Low detection of exon skipping in mouse genes orthologous to human genes on chromosome 22
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Alternative RNA splicing is one of the leading mechanisms contributing towards transcript and protein diversity. Several alternative splicing surveys have confirmed the frequent occurrence of exon skipping in human genes. However, the occurrence of exon skipping in mouse genes has not yet been extensively examined. Recent improvements in mouse genome sequencing have permitted the current study to explore the occurrence of exon skipping in mouse genes orthologous to human genes on chromosome 22. A low number (5/72 multi-exon genes) of mouse exon-skipped genes were captured through alignments of mouse ESTs to mouse genomic contigs. Exon-skipping events in two mouse exon-skipped genes (GNB1L, SMARCB1) appear to affect biological processes such as electron and protein transport. All mouse, skipped exons were observed to have ubiquitous tissue expression. Comparison of our mouse exon-skipping events to previously detected human exon-skipping events on chromosome 22 by Hide et al.2001, has revealed that mouse and human exon-skipping events were never observed together within an orthologous gene-pair. Although the transcript identity between mouse and human orthologous transcripts were high (greater than 80% sequence identity), the exon order in these gene-pairs may be different between mouse and human orthologous genes. Main factors contributing towards the low detection of mouse exon-skipping events include the lack of mouse transcripts matching to mouse genomic sequences and the under-prediction of mouse exons. These factors resulted in a large number (112/269) of mouse transcripts lacking matches to mouse genomic contigs and nearly half (12/25) of the mouse multi-exon genes, which have matching Ensembl transcript identifiers, have under-predicted exons. The low frequency of mouse exon skipping on chromosome 22 cannot be extrapolated to represent a genome-wide estimate due to the small number of observed mouse exon-skipping events. However, when compared to a higher estimate (52/347) of exon skipping in human genes for chromosome 22 produced under similar conditions by Hide et al.2001, it is possible that our mouse exon-skipping frequency may be lower than the human frequency. Our hypothesis contradicts with a previous study by Brett et al.2002, in which the authors claim that mouse and human alternative splicing is comparable. Our conclusion that the mouse exon-skipping frequency may be lower than the human estimate remains to be tested with a larger mouse multi-exon gene set. However, the mouse exon-skipping frequency may represent the highest estimate that can be obtained given that the current number (87) of mouse genes orthologous to chromosome 22 in Ensembl (v1 30th Jan. 2002) does not deviate significantly from our total number (72) of mouse multi-exon genes. The quality of the current mouse genomic data is higher than the one utilized in this study. The capture of mouse exon-skipping events may increase as the quality and quantity of mouse genomic and transcript sequences improves.