Fox-1 is a regulator of tissue-specific splicing, via binding to the element (U)GCAUG in mRNA precursors, in muscles and neuronal cells. Fox-1 can regulate splicing positively or negatively, most likely depending on where it binds relative to the regulated exon. In cases where the (U)GCAUG element lies in an intron upstream of the alternative exon, Fox-1 protein functions as a splicing repressor to induce exon skipping. Here we report the mechanism of exon skipping regulated by Fox-1, using the hF1γ gene as a model system. We found that Fox-1 induces exon 9 skipping by repressing splicing of the downstream intron 9 via binding to the GCAUG repressor elements located in the upstream intron 8. In vitro splicing analyses showed that Fox-1 prevents formation of the pre-spliceosomal early (E) complex on intron 9. In addition, we located a region of the Fox-1 protein that is required for inducing exon skipping. Taken together, our data show a novel mechanism of how RNA-binding proteins regulate alternative splicing.
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