The Biochemical journal. vol:302 ( Pt 2) pages:559-66
Tissue-specific alternative processing of sarco/endoplasmic reticulum Ca(2+)-ATPase 2 (SERCA2) transcripts generates functionally different Ca2+ pump isoforms in muscle compared with non-muscle tissues. In non-muscle cells, the SERCA2 pre-mRNA can be polyadenylated at a site located between the donor and acceptor splice site of an intron which is only removed in muscle tissues. To define the cis-active elements involved in differential processing, we constructed a minigene (pCM beta SERCA2) containing the 3' end of the SERCA2 gene. When stably transfected into a myogenic cell line, minigene transcripts were differentially processed depending on the differentiation state of the cells. This proves that the essential elements required for regulated processing are present in the construct. Furthermore, co-transfection of the pCM beta SERCA2 minigene and a myogenin expression vector in a fibroblast cell line induced muscle-specific splicing of transcripts from pCM beta SERCA2. This shows that trans-acting factor(s) responsible for muscle-specific processing can be induced by one of the important regulatory genes of muscle differentiation. Inactivation of the non-muscle poly(A) site did not induce splicing in non-muscle cells. This excludes a simple competition model between splicing and polyadenylation, but it is consistent with splicing being very inefficient in non-muscle cells. Moreover, splicing could be induced in non-muscle cells by optimizing the muscle-specific donor splice site and/or by shortening the intron length. We therefore propose that expression of the muscle-specific SERCA2a isoform is the result of activation of an otherwise inefficient splicing process.