Researchers from the Francis Crick Institute analyzed the transcription-related DNA damage response on a genome-wide scale with great spatial and temporal resolution. Upon UV irradiation, a slowdown of transcript elongation and restriction of gene activity to the promoter-proximal ∼25 kb is observed. This is associated with a shift from expression of long mRNAs to shorter isoforms, incorporating alternative last exons (ALEs) that are more proximal to the transcription start site. Notably, this includes a shift from a protein-coding ASCC3 mRNA to a shorter ALE isoform of which the RNA, rather than an encoded protein, is critical for the eventual recovery of transcription. The non-coding ASCC3 isoform counteracts the function of the protein-coding isoform, indicating crosstalk between them. Thus, the ASCC3 gene expresses both coding and non-coding transcript isoforms with opposite effects on transcription recovery after UV-induced DNA damage.
Williamson L, Saponaro M, Boeing S, East P, Mitter R, Kantidakis T, Kelly GP, Lobley A, Walker J, Spencer-Dene B, Howell M, Stewart A, Svejstrup JQ. (2017) UV Irradiation Induces a Non-coding RNA that Functionally Opposes the Protein Encoded by the Same Gene. Cell [Epub ahead of print]. [article]