Alternative splicing of pre-mRNA helps to enhance the genetic diversity within mammalian cells by increasing the number of protein isoforms that can be generated from one gene product. This provides a great deal of flexibility to the host cell to alter protein function, but when dysregulation in splicing occurs this can have important impact on health and disease. Alternative splicing is widely used in the mammalian immune system to control the development and function of antigen specific lymphocytes. In this review we will examine the splicing of pre-mRNAs yielding key proteins in the immune system that regulate apoptosis, lymphocyte differentiation, activation and homeostasis, and discuss how defects in splicing can contribute to diseases. We will describe how disruption to trans-acting factors, such as heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoproteins (hnRNPs), can impact on cell survival and differentiation in the immune system.


apoptosis, B cells, T cells, hnRNP proteins, immune tolerance, pre-mRNAalternative splicing

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