Binding of a candidate splice regulator to a calcitonin-specific splice enhancer regulates calcitonin/CGRP pre-mRNA splicing
The calcitonin/calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) pre-mRNA is alternatively processed in a tissue-specific manner leading to the production of calcitonin mRNA in thyroid C cells and CGRP mRNA in neurons. A candidate calcitonin/CGRP splice regulator (CSR) isolated from rat brain was shown to inhibit calcitonin-specific splicing in vitro. CSR specifically binds to two regions in the calcitonin-specific exon 4 RNA previously demonstrated to function as a bipartate exonic splice enhancer (ESE). The two regions, A and B element, are necessary for inclusion of exon 4 into calcitonin mRNA. A novel RNA footprinting method based on the UV cross-linking assay was used to define the site of interaction between CSR and B element RNA. Base changes at the CSR binding site prevented CSR binding to B element RNA and CSR was unable to inhibit in vitro splicing of pre-mRNAs containing the mutated CSR binding site. When expressed in cells that normally produce predominantly CGRP mRNA, a calcitonin/CGRP gene containing the mutated CSR binding site expressed predominantly calcitonin mRNA. These observations demonstrate that CSR binding to the calcitonin-specific ESE regulates calcitonin/CGRP pre-mRNA splicing.
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