Thousands of tandem alternative splice sites (TASS) give rise to mRNA insertion/deletion variants with small size differences. Recent work has concentrated on the question of biological relevance in general, and the physiological regulation of TASS in particular. We have quantitatively studied 11 representative TASS cases in comparison to one mutually exclusive exon case and two cassette exons (CEs) using a panel of human and mouse tissues, as well as cultured cell lines. Tissues show small but significant differences in TASS isoform ratios, with a variance 4- to 20-fold lower than seen for CEs. Remarkably, in cultured cells, all studied alternative splicing (AS) cases showed a cell-density-dependent shift of isoform ratios with similar time series profiles. A respective genome-wide co-regulation of TASS splicing was shown by next-generation mRNA sequencing data. Moreover, data from human and mouse organs indicate that this co-regulation of TASS occurs in vivo, with brain showing the strongest difference to other organs. Together, the results indicate a physiological AS regulation mechanism that functions almost independently from the splice site context and sequence.
© The Author(s) 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.