoforms to identify exons or splice sites with different levels of transcript inclusion between two sample groups. MADS+ is used routinely in our analysis of Affymetrix exon junction arrays and has a high accuracy in detecting differential splicing events. For example, in a study of the novel epithelial-specific splicing regulator ESRP1, MADS+ detects hundreds of exons whose inclusion levels are dependent on ESRP1, with a RT-PCR validation rate of 88.5% (153 validated out of 173 tested).
Availability: MADS+ scripts, documentations and annotation files are available at http://www.medicine.uiowa.edu/Labs/Xing/MADSplus/.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cell-type-specific expression of epithelial and mesenchymal isoforms of Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor 2 (FGFR2) is achieved through tight regulation of mutually exclusive exons IIIb and IIIc, respectively. Using an application of cell-based cDNA expression screening, we identified two paralogous epithelial cell-type-specific RNA-binding proteins that are essential regulators of FGFR2 splicing. Ectopic expression of either protein in cells that express FGFR2-IIIc caused a switch in endogenous FGFR2 splicing to the epithelial isoform. Conversely, knockdown of both factors in cells that express FGFR2-IIIb by RNA interference caused a switch from the epithelial to mesenchymal isoform. These factors also regulate splicing of CD44, p120-Catenin (CTNND1), and hMena (ENAH), three transcripts that undergo changes in splicing during the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). These studies suggest that Epithelial Splicing Regulatory Proteins 1 and 2 (ESRP1 and ESRP2) are coordinators of an epithelial cell-type-specific splicing program.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have developed a series of fluorescent splicing reporter minigenes for the establishment of cell-based screens to identify splicing regulatory proteins. A key technical advance in the application of these reporters was the use of two different fluorescent proteins: EGFP and monomeric Red Fluorescent Protein (mRFP). Through establishment of stable cell lines expressing such dual color fluorescent reporters, these minigenes can be used to perform enhanced screens for splicing regulatory proteins. As an example of such applications we generated fluorescent minigenes that can be used to determine the splicing of mutually exclusive FGFR2 exons IIIb and IIIc by flow cytometry. One minigene contained a coding sequence for EGFP whose translation was dependent on splicing of exon IIIb, whereas a second minigene required exon IIIc splicing for translation of an mRFP coding sequence. Stable incorporation of both minigenes into cells that express endogenous FGFR2-IIIb or FGFR2-IIIc resulted in EGFP or mRFP fluorescence, respectively. Cells stably transfected with both minigenes were used to screen a panel of cDNAs encoding known splicing regulatory proteins, and several were identified that induced a switch in splicing that could be detected specifically by an increase in green, but not red, fluorescence. We further demonstrated additional minigenes that can be used in dual color fluorescent screens for identification of splicing regulatory proteins that function through specific intronic splicing enhancer elements (ISEs). The methods and minigene designs described here should be adaptable for broader applications in identification of factors and mechanisms involved in alternative splicing of numerous other gene transcripts.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alternative splicing of fibroblast growth factor receptor-2 (FGFR2) mutually exclusive exons IIIb and IIIc results in highly cell-type-specific expression of functionally distinct receptors, FGFR2-IIIb and FGFR2-IIIc. We previously identified an RNA cis-element, ISE/ISS-3, that enhanced exon IIIb splicing and silenced exon IIIc splicing. Here, we have performed comprehensive mutational analysis to define critical sequence motifs within this element that independently either enhance splicing of upstream exons or repress splicing of downstream exons. Such analysis included use of a novel fluorescence-based splicing reporter assay that allowed quantitative determination of relative functional activity of ISE/ISS-3 mutants using flow cytometric analysis of live cells. We determined that specific sequences within this element that mediate splicing enhancement also mediate splicing repression, depending on their position relative to a regulated exon. Thus, factors that bind the element are likely to be coordinately involved in mediating both aspects of splicing regulation. Exon IIIc silencing is dependent upon a suboptimal branchpoint sequence containing a guanine branchpoint nucleotide. Previous studies of exon IIIc splicing in HeLa nuclear extracts demonstrated that this guanine branchsite primarily impaired the second step of splicing suggesting that ISE/ISS-3 may block exon IIIc inclusion at this step. However, results presented here that include use of newly developed in vitro splicing assays of FGFR2 using extracts from a cell line expressing FGFR2-IIIb strongly suggest that cell-type-specific silencing of exon IIIc occurs at or prior to the first step of splicing.
Nucleic Acids Research 02/2006; 34(1):373-85. DOI:10.1093/nar/gkj407 · 9.11 Impact Factor