RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Missense, nonsense, and neutral mutations define juxtaposed regulatory elements of splicing in cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator exon 9.

Exonic sequence variations may induce exon inclusion or exclusion from the mature mRNA by disrupting exonic regulatory elements and/or by affecting a nuclear reading frame scanning mechanism. We have carried out a systematic study of the effect on cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator exon 9 splicing of natural and site-directed sequence mutations. We have observed that changes in the splicing pattern were not related to the creation of premature termination codons, a fact that indicates the lack of a significant nuclear check of the reading frame in this system. In addition, the splice pattern could not be predicted by available Ser/Arg protein matrices score analysis. An extensive site-directed mutagenesis of the 3' portion of the exon has identified two juxtaposed splicing enhancer and silencer elements. The study of double mutants at these regulatory elements showed a complex regulatory activity. For example, one natural mutation (146C) enhances exon inclusion and overrides all of the downstream silencing mutations except for a C to G transversion (155G). This unusual effect is explained by the creation of a specific binding site for the inhibitory splicing factor hnRNPH. In fact, on the double mutant 146C-155G, the silencing effect is dominant. These results indicate a strict dependence between the two juxtaposed enhancer and silencer sequences and show that many point mutations in these elements cause changes in splicing efficiency by different mechanisms.

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