Verbeeren J, Verma B, Niemelä EH, Yap K, Makeyev EV, Frilander MJ (2017) Alternative exon definition events control the choice between nuclear retention and cytoplasmic export of U11/U12-65K mRNA. PLoS Genet 13: e1006824

Cellular homeostasis of the minor spliceosome is regulated by a negative feed-back loop that targets U11-48K and U11/U12-65K mRNAs encoding essential components of the U12-type intron-specific U11/U12 di-snRNP. This involves interaction of the U11 snRNP with an evolutionarily conserved splicing enhancer giving rise to unproductive mRNA isoforms. In the case of U11/U12-65K, this mechanism controls the length of the 3' untranslated region (3'UTR). We show that this process is dynamically regulated in developing neurons and some other cell types, and involves a binary switch between translation-competent mRNAs with a short 3'UTR to non-productive isoforms with a long 3'UTR that are retained in the nucleus or/and spliced to the downstream amylase locus. Importantly, the choice between these alternatives is determined by alternative terminal exon definition events regulated by conserved U12- and U2-type 5' splice sites as well as sequence signals used for pre-mRNA cleavage and polyadenylation. We additionally show that U11 snRNP binding to the U11/U12-65K mRNA species with a long 3'UTR is required for their nuclear retention. Together, our studies uncover an intricate molecular circuitry regulating the abundance of a key spliceosomal protein and shed new light on the mechanisms limiting the export of non-productively spliced mRNAs from the nucleus to the cytoplasm.

Pubmed: 28549066