Gonzalez I, Munita R, Agirre E, Dittmer TA, Gysling K, Misteli T, Luco RF
Alternative pre-mRNA splicing is a highly cell type-specific process essential to generating protein diversity. However, the mechanisms responsible for the establishment and maintenance of heritable cell-specific alternative-splicing programs are poorly understood. Recent observations point to a role of histone modifications in the regulation of alternative splicing. Here we report a new mechanism of chromatin-mediated splicing control involving a long noncoding RNA (lncRNA). We have identified an evolutionarily conserved nuclear antisense lncRNA, generated from within the human FGFR2 locus, that promotes epithelial-specific alternative splicing of FGFR2. The lncRNA acts through recruitment of Polycomb-group proteins and the histone demethylase KDM2a to create a chromatin environment that impairs binding of a repressive chromatin-splicing adaptor complex important for mesenchymal-specific splicing. Our results uncover a new function for lncRNAs in the establishment and maintenance of cell-specific alternative splicing via modulation of chromatin signatures.