The epithelial splicing factors ESRP1 and ESRP2 positively and negatively regulate diverse types of alternative splicing events

RNA Biol. 2009 Nov-Dec;6(5):546-62. doi: 10.4161/rna.6.5.9606. Epub 2009 Nov 22.


Cell-type and tissue-specific alternative splicing events are regulated by combinatorial control involving both abundant RNA binding proteins as well as those with more discrete expression and specialized functions. Epithelial Splicing Regulatory Proteins 1 and 2 (ESRP1 and ESRP2) are recently discovered epithelial-specific RNA binding proteins that promote splicing of the epithelial variant of the FGFR2, ENAH, CD44 and CTNND1 transcripts. To catalogue a larger set of splicing events under the regulation of the ESRPs we profiled splicing changes induced by RNA interference-mediated knockdown of ES RP1 and ES RP2 expression in a human epithelial cell line using the splicing sensitive Affymetrix Exon ST1.0 Arrays. Analysis of the microarray data resulted in the identification of over a hundred candidate ESRP regulated splicing events. We were able to independently validate 38 of these targets by RT-PCR. The ESRP regulated events encompass all known types of alternative splicing events, most prominent being alternative cassette exons and splicing events leading to alternative 3' terminal exons. Importantly, a number of these regulated splicing events occur in gene transcripts that encode proteins with well-described roles in the regulation of actin cytoskeleton organization, cell-cell adhesion, cell polarity and cell migration. In sum, this work reveals a novel list of transcripts differentially spliced in epithelial and mesenchymal cells, implying that coordinated alternative splicing plays a critical role in determination of cell type identity. These results further establish ESRP1 and ESRP2 as global regulators of an epithelial splicing regulatory network.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*


  • ESRP1 protein, human
  • ESRP2 protein, human
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA-Binding Proteins