In the July 1st issue of G&D, Dr. Douglas Black (UCLA) and colleagues detail how alternative splicing is reprogrammed during neuronal development.
Alternative splicing refers to the processing of an RNA transcript into different mRNA molecules by including some exons and excluding others. Specific cell types often have signature patterns of alternative splicing.
Polypyrimidine-tract binding protein (PTB) is a well-known inhibitor of alternative splicing in various cell types. A neuronal version of PTB - called nPTB - is expressed solely in nerve cells, but its function has remained elusive.
Dr. Black and colleagues now show that a switch in expression between PTB and nPTB induces changes in a large number of alternative splicing patterns during neuronal development. "This reprogramming of splicing by the switch in PTB proteins adds a new layer of genetic change determining the function of a post-mitotic neuron."