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Alternative Splicing - Molecular Cloning

Alternative splicing is a molecular processwhich enables multiple genes to be produced from a single gene. By regulating this process, //cells can produce a wide variety of proteins from a finite number of genes. A new RNA map, created by researchers at Rockefeller University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, shows how the specific location of short snippets of RNA affects the way that alternative splicing is controlled in the brain.

Though scientists have begun to appreciate how alternative splicing adds a layer of complexity to brain processes that enable us to think and learn, exactly how alternative splicing is regulated during these processes — and in some cases is uncontrolled (or dysregulated) to cause disease — has remained elusive. The map provides the first comprehensive understanding of how alternative splicing works throughout the genome. The results have implications for a better understanding of such brain functions as learning and memory, neurological diseases and cancer biology.

'This finding is a significant advance in our understanding of splicing, and it suggests that it will be possible to understand how different splicing factors weave together to regulate complex patterns of genes, which in turn is relevant to generating complexity of function,' says senior author Robert Darnell, professor and head of the Laboratory of Molecular Neuro-oncology at Rockefeller and investigator at HHMI.

To understand what alternative splicing is, we first need to know what RNA splicing is. RNA splicing is the process by which the initial RNA copy of a gene, known as pre-mRNA, is pieced together to produce a mature mRNA that codes for cellular proteins. In alternative splicing, different piecesof this pre-mRNA, called exons, are stitched together to produce different mRNAs, and thus different proteins. The exon can be spliced in or out in a binary, computer-like fashion.Carefully regulated, such cellscan now produce a
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