Amir Goren

Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel

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Publications (11)83.48 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: During evolution segments of homeothermic genomes underwent a GC content increase. Our analyses reveal that two exon-intron architectures have evolved from an ancestral state of low GC content exons flanked by short introns with a lower GC content. One group underwent a GC content elevation that abolished the differential exon-intron GC content, with introns remaining short. The other group retained the overall low GC content as well as the differential exon-intron GC content, and is associated with longer introns. We show that differential exon-intron GC content regulates exon inclusion level in this group, in which disease-associated mutations often lead to exon skipping. This group's exons also display higher nucleosome occupancy compared to flanking introns and exons of the other group, thus "marking" them for spliceosomal recognition. Collectively, our results reveal that differential exon-intron GC content is a previously unidentified determinant of exon selection and argue that the two GC content architectures reflect the two mechanisms by which splicing signals are recognized: exon definition and intron definition.
    Cell Reports 05/2012; 1(5):543-56. · 7.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Regulation of splicing in eukaryotes occurs through the coordinated action of multiple splicing factors. Exons and introns contain numerous putative binding sites for splicing regulatory proteins. Regulation of splicing is presumably achieved by the combinatorial output of the binding of splicing factors to the corresponding binding sites. Although putative regulatory sites often overlap, no extensive study has examined whether overlapping regulatory sequences provide yet another dimension to splicing regulation. Here we analyzed experimentally-identified splicing regulatory sequences using a computational method based on the natural distribution of nucleotides and splicing regulatory sequences. We uncovered positive and negative interplay between overlapping regulatory sequences. Examination of these overlapping motifs revealed a unique spatial distribution, especially near splice donor sites of exons with weak splice donor sites. The positively selected overlapping splicing regulatory motifs were highly conserved among different species, implying functionality. Overall, these results suggest that overlap of two splicing regulatory binding sites is an evolutionary conserved widespread mechanism of splicing regulation. Finally, over-abundant motif overlaps were experimentally tested in a reporting minigene revealing that overlaps may facilitate a mode of splicing that did not occur in the presence of only one of the two regulatory sequences that comprise it.
    Nucleic Acids Research 06/2010; 38(10):3318-27. · 8.81 Impact Factor
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    Keren Vaknin, Amir Goren, Gil Ast
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    ABSTRACT: Transposable elements (TEs) have contributed a wide range of functional sequences to their host genomes. A recent paper in BMC Molecular Biology discusses the creation of new transcripts by transposable element insertion upstream of retrocopies and the involvement of such insertions in tissue-specific post-transcriptional regulation.
    Journal of Biology 10/2009; 8(9):83.
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    ABSTRACT: Examination of the human transcriptome reveals higher levels of RNA editing than in any other organism tested to date. This is indicative of extensive double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) formation within the human transcriptome. Most of the editing sites are located in the primate-specific retrotransposed element called Alu. A large fraction of Alus are found in intronic sequences, implying extensive Alu-Alu dsRNA formation in mRNA precursors. Yet, the effect of these intronic Alus on splicing of the flanking exons is largely unknown. Here, we show that more Alus flank alternatively spliced exons than constitutively spliced ones; this is especially notable for those exons that have changed their mode of splicing from constitutive to alternative during human evolution. This implies that Alu insertions may change the mode of splicing of the flanking exons. Indeed, we demonstrate experimentally that two Alu elements that were inserted into an intron in opposite orientation undergo base-pairing, as evident by RNA editing, and affect the splicing patterns of a downstream exon, shifting it from constitutive to alternative. Our results indicate the importance of intronic Alus in influencing the splicing of flanking exons, further emphasizing the role of Alus in shaping of the human transcriptome.
    PLoS Genetics 10/2008; 4(9):e1000204. · 8.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Obesity is reaching epidemic proportions in developed countries and represents a significant risk factor for hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and dyslipidemia. Splicing mutations constitute at least 14% of disease-causing mutations, thus implicating polymorphisms that affect splicing as likely candidates for disease susceptibility. A recent study suggested that genes associated with obesity were significantly enriched for rare nucleotide variants. Here, we examined these variants and revealed that they are located near splice junctions and tend to affect exonic splicing regulatory sequences. We also show that the majority of the exons that harbor these SNPs are constitutively spliced, yet they exhibit weak splice sites, typical to alternatively spliced exons, and are hence suboptimal for recognition by the splicing machinery and prone to become alternatively spliced. Using ex vivo assays, we tested a few representative variants and show that they indeed affect splicing by causing a shift from a constitutive to an alternative pattern, suggesting a possible link between extreme body mass index and abnormal splicing patterns.
    Genome Research 03/2008; 18(2):214-20. · 14.40 Impact Factor
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    Eddo Kim, Amir Goren, Gil Ast
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    ABSTRACT: Computational and experimental evidence has revealed that cancerous cells express transcript variants that are abnormally spliced, suggesting that mRNAs are more frequently alternatively spliced in cancerous tissues than in normal ones. We show that cancerous tissues exhibit lower levels of alternative splicing than do normal tissues. Moreover, we found that the distribution of types of alternative splicing differs between cancerous and normal tissues. We further show evidence suggesting that the lower levels of alternative splicing in cancerous tissues might be a result of disruption of splicing regulatory proteins.
    Trends in Genetics 02/2008; 24(1):7-10. · 9.77 Impact Factor
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    Eddo Kim, Amir Goren, Gil Ast
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    ABSTRACT: Alternative splicing is a well-characterized mechanism by which multiple transcripts are generated from a single mRNA precursor. By allowing production of several protein isoforms from one pre-mRNA, alternative splicing contributes to proteomic diversity. But what do we know about the origin of this mechanism? Do the same evolutionary forces apply to alternatively and constitutively splice exons? Do similar forces act on all types of alternative splicing? Are the products generated by alternative splicing functional? Why is "improper" recognition of exons and introns allowed by the splicing machinery? In this review, we summarize the current knowledge regarding these issues from an evolutionary perspective.
    BioEssays 02/2008; 30(1):38-47. · 5.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Alternative cassette exons are known to originate from two processes-exonization of intronic sequences and exon shuffling. Herein, we suggest an additional mechanism by which constitutively spliced exons become alternative cassette exons during evolution. We compiled a dataset of orthologous exons from human and mouse that are constitutively spliced in one species but alternatively spliced in the other. Examination of these exons suggests that the common ancestors were constitutively spliced. We show that relaxation of the 5' splice site during evolution is one of the molecular mechanisms by which exons shift from constitutive to alternative splicing. This shift is associated with the fixation of exonic splicing regulatory sequences (ESRs) that are essential for exon definition and control the inclusion level only after the transition to alternative splicing. The effect of each ESR on splicing and the combinatorial effects between two ESRs are conserved from fish to human. Our results uncover an evolutionary pathway that increases transcriptome diversity by shifting exons from constitutive to alternative splicing.
    PLoS Genetics 12/2007; 3(11):e203. · 8.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Exonic splicing regulatory sequences (ESRs) are cis-acting factor binding sites that regulate constitutive and alternative splicing. A computational method based on the conservation level of wobble positions and the overabundance of sequence motifs between 46,103 human and mouse orthologous exons was developed, identifying 285 putative ESRs. Alternatively spliced exons that are either short in length or contain weak splice sites show the highest conservation level of those ESRs, especially toward the edges of exons. ESRs that are abundant in those subgroups show a different distribution between constitutively and alternatively spliced exons. Representatives of these ESRs and two SR protein binding sites were shown, experimentally, to display variable regulatory effects on alternative splicing, depending on their relative locations in the exon. This finding signifies the delicate positional effect of ESRs on alternative splicing regulation.
    Molecular Cell 07/2006; 22(6):769-81. · 15.28 Impact Factor
  • Eddo Kim, Amir Goren, Gil Ast
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    ABSTRACT: Splicing is a molecular mechanism, by which introns are removed from an mRNA precursor and exons are ligated to form a mature mRNA. Mutations that cause defects in the splicing mechanism are known to be responsible for many diseases, including cystic fibrosis and familial dysautonomia. If mutations that cause defects in splicing are responsible for such severe deleterious phenotypic differences, it is possible that mutations in splicing are also responsible for mildly deleterious phenotypic differences. Although deleterious mutations are rapidly eliminated from the population by purifying selection, the selection against mild deleterious effects is not as strong. Since mildly deleterious mutations have a chance of surviving natural selection, we might be mistakenly referring to these mutations as neutral variation between individuals. Splicing has also been shown to be seriously affected in cancer. Examination of cancerous tissues revealed alterations in expression levels of genes involved in mRNA processing and also a slight reduction in the level of exon skipping--the most common form of alternative splicing in humans. This implies that defects in genes involved in the regulation of splicing in cancerous tissues affect the delicate regulation of the inclusion level of alternatively skipped exons, shifting their mode of splicing back to constitutive. It may be that splicing silencers play a more prominent role in alternative splicing regulation than previously anticipated.
    RNA biology 5(1):17-9. · 5.56 Impact Factor
  • Amir Goren, Eddo Kim, Maayan Amit, Gil Ast

Publication Stats

420 Citations
83.48 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2006–2012
    • Tel Aviv University
      • Department of Human Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry
      Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel

Disciplines