GU-AG consensus sequences are used for intron recognition in the majority of cases of pre-mRNA splicing in eukaryotes. Mutations at splice junctions often cause exon skipping, short deletions, or insertions in the mature mRNA, underlying one common molecular mechanism of genetic diseases. Using N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea, a novel recessive mutation named seal was produced, associated with fragile bones and susceptibility to fractures (spine and limbs). A single nucleotide transversion (T → A) at the second position of intron 36 of the Col1a1 gene, encoding the type I collagen, α1 chain, was responsible for the phenotype. Col1a1 seal mRNA expression occurred at greatly reduced levels compared to the wild-type transcript, resulting in reduced and aberrant collagen fibers in tibiae of seal homozygous mice. Unexpectedly, splicing of Col1a1 seal mRNA followed the normal pattern despite the presence of the donor splice site mutation, likely due to the action of a putative intronic splicing enhancer present in intron 25, which appeared to function redundantly with the splice donor site of intron 36. Seal mice represent a model of human osteogenesis imperfecta, and reveal a previously unknown mechanism for splicing "rescue.".
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