Alternative splicing of the GABA(A) receptor alpha 4 subunit creates a severely truncated mRNA.
GABA(A) receptors, important sites of drug action, are chloride channels composed of 5 subunits chosen from among 19 or more. Alternative splicing for alpha 5, alpha 6, and rho 1 subunits results in truncated proteins which appear to lack function. We report a similar, relatively common (about 20%) form of alternative splicing of the alpha 4 subunit mRNA in mice and humans which, remarkably, creates a severely truncated message containing only the first two and last coding exons, with a frameshift in between. The only apparent translation product includes a short piece (39 amino acids) of the N-terminus right after the signal peptide. The splicing was developmentally and regionally regulated; the highest proportions of truncated alpha 4 mRNA, about 40%, were observed in embryonic day 18 whole brain and adult cerebellum. The truncated mRNA, when coexpresssed in human embryonic kidney (HEK) 293 cells with the complete alpha 4 subunit and beta1 and gamma 2 S subunits, reduced observed GABA currents without kinetic alterations. No such effect of truncated alpha 4 was observed with alpha1 subunit-containing receptors. Thus, the truncated alpha 4 N-terminus may play a post-translational regulatory role in intracellular folding/glycosylation/assembly of the alpha 4 subunit.
Mu, W; Cheng, Q; Yang, J; Burt, DR
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