April 21, 2020  |  

Programmable mutually exclusive alternative splicing for generating RNA and protein diversity.

Authors: Mathur, Melina and Kim, Cameron M and Munro, Sarah A and Rudina, Shireen S and Sawyer, Eric M and Smolke, Christina D

Alternative splicing performs a central role in expanding genomic coding capacity and proteomic diversity. However, programming of splicing patterns in engineered biological systems remains underused. Synthetic approaches thus far have predominantly focused on controlling expression of a single protein through alternative splicing. Here, we describe a modular and extensible platform for regulating four programmable exons that undergo a mutually exclusive alternative splicing event to generate multiple functionally-distinct proteins. We present an intron framework that enforces the mutual exclusivity of two internal exons and demonstrate a graded series of consensus sequence elements of varying strengths that set the ratio of two mutually exclusive isoforms. We apply this framework to program the DNA-binding domains of modular transcription factors to differentially control downstream gene activation. This splicing platform advances an approach for generating diverse isoforms and can ultimately be applied to program modular proteins and increase coding capacity of synthetic biological systems.

Journal: Nature communications
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-10403-w
Year: 2019

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