Nucleic acids research

An Ultraconserved Element (UCE) controls homeostatic splicing of ARGLU1 mRNA.

PMID 27899669


Arginine and Glutamate-Rich protein 1 (ARGLU1) is a protein whose function is poorly understood, but may act in both transcription and pre-mRNA splicing. We demonstrate that the ARGLU1 gene expresses at least three distinct RNA splice isoforms - a fully spliced isoform coding for the protein, an isoform containing a retained intron that is detained in the nucleus, and an isoform containing an alternative exon that targets the transcript for nonsense mediated decay. Furthermore, ARGLU1 contains a long, highly evolutionarily conserved sequence known as an Ultraconserved Element (UCE) that is within the retained intron and overlaps the alternative exon. Manipulation of the UCE, in a reporter minigene or via random mutations in the genomic context using CRISPR/Cas9, changed the splicing pattern. Further, overexpression of the ARGLU1 protein shifted the splicing of endogenous ARGLU1 mRNA, resulting in an increase in the retained intron isoform and nonsense mediated decay susceptible isoform and a decrease in the fully spliced isoform. Taken together with data showing that functional protein knockout shifts splicing toward the fully spliced isoform, our data are consistent with a model in which unproductive splicing complexes assembled at the alternative exon lead to inefficient splicing and intron retention.