Prenatal ethanol exposure is associated with neurodevelopmental defects and long-lasting cognitive deficits, which are grouped as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). The molecular mechanisms underlying FASD are incompletely characterized. Alternative splicing, including the insertion of microexons (exons of less than 30 nucleotides in length), is highly prevalent in the nervous system. However, whether ethanol exposure can have acute or chronic deleterious effects in this process is poorly understood. In this work, we used the bioinformatic tools VAST-TOOLS, rMATS, MAJIQ, and MicroExonator to predict alternative splicing events affected by ethanol from available RNA sequencing data. Experimental protocols of ethanol exposure included human cortical tissue development, human embryobody differentiation, and mouse development. We found common genes with predicted differential alternative splicing using distinct bioinformatic tools in different experimental designs. Notably, Gene Ontology and KEGG analysis revealed that the alternative splicing of genes related to RNA processing and protein synthesis was commonly affected in the different ethanol exposure schemes. In addition, the inclusion of microexons was also affected by ethanol. This bioinformatic analysis provides a reliable list of candidate genes whose splicing is affected by ethanol during nervous system development. Furthermore, our results suggest that ethanol particularly modifies the alternative splicing of genes related to post-transcriptional regulation, which probably affects neuronal proteome complexity and brain function.
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