An ancient mechanism for splicing control: U11 snRNP as an activator of alternative splicing.Mol Cell. 2010 Mar 26; 37(6):821-33.MC
Alternative pre-mRNA splicing is typically regulated by specific protein factors that recognize unique sequence elements in pre-mRNA and affect, directly or indirectly, nearby splice site usage. We show that 5' splice site sequences (5'ss) of U12-type introns, when repeated in tandem, form a U11 snRNP-binding splicing enhancer, USSE. Binding of U11 to the USSE regulates alternative splicing of U2-type introns by activating an upstream 3'ss. The U12-type 5'ss-like sequences within the USSE have a regulatory role and do not function as splicing donors. USSEs, present both in animal and plant genes encoding the U11/U12 di-snRNP-specific 48K and 65K proteins, create sensitive switches that respond to intracellular levels of functional U11 snRNP and alter the stability of 48K and 65K mRNAs. We conclude that U11 functions not only in 5'ss recognition in constitutive splicing, but also as an activator of U2-dependent alternative splicing and as a regulator of the U12-dependent spliceosome.