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A splice acceptor variant in RGS6 associated with intellectual disability, microcephaly, and cataracts disproportionately promotes expression of a subset of RGS6 isoforms.

Journal of Human Genetics 2024 Februrary 10
Intellectual disability (ID) is associated with an increased risk of developing psychiatric disorders, suggesting a common underlying genetic factor. Importantly, altered signaling and/or expression of regulator of G protein signaling 6 (RGS6) is associated with ID and numerous psychiatric disorders. RGS6 is highly conserved and undergoes complex alternative mRNA splicing producing ~36 protein isoforms with high sequence similarity historically necessitating a global approach in functional studies. However, our recent analysis in mice revealed RGS6 is most highly expressed in CNS with RGS6L(+GGL) isoforms predominating. A previously reported genetic variant in intron 17 of RGS6 (c.1369-1G>C), associated with ID, may provide further clues into RGS6L(+GGL) isoform functional delineation. This variant was predicted to alter a highly conserved canonical 3' acceptor site creating an alternative branch point within exon 18 (included in a subset of RGS6L(+GGL) transcripts) and a frameshift forming an early stop codon. We previously identified this alternative splice site and demonstrated its use generates RGS6Lζ(+GGL) isoforms. Here, we show that the c.1369-1G>C variant disrupts the canonical, preferred (>90%) intron 17 splice site and leads to the exclusive use of the alternate exon 18 splice site, inducing disproportionate expression of a subset of isoforms, particularly RGS6Lζ(+GGL). Furthermore, RGS6 global knockout mice do not exhibit ID. Thus, ID caused by the c.1369-1G>C variant likely results from altered RGS6 isoform expression, rather than RGS6 isoform loss. In summary, these studies highlight the importance of proper RGS6 splicing and identify a previously unrecognized role of G protein signaling in ID.

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