Characterizing the RNA targets and position-dependent splicing regulation by TDP-43

  • Nature Neuroscience volume 14, pages 452458 (2011)
  • doi:10.1038/nn.2778
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TDP-43 is a predominantly nuclear RNA-binding protein that forms inclusion bodies in frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The mRNA targets of TDP-43 in the human brain and its role in RNA processing are largely unknown. Using individual nucleotide-resolution ultraviolet cross-linking and immunoprecipitation (iCLIP), we found that TDP-43 preferentially bound long clusters of UG-rich sequences in vivo. Analysis of RNA binding by TDP-43 in brains from subjects with FTLD revealed that the greatest increases in binding were to the MALAT1 and NEAT1 noncoding RNAs. We also found that binding of TDP-43 to pre-mRNAs influenced alternative splicing in a similar position-dependent manner to Nova proteins. In addition, we identified unusually long clusters of TDP-43 binding at deep intronic positions downstream of silenced exons. A substantial proportion of alternative mRNA isoforms regulated by TDP-43 encode proteins that regulate neuronal development or have been implicated in neurological diseases, highlighting the importance of TDP-43 for the regulation of splicing in the brain.

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We thank K. Zarnack for advice and comments on the manuscript, F. Baralle, Y. Ayalla and A.D. Ambrogio for HeLa knockdown RNA, and J. Hadfield and the genomic team at CRI for Illumina sequencing. This work was supported by the European Research Council (206726-CLIP), the MRC, Slovenian Research Agency (P2-0209, J2-2197, L2-1112, Z7-3665), Wellcome Trust and MRC Strategic Grant Award (089701/Z/09/Z), Motor Neuron Disease Association, Heaton-Ellis Trust and Psychiatry Research Trust.

Author information

Author notes

    • James R Tollervey
    • , Tomaž Curk
    •  & Boris Rogelj

    These authors contributed equally to this work.


  1. Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK.

    • James R Tollervey
    • , Michael Briese
    • , Matteo Cereda
    • , Melis Kayikci
    • , Julian König
    •  & Jernej Ule
  2. Faculty of Computer and Information Science, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia.

    • Tomaž Curk
    • , Gregor Rot
    •  & Blaž Zupan
  3. MRC Centre for Neurodegeneration Research, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK.

    • Boris Rogelj
    • , Tibor Hortobágyi
    • , Agnes L Nishimura
    • , Vera Župunski
    •  & Christopher E Shaw
  4. Scientific Institute IRCCS E. Medea, Bosisio Parini (LC), Italy.

    • Matteo Cereda
  5. Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia.

    • Vera Župunski
  6. MRC Laboratory for Regenerative Medicine, Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Cambridge, UK.

    • Rickie Patani
    •  & Siddharthan Chandran
  7. Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, University of Edinburgh, UK.

    • Siddharthan Chandran


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J.R.T. carried out TDP-43 iCLIP, microarray and PCR experiments. M.B. carried out CELF2 iCLIP. T.C. and G.R. mapped the iCLIP sequence reads to genome, evaluated random barcodes, determined cross-link clusters and annotated the data. T.C. analyzed the reproducibility, sequence and positioning of TDP-43 cross-link sites and performed gene ontology analysis. B.R., A.L.N. and V.Ž. prepared RNA from knockdown cells and brain tissue. T.H. selected, sampled and analyzed the brain samples. M.C. and M.K. analyzed splice-junction microarray data and generated the RNA splicing map. R.P. prepared the embryonic stem cells. S.C., C.E.S., B.Z., J.K. and J.U. supervised the project. J.R.T., T.C., B.R., J.K., C.E.S. and J.U. prepared the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jernej Ule.

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    Supplementary Figures 1–6 and Tables 1–4