Next-generation SELEX identifies sequence and structural determinants of splicing factor binding in human pre-mRNA sequence

RNA. 2009 Dec;15(12):2385-97. doi: 10.1261/rna.1821809. Epub 2009 Oct 27.


Many splicing factors interact with both mRNA and pre-mRNA. The identification of these interactions has been greatly improved by the development of in vivo cross-linking immunoprecipitation. However, the output carries a strong sampling bias in favor of RNPs that form on more abundant RNA species like mRNA. We have developed a novel in vitro approach for surveying binding on pre-mRNA, without cross-linking or sampling bias. Briefly, this approach entails specifically designed oligonucleotide pools that tile through a pre-mRNA sequence. The pool is then partitioned into bound and unbound fractions, which are quantified by a two-color microarray. We applied this approach to locating splicing factor binding sites in and around approximately 4000 exons. We also quantified the effect of secondary structure on binding. The method is validated by the finding that U1snRNP binds at the 5' splice site (5'ss) with a specificity that is nearly identical to the splice donor motif. In agreement with prior reports, we also show that U1snRNP appears to have some affinity for intronic G triplets that are proximal to the 5'ss. Both U1snRNP and the polypyrimidine tract binding protein (PTB) avoid exonic binding, and the PTB binding map shows increased enrichment at the polypyrimidine tract. For PTB, we confirm polypyrimidine specificity and are also able to identify structural determinants of PTB binding. We detect multiple binding motifs enriched in the PTB bound fraction of oligonucleotides. These motif combinations augment binding in vitro and are also enriched in the vicinity of exons that have been determined to be in vivo targets of PTB.

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

  • Base Sequence
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Polypyrimidine Tract-Binding Protein / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • RNA Precursors / analysis*
  • RNA Precursors / chemistry
  • RNA Precursors / genetics
  • RNA Precursors / metabolism
  • RNA Splicing*
  • Ribonucleoproteins, Small Nuclear / metabolism
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / methods*


  • Ligands
  • RNA Precursors
  • Ribonucleoproteins, Small Nuclear
  • Polypyrimidine Tract-Binding Protein