Neuronal SAM68 differentially regulates alternative last exon splicing and ensures proper synapse development and function

J Biol Chem. 2023 Oct;299(10):105168. doi: 10.1016/j.jbc.2023.105168. Epub 2023 Aug 16.


Alternative splicing in the 3'UTR of mammalian genes plays a crucial role in diverse biological processes, including cell differentiation and development. SAM68 is a key splicing regulator that controls the diversity of 3'UTR isoforms through alternative last exon (ALE) selection. However, the tissue/cell type-specific mechanisms underlying the splicing control at the 3' end and its functional significance remain unclear. Here, we show that SAM68 regulates ALE splicing in a dose-dependent manner and the neuronal splicing is differentially regulated depending on the characteristics of the target transcript. Specifically, we found that SAM68 regulates interleukin-1 receptor-associated protein splicing through the interaction with U1 small nuclear ribonucleoprotein. In contrast, the ALE splicing of protocadherin-15 (Pcdh15), a gene implicated in several neuropsychiatric disorders, is independent of U1 small nuclear ribonucleoprotein but modulated by the calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase signaling pathway. We found that the aberrant ALE selection of Pcdh15 led to a conversion from a membrane-bound to a soluble isoform and consequently disrupted its localization into excitatory and inhibitory synapses. Notably, the neuronal expression of the soluble form of PCDH15 preferentially affected the number of inhibitory synapses. Moreover, the soluble form of PCDH15 interacted physically with α-neurexins and further disrupted neuroligin-2-induced inhibitory synapses in artificial synapse formation assays. Our findings provide novel insights into the role of neuron-specific alternative 3'UTR isoform selections in synapse development.

Keywords: 3′UTR; ALE; PAS; PCDH15; RNA-binding protein; SAM68; alternative splicing; gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA); neurodevelopment; synapse.