Mammalian tissues display a remarkable complexity of splicing patterns. Nevertheless, only few examples of tissue-specific splicing regulators are known. Herein, we characterize a novel splicing regulator named RBM11, which contains an RNA Recognition Motif (RRM) at the amino terminus and a region lacking known homology at the carboxyl terminus. RBM11 is selectively expressed in brain, cerebellum and testis, and to a lower extent in kidney. RBM11 mRNA levels fluctuate in a developmentally regulated manner, peaking perinatally in brain and cerebellum, and at puberty in testis, in concomitance with differentiation events occurring in neurons and germ cells. Deletion analysis indicated that the RRM of RBM11 is required for RNA binding, whereas the carboxyl terminal region permits nuclear localization and homodimerization. RBM11 is localized in the nucleoplasm and enriched in SRSF2-containing splicing speckles. Transcription inhibition/release experiments and exposure of cells to stress revealed a dynamic movement of RBM11 between nucleoplasm and speckles, suggesting that its localization is affected by the transcriptional status of the cell. Splicing assays revealed a role for RBM11 in the modulation of alternative splicing. In particular, RBM11 affected the choice of alternative 5′ splice sites in BCL-X by binding to specific sequences in exon 2 and antagonizing the SR protein SRSF1. Thus, our findings identify RBM11 as a novel tissue-specific splicing factor with potential implication in the regulation of alternative splicing during neuron and germ cell differentiation.
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