BCM Pharmacology

Susan M.Berget, Ph.D.

Interim Chairman
Department of Pharmacology

Professor, Department of Biochemistry
Director, Cell and Molecular Biology Program

Ph.D., Biochemistry, University of Minnesota, 1974
Postdoctoral, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1975-1978

Research Interests:

Most genes in eucaryotes are interrupted by intervening sequences. Expression of such genes requires extensive RNA processing of initial transcripts. For pre-mRNA, processing involves both splicing and polyadenylation. Our laboratory investigates the molecular mechanisms operating during polyadenylation and splicing with a long-term goal of understanding how processing is controlled and altered to produce differentially processed mRNAs. An important paradigm to emerge from our work known as exon definition has indicated that exons and their flanking splice sites are the recognition unit during early spliceosome formation, indicating interactions between the factors that bind 3' and 5' splice sites. We have also demonstrated communication between the splicing and polyadenylation machinery during the recognition of 3' terminal exons.

Emphasis in recent years has concentrated on the mechanism whereby splicing and polyadenylation are regulated and has lead to the identification of accessory sequences, either enhancers or silencers. These sequences bind special splicing factors to permit regulation. We are currently characterizing factors that permit splicing of very small exons, very large exons, the recognition of competing splice sites, and the differential inclusion of both internal and 3'-terminal exons. We find that there is considerable diversity in the set of factors that associate with an exon or intron regions indicating gene-specific pre-mRNA recognition.


Niwa, M., MacDonald, C.F., and Berget, S.M. (1992) Are vertebrate exons scanned during splice sites selection? Nature 360:277-280.

Berget, S.M. (1995) Exon recognition in vertebrate splicing. J. Biol. Chem. 270:2411-2414.

Lou, H., R. F. Gagel, and S. M. Berget. 1996. An intron enhancer recognized by splicing factors activates polyadenylation. Genes Devel. 10:208-219.

Carlo, T., D. A. Sterner, and S. M. Berget. 1996. An intron enhancer containing a G-rich repeat facilitates inclusion of a vertebrate micro-exon. RNA, 2:342-353.

Kennedy, C. F., and S. M. Berget. 1997. Pyrimidine tracts between the 5' splice site and the branch point facilitate splicing and recognition of a small Drosophila intron. Mol. Cell. Biol. 17:2774-2780.

Elrick, L. L., M. B. Humphrey, T. A. Cooper, and S. M. Berget. 1998. A Short Sequence within Two Purine-Rich Enhancers Determines 5' Splice Site Specificity. Mol. Cell. Biol. 18:343-352.

Kennedy, C. F., A. Kraemer, and S. M. Berget. 1998. A role for SRp54 during intron bridging of small introns with pyrimidine tracts upstream of the branch point. Mol. Cell. Biol. In press.

Phone: 713-798-4457

FAX: 713-798-3145

e-mail: sberget@bcm.tmc.edu

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