Regulation of the mutually exclusive exons 8a and 8 in the CaV1.2 calcium channel transcript by polypyrimidine tract-binding protein

Zhen Zhi Tang, Shalini Sharma, Sika Zheng, Geetanjali Chawla, Julia Nikolic, Douglas L. Black

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


CaV1.2 calcium channels play roles in diverse cellular processes such as gene regulation, muscle contraction, and membrane excitation and are diversified in their activity through extensive alternative splicing of the CaV1.2 mRNA. The mutually exclusive exons 8a and 8 encode alternate forms of transmembrane segment 6 (IS6) in channel domain 1. The human genetic disorder Timothy syndrome is caused by mutations in either of these two CaV1.2 exons, resulting in disrupted Ca2+ homeostasis and severe pleiotropic disease phenotypes. The tissue-specific pattern of exon 8/8a splicing leads to differences in symptoms between patients with exon 8 or 8a mutations. Elucidating the mechanisms controlling the exon 8/8a splicing choice will be important in understanding the spectrum of defects associated with the disease.Wefound that the polypyrimidine tractbinding protein (PTB) mediates a switch from exon 8 to 8a splicing. PTB and its neuronal homolog, nPTB, are widely studied splicing regulators controlling large sets of alternative exons. During neuronal development, PTB expression is down-regulated with a concurrent increase in nPTB expression. Exon 8a is largely repressed in embryonic mouse brain but is progressively induced during neuronal differentiation as PTB is depleted. This splicing repression is mediated by the direct binding of PTB to sequence elements upstream of exon 8a. The nPTB protein is a weaker repressor of exon 8a, resulting in a shift in exon choice when nPTB replaces PTB in cells. These results provide mechanistic understanding of how these two exons, important for human disease, are controlled.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10007-10016
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number12
StatePublished - Mar 25 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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