Parsing the roles of DExD-box proteins DDX39A and DDX39B in alternative RNA splicing

Nucleic Acids Res. 2024 May 27:gkae431. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkae431. Online ahead of print.


DExD-box RNA proteins DDX39A and DDX39B are highly homologous paralogs that are conserved in vertebrates. They are required for energy-driven reactions involved in RNA processing. Although we have some understanding of how their functions overlap in RNA nuclear export, our knowledge of whether or not these proteins have specific or redundant functions in RNA splicing is limited. Our previous work has shown that DDX39B is responsible for regulating the splicing of important immune transcripts IL7R and FOXP3. In this study, we aimed to investigate whether DDX39A, a highly homologous paralog of DDX39B, plays a similar role in regulating alternative RNA splicing. We find that DDX39A and DDX39B have significant redundancy in their gene targets, but there are targets that uniquely require one or the other paralog. For instance, DDX39A is incapable of complementing defective splicing of IL7R exon 6 when DDX39B is depleted. This exon and other cassette exons that specifically depend on DDX39B have U-poor/C-rich polypyrimidine tracts in the upstream intron and this variant polypyrimidine tract is required for DDX39B dependency. This study provides evidence that despite a high degree of functional redundancy, DDX39A and DDX39B are selectively required for the splicing of specific pre-mRNAs.