Quantitative analysis questions the role of MeCP2 as a global regulator of alternative splicing

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Abstract

MeCP2 is an abundant protein in mature nerve cells, where it binds to DNA sequences containing methylated cytosine. Mutations in the MECP2 gene cause the severe neurological disorder Rett syndrome (RTT), provoking intensive study of the underlying molecular mechanisms. Multiple functions have been proposed, one of which involves a regulatory role in splicing. Here we leverage the recent availability of high-quality transcriptomic data sets to probe quantitatively the potential influence of MeCP2 on alternative splicing. Using a variety of machine learning approaches that can capture both linear and non-linear associations, we show that widely different levels of MeCP2 have a minimal effect on alternative splicing in three different systems. Alternative splicing was also apparently indifferent to developmental changes in DNA methylation levels. Our results suggest that regulation of splicing is not a major function of MeCP2. They also highlight the importance of multi-variate quantitative analyses in the formulation of biological hypotheses.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1009087
Number of pages14
JournalPLoS Genetics
Volume16
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2020

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