Stress hormones bind and activate the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) in many tissues including the brain. We identified arginine and glutamate rich 1 (ARGLU1) in a screen for new modulators of glucocorticoid signaling in the CNS. Biochemical studies show that the glutamate rich C-terminus of ARGLU1 coactivates multiple nuclear receptors including the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) and the arginine rich N-terminus interacts with splicing factors and binds to RNA. RNA-seq of neural cells depleted of ARGLU1 revealed significant changes in the expression and alternative splicing of distinct genes involved in neurogenesis. Loss of ARGLU1 is embryonic lethal in mice, and knockdown in zebrafish causes neurodevelopmental and heart defects. Treatment with dexamethasone, a GR activator, also induces changes in the pattern of alternatively spliced genes, many of which were lost when ARGLU1 was absent. Importantly, the genes found to be alternatively spliced in response to glucocorticoid treatment were distinct from those under transcriptional control by GR, suggesting an additional mechanism of glucocorticoid action is present in neural cells. Our results thus show that ARGLU1 is a novel factor for embryonic development that modulates basal transcription and alternative splicing in neural cells with consequences for glucocorticoid signaling.
© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.