RBM4 interacts with an intronic element and stimulates tau exon 10 inclusion

Amar Kar, Necat Havlioglu, Woan Yuh Tarn, Jane Y. Wu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Tau protein, which binds to and stabilizes microtubules, is critical for neuronal survival and function. In the human brain, tau pre-mRNA splicing is regulated to maintain a delicate balance of exon 10-containing and exon 10-skipping isoforms. Splicing mutations affecting tau exon 10 alternative splicing lead to tauopathies, a group of neurodegenerative disorders including dementia. Molecular mechanisms regulating tau alternative splicing remain to be elucidated. In this study, we have developed an expression cloning strategy to identify splicing factors that stimulate tau exon 10 inclusion. Using this expression cloning approach, we have identified a previously unknown tau exon 10 splicing regulator, RBM4 (RNA binding motif protein 4). In cells transfected with a tau minigene, RBM4 overexpression leads to an increased inclusion of exon 10, whereas RBM4 down-regulation decreases exon 10 inclusion. The activity of RBM4 in stimulating tau exon 10 inclusion is abolished by mutations in its RNA-binding domain. A putative intronic splicing enhancer located in intron 10 of the tau gene is required for the splicing stimulatory activity of RBM4. Immunohistological analyses reveal that RBM4 is expressed in the human brain regions affected in tauopathy, including the hippocampus and frontal cortex. Our study demonstrates that RBM4 is involved in tau exon 10 alternative splicing. Our work also suggests that down-regulating tau exon 10 splicing activators, such as RBM4, may be of therapeutic potential in tauopathies involving excessive tau exon 10 inclusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24479-24488
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number34
StatePublished - Aug 25 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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