HnRNPH1/H2, U1 snRNP, and U11 snRNP cooperate to regulate the stability of the U11-48K pre-mRNA.
Alternative splicing (AS) is a major contributor to proteome diversity, but it also regulates gene expression by introducing premature termination codons (PTCs) that destabilize transcripts, typically via the nonsense-mediated decay (NMD) pathway. Such AS events often take place within long, conserved sequence elements, particularly in genes encoding various RNA binding proteins. AS-NMD is often activated by the protein encoded by the same gene, leading to a self-regulating feedback loop that maintains constant protein levels. However, cross-regulation between different RNA binding proteins is also common, giving rise to finely tuned regulatory networks. Recently, we described a feedback mechanism regulating two protein components of the U12-dependent spliceosome (U11-48K and U11/U12-65K) through a highly conserved sequence element. These elements contain a U11 snRNP-binding splicing enhancer (USSE), which, through the U11 snRNP, activates an upstream U2-type 3'ss, resulting in the degradation of the U11-48K mRNA by AS-NMD. Through phylogenetic analysis, we now identify a G-rich sequence element that is conserved in fishes as well as mammals. We show that this element binds hnRNPF/H proteins in vitro. Knockdown of hnRNPH1/H2 or mutations in the G-run both lead to enhanced activation of the 3'ss in vivo, suggesting that hnRNPH1/H2 proteins counteract the 3'ss activation. Furthermore, we provide evidence that U1 binding immediately downstream from the G-run similarly counteracts the U11-mediated activation of the alternative 3'ss. Thus, our results elucidate the mechanism in which snRNPs from both spliceosomes together with hnRNPH1/H2 proteins regulate the recognition and activation of the highly conserved alternative splice sites within the U11-48K pre-mRNA.