RNA Transcript Diversity in Neuromuscular Research

J Neuromuscul Dis. 2023;10(4):473-482. doi: 10.3233/JND-221601.


Three decades since the Human Genome Project began, scientists have now identified more then 25,000 protein coding genes in the human genome. The vast majority of the protein coding genes (> 90%) are multi-exonic, with the coding DNA being interrupted by intronic sequences, which are removed from the pre-mRNA transcripts before being translated into proteins, a process called splicing maturation. Variations in this process, i.e. by exon skipping, intron retention, alternative 5' splice site (5'ss), 3' splice site (3'ss), or polyadenylation usage, lead to remarkable transcriptome and proteome diversity in human tissues. Given its critical biological importance, alternative splicing is tightly regulated in a tissue- and developmental stage-specific manner. The central nervous system and skeletal muscle are amongst the tissues with the highest number of differentially expressed alternative exons, revealing a remarkable degree of transcriptome complexity. It is therefore not surprising that splicing mis-regulation is causally associated with a myriad of neuromuscular diseases, including but not limited to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), and myotonic dystrophy type 1 and 2 (DM1, DM2). A gene's transcript diversity has since become an integral and an important consideration for drug design, development and therapy. In this review, we will discuss transcript diversity in the context of neuromuscular diseases and current approaches to address splicing mis-regulation.

Keywords: Alternative splicing; isoform; splicing modulation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing*
  • Exons
  • Humans
  • Introns
  • RNA Splice Sites*
  • RNA Splicing / genetics


  • RNA Splice Sites