Science | Control of neuronal synapse specification by a highly dedicated alternative splicing program
Alternative RNA splicing represents a central mechanism for expanding the coding power of genomes. Individual RNA-binding proteins can control alternative splicing choices in hundreds of RNA transcripts, thereby tuning amounts and functions of large numbers of cellular proteins. We found that the RNA-binding protein SLM2 is essential for functional specification of glutamatergic synapses in the mouse hippocampus. Genome-wide mapping revealed a markedly selective SLM2-dependent splicing program primarily consisting of only a few target messenger RNAs that encode synaptic proteins. Genetic correction of a single SLM2-dependent target exon in the synaptic recognition molecule neurexin-1 was sufficient to rescue synaptic plasticity and behavioral defects in Slm2 knockout mice. These findings uncover a highly selective alternative splicing program that specifies synaptic properties in the central nervous system.