Classes of non-conventional tetraspanins defined by alternative splicing
Hochheimer, N., Sies, R., Aschenbrenner, A. C., Schneider, D., & Lang, T.
Proteomics, RNA splicing, Structural biology
Tetraspanins emerge as a family of membrane proteins mediating an exceptional broad diversity of functions. The naming refers to their four transmembrane segments, which define the tetraspanins‘ typical membrane topology. In this study, we analyzed alternative splicing of tetraspanins. Besides isoforms with four transmembrane segments, most mRNA sequences are coding for isoforms with one, two or three transmembrane segments, representing structurally mono-, di- and trispanins. Moreover, alternative splicing may alter transmembrane topology, delete parts of the large extracellular loop, or generate alternative N- or C-termini. As a result, we define structure-based classes of non-conventional tetraspanins. The increase in gene products by alternative splicing is associated with an unexpected high structural variability of tetraspanins. We speculate that non-conventional tetraspanins have roles in regulating ER exit and modulating tetraspanin-enriched microdomain function.