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The precise splicing outcome of a transcribed gene is controlled by complex interactions between cis regulatory splicing signals and trans-acting regulators. In higher eukaryotes, alternative splicing is a prevalent mechanism for generating transcriptome and proteome diversity. Alternative splicing can modulate gene function, affect organismal phenotype and cause disease. Common genetic variation that affects splicing regulation can lead to differences in alternative splicing between human individuals and consequently impact expression level or protein function. In several well-documented examples, such natural variation of alternative splicing has indeed been shown to influence disease susceptibility and drug response. With new microarray and sequencing-based genomic technologies that can analyze eukaryotic transcriptomes at the exon or nucleotide level, it has become possible to globally compare the alternative splicing profiles across human individuals in any tissue or cell type of interest. Recent large-scale transcriptome studies using high-density splicing-sensitive microarray and deep RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) have revealed widespread genetic variation of alternative splicing in humans. In the future, an extensive catalog of alternative splicing variation in human populations will help elucidate the molecular underpinnings of complex traits and human diseases, and shed light on the mechanisms of splicing regulation in human cells. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


Zhi-Xiang Lu, Peng Jiang, Yi Xing. Genetic variation of pre-mRNA alternative splicing in human populations. Wiley interdisciplinary reviews. RNA. 2012 Jul-Aug;3(4):581-92

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PMID: 22095823

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