Alternative splicing (AS) of precursor mRNA (pre-mRNA) is a crucial step in the expression of most eukaryotic genes. Splicing factors (SFs) play an important role in AS regulation by binding to the cis-regulatory elements on the pre-mRNA. Although many splicing factors (SFs) and their binding sites have been identified, their combinatorial regulatory effects remain to be elucidated. In this paper, we derive a biophysical model for AS regulation that integrates combinatorial signals of cis-acting splicing regulatory elements (SREs) and their interactions. We also develop a systematic framework for model inference. Applying the biophysical model to a human RNA-Seq data set, we demonstrate that our model can explain 49.1%-66.5% variance of the data, which is comparable to the best result achieved by biophysical models for transcription. In total, we identified 119 SRE pairs between different regions of cassette exons that may regulate exon or intron definition in splicing, and 77 SRE pairs from the same region that may arise from a long motif or two different SREs bound by different SFs. Particularly, putative binding sites of polypyrimidine tract-binding protein (PTB), heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein (hnRNP) F/H and E/K are identified as interacting SRE pairs, and have been shown to be consistent with the interaction models proposed in previous experimental results. These results show that our biophysical model and inference method provide a means of quantitative modeling of splicing regulation and is a useful tool for identifying SREs and their interactions. The software package for model inference is available under an open source license.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)