The different alleles at the (TG)m(T)n polymorphic loci at the 3′ end of the human CFTR intron 8 determine the efficiency by which exon 9 is spliced. We identified a novel TG12T3 allele in a congenital bilateral absence of vas deferens (CBAVD) patient who carries a [TG11T7; p.Phe508Cys; p.Met470Val] haplotype on the other chromosome. To better understand the complex regulation of exon 9 splicing, we analyzed the levels of correctly spliced CFTR transcripts in six CFTR-expressing epithelial cell lines derived from lung, colon, testis, vas deferens, and epididymis transiently transfected with four CFTR minigenes (pTG11T7, pTG12T7, pTG12T5, and pTG12T3). In this work, we show that a decrease in the Ts at the polymorphic locus in a TG12 background determines a cell-type dependent reduction in exon 9+ transcripts that is not related to the basal splicing efficiency in the cell line. These data emphasize the role of the T5 allele in CBAVD and identify the T3 allele as a severe cystic fibrosis (CF) disease-causing mutation. Finally, UV cross-linking experiments demonstrated that tissue-specific trans-acting splicing factors do not contribute to the different patterns of exon 9 splicing found between the cell lines. However, we observed that lower numbers of Ts can alter the binding of TDP-43 (TDP43 or TARDBP) to its specific target ug12 in a tissue-specific manner. Our results support the idea that the ratio of general splicing factors plays a role in the tissue variability of exon 9 alternative splicing.
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