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Microexon alternative splicing of small GTPase regulators: Implication in central nervous system diseases

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Abstract Microexons are small sized (≤51 bp) exons which undergo extensive alternative splicing in neurons, microglia, embryonic stem cells, and cancer cells, giving rise to cell type specific protein isoforms. Due to their small sizes, microexons provide a unique challenge for the splicing machinery. They frequently lack exon splicer enhancers/repressors and require specialized neighboring trans‐regulatory and cis‐regulatory elements bound by RNA binding proteins (RBPs) for their inclusion. The functional consequences of including microexons within mRNAs have been extensively documented in the central nervous system (CNS) and aberrations in their inclusion have been observed to lead to abnormal processes. Despite the increasing evidence for microexons impacting cellular physiology within CNS, mechanistic details illustrating their functional importance in diseases of the CNS is still limited. In this review, we discuss the unique characteristics of microexons, and how RBPs participate in regulating their inclusion and exclusion during splicing. We consider recent findings of microexon alternative splicing and their implication for regulating the function of small GTPases in the context of the microglia, and we extrapolate these findings to what is known in neurons. We further discuss the emerging evidence for dysregulation of the Rho GTPase pathway in CNS diseases and the consequences contributed by the mis‐splicing of microexons. This article is categorized under: RNA Processing > Splicing Mechanisms RNA Processing > Splicing Regulation/Alternative Splicing RNA in Disease and Development > RNA in Disease
Characteristics of microexon
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Microexon splicing regulates small GTPase associated transcripts
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Microexon inclusion or exclusion according to the QRE location
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Microexon splicing during development and functional consequences
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RNA in Disease and Development > RNA in Disease
RNA Processing > Splicing Regulation/Alternative Splicing
RNA Processing > Splicing Mechanisms

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