The evolution of alternative splicing patterns and regulatory mechanisms


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PhD thesis: a PhD thesis.
The evolution of alternative splicing patterns and regulatory mechanisms
Bilican A.
Kaessmann H.
Necsulea A.
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Université de Lausanne, Faculté de biologie et médecine
Faculté de biologie et de médecineUniversité de LausanneCH-1015 LausanneSUISSE
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Alternative splicing produces multiple isoforms from the same gene, thus increasing the number of transcripts of the species. Alternative splicing is a virtually ubiquitous mechanism in eukaryotes, for example more than 90% of protein-coding genes in human are alternatively spliced. Recent evolutionary studies showed that alternative splicing is a fast evolving and highly species- specific mechanism. The rapid evolution of alternative splicing was considered as a contribution to the phenotypic diversity between species. However, the function of many isoforms produced by alternative splicing remains unclear and they might be the result of noisy splicing. Thus, the functional relevance of alternative splicing and the evolutionary mechanisms of its rapid divergence among species are still poorly understood. During my thesis, I performed a large-scale analysis of the regulatory mechanisms that drive the rapid evolution of alternative splicing.
To study the evolution of alternative splicing regulatory mechanisms, I used an extensive RNA-sequencing dataset comprising 12 tetrapod species (human, chimpanzee and bonobo, gorilla, orangutan, macaque, marmoset, mouse, opossum, platypus, chicken and frog) and 8 tissues (cerebellum, brain, heart, kidney, liver, testis, placenta and ovary). To identify the catalogue of alternative splicing eis-acting regulatory elements in the different tetrapod species, I used a previously defined computational approach. This approach is a statistical analysis of exons/introns and splice sites composition and relies on a principle of compensation between splice sites strength and the presence of additional regulators. With an evolutionary comparative analysis of the exonic eis-acting regulators, I showed that these regulatory elements are generally shared among primates and more conserved than non-regulatory elements. In addition, I showed that the usage of these regulatory elements is also more conserved than expected by chance. In addition to the identification of species- specific eis-acting regulators, these results may explain the rapid evolution of alternative splicing.
I also developed a new approach based on evolutionary sequence changes and corresponding alternative splicing changes to identify potential splicing eis-acting regulators in
primates. The identification of lineage-specific substitutions and corresponding lineage-specific alternative splicing changes, allowed me to annotate the genomic sequences that might have played a role in the alternative splicing pattern differences among primates. Finally, I showed that the identified splicing eis-acting regulator datasets are enriched in human disease-causing mutations, thus confirming their biological relevance.
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01/06/2015 10:56
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20/08/2019 13:47
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