Neuron-specific splicing of zinc finger transcription factor REST/NRSF/XBR is frequent in neuroblastomas and conserved in human, mouse and rat

Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 1999 Sep 8;72(1):30-9. doi: 10.1016/s0169-328x(99)00196-5.


Neuron-restrictive silencer factor (NRSF), also known as repressor element RE1 binding transcription factor (REST) or repressor binding to the X2 box (XBR) (REST/NRSF/XBR), is a zinc finger transcription factor that during early embryogenesis is required to repress a subset of neuron-specific genes in non-neural tissues and undifferentiated neural precursors. We have previously shown that splicing within the coding region of rat REST/NRSF/XBR (rREST) generates several different transcripts all of which are expressed in the adult nervous system. rREST transcripts with short neuron-specific exons (exon N) have in-frame stop codons and encode truncated proteins which have an N-terminal repressor domain and weakened DNA binding activity. The aim of this study was to analyze the regulatory mechanisms underlying REST/NRSF/XBR activity in human and mouse as compared to rat. We show that the structure of REST/NRSF/XBR gene and its regulation by neuron-specific splicing is conserved in human, mouse and rat. Expression levels of REST/NRSF/XBR transcripts with the insertion of exon N are increased during the neuronal differentiation of mouse teratocarcinoma PCC7 and rat pheocromocytoma PC12 cells and are high in several human and mouse neuroblastoma cells as compared to the relatively low levels in the developing and adult nervous system. The exclusive expression of the neuronal forms of REST/NRSF/XBR mRNAs in mouse neuroblastoma Neuro-2A cells is not caused by rearrangement of the REST/NRSF/XBR gene nor by mutations in the sequence of the splice sites flanking exon N. These data suggest that changes in REST/NRSF/XBR splicing pattern may result from altered levels of splicing factors reflecting the formation and/or progression of neuroblastoma tumors.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 4 / genetics
  • Consensus Sequence
  • Exons / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Glioma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neoplasm Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics*
  • Neuroblastoma / metabolism*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Protein Isoforms / biosynthesis
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics*
  • RNA Splicing*
  • Rats
  • Repressor Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics*
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Species Specificity
  • Teratocarcinoma / pathology
  • Transcription Factors*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Zinc Fingers / genetics*


  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Protein Isoforms
  • RE1-silencing transcription factor
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Transcription Factors