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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A consensus CaMK IV-responsive RNA sequence mediates regulation of alternative exons in neurons

  • Author(s): Xie, J Y
  • Jan, C
  • Stoilov, P
  • Park, J
  • Black, D L
  • et al.

Neurons make extensive use of alternative pre-mRNA splicing to regulate gene expression and diversify physiological responses. We showed previously in a pituitary cell line that the Ca++/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase CaMK IV specifically repressed splicing of the BK channel STREX exon. This repression is dependent on a CaMK IV-responsive RNA element (CaRRE) within the STREX 3' splice site. Here, we report that similar Ca++ regulation of splicing, mediated by L-type calcium channels and CaM kinase IV, occurs in cultured neurons and in the brain. We identify a critical CaRRE motif (CACATNRTTAT) that is essential for conferring CaMK IV repression on an otherwise constitutive exon. Additional Ca++-regulated exons that carry this consensus sequence are also identified in the human genome. Thus, the Ca++/CaMK IV pathway in neurons controls the alternative splicing of a group of exons through this short CaRRE consensus sequence. The functions of some of these exons imply that splicing control through the CaMK IV pathway will alter neuronal activity.

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