RNA Splicing: Regulation and Dysregulation in the Heart

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RNA splicing represents a post-transcriptional mechanism to generate multiple functional RNAs or proteins from a single transcript. The evolution of RNA splicing is a prime example of the Darwinian function follows form concept. A mutation that leads to a new mRNA (form) that encodes for a new functional protein (function) is likely to be retained, and this way, the genome has gradually evolved to encode for genes with multiple isoforms, thereby creating an enormously diverse transcriptome. Advances in technologies to characterize RNA populations have led to a better understanding of RNA processing in health and disease. In the heart, alternative splicing is increasingly being recognized as an important layer of post-transcriptional gene regulation. Moreover, the recent identification of several cardiac splice factors, such as RNA-binding motif protein 20 and SF3B1, not only provided important insight into the mechanisms underlying alternative splicing but also revealed how these splicing factors impact functional properties of the heart. Here, we review our current knowledge of alternative splicing in the heart, with a particular focus on the major and minor spliceosome, the factors controlling RNA splicing, and the role of alternative splicing in cardiac development and disease.

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