Driven by rapidly evolving technologies in next-generation sequencing, alternative splicing has emerged as a crucial layer in gene expression, greatly expanding protein diversity and governing complex biological processes in the cardiomyocyte. At the core of cardiac contraction, the physical properties of the sarcomere are carefully orchestrated through alternative splicing to fit the varying demands on the heart. By the recent discovery of RBM20 and RBM24, two major heart and skeletal muscle-restricted splicing factors, it became evident that alternative splicing events in the heart occur in regulated networks rather than in isolated events. Analysis of knockout mice of these splice factors has shed light on the importance of these fundamental processes in the heart.In this review, we discuss recent advances in our understanding of the role and regulation of alternative splicing in the developing and diseased heart, specifically within the sarcomere. Through various examples (titin, myomesin, troponin T, tropomyosin and LDB3) we illustrate how alternative splicing regulates the functional properties of the sarcomere. Finally, we evaluate opportunities and obstacles to modulate alternative splicing in therapeutic approaches for cardiac disease.
- Alternative splicing