Microexons (≤27 nt) play critical roles in nervous system development and function but create unique challenges for the splicing machinery. The mechanisms of microexon regulation are therefore of great interest. We performed a genetic screen for alternative splicing regulators in the C. elegans nervous system and identify PRP-40, a core component of the U1 snRNP. RNA-seq reveals that PRP-40 is required for inclusion of alternatively spliced, but not constitutively spliced, exons. PRP-40 is particularly required for inclusion of neuronal microexons, and our data indicate that PRP-40 is a central regulator of microexon splicing. Microexons can be relieved from PRP-40 dependence by artificially increasing exon size or reducing flanking intron size, indicating that PRP-40 is specifically required for microexons surrounded by conventionally sized introns. Knockdown of the orthologous PRPF40A in mouse neuroblastoma cells causes widespread dysregulation of microexons but not conventionally sized exons. PRP-40 regulation of neuronal microexons is therefore a widely conserved phenomenon.
Keywords: Microexon; PRP-40; PRPF40A; Spliceosome; Splicing.
Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.