Alternative Splicing Regulation in Programmed Cell Death and Neurological Disorders: A Systems Biology Approach

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Alternative Splicing Regulation in Programmed Cell Death and Neurological Disorders: A Systems Biology Approach

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Title: Alternative Splicing Regulation in Programmed Cell Death and Neurological Disorders: A Systems Biology Approach
Author: Wang, Qingqing
Citation: Wang, Qingqing. 2013. Alternative Splicing Regulation in Programmed Cell Death and Neurological Disorders: A Systems Biology Approach. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: Alternative splicing (AS) is a major source of biological diversity and a crucial determinant of cell fate and identity. Characterizing the role of AS regulatory networks in physiological and pathological processes remains challenging. The work presented here addresses this challenge using systems biology analyses of AS regulatory networks in programmed cell death and neurological disorders. The first study describes a genome-wide screen based on splicing-sensitive reporters to identify factors that affect the AS of apoptosis regulators Bclx and Mcl1. The screen identified over 150 factors that affect apoptosis through modulating the pro- and anti-apoptotic splicing variants of these apoptosis regulators. This screen revealed a new functional connection between apoptosis regulation and cell-cycle control through an AS network. It also unearthed many disease-associated factors as AS effectors. The second study describes the functions of the Polyglutamine-binding protein 1 (PQBP1)-mediated AS regulatory network in neurological disorders. PQBP1 is a factor linked to intellectual disability and was unexpectedly identified as an AS effector from the screen described above. We found that PQBP1 influences the splicing of many mRNAs and is associated with a wide range of splicing factors. Depletion of PQBP1 in mouse primary cortical neurons caused defects in neurite outgrowth and altered AS of mRNAs enriched for functions in neuron projection regulation. Disease-mutants of PQBP1 lose associations with splicing factors and cannot complement the aberrant AS patterns and neuron morphology defects in PQBP1 depleted-neurons. This study revealed a novel function of PQBP1 in AS regulation associated with neurite outgrowth and indicated that aberrant AS underlies the pathology of PQBP1-related neurological disorders. A final study examines the dynamics of the Drosophila Sex-lethal AS regulation network using a combination of experimental tools and mathematical modeling. This study demonstrates that the features of Sxl AS regulation have great potentials in building synthetic memory circuits in mammalian cells to track cell fate. Collectively, this work describes the landscape of three diverse AS regulatory networks in various biological processes. The results and methods presented here contribute to our rapidly advancing knowledge of AS regulation in biology and human disease.
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Other Posted Material, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#LAA
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:11129152
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