Negative regulation of Drosophila Transformer2 by SR splicing factors

Junlin Qi, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The Drosophila Transformer-2 (Tra2) protein activates the splicing of doublesex and fruitless pre-mRNA and represses M1 intron splicing in its own RNA in male germline. The M1 retention is part of negative feedback mechanism that controls Tra2 protein synthesis. However it is not known how the M1 intron is repressed or why Tra2 activates splicing of some RNAs while repressing splicing in others. Here we show that Tra2 and SR protein Rbp1 function together to specifically repress M1 splicing in vitro through the same intronic silencer by binding independently to distinct sites. The role of Rbp1 in M1 repression in vivo was validated by the finding that increased expression of Rbp1 in S2 cells promotes M1 retention. Furthermore, Tra2 blocks prespliceosomal A complex formation, a step corresponding to U2 snRNP recruitment to the branchpoint. High levels of Tra2 repression require an upstream enhancer. Together, we propose that the complex formed by Tra2 and Rbp1 on the silencer achieves splicing repression by blocking the recognition of the branchpoint or antagonizing enhancer function. In addition, both splicing regulatory activities of Tra2 are essential developmental events, doublesex splicing is the key for Drosophila sex determination in the soma, while M1 retention occurs in the male germline and is necessary for spermatogenesis. However, active Tra2 is expressed ubiquitously. So another issue we have studied is how Tra2 accomplishes negative and positive splicing regulation in a tissue-specific fashion. Surprisingly, we found that nuclear extract from somatically-derived S2 cells support M1 repression in vitro. This led us to hypothesize that no germline specific factor is required and that high levels of Tra2 expression in the male germline is sufficient to trigger M1 retention. To test it, I examined whether increased expression of Tra2 could promote M1 retention in cells outside male germline. My results show that increased Tra2 expression promotes M1 retention in somatically-derived S2 cells as well as in the somatic tissues of living flies. These results show that somatic tissues are capable of supporting M1 repression but do not normally do so because the low levels of Tra2 do not trigger negative feedback regulation.

Subject Area

Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Qi, Junlin, "Negative regulation of Drosophila Transformer2 by SR splicing factors" (2006). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3209532.