Investigation of progerin expression in non-Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome individuals

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Hutchinson-Gilford Progerin Syndrome (HGPS) is a premature aging disease caused by a point mutation in the LMNA gene, which encodes A-type lamins. This mutation activates a cryptic splice donor in exon 11 and leads to the production of a toxic lamin variant called progerin. Interestingly, small amounts of progerin have also been found in cells and tissues of normal individuals. Here we examine the expression of progerin in publicly available RNA-seq data from normal individuals of the GTEx project. Among the 30 available tissues, progerin expression in normal individuals is highest in sun-exposed skin samples, and its expression in different tissues of the same donor is correlated. In addition, telomere shortening is significantly correlated with progerin expression. Transcriptome-wide correlation analyses suggest that the level of progerin expression is highly correlated with switches in gene isoform expression patterns, perhaps reflecting widespread isoform shifts in these samples. Differential expression analyses show that progerin expression is correlated with significant changes in the level of transcripts from genes involved in splicing regulation and a significant reduction of mitochondrial transcripts. Interestingly, 5’ splice sites whose use is correlated (either positively or negatively) with progerin expression have significantly altered frequencies of consensus trinucleotides within the core 5’ splice site. Furthermore, introns whose alternative splicing is correlated with progerin have reduced GC content. Together, our study suggests that progerin expression in normal individuals is part of a global shift in splicing patterns and provides insight into the mechanism behind these changes.