Expression levels of SF2/ASF are controlled by Sam68 mediated activation of splicing-induced mRNA decay.
Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and its reversal (MET) are crucial cell plasticity programs that act during development and tumor metastasis. We have previously shown that the splicing factor and proto-oncogene SF2/ASF impacts EMT/MET through production of a constitutively active splice variant of the Ron proto-oncogene. Using an in vitro model, we now show that SF2/ASF is also regulated during EMT/MET by alternative splicing associated with the nonsense-mediated mRNA decay pathway (AS-NMD). Overexpression and small interfering RNA experiments implicate the splicing regulator Sam68 in AS-NMD of SF2/ASF transcripts and in the choice between EMT/MET programs. Moreover, Sam68 modulation of SF2/ASF splicing appears to be controlled by epithelial cell–derived soluble factors that act through the ERK1/2 signaling pathway to regulate Sam68 phosphorylation. Collectively, our results reveal a hierarchy of splicing factors that integrate splicing decisions into EMT/MET programs in response to extracellular stimuli.
Our results presented here demonstrate that the most abundant human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV-16) mRNAs expressing the viral oncogenes E6 and E7 are regulated by cellular ASF/SF2, itself defined as a proto-oncogene and overexpressed in cervical cancer cells. We show that the most frequently used 3′-splice site on the HPV-16 genome, site SA3358, which is used to produce primarily E4, E6, and E7 mRNAs, is regulated by ASF/SF2. Splice site SA3358 is immediately followed by 15 potential binding sites for the splicing factor ASF/SF2. Recombinant ASF/SF2 binds to the cluster of ASF/SF2 sites. Mutational inactivation of all 15 sites abolished splicing to SA3358 and redirected splicing to the downstream-located, late 3′-splice site SA5639. Overexpression of a mutant ASF/SF2 protein that lacks the RS domain, also totally inhibited the usage of SA3358 and redirected splicing to the late 3′-splice site SA5639. The 15 ASF/SF2 binding sites could be replaced by an ASF/SF2-dependent, HIV-1-derived splicing enhancer named GAR. This enhancer was also inhibited by the mutant ASF/SF2 protein that lacks the RS domain. Finally, silencer RNA (siRNA)-mediated knockdown of ASF/SF2 caused a reduction in spliced HPV-16 mRNA levels. Taken together, our results demonstrate that the major HPV-16 3′-splice site SA3358 is dependent on ASF/SF2. SA3358 is used by the most abundantly expressed HPV-16 mRNAs, including those encoding E6 and E7. High levels of ASF/SF2 may therefore be a requirement for progression to cervical cancer. This is supported by our earlier findings that ASF/SF2 is overexpressed in high-grade cervical lesions and cervical cancer.
The human splicing factor 2, also called human alternative splicing factor (hASF), is the prototype of the highly conserved SR protein family involved in constitutive and regulated splicing of metazoan mRNA precursors. Here we report that the Drosophila homologue of hASF (dASF) lacks eight repeating arginine-serine dipeptides at its carboxyl-terminal region (RS domain), previously shown to be important for both localization and splicing activity of hASF. While this difference has no effect on dASF localization, it impedes its capacity to shuttle between the nucleus and cytoplasm and abolishes its phosphorylation by SR protein kinase 1 (SRPK1). dASF also has an altered splicing activity. While being competent for the regulation of 5′ alternative splice site choice and activation of specific splicing enhancers, dASF fails to complement S100-cytoplasmic splicing-deficient extracts. Moreover, targeted overexpression of dASF in transgenic flies leads to higher deleterious developmental defects than hASF overexpression, supporting the notion that the distinctive structural features at the RS domain between the two proteins are likely to be functionally relevant in vivo.
Both splicing factors and microRNAs are important regulatory molecules that play key roles in post-transcriptional gene regulation. By miRNA deep sequencing, we identified 40 miRNAs that are differentially expressed upon ectopic overexpression of the splicing factor SF2/ASF. Here we show that SF2/ASF and one of its upregulated microRNAs (miR-7) can form a negative feedback loop: SF2/ASF promotes miR-7 maturation, and mature miR-7 in turn targets the 3′UTR of SF2/ASF to repress its translation. Enhanced microRNA expression is mediated by direct interaction between SF2/ASF and the primary miR-7 transcript to facilitate Drosha cleavage and is independent of SF2/ASF’s function in splicing. Other miRNAs, including miR-221 and miR-222, may also be regulated by SF2/ASF through a similar mechanism. These results underscore a function of SF2/ASF in pri-miRNA processing and highlight the potential coordination between splicing control and miRNA-mediated gene repression in gene regulatory networks.
Expression of cytoplasmic mRNA from most adenovirus transcription units is subjected to a temporal regulation at the level of alternative pre-mRNA splicing. The general tendency is that splice site selection changes from proximal to distal late after infection. Interestingly, ASF/SF2, which is a prototypical member of the SR family of splicing factors, has the opposite effect on splice site selection, inducing an increase in proximal splice site usage. We have previously shown that SR proteins late during an adenovirus infection become partially inactivated as splicing regulatory proteins. A prediction from these results is that overexpression of an SR protein, such as ASF/SF2, during virus growth will interfere with virus replication by disturbing the balance of functional and nonfunctional ASF/SF2 in the infected cell. To test this hypothesis, we reconstructed a recombinant adenovirus expressing ASF/SF2 under the transcriptional control of a regulated promoter. The results show that, as predicted, induction of ASF/SF2 during lytic virus growth prevents the early to late shift in mRNA expression from both early (E1A and E1B) and late (L1) transcription units. Furthermore, ASF/SF2 overexpression blocks viral DNA replication and reduces selectively cytoplasmic accumulation of major late mRNA, resulting in a lower virus yield. Collectively, our results provide additional support for the hypothesis that viral control of SR protein function is important for the proper expression of viral proteins during lytic virus growth.
Interleukin 17 (IL-17) promotes expression of chemokines and cytokines via induction of gene transcription and post-transcriptional stabilization of mRNA. We show that IL-17 enhanced the stability of CXCL1 and other mRNAs through a pathway that involves Act1, TRAF2 or TRAF5 and the splicing factor SF2/ASF. TRAF2/TRAF5 were necessary for IL-17 to signal CXCL1 mRNA stabilization. Furthermore, IL-17 promoted formation of complexes between TRAF5/TRAF2, Act1 and SF2/ASF. Overexpression of SF2/ASF shortened while depletion of SF2/ASF prolonged CXCL1 mRNA half-life. SF2/ASF bound chemokine mRNA in unstimulated cells while the SF2/ASF-mRNA interaction was markedly diminished following stimulation with IL-17. These findings define an IL-17-induced signaling pathway that links to the stabilization of selected mRNAs through Act1, TRAF2/5 and the RNA binding protein SF2/ASF.
The serine and arginine-rich protein family (SR proteins) are highly conserved regulators of pre-mRNA splicing. SF2/ASF, a prototype member of the SR protein family, is a multifunctional RNA binding protein with roles in pre-mRNA splicing, mRNA export and mRNA translation. These observations suggest the intriguing hypothesis that SF2/ASF may couple splicing and translation of specific mRNA targets in vivo. Unfortunately the paucity of endogenous mRNA targets for SF2/ASF has hindered testing of this hypothesis. Here, we identify endogenous mRNAs directly cross-linked to SF2/ASF in different sub-cellular compartments. Cross-Linking Immunoprecipitation (CLIP) captures the in situ specificity of protein-RNA interaction and allows for the simultaneous identification of endogenous RNA targets as well as the locations of binding sites within the RNA transcript. Using the CLIP method we identified 326 binding sites for SF2/ASF in RNA transcripts from 180 protein coding genes. A purine-rich consensus motif was identified in binding sites located within exon sequences but not introns. Furthermore, 72 binding sites were occupied by SF2/ASF in different sub-cellular fractions suggesting that these binding sites may influence the splicing or translational control of endogenous mRNA targets. We demonstrate that ectopic expression of SF2/ASF regulates the splicing and polysome association of transcripts derived from the SFRS1, PABC1, NETO2 and ENSA genes. Taken together the data presented here indicate that SF2/ASF has the capacity to co-regulate the nuclear and cytoplasmic processing of specific mRNAs and provide further evidence that the nuclear history of an mRNA may influence its cytoplasmic fate.
Alternative splicing and posttranslational modifications (PTMs) are major sources of protein diversity in eukaryotic proteomes. The SR protein SF2/ASF is an oncoprotein that functions in pre-mRNA splicing, with additional roles in other posttranscriptional and translational events. Functional studies of SR protein PTMs have focused exclusively on the reversible phosphorylation of Ser residues in the C-terminal RS domain. We confirmed that human SF2/ASF is methylated at residues R93, R97, and R109, which were identified in a global proteomic analysis of Arg methylation, and further investigated whether these methylated residues regulate the properties of SF2/ASF. We show that the three arginines additively control the subcellular localization of SF2/ASF and that both the positive charge and the methylation state are important. Mutations that block methylation and remove the positive charge result in the cytoplasmic accumulation of SF2/ASF. The consequent decrease in nuclear SF2/ASF levels prevents it from modulating the alternative splicing of target genes, results in higher translation stimulation, and abrogates the enhancement of nonsense-mediated mRNA decay. This study addresses the mechanisms by which Arg methylation and the associated positive charge regulate the activities of SF2/ASF and emphasizes the significance of localization control for an oncoprotein with multiple functions in different cellular compartments.
The SR proteins are essential factors that control the splicing of precursor mRNA by regulating multiple steps in spliceosome development. The prototypical SR protein ASF/SF2 contains two N-terminal RRMs (RRM1 and RRM2) and a 50-residue C-terminal RS (arginine-serine rich) domain that can be phosphorylated at numerous serines by the protein kinase SRPK1. The RS domain is further divided into N-terminal (RS1) and C-terminal (RS2) segments whose modification guides the nuclear localization of ASF/SF2. While previous studies revealed that SRPK1 phosphorylates RS1, regio- and temporal-specific control within the largely redundant RS domain is not well understood. To address this issue, engineered footprinting and single turnover experiments were performed to determine where and how SRPK1 initiates phosphorylation within the RS domain. The data show that local sequence elements in the RS domain control the strong kinetic preference for RS1 phosphorylation. SRPK1 initiates phosphorylation in a small region of serines (initiation box) in the middle of the RS domain at the C-terminal end of RS1 and then proceeds in an N-terminal direction. This initiation process requires both a viable docking groove in the large lobe of SRPK1 and one RRM (RRM2) on the N-terminal flank of the RS domain. Thus, while local RS/SR content steers regional preferences in the RS domain, distal contacts with SRPK1 guide initiation and directional phosphorylation within these regions.
protein kinase; regiospecificity; phosphorylation; splicing; SR protein
The essential splicing factor SF2/ASF and the heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein A1 (hnRNP A1) modulate alternative splicing in vitro of pre-mRNAs that contain 5' splice sites of comparable strengths competing for a common 3' splice site. Using natural and model pre-mRNAs, we have examined whether the ratio of SF2/ASF to hnRNP A1 also regulates other modes of alternative splicing in vitro. We found that an excess of SF2/ASF effectively prevents inappropriate exon skipping and also influences the selection of mutually exclusive tissue-specific exons in natural beta-tropomyosin pre-mRNA. In contrast, an excess of hnRNP A1 does not cause inappropriate exon skipping in natural constitutively or alternatively spliced pre-mRNAs. Although hnRNP A1 can promote alternative exon skipping, this effect is not universal and is dependent, e.g., on the size of the internal alternative exon and on the strength of the polypyrimidine tract in the preceding intron. With appropriate alternative exons, an excess of SF2/ASF promotes exon inclusion, whereas an excess of hnRNP A1 causes exon skipping. We propose that in some cases the ratio of SF2/ASF to hnRNP A1 may play a role in regulating alternative splicing by exon inclusion or skipping through the antagonistic effects of these proteins on alternative splice site selection.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) gene expression is regulated in concert with the epithelial differentiation program. In particular, expression of the virus capsid proteins L1 and L2 is tightly restricted to differentiated epithelial cells. For HPV16, the capsid proteins are encoded by 13 structurally different mRNAs that are produced by extensive alternative splicing. Previously, we demonstrated that upon epithelial differentiation, HPV16 infection upregulates hnRNP A1 and SF2/ASF, both key factors in alternative splicing regulation. Here we cloned a 1-kb region upstream of and including the transcriptional start site of the SF2ASF gene and used it in in vivo transcription assays to demonstrate that the HPV16 E2 transcription factor transactivates the SF2/ASF promoter. The transactivation domain but not the DNA binding domain of the protein is necessary for this. Active E2 association with the promoter was demonstrated using chromatin immunoprecipitation assays. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays indicated that E2 interacted with a region 482 to 684 bp upstream of the transcription initiation site in vitro. This is the first time that HPV16 E2 has been shown to regulate cellular gene expression and the first report of viral regulation of expression of an RNA processing factor. Such E2-mediated control during differentiation of infected epithelial cells may facilitate late capsid protein expression and completion of the virus life cycle.
RNA polymerase II, and specifically the C-terminal domain (CTD) of its largest subunit, has been demonstrated to play important roles in capping, splicing, and 3′ processing of mRNA precursors. But how the CTD functions in these reactions, especially splicing, is not well understood. To address some of the basic questions concerning CTD function in splicing, we constructed and purified two fusion proteins, a protein in which the CTD is positioned at the C terminus of the splicing factor ASF/SF2 (ASF-CTD) and an RS domain deletion mutant protein (ASFΔRS-CTD). Significantly, compared to ASF/SF2, ASF-CTD increased the reaction rate during the early stages of splicing, detected as a 20- to 60-min decrease in splicing lag time depending on the pre-mRNA substrate. The increased splicing rate correlated with enhanced production of prespliceosomal complex A and the early spliceosomal complex B but, interestingly, not the very early ATP-independent complex E. Additional assays indicate that the RS domain and CTD perform distinct functions, as exemplified by our identification of an activity that cooperates only with the CTD. Dephosphorylated ASFΔRS-CTD and a glutathione S-transferase-CTD fusion protein were both inactive, suggesting that an RNA-targeting domain and CTD phosphorylation were necessary. Our results provide new insights into the mechanism by which the CTD functions in splicing.
Bovine papillomavirus type 1 (BPV-1) late pre-mRNAs are spliced in keratinocytes in a differentiation-specific manner: the late leader 5′ splice site alternatively splices to a proximal 3′ splice site (at nucleotide 3225) to express L2 or to a distal 3′ splice site (at nucleotide 3605) to express L1. Two exonic splicing enhancers, each containing two ASF/SF2 (alternative splicing factor/splicing factor 2) binding sites, are located between the two 3′ splice sites and have been identified as regulating alternative 3′ splice site usage. The present report demonstrates for the first time that ASF/SF2 is required under physiological conditions for the expression of BPV-1 late RNAs and for selection of the proximal 3′ splice site for BPV-1 RNA splicing in DT40-ASF cells, a genetically engineered chicken B-cell line that expresses only human ASF/SF2 controlled by a tetracycline-repressible promoter. Depletion of ASF/SF2 from the cells by tetracycline greatly decreased viral RNA expression and RNA splicing at the proximal 3′ splice site while increasing use of the distal 3′ splice site in the remaining viral RNAs. Activation of cells lacking ASF/SF2 through anti-immunoglobulin M-B-cell receptor cross-linking rescued viral RNA expression and splicing at the proximal 3′ splice site and enhanced Akt phosphorylation and expression of the phosphorylated serine/arginine-rich (SR) proteins SRp30s (especially SC35) and SRp40. Treatment with wortmannin, a specific phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt kinase inhibitor, completely blocked the activation-induced activities. ASF/SF2 thus plays an important role in viral RNA expression and splicing at the proximal 3′ splice site, but activation-rescued viral RNA expression and splicing in ASF/SF2-depleted cells is mediated through the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt pathway and is associated with the enhanced expression of other SR proteins.
Serine/arginine-rich (SR) proteins are essential splicing factors with one or two RNA-recognition motifs (RRMs) and a C-terminal arginine- and serine-rich (RS) domain. SR proteins bind to exonic splicing enhancers via their RRM(s), and from this position are thought to promote splicing by antagonizing splicing silencers, recruiting other components of the splicing machinery through RS-RS domain interactions, and/or promoting RNA base-pairing through their RS domains. An RS domain tethered at an exonic splicing enhancer can function as a splicing activator, and RS domains play prominent roles in current models of SR protein functions. However, we previously reported that the RS domain of the SR protein SF2/ASF is dispensable for in vitro splicing of some pre-mRNAs. We have now extended these findings via the identification of a short inhibitory domain at the SF2/ASF N-terminus; deletion of this segment permits splicing in the absence of this SR protein's RS domain of an IgM pre-mRNA substrate previously classified as RS-domain-dependent. Deletion of the N-terminal inhibitory domain increases the splicing activity of SF2/ASF lacking its RS domain, and enhances its ability to bind pre-mRNA. Splicing of the IgM pre-mRNA in S100 complementation with SF2/ASF lacking its RS domain still requires an exonic splicing enhancer, suggesting that an SR protein RS domain is not always required for ESE-dependent splicing activation. Our data provide additional evidence that the SF2/ASF RS domain is not strictly required for constitutive splicing in vitro, contrary to prevailing models for how the domains of SR proteins function to promote splicing.
Splicing factors of the SR protein family share a modular structure consisting of one or two RNA recognition motifs (RRMs) and a C-terminal RS domain rich in arginine and serine residues. The RS domain, which is extensively phosphorylated, promotes protein-protein interactions and directs subcellular localization and—in certain situations—nucleocytoplasmic shuttling of individual SR proteins. We analyzed mutant versions of human SF2/ASF in which the natural RS repeats were replaced by RD or RE repeats and compared the splicing and subcellular localization properties of these proteins to those of SF2/ASF lacking the entire RS domain or possessing a minimal RS domain consisting of 10 consecutive RS dipeptides (RS10). In vitro splicing of a pre-mRNA that requires an RS domain could take place when the mutant RD, RE, or RS10 domain replaced the natural domain. The RS10 version of SF2/ASF shuttled between the nucleus and the cytoplasm in the same manner as the wild-type protein, suggesting that a tract of consecutive RS dipeptides, in conjunction with the RRMs of SF2/ASF, is necessary and sufficient to direct nucleocytoplasmic shuttling. However, the SR protein SC35 has two long stretches of RS repeats, yet it is not a shuttling protein. We demonstrate the presence of a dominant nuclear retention signal in the RS domain of SC35.
The most commonly used 3′-splice site on the human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV-16) genome named SA3358 is used to produce HPV-16 early mRNAs encoding E4, E5, E6 and E7, and late mRNAs encoding L1 and L2. We have previously shown that SA3358 is suboptimal and is totally dependent on a downstream splicing enhancer containingmultiple potential ASF/SF2 binding sites. Here weshow that only one of the predicted ASF/SF2 sites accounts for the majority of the enhancer activity. We demonstrate that single nucleotide substitutions in this predicted ASF/SF2 site impair enhancer function and that this correlates with less efficient binding to ASF/SF2 in vitro. We provide evidence that HPV-16 mRNAs that arespliced to SA3358 interact with ASF/SF2 in living cells. In addition,mutational inactivation of the ASF/SF2 site weakened the enhancer at SA3358 in episomal forms of the HPV-16 genome, indicating that the enhancer is active in the context of the full HPV-16 genome.This resulted in induction of HPV-16 late gene expression as a result of competition from late splice site SA5639. Furthermore, inactivation of the ASF/SF2 site of the SA3358 splicing enhancer reduced the ability of E6- and E7-encoding HPV-16 plasmids to increase the life span of primary keratinocytes in vitro, demonstrating arequirement for an intact splicing enhancer of SA3358 forefficient production of the E6 and E7 mRNAs. These results link the strength of the HPV-16 SA3358 splicing enhancer to expression of E6 and E7 and to the pathogenic properties of HPV-16.
Alternative pre-mRNA splicing (AS) is a major mechanism that allows proteomic variability in eukaryotic cells. However, many AS events result in mRNAs containing a premature termination codon, which are degraded by nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) pathway. We have previously demonstrated that human rpL3 autoregulates its expression through the association of AS with NMD. In fact, overexpression of rpL3 promotes downregulation of canonical splicing and upregulation of alternative splicing that produces an NMD-targeted mRNA isoform. The result of these events is a decreased production of rpL3. We have also identified heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein (hnRNP) H1 as a splicing factor involved in the regulation of rpL3 alternative splicing and identified its regulatory cis-elements within intron 3 transcript. Here, we report that NPM and KHSRP are two newly identified proteins involved in the regulation of rpL3 gene expression via AS-NMD. We demonstrate that hnRNP H1, KHSRP and NPM can be found associated, and present also in ribonucleoproteins (RNPs) including rpL3 and intron 3 RNA in vivo, and describe protein–protein and RNA–protein interactions. Moreover, our data provide an insight on the crucial role of hnRNP H1 in the regulation of the alternative splicing of the rpL3 gene.
Compartmentalization of the nucleus is now recognized as an important level of regulation influencing specific nuclear processes. The mechanism of factor organization and the movement of factors in nuclear space have not been fully determined. Splicing factors, for example, have been shown to move in a directed manner as large intact structures from sites of concentration to sites of active transcription, but splicing factors are also thought to exist in a freely diffusible state. In this study, we examined the movement of a splicing factor, ASF, green fluorescent fusion protein (ASF–GFP) using time-lapse microscopy and the technique fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP). We find that ASF–GFP moves at rates up to 100 times slower than free diffusion when it is associated with speckles and, surprisingly, also when it is dispersed in the nucleoplasm. The mobility of ASF is consistent with frequent but transient interactions with relatively immobile nuclear binding sites. This mobility is slightly increased in the presence of an RNA polymerase II transcription inhibitor and the ASF molecules further enrich in speckles. We propose that the nonrandom organization of splicing factors reflects spatial differences in the concentration of relatively immobile binding sites.
ASF/SF2; IGCs; FRAP; cell nucleus; nuclear matrix
A previous study has demonstrated a significant decrease in the TCRζ gene expression level in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML); thus, we further investigated the expression of TCRζ-regulating factors, the distribution of the TCRζ 3' untranslated region (3'-UTR) splice variants, and the expression level and correlation of the alternative splicing factor/splicing factor 2 (ASF/SF-2), FcεRIγ and ZAP-70 genes. TCRζ 3'-UTR splice variants were identified in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from 14 healthy individuals, 40 patients with CML and 22 patients with CML in complete remission (CML-CR) by RT-PCR. The expression level of the TCRζ, FcεRIγ, ASF/SF-2 and ZAP-70 genes was analyzed by real-time quantitative PCR. While the expression of TCRζ gene in the CML group was significantly lower than that in the healthy individual and CML-CR groups, a significantly higher expression of the FceRIγ and ASF/SF-2 genes was found in the CML group. Two types of splicing forms were detected in all of the healthy individual CML-CR cases: wild type (WT) TCRζ 3'-UTR and alternatively splieced (AS) TCRζ 3'-UTR which have been alternatively splieced in the WT TCRζ 3'-UTR . However, 35% of the CML cases contained only the wild type TCRζ 3'-UTR isoform. Based on the TCRζ 3'-UTR isoform expression characteristic, we divided the patients with CML into two subgroups: the WT+AS- CML group, containing patients that express only the wild type TCRζ 3'-UTR, and the WT+AS+ CML group, which contained patients that expressed two TCRζ 3'-UTR isoforms. A significantly different ASF/SF-2 and FcεRIγ gene expression pattern was found between the WT+AS- and WT+AS+CML groups. We concluded that defective TCRζ expression may be characterized in the WT+AS-and WT+AS+CML subgroups by the different gene expression pattern. The overexpression of ASF/SF2, which alternatively splices the TCRζ 3’-UTR, is thought to participate in feedback regulation. The characteristics of TCRζ 3'-UTR alternative splicing may be a novel immunological marker for the evaluation of the CML immune status.
ASF/SF-2gene; TCRζ3′-UTR; TCRζ gene; FcεRIγ gene; Chronic myeloid leukemia; Real-time PCR
Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) immediate-early 63 protein (IE63) is abundantly expressed during both acute infection in vitro and latent infection in human ganglia. Using the yeast two-hybrid system, we found that VZV IE63 interacts with human antisilencing function 1 protein (ASF1). ASF1 is a nucleosome assembly factor which is a member of the H3/H4 family of histone chaperones. IE63 coimmunoprecipitated and colocalized with ASF1 in transfected cells expressing IE63 and in VZV-infected cells. IE63 also colocalized with ASF1 in both lytic and latently VZV-infected enteric neurons. ASF1 exists in two isoforms, ASF1a and ASF1b, in mammalian cells. IE63 preferentially bound to ASF1a, and the amino-terminal 30 amino acids of ASF1a were critical for its interaction with IE63. VZV IE63 amino acids 171 to 208 and putative phosphorylation sites of IE63, both of which are critical for virus replication and latency in rodents, were important for the interaction of IE63 with ASF1. Finally, we found that IE63 increased the binding of ASF1 to histone H3.1 and H3.3, which suggests that IE63 may help to regulate levels of histones in virus-infected cells. Since ASF1 mediates eviction and deposition of histones during transcription, the interaction of VZV IE63 with ASF1 may help to regulate transcription of viral or cellular genes during lytic and/or latent infection.
Clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) is the most common type of renal cancer. One of the processes disturbed in this cancer type is alternative splicing, although phenomena underlying these disturbances remain unknown. Alternative splicing consists of selective removal of introns and joining of residual exons of the primary transcript, to produce mRNA molecules of different sequence. Splicing aberrations may lead to tumoral transformation due to synthesis of impaired splice variants with oncogenic potential. In this paper we hypothesized that disturbed alternative splicing in ccRCC may result from improper expression of splicing factors, mediators of splicing reactions.
Using real-time PCR and Western-blot analysis we analyzed expression of seven splicing factors belonging to SR proteins family (SF2/ASF, SC35, SRp20, SRp75, SRp40, SRp55 and 9G8), and one non-SR factor, hnRNP A1 (heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein A1) in 38 pairs of tumor-control ccRCC samples. Moreover, we analyzed splicing patterns of five genes involved in carcinogenesis and partially regulated by analyzed splicing factors: RON, CEACAM1, Rac1, Caspase-9, and GLI1.
We found that the mRNA expression of splicing factors was disturbed in tumors when compared to paired controls, similarly as levels of SF2/ASF and hnRNP A1 proteins. The correlation coefficients between expression levels of specific splicing factors were increased in tumor samples. Moreover, alternative splicing of five analyzed genes was also disturbed in ccRCC samples and splicing pattern of two of them, Caspase-9 and CEACAM1 correlated with expression of SF2/ASF in tumors. We conclude that disturbed expression of splicing factors in ccRCC may possibly lead to impaired alternative splicing of genes regulating tumor growth and this way contribute to the process of carcinogenesis.
Serine/arginine-rich (SR) proteins are required for messenger RNA (mRNA) processing, export, surveillance, and translation. We show that in Chironomus tentans, nascent transcripts associate with multiple types of SR proteins in specific combinations. Alternative splicing factor (ASF)/SF2, SC35, 9G8, and hrp45/SRp55 are all present in Balbiani ring (BR) pre-messenger ribonucleoproteins (mRNPs) preferentially when introns appear in the pre-mRNA and when cotranscriptional splicing takes place. However, hrp45/SRp55 is distributed differently in the pre-mRNPs along the gene compared with ASF/SF2, SC35, and 9G8, suggesting functional differences. All four SR proteins are associated with the BR mRNPs during export to the cytoplasm. Interference with SC35 indicates that SC35 is important for the coordination of splicing, transcription, and 3′ end processing and also for nucleocytoplasmic export. ASF/SF2 is associated with polyribosomes, whereas SC35, 9G8, and hrp45/SRp55 cosediment with monoribosomes. Thus, individual endogenous pre-mRNPs/mRNPs bind multiple types of SR proteins during transcription, and these SR proteins accompany the mRNA and play different roles during the gene expression pathway in vivo.
Alternative splicing involves differential exon selection of a gene transcript to generate mRNA and protein isoforms with structural and functional diversity. Abnormal alternative splicing has been shown to be associated with malignant phenotypes of cancer cells, such as chemo-resistance and invasive activity. Screening small molecules and drugs for modulating RNA splicing in human hepatocellular carcinoma cell line Huh-7, we discovered that amiloride, distinct from four pH-affecting amiloride analogues, could “normalize” the splicing of BCL-X, HIPK3 and RON/MISTR1 transcripts. Our proteomic analyses of amiloride-treated cells detected hypo-phosphorylation of splicing factor SF2/ASF, and decreased levels of SRp20 and two un-identified SR proteins. We further observed decreased phosphorylation of AKT, ERK1/2 and PP1, and increased phosphorylation of p38 and JNK, suggesting that amiloride treatment down-regulates kinases and up-regulates phosphatases in the signal pathways known to affect splicing factor protein phosphorylation. These amiloride effects of “normalized” oncogenic RNA splicing and splicing factor hypo-phosphorylation were both abrogated by pre-treatment with a PP1 inhibitor. Global exon array of amiloride-treated Huh-7 cells detected splicing pattern changes involving 584 exons in 551 gene transcripts, many of which encode proteins playing key roles in ion transport, cellular matrix formation, cytoskeleton remodeling, and genome maintenance. Cellular functional analyses revealed subsequent invasion and migration defects, cell cycle disruption, cytokinesis impairment, and lethal DNA degradation in amiloride-treated Huh-7 cells. Other human solid tumor and leukemic cells, but not a few normal cells, showed similar amiloride-altered RNA splicing with devitalized consequence. This study thus provides mechanistic underpinnings for exploiting small molecule modulation of RNA splicing for cancer therapeutics.
CD200, a type I membrane glycoprotein, plays an important role in prevention of inflammatory disorders, graft rejection, autoimmune diseases and spontaneous fetal loss. It also regulates tumor immunity. A truncated CD200 (CD200tr) resulting from alternative splicing has been identified and characterized as a functional antagonist to full-length CD200. Thus, it is important to explore the mechanism(s) controlling alternative splicing of CD200. In this study, we identified an exonic splicing enhancer (ESE) located in exon 2, which is a putative binding site for a splicing regulatory protein SF2/ASF. Deletion or mutation of the ESE site decreased expression of the full-length CD200. Direct binding of SF2/ASF to the ESE site was confirmed by RNA electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA). Knockdown of expression of SF2/ASF resulted in the same splicing pattern as seen after deletion or mutation of the ESE, whereas overexpression of SF2/ASF increased expression of the full-length CD200. In vivo studies showed that viral infection reversed the alternative splicing pattern of CD200 with increased expression of SF2/ASF and the full-length CD200. Taken together, our data suggest for the first time that SF2/ASF regulates the function of CD200 by controlling CD200 alternative splicing, through direct binding to an ESE located in exon 2 of CD200.
The first component known to recognize and discriminate among potential 5′ splice sites (5′SSs) in pre-mRNA is the U1 snRNP. However, the relative levels of U1 snRNP binding to alternative 5′SSs do not necessarily determine the splicing outcome. Strikingly, SF2/ASF, one of the essential SR protein-splicing factors, causes a dose-dependent shift in splicing to a downstream (intron-proximal) site, and yet it increases U1 snRNP binding at upstream and downstream sites simultaneously. We show here that hnRNP A1, which shifts splicing towards an upstream 5′SS, causes reduced U1 snRNP binding at both sites. Nonetheless, the importance of U1 snRNP binding is shown by proportionality between the level of U1 snRNP binding to the downstream site and its use in splicing. With purified components, hnRNP A1 reduces U1 snRNP binding to 5′SSs by binding cooperatively and indiscriminately to the pre-mRNA. Mutations in hnRNP A1 and SF2/ASF show that the opposite effects of the proteins on 5′SS choice are correlated with their effects on U1 snRNP binding. Cross-linking experiments show that SF2/ASF and hnRNP A1 compete to bind pre-mRNA, and we conclude that this competition is the basis of their functional antagonism; SF2/ASF enhances U1 snRNP binding at all 5′SSs, the rise in simultaneous occupancy causing a shift in splicing towards the downstream site, whereas hnRNP A1 interferes with U1 snRNP binding such that 5′SS occupancy is lower and the affinities of U1 snRNP for the individual sites determine the site of splicing.