Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark (FBL) is published by IMR Press from Volume 26 Issue 5 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on imrpress.com as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.
Unfolding the mystery of alternative splicing through a unique method of in vivo selection
Alternative splicing of pre-messenger RNA (pre-mRNA) is a fundamental mechanism of gene regulation in higher eukaryotes. In addition to creating protein diversity, alternative splicing provides the safest mode of gene evolution. Of late, more and more forms of alternatively spliced transcripts (mRNAs) are being discovered for key genes. Some of the alternatively spliced transcripts are also associated with major human diseases. This has created a sense of urgency to find the methods by which regulation of alternative splicing of specific exons could be best understood. Here I review a powerful in vivo selection method that uses a combinatorial library of partially random sequences. Several advantages of this method include in vivo analysis of large sequences, identification of unique sequence motifs, determination of relative strength of splice sites and identification of long-distance interactions including role of RNA structures. This unique method could be applied to identify tissue-specific cis-elements. Similarly, the method is suitable to find cis-elements that become active in response to specific treatments of cells. Considering this unbiased method uses in vivo conditions, it has potential to identify critical regulatory elements as therapeutic targets for a growing number of splicing-associated diseases.