September 22, 2019  |  

Differential increases of specific FMR1 mRNA isoforms in premutation carriers.

Over 40% of male and ~16% of female carriers of a premutation FMR1 allele (55-200 CGG repeats) will develop fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome, an adult onset neurodegenerative disorder, while about 20% of female carriers will develop fragile X-associated primary ovarian insufficiency. Marked elevation in FMR1 mRNA transcript levels has been observed with premutation alleles, and RNA toxicity due to increased mRNA levels is the leading molecular mechanism proposed for these disorders. However, although the FMR1 gene undergoes alternative splicing, it is unknown whether all or only some of the isoforms are overexpressed in premutation carriers and which isoforms may contribute to the premutation pathology.To address this question, we have applied a long-read sequencing approach using single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing and qRT-PCR. Our SMRT sequencing analysis performed on peripheral blood mononuclear cells, fibroblasts and brain tissue samples derived from premutation carriers and controls revealed the existence of 16 isoforms of 24 predicted variants. Although the relative abundance of all mRNA isoforms was significantly increased in the premutation group, as expected based on the bulk increase in mRNA levels, there was a disproportionate (fourfold to sixfold) increase, relative to the overall increase in mRNA, in the abundance of isoforms spliced at both exons 12 and 14, specifically Iso10 and Iso10b, containing the complete exon 15 and differing only in splicing in exon 17.These findings suggest that RNA toxicity may arise from a relative increase of all FMR1 mRNA isoforms. Interestingly, the Iso10 and Iso10b mRNA isoforms, lacking the C-terminal functional sites for fragile X mental retardation protein function, are the most increased in premutation carriers relative to normal, suggesting a functional relevance in the pathology of FMR1-associated disorders. Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to

September 22, 2019  |  

Characterization of novel transcripts in pseudorabies virus.

In this study we identified two 3′-coterminal RNA molecules in the pseudorabies virus. The highly abundant short transcript (CTO-S) proved to be encoded between the ul21 and ul22 genes in close vicinity of the replication origin (OriL) of the virus. The less abundant long RNA molecule (CTO-L) is a transcriptional readthrough product of the ul21 gene and overlaps OriL. These polyadenylated RNAs were characterized by ascertaining their nucleotide sequences with the Illumina HiScanSQ and Pacific Biosciences Real-Time (PacBio RSII) sequencing platforms and by analyzing their transcription kinetics through use of multi-time-point Real-Time RT-PCR and the PacBio RSII system. It emerged that transcription of the CTOs is fully dependent on the viral transactivator protein IE180 and CTO-S is not a microRNA precursor. We propose an interaction between the transcription and replication machineries at this genomic location, which might play an important role in the regulation of DNA synthesis.

September 22, 2019  |  

Characterization of the human ESC transcriptome by hybrid sequencing.

Although transcriptional and posttranscriptional events are detected in RNA-Seq data from second-generation sequencing, full-length mRNA isoforms are not captured. On the other hand, third-generation sequencing, which yields much longer reads, has current limitations of lower raw accuracy and throughput. Here, we combine second-generation sequencing and third-generation sequencing with a custom-designed method for isoform identification and quantification to generate a high-confidence isoform dataset for human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). We report 8,084 RefSeq-annotated isoforms detected as full-length and an additional 5,459 isoforms predicted through statistical inference. Over one-third of these are novel isoforms, including 273 RNAs from gene loci that have not previously been identified. Further characterization of the novel loci indicates that a subset is expressed in pluripotent cells but not in diverse fetal and adult tissues; moreover, their reduced expression perturbs the network of pluripotency-associated genes. Results suggest that gene identification, even in well-characterized human cell lines and tissues, is likely far from complete.

September 22, 2019  |  

Altered expression of the FMR1 splicing variants landscape in premutation carriers.

FMR1 premutation carriers (55-200 CGG repeats) are at risk for developing Fragile X-associated Tremor/Ataxia Syndrome (FXTAS), an adult onset neurodegenerative disorder. Approximately 20% of female carriers will develop Fragile X-associated Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (FXPOI), in addition to a number of clinical problems affecting premutation carriers throughout their life span. Marked elevation in FMR1 mRNA levels have been observed with premutation alleles resulting in RNA toxicity, the leading molecular mechanism proposed for the FMR1 associated disorders observed in premutation carriers. The FMR1 gene undergoes alternative splicing and we have recently reported that the relative abundance of all FMR1 mRNA isoforms is significantly increased in premutation carriers. In this study, we characterized the transcriptional FMR1 isoforms distribution pattern in different tissues and identified a total of 49 isoforms, some of which observed only in premutation carriers and which might play a role in the pathogenesis of FXTAS. Further, we investigated the distribution pattern and expression levels of the FMR1 isoforms in asymptomatic premutation carriers and in those with FXTAS and found no significant differences between the two groups. Our findings suggest that the characterization of the expression levels of the different FMR1 isoforms is fundamental for understanding the regulation of the FMR1 gene as imbalance in their expression could lead to an altered functional diversity with neurotoxic consequences. Their characterization will also help to elucidating the mechanism(s) by which “toxic gain of function” of the FMR1 mRNA may play a role in FXTAS and/or in the other FMR1-associated conditions. Copyright © 2017. Published by Elsevier B.V.

September 22, 2019  |  

Quantitative profiling of Drosophila melanogaster Dscam1 isoforms reveals no changes in splicing after bacterial exposure.

The hypervariable Dscam1 (Down syndrome cell adhesion molecule 1) gene can produce thousands of different ectodomain isoforms via mutually exclusive alternative splicing. Dscam1 appears to be involved in the immune response of some insects and crustaceans. It has been proposed that the diverse isoforms may be involved in the recognition of, or the defence against, diverse parasite epitopes, although evidence to support this is sparse. A prediction that can be generated from this hypothesis is that the gene expression of specific exons and/or isoforms is influenced by exposure to an immune elicitor. To test this hypothesis, we for the first time, use a long read RNA sequencing method to directly investigate the Dscam1 splicing pattern after exposing adult Drosophila melanogaster and a S2 cell line to live Escherichia coli. After bacterial exposure both models showed increased expression of immune-related genes, indicating that the immune system had been activated. However there were no changes in total Dscam1 mRNA expression. RNA sequencing further showed that there were no significant changes in individual exon expression and no changes in isoform splicing patterns in response to bacterial exposure. Therefore our studies do not support a change of D. melanogaster Dscam1 isoform diversity in response to live E. coli. Nevertheless, in future this approach could be used to identify potentially immune-related Dscam1 splicing regulation in other host species or in response to other pathogens.

September 22, 2019  |  

Quantitative isoform-profiling of highly diversified recognition molecules.

Complex biological systems rely on cell surface cues that govern cellular self-recognition and selective interactions with appropriate partners. Molecular diversification of cell surface recognition molecules through DNA recombination and complex alternative splicing has emerged as an important principle for encoding such interactions. However, the lack of tools to specifically detect and quantify receptor protein isoforms is a major impediment to functional studies. We here developed a workflow for targeted mass spectrometry by selected reaction monitoring (SRM) that permits quantitative assessment of highly diversified protein families. We apply this workflow to dissecting the molecular diversity of the neuronal neurexin receptors and uncover an alternative splicing-dependent recognition code for synaptic ligands.

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