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MBNL1 and PTB cooperate to repress splicing of Tpm1 exon 3

Gooding C, Edge C, Lorenz M, Coelho MB, Winters M, Kaminski CF, Cherny D, Eperon IC, Smith CWJ, "MBNL1 and PTB cooperate to repress splicing of Tpm1 exon 3", Nucleic Acids Research (2013), Nucleic Acids Research (2013) 41 (9): 4765-4782.
DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkt168 | pdf


Exon 3 of the rat α-tropomyosin (Tpm1) gene is repressed in smooth muscle cells, allowing inclusion of the mutually exclusive partner exon 2. Two key types of elements affect repression of exon 3 splicing: binding sites for polypyrimidine tract-binding protein (PTB) and additional negative regulatory elements consisting of clusters of UGC or CUG motifs. Here, we show that the UGC clusters are bound by muscleblind-like proteins (MBNL), which act as repressors of Tpm1 exon 3. We show that the N-terminal region of MBNL1, containing its four CCCH zinc-finger domains, is sufficient to mediate repression. The same region of MBNL1 can make a direct protein-to-protein interaction with PTB, and RNA binding by MBNL promotes this interaction, apparently by inducing a conformational change in MBNL. Moreover, single molecule analysis showed that MBNL-binding sites increase the binding of PTB to its own sites. Our data suggest that the smooth muscle splicing of Tpm1 is mediated by allosteric assembly of an RNA–protein complex minimally comprising PTB, MBNL and their cognate RNA-binding sites.