Coupling and Coordination in Gene Expression Processes with Pre-mRNA Splicing
The initial step in microRNA (miRNA) biogenesis requires processing of the precursor miRNA (pre-miRNA) from a longer primary transcript. Many pre-miRNAs originate from introns, and both a mature miRNA and a spliced RNA can be generated from the same transcription unit. We have identified a mechanism in which RNA splicing negatively regulates the processing of pre-miRNAs that overlap exon-intron junctions. Computational analysis identified dozens of such pre-miRNAs, and experimental validation demonstrated competitive interaction between the Microprocessor complex and the splicing machinery. Tissue-specific alternative splicing regulates maturation of one such miRNA, miR-412, resulting in effects on its targets that code a protein network involved in neuronal cell death processes. This mode of regulation specifically controls maturation of splice-site-overlapping pre-miRNAs but not pre-miRNAs located completely within introns or exons of the same transcript. Our data present a biological role of alternative splicing in regulation of miRNA biogenesis.