Alternative splicing of pre-mRNAs is a crucial mechanism for maintaining protein diversity in eukaryotes without requiring a considerable increase of genes in the number. Due to rapid advances in high-throughput sequencing technologies and computational algorithms, it is anticipated that alternative splicing events will be more intensively studied to address different kinds of biological questions. The occurrences of alternative splicing mean that all exons could be classified to be either constitutively or alternatively spliced depending on whether they are virtually included into all mature mRNAs. From an evolutionary point of view, therefore, the alternatively spliced exons would have been associated with distinctive biological characteristics in comparison with constitutively spliced exons. In this paper, we first outline the representative types of alternative splicing events and exon classification, and then review sequence and evolutionary features for the alternatively spliced exons. The main purpose is to facilitate understanding of the biological implications of alternative splicing in eukaryotes. This knowledge is also helpful to establish computational approaches for predicting the splicing pattern of exons.
Journal: International journal of molecular sciences