Alternative splicing has emerged as a vital way to expand the functional repertoire of a set number of mammalian genes. For example, such changes can dramatically alter the function and cellular localization of transcription factors. With this in mind, we addressed whether EKLF/KLF1 mRNA, coding for a transcription factor that plays a critical role in erythropoietic gene regulation, is alternatively spliced. We find that EKLF mRNA undergoes exon skipping only in primary tissues and that this splice variant (SV) remains at a very low level in both embryonic and adult erythroid cells, as well as during terminal differentiation. The resultant protein is truncated and partially encodes a non-erythroid Krüppel-like factor amino acid sequence. Its overexpression can alter full-length erythroid Krüppel-like factor function at selected promoters. We discuss these results in the context of stress and with respect to recent global studies on the role of alternative splicing during terminal erythroid differentiation.
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