Artwork By Dror Hollander
The broad focus of our research is on the importance of chromatin organization, epigenetic markers, and nuclear 3D organization (Hi-C) in the regulation of alternative splicing in normal development, genetic disorders and cancer.
We study mechanisms of alternative splicing regulation using a combination of computational and experimental (mostly molecular biology) methods.
Gene architecture directs splicing outcome in separate nuclear spatial regions
How the splicing machinery defines exons or introns as the spliced unit has remained a puzzle for 30 years. Here, we demonstrate that peripheral and central regions of the nucleus harbor genes with two distinct exon-intron GC content architectures that differ in the splicing outcome. Genes with low GC content exons, flanked by long introns with lower GC content, are localized in the periphery, and the exons are defined as the spliced unit. Alternative splicing of these genes results in exon skipping. In contrast, the nuclear center contains genes with a high GC content in the exons and short flanking introns. Most splicing of these genes occurs via intron definition, and aberrant splicing leads to intron retention. We demonstrate that the nuclear periphery and center generate different environments for the regulation of alternative splicing and that two sets of splicing factors form discrete regulatory subnetworks for the two gene architectures. Our study connects 3D genome organization and splicing, thus demonstrating that exon and intron definition modes of splicing occur in different nuclear regions.