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  • Verbeeren, Jens; Verma, Bhupendra; Niemela, Elina H.; Yap, Karen; Makeyev, Eugene V.; Frilander, Mikko J. (2017)
    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 50 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.
  • Argente, Jesus; Flores, Raquel; Gutierrez-Arumi, Armand; Verma, Bhupendra; Martos-Moreno, Gabriel A.; Cusco, Ivon; Oghabian, Ali; Chowen, Julie A.; Frilander, Mikko J.; Perez-Jurado, Luis A. ' (2014)
    The molecular basis of a significant number of cases of isolated growth hormone deficiency remains unknown. We describe three sisters affected with severe isolated growth hormone deficiency and pituitary hypoplasia caused by biallelic mutations in the RNPC3 gene, which codes for a minor spliceosome protein required for U11/U12 small nuclear ribonucleoprotein (snRNP) formation and splicing of U12-type introns. We found anomalies in U11/U12 di-snRNP formation and in splicing of multiple U12-type introns in patient cells. Defective transcripts include preprohormone convertases SPCS2 and SPCS3 and actin-related ARPC5L genes, which are candidates for the somatotroph-restricted dysfunction. The reported novel mechanism for familial growth hormone deficiency demonstrates that general mRNA processing defects of the minor spliceosome can lead to very narrow tissue-specific consequences.
  • Niemelä, Elina H.; Oghabian, Ali; Staals, Raymond H. J.; Greco, Dario; Pruijn, Ger J. M.; Frilander, Mikko J. (2014)
  • Oghabian, Ali; Greco, Dario; Frilander, Mikko J. (2018)
    Background: In-depth study of the intron retention levels of transcripts provide insights on the mechanisms regulating pre-mRNA splicing efficiency. Additionally, detailed analysis of retained introns can link these introns to post-transcriptional regulation or identify aberrant splicing events in human diseases. Results: We present IntEREst, Intron-Exon Retention Estimator, an R package that supports rigorous analysis of non-annotated intron retention events (in addition to the ones annotated by RefSeq or similar databases), and support intra-sample in addition to inter-sample comparisons. It accepts binary sequence alignment/map (.bam) files as input and determines genome-wide estimates of intron retention or exon-exon junction levels. Moreover, it includes functions for comparing subsets of user-defined introns (e.g. U12-type vs U2-type) and its plotting functions allow visualization of the distribution of the retention levels of the introns. Statistical methods are adapted from the DESeq2, edgeR and DEXSeq R packages to extract the significantly more or less retained introns. Analyses can be performed either sequentially (on single core) or in parallel (on multiple cores). We used IntEREst to investigate the U12- and U2-type intron retention in human and plant RNAseq dataset with defects in the U12-dependent spliceosome due to mutations in the ZRSR2 component of this spliceosome. Additionally, we compared the retained introns discovered by IntEREst with that of other methods and studies. Conclusion: IntEREst is an R package for Intron retention and exon-exon junction levels analysis of RNA-seq data. Both the human and plant analyses show that the U12-type introns are retained at higher level compared to the U2-type introns already in the control samples, but the retention is exacerbated in patient or plant samples carrying a mutated ZRSR2 gene. Intron retention events caused by ZRSR2 mutation that we discovered using IntEREst (DESeq2 based function) show considerable overlap with the retained introns discovered by other methods (e.g. IRFinder and edgeR based function of IntEREst). Our results indicate that increase in both the number of biological replicates and the depth of sequencing library promote the discovery of retained introns, but the effect of library size gradually decreases with more than 35 million reads mapped to the introns.
  • Verma, Bhupendra Kumar; Akinyi, Maureen Veronica; Norppa, Antto Juhani; Frilander, Mikko Juhani (2018)
    tThe U12-dependent (minor) spliceosome excises a rare group of introns that are characterized by ahighly conserved 5splice site and branch point sequence. Several new congenital or somatic diseaseshave recently been associated with mutations in components of the minor spliceosome. A commontheme in these diseases is the detection of elevated levels of transcripts containing U12-type introns,of which a subset is associated with other splicing defects. Here we review the present understandingof minor spliceosome diseases, particularly those associated with the specific components of the minorspliceosome. We also present a model for interpreting the molecular-level consequences of the differentdiseases.
  • Norppa, Antto J.; Kauppala, Tuuli M.; Heikkinen, Harri A.; Verma, Bhupendra; Iwai, Hideo; Frilander, Mikko J. (2018)
    Mutations in the components of the minor spliceosome underlie several human diseases. A subset of patients with isolated growth hormone deficiency (IGHD) harbors mutations in the RNPC3 gene, which encodes the minor spliceosome-specific U11/U12-65K protein. Although a previous study showed that IGHD patient cells have defects in U12-type intron recognition, the biochemical effects of these mutations on the 65K protein have not been characterized. Here, we show that a proline-to-threonine missense mutation (P474T) and a nonsense mutation (R502X) in the C-terminal RNA recognition motif (C-RRM) of the 65K protein impair the binding of 65K to U12 and U6atac snRNAs. We further show that the nonsense allele is targeted to the nonsense-mediated decay (NMD) pathway, but in an isoform-specific manner, with the nuclear-retained 65K long-3'UTR isoform escaping the NMD pathway. In contrast, the missense P474T mutation leads, in addition to the RNA-binding defect, to a partial defect in the folding of the C-RRM and reduced stability of the full-length protein, thus reducing the formation of U11/U12 di-snRNP complexes. We propose that both the C-RRM folding defect and NMD-mediated decrease in the levels of the U11/U12-65K protein reduce formation of the U12-type intron recognition complex and missplicing of a subset of minor introns leading to pituitary hypoplasia and a subsequent defect in growth hormone secretion.
  • Norppa, Antto J.; Frilander, Mikko J. (2021)
    Disruption of minor spliceosome functions underlies several genetic diseases with mutations in the minor spliceosome-specific small nuclear RNAs (snRNAs) and proteins. Here, we define the molecular outcome of the U12 snRNA mutation (84C>U) resulting in an early-onset form of cerebellar ataxia. To understand the molecular consequences of the U12 snRNA mutation, we created cell lines harboring the 84C>T mutation in the U12 snRNA gene (RNU12). We show that the 84C>U mutation leads to accelerated decay of the snRNA, resulting in significantly reduced steady-state U12 snRNA levels. Additionally, the mutation leads to accumulation of 3 '-truncated forms of U12 snRNA, which have undergone the cytoplasmic steps of snRNP biogenesis. Our data suggests that the 84C>U-mutant snRNA is targeted for decay following reimport into the nucleus, and that the U12 snRNA fragments are decay intermediates that result from the stalling of a 3 '-to-5 ' exonuclease. Finally, we show that several other single-nucleotide variants in the 3 ' stem-loop of U12 snRNA that are segregating in the human population are also highly destabilizing. This suggests that the 3 ' stem-loop is important for the overall stability of the U12 snRNA and that additional disease-causing mutations are likely to exist in this region.