Alternative splicing is commonly believed to be a major source of cellular protein diversity. However, although many thousands of alternatively spliced transcripts are routinely detected in RNA-seq studies, reliable large-scale mass spectrometry-based proteomics analyses identify only a small fraction of annotated alternative isoforms. The clearest finding from proteomics experiments is that most human genes have a single main protein isoform, while those alternative isoforms that are identified tend to be the most biologically plausible: those with the most cross-species conservation and those that do not compromise functional domains. Indeed, most alternative exons do not seem to be under selective pressure, suggesting that a large majority of predicted alternative transcripts may not even be translated into proteins.
Keywords: RNA-seq; alternative splicing; dominant isoforms; functional isoforms; homology; proteomics.
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