November 7, 2023  |  Neurogenomics

Characterization of Alternative Splicing During Mammalian Brain Development Reveals the Magnitude of Isoform Diversity and its Effects on Protein Conformational Changes

Authors: Leila Haj Abdullah Alieh, Beatriz Cardoso de Toledo, Anna Hadarovich, Agnes Toth-Petroczy, Federico Calegari

Regulation of gene expression is critical for fate commitment of stem and progenitor cells during tissue formation. In the context of mammalian brain development, a plethora of studies have described how changes in the expression of individual genes characterize cell types across ontogeny and phylogeny. However, little attention was paid to the fact that different transcripts can arise from any given gene through alternative splicing (AS). Considered a key mechanism expanding transcriptome diversity during evolution, assessing the full potential of AS on isoform diversity and protein function has been notoriously difficult. Here we capitalize on the use of a validated reporter mouse line to isolate neural stem cells, neurogenic progenitors and neurons during corticogenesis and combine the use of short- and long-read sequencing to reconstruct the full transcriptome diversity characterizing neurogenic commitment. Extending available transcriptional profiles of the mammalian brain by nearly 50,000 new isoforms, we found that neurogenic commitment is characterized by a progressive increase in exon inclusion resulting in the profound remodeling of the transcriptional profile of specific cortical cell types. Most importantly, we computationally infer the biological significance of AS on protein structure by using AlphaFold2 and revealing how radical protein conformational changes can arise from subtle changes in isoforms sequence. Together, our study reveals that AS has a greater potential to impact protein diversity and function than previously thought independently from changes in gene expression.

Journal: Biorxiv
DOI: 10.1101/2023.10.11.561865
Year: 2023

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