Transcriptome-wide expansion of non-coding regulatory switches: evidence from co-occurrence of Alu exonization, antisense and editing
Non-coding RNAs from transposable elements of human genome are gaining prominence in modulating transcriptome dynamics. Alu elements, as exonized, edited and antisense components within same transcripts could create novel regulatory switches in response to different transcriptional cues. We provide the first evidence for co-occurrences of these events at transcriptome-wide scale through integrative analysis of data sets across diverse experimental platforms and tissues. This involved the following: (i) positional anchoring of Alu exonization events in the UTRs and CDS of 4663 transcript isoforms from RefSeq mRNAs and (ii) mapping on to them A→I editing events inferred from ∼7 million ESTs from dbEST and antisense transcripts identified from virtual serial analysis of gene expression tags represented in Cancer Genome Anatomy Project next-generation sequencing data sets across 20 tissues. We observed significant enrichment of these events in the 3′UTR as well as positional preference within the embedded Alus. More than 300 genes had co-occurrence of all these events at the exon level and were significantly enriched in apoptosis and lysosomal processes. Further, we demonstrate functional evidence of such dynamic interactions between Alu-mediated events in a time series data from Integrated Personal Omics Profiling during recovery from a viral infection. Such ‘single transcript—multiple fate’ opportunity facilitated by Alu elements may modulate transcriptional response, especially during stress.