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The splicing-factor oncoprotein SRSF1 (also known as SF2/ASF) is upregulated in breast cancers. We investigated SRSF1’s ability to transform human and mouse mammary epithelial cells in vivo and in vitro. SRSF1-overexpressing COMMA-1D cells formed tumors, following orthotopic transplantation to reconstitute the mammary gland. In 3-D culture, SRSF1-overexpressing MCF-10A cells formed larger acini than control cells, reflecting increased proliferation and delayed apoptosis during acinar morphogenesis. These effects required the first RNA-recognition motif and nuclear functions of SRSF1. SRSF1 overexpression promoted alternative splicing of BIM and BIN1 isoforms that lack pro-apoptotic functions and contribute to the phenotype. Finally, SRSF1 cooperated specifically with MYC to transform mammary epithelial cells, in part by potentiating eIF4E activation, and these cooperating oncogenes are significantly co-expressed in human breast tumors. Thus, SRSF1 can promote breast cancer, and SRSF1 itself or its downstream effectors may be valuable targets for therapeutics development.
PMCID: PMC3272117  PMID: 22245967
2.  A new function of the splicing factor SRSF2 in the control of E2F1-mediated cell cycle progression in neuroendocrine lung tumors 
Cell Cycle  2013;12(8):1267-1278.
The transcription factor E2F1 belongs to the E2F family and plays a crucial role during cell cycle progression and apoptosis. Ser/Arg-Rich (SR) proteins are a family of RNA-binding phosphoproteins that control both constitutive and alternative pre-mRNA splicing events. We previously identified the SR protein SRSF2 as a new transcriptional target of E2F1 and demonstrated that both proteins cooperate to induce apoptosis in non-small cell lung carcinoma. In this study, we postulated that SRSF2 is also involved in the proliferative functions of E2F1. Using IHC, we first demonstrate that SRSF2 and its phosphorylated form (P-SRSF2) are overexpressed in neuroendocrine lung tumors that are highly proliferative tumors expressing high levels of E2F1. Importantly, we show a direct correlation between cyclin E, an E2F1-target gene controlling S phase, and P-SRSF2 proteins levels (p = 0.0083), suggesting a role of SRSF2 in E2F1-mediated cellular proliferation. Accordingly, using neuroendocrine lung carcinoma cell lines, we demonstrate that SRSF2 is a cell cycle-regulated protein involved in entry and progression into S phase. We also provide evidence that SRSF2 interacts with E2F1 and stimulates its transcriptional control of cell cycle target genes such as cyclin E. Finally, we show that inhibition of AKT signaling pathway prevents SRSF2 phosphorylation and activity toward E2F1 transcriptional function. Taken together, these results identify a new role of SRSF2 in the control of cell cycle progression and reinforce the functional link between SRSF2 and E2F1 proteins.
PMCID: PMC3674091  PMID: 23518498
AKT; cellular proliferation; E2F1; neuroendocrine lung tumors; p45SKP2; SRSF2
3.  The centrosomal kinase NEK2 is a novel splicing factor kinase involved in cell survival 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;42(5):3218-3227.
NEK2 is a serine/threonine kinase that promotes centrosome splitting and ensures correct chromosome segregation during the G2/M phase of the cell cycle, through phosphorylation of specific substrates. Aberrant expression and activity of NEK2 in cancer cells lead to dysregulation of the centrosome cycle and aneuploidy. Thus, a tight regulation of NEK2 function is needed during cell cycle progression. In this study, we found that NEK2 localizes in the nucleus of cancer cells derived from several tissues. In particular, NEK2 co-localizes in splicing speckles with SRSF1 and SRSF2. Moreover, NEK2 interacts with several splicing factors and phosphorylates some of them, including the oncogenic SRSF1 protein. Overexpression of NEK2 induces phosphorylation of endogenous SR proteins and affects the splicing activity of SRSF1 toward reporter minigenes and endogenous targets, independently of SRPK1. Conversely, knockdown of NEK2, like that of SRSF1, induces expression of pro-apoptotic variants from SRSF1-target genes and sensitizes cells to apoptosis. Our results identify NEK2 as a novel splicing factor kinase and suggest that part of its oncogenic activity may be ascribed to its ability to modulate alternative splicing, a key step in gene expression regulation that is frequently altered in cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC3950702  PMID: 24369428
4.  Expression of Tra2β in Cancer Cells as a Potential Contributory Factor to Neoplasia and Metastasis 
The splicing regulator proteins SRSF1 (also known as ASF/SF2) and SRSF3 (also known as SRP20) belong to the SR family of proteins and can be upregulated in cancer. The SRSF1 gene itself is amplified in some cancer cells, and cancer-associated changes in the expression of MYC also increase SRSF1 gene expression. Increased concentrations of SRSF1 protein promote prooncogenic splicing patterns of a number of key regulators of cell growth. Here, we review the evidence that upregulation of the SR-related Tra2β protein might have a similar role in cancer cells. The TRA2B gene encoding Tra2β is amplified in particular tumours including those of the lung, ovary, cervix, stomach, head, and neck. Both TRA2B RNA and Tra2β protein levels are upregulated in breast, cervical, ovarian, and colon cancer, and Tra2β expression is associated with cancer cell survival. The TRA2B gene is a transcriptional target of the protooncogene ETS-1 which might cause higher levels of expression in some cancer cells which express this transcription factor. Known Tra2β splicing targets have important roles in cancer cells, where they affect metastasis, proliferation, and cell survival. Tra2β protein is also known to interact directly with the RBMY protein which is implicated in liver cancer.
PMCID: PMC3723085  PMID: 23935626
5.  The RNA-binding landscapes of two SR proteins reveal unique functions and binding to diverse RNA classes 
Genome Biology  2012;13(3):R17.
The SR proteins comprise a family of essential, structurally related RNA binding proteins. The complexity of their RNA targets and specificity of RNA recognition in vivo is not well understood. Here we use iCLIP to globally analyze and compare the RNA binding properties of two SR proteins, SRSF3 and SRSF4, in murine cells.
SRSF3 and SRSF4 binding sites mapped to largely non-overlapping target genes, and in vivo consensus binding motifs were distinct. Interactions with intronless and intron-containing mRNAs as well as non-coding RNAs were detected. Surprisingly, both SR proteins bound to the 3' ends of the majority of intronless histone transcripts, implicating SRSF3 and SRSF4 in histone mRNA metabolism. In contrast, SRSF3 but not SRSF4 specifically bound transcripts encoding numerous RNA binding proteins. Remarkably, SRSF3 was shown to modulate alternative splicing of its own as well as three other transcripts encoding SR proteins. These SRSF3-mediated splicing events led to downregulation of heterologous SR proteins via nonsense-mediated decay.
SRSF3 and SRSF4 display unique RNA binding properties underlying diverse cellular regulatory mechanisms, with shared as well as unique coding and non-coding targets. Importantly, CLIP analysis led to the discovery that SRSF3 cross-regulates the expression of other SR protein family members.
PMCID: PMC3439968  PMID: 22436691
6.  The translational landscape of the splicing factor SRSF1 and its role in mitosis 
eLife  2014;3:e02028.
The shuttling serine/arginine rich (SR) protein SRSF1 (previously known as SF2/ASF) is a splicing regulator that also activates translation in the cytoplasm. In order to dissect the gene network that is translationally regulated by SRSF1, we performed a high-throughput deep sequencing analysis of polysomal fractions in cells overexpressing SRSF1. We identified approximately 1500 mRNAs that are translational targets of SRSF1. These include mRNAs encoding proteins involved in cell cycle regulation, such as spindle, kinetochore, and M phase proteins, which are essential for accurate chromosome segregation. Indeed, we show that translational activity of SRSF1 is required for normal mitotic progression. Furthermore, we found that mRNAs that display alternative splicing changes upon SRSF1 overexpression are also its translational targets, strongly suggesting that SRSF1 couples pre-mRNA splicing and translation. These data provide insights on the complex role of SRSF1 in the control of gene expression at multiple levels and its implications in cancer.
eLife digest
Genes contain the instructions to make proteins. These instructions are first transcribed to produce an intermediate molecule called a messenger RNA (mRNA), which is then translated to produce the protein. However, gene sequences are often interrupted by ‘introns’, sections of DNA that do not code for protein, and these introns must be removed from the mRNA molecules via a process called ‘splicing’ before the protein is produced.
Splicing can also be used to ‘mix and match’ sections of gene sequences to produce slightly different versions of the same protein in a process called ‘alternative splicing’. SRSF1 is one of a family of proteins that control both types of gene splicing but also promotes the translation of specific mRNAs. To date only a few of the genes whose translation is regulated by SRSF1 have been identified.
Here, Maslon, Heras et al. have used human cells that artificially produce more SRSF1 protein than normal to identify those genes whose translation is regulated by SRSF1. Over 1500 ‘target genes’ were found; many of which encoded proteins that are involved in cell division—and cells with less SRSF1 than normal failed to divide properly. Maslon, Heras et al. also found a link between alternative splicing and protein translation: many of the mRNAs that were spliced differently in cells that over-produced SRSF1 were also genes whose translation was affected by SRSF1.
Since uncontrolled cell division, or defects in mRNA splicing or protein synthesis are all often linked to cancer, these discoveries might provide new insights into the mechanisms underlying this disease.
PMCID: PMC4027812  PMID: 24842991
translation; splicing; SR proteins; human
7.  RRP1B is a Metastasis Modifier That Regulates the Expression of Alternative mRNA Isoforms Through Interactions with SRSF1 
Oncogene  2013;33(14):1818-1827.
RRP1B (ribosomal RNA processing 1 homolog B) was first identified as a metastasis susceptibility gene in breast cancer through its ability to modulate gene expression in a manner that can be used to accurately predict prognosis in breast cancer. However, the mechanism(s) by which RRP1B modulates gene expression is currently unclear. Many RRP1B binding candidates are involved in alternative splicing, a mechanism of gene expression regulation that is increasingly recognized to be involved in cancer progression and metastasis. One such target is SRSF1 (SF2/ASF), an essential splicing regulator that also functions as an oncoprotein. Earlier studies demonstrated that splicing and transcription occur concurrently and are coupled processes. Given that RRP1B regulates transcriptional activity, we hypothesized that RRP1B also regulates the expression of alternative mRNA isoforms through its interaction with SRSF1. Interaction between RRP1B and SRSF1 was verified by co-immunoprecipitation and co-immunofluorescence. Treatment of cells with transcriptional inhibitors significantly increased this interaction, demonstrating that the association of these two proteins is transcriptionally regulated. To assess the role of RRP1B in the regulation of alternative isoform expression, RNA-seq data were generated from control and Rrp1b-knockdown cells. Knockdown of Rrp1b induced a significant change in isoform expression in over 600 genes compared to control cell lines. This was verified by qRT-PCR using isoform-specific primers. Pathway enrichment analyses identified cell cycle and checkpoint regulation to be those most affected by Rrp1b knockdown. These data suggest that RRP1B suppresses metastatic progression by altering the transcriptome through its interaction with splicing regulators such as SRSF1.
PMCID: PMC3925194  PMID: 23604122
Metastasis; RRP1B; germline modifiers; RNA-seq; alternative splicing; breast cancer
8.  Regulation of Mcl-1 by SRSF1 and SRSF5 in Cancer Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51497.
Up-regulation of the apoptosis-regulatory gene Mcl-1 (myeloid cell leukemia-1) occurs in different cancer types and is linked with drug resistance to cancer therapies. It is well known that Mcl-1 pre-mRNA undergoes alternative splicing events to produce two functionally distinct proteins, Mcl-1S (pro-apoptotic) and Mcl-lL (anti-apoptotic); the latter isoform is predominant in different cancers including breast and ovarian cancer cells. In the present study we report that the RNA-binding protein (RBP) and proto-oncogene SRSF1 (serine and arginine-rich splicing factor 1) influences splicing of Mcl-1 in both MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells and JAR choriocarcinoma cells; we also show for the first time that another RBP SRSF5 affects splicing of Mcl-1 in the MCF-7 cells. Moreover, we report that SRSF1 is involved in other aspects of Mcl-1 regulation with knockdown of SRSF1, by RNAi, resulting in a significant decrease in Mcl-1 protein levels in MCF-7 cells but an increase in JAR cells, respectively, by potentially affecting protein stability and translation of Mcl-l. The key findings from this study highlight the importance of the cellular context of different cancer cells for the function of multifunctional RBPs like SRSF1 and have implications for therapeutic approaches employed to target Mcl-1.
PMCID: PMC3524227  PMID: 23284704
9.  Splicing factor SRSF6 promotes hyperplasia of sensitized skin 
Many biological processes involve gene-expression regulation by alternative splicing. Here, we identify the splicing factor SRSF6 as a regulator of wound healing and tissue homeostasis in skin. We show that SRSF6 is a proto-oncogene that is frequently overexpressed in human skin cancer. Overexpressing it in transgenic mice induces hyperplasia of sensitized skin and promotes aberrant alternative splicing. We identify 139 target genes of SRSF6 in skin, and show that this SR protein binds to alternative exons of the extracellular-matrix protein tenascin C pre-mRNA, promoting the expression of isoforms characteristic of invasive and metastatic cancer in a cell-type-independent manner. SRSF6 overexpression additionally results in depletion of Lgr6+ stem cells, and excessive keratinocyte proliferation and response to injury. Furthermore, the effects of SRSF6 in wound healing assayed in vitro depend on the TNC isoforms. Thus, abnormal SR-protein expression can perturb tissue homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC4118672  PMID: 24440982
10.  Correlation of SRSF1 and PRMT1 expression with clinical status of pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia 
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most frequently-occurring malignant neoplasm in children, but the pathogenesis of the disease remains unclear. In a microarray assay using samples from 100 children with ALL, SFRS1 was found to be up-regulated. Serine/arginine-rich splicing factor 1 (SRSF1, also termed SF2/ASF), encoded by the SFRS1 gene, had been shown to be a pro-oncoprotein. Our previous study indicated that SRSF1 can be methylated by protein arginine methyltransferase 1 (PRMT1) in vitro; however, the biological function of SRSF1 and PRMT1 in pediatric ALL are presently unknown.
Matched, newly diagnosed (ND), complete remission (CR) and relapse (RE) bone marrow samples from 57 patients were collected in order to evaluate the expression patterns of SRSF1 and PRMT1. The potential oncogenic mechanism of SRSF1 and PRMT1 in leukemogenesis was also investigated.
We identified significant up-regulation of SRSF1 and PRMT1 in the ND samples. Importantly, the expression of SRSF1 and PRMT1 returned to normal levels after CR, but rebounded in the RE samples. Our observation that SRSF1 could predict disease relapse was of particular interest, although the expression patterns of SRSF1 and PRMT1 were independent of the cytogenetic subtypes. In pre-B-cell lines, both SRSF1 and PRMT1 expression could be efficiently attenuated by the clinical chemotherapy agents arabinoside cytosine (Ara-c) or vincristine (VCR). Moreover, SRSF1 and PRMT1 were associated with each other in leukemia cells in vivo. Knock-down of SRSF1 resulted in an increase in early apoptosis, which could be further induced by chemotherapeutics.
Our results indicate that SRSF1 serves as an anti-apoptotic factor and potentially contributes to leukemogenesis in pediatric ALL patients by cooperating with PRMT1.
PMCID: PMC3459738  PMID: 22839530
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia; Splicing factor SRSF1; Protein arginine methyltransferase 1 (PRMT1); Alternative splicing; Arginine methylation
11.  Proteasome-Mediated Proteolysis of SRSF5 Splicing Factor Intriguingly Co-occurs with SRSF5 mRNA Upregulation during Late Erythroid Differentiation 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e59137.
SR proteins exhibit diverse functions ranging from their role in constitutive and alternative splicing, to virtually all aspects of mRNA metabolism. These findings have attracted growing interest in deciphering the regulatory mechanisms that control the tissue-specific expression of these SR proteins. In this study, we show that SRSF5 protein decreases drastically during erythroid cell differentiation, contrasting with a concomitant upregulation of SRSF5 mRNA level. Proteasome chemical inhibition provided strong evidence that endogenous SRSF5 protein, as well as protein deriving from stably transfected SRSF5 cDNA, are both targeted to proteolysis as the cells undergo terminal differentiation. Consistently, functional experiments show that overexpression of SRSF5 enhances a specific endogenous pre-mRNA splicing event in proliferating cells, but not in differentiating cells, due to proteasome-mediated targeting of both endogenous and transfection-derived SRSF5. Further investigation of the relationship between SRSF5 structure and its post-translation regulation and function, suggested that the RNA recognition motifs of SRSF5 are sufficient to activate pre-mRNA splicing, whereas proteasome-mediated proteolysis of SRSF5 requires the presence of the C-terminal RS domain of the protein. Phosphorylation of SR proteins is a key post-translation regulation that promotes their activity and subcellular availability. We here show that inhibition of the CDC2-like kinase (CLK) family and mutation of the AKT phosphorylation site Ser86 on SRSF5, have no effect on SRSF5 stability. We reasoned that at least AKT and CLK signaling pathways are not involved in proteasome-induced turnover of SRSF5 during late erythroid development.
PMCID: PMC3594168  PMID: 23536862
12.  Protein Kinase A–Dependent Phosphorylation of Serine 119 in the Proto-Oncogenic Serine/Arginine-Rich Splicing Factor 1 Modulates Its Activity as a Splicing Enhancer Protein 
Genes & Cancer  2011;2(8):841-851.
Serine/arginine-rich splicing factor 1 (SRSF1), previously designated SF2/ASF, belongs to a family of SR proteins that regulate constitutive and alternative splicing. SRSF1 expression is increased in tumors from several tissues and elicits changes in key target genes involved in tumor genesis. Several protein kinases phosphorylate SRSF1, which regulates its localization and function. It is previously reported that protein kinase A (PKA) phosphorylates SRSF1, but the importance of this modification is not well characterized. Here, we show that PKA phosphorylates SRSF1 on serine 119 in vitro. Phosphorylation of SRSF1 on this site enhanced the RNA binding capacity of SRSF1 in vivo and reduced the protein’s capacity to activate splicing of the Minx transcript in vitro. We also confirm an interaction between SRSF1 and PKA Cα1 and demonstrate that this interaction is not dependent on serine 119 phosphorylation but requires active PKA Cα1. We conclude that PKA phosphorylation of SRSF1 at serine 119 regulates SFRS1-dependent RNA binding and processing but not its interaction with PKA.
PMCID: PMC3278900  PMID: 22393468
pre-mRNA splicing regulation; SRSF1; PKA; phosphorylation
13.  A dedicated microarray for in-depth analysis of pre-mRNA splicing events: application to the study of genes involved in the response to targeted anticancer therapies 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:9.
Alternative pre-mRNA splicing (AS) widely expands proteome diversity through the combinatorial assembly of exons. The analysis of AS on a large scale, by using splice-sensitive microarrays, is a highly efficient method to detect the majority of known and predicted alternative transcripts for a given gene. The response to targeted anticancer therapies cannot easily be anticipated without prior knowledge of the expression, by the tumor, of target proteins or genes. To analyze, in depth, transcript structure and levels for genes involved in these responses, including AKT1-3, HER1-4, HIF1A, PIK3CA, PIK3R1-2, VEGFA-D and PIR, we engineered a dedicated gene chip with coverage of an average 185 probes per gene and, especially, exon-exon junction probes. As a proof of concept, we demonstrated the ability of such a chip to detect the effects of over-expressed SRSF2 RNA binding protein on the structure and abundance of mRNA products in H358 lung cancer cells conditionally over-expressing SRSF2. Major splicing changes were observed, including in HER1/EGFR pre-mRNA, which were also seen in human lung cancer samples over-expressing the SRSF2 protein. In addition, we showed that variations in HER1/EGFR pre-mRNA splicing triggered by SRSF2 overexpression in H358 cells resulted in a drop in HER1/EGFR protein level, which correlated with increased sensitivity to gefitinib, an EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor. We propose, therefore, that this novel tool could be especially relevant for clinical applications, with the aim to predict the response before treatment.
PMCID: PMC3899606  PMID: 24428911
DNA chip; Targeted anticancer therapies; Pre-mRNA splicing; SRSF2
14.  Role ofBMPR2 Alternative Splicing in HPAH Penetrance 
Circulation  2012;126(15):1907-1916.
Bone morphogenic protein receptor 2 (BMPR2) gene mutations are the most common cause of heritable PAH (HPAH). However only 20% of mutation carriers get clinical disease. Here we explored the hypothesis that this reduced penetrance is in part due to an alteration in BMPR2 alternative splicing.
Methods and Results
Our data showed that BMPR2 has multiple alternatively spliced variants. Two of these, isoform-A (full-length) and isoform-B (missing exon 12), were expressed in all tissues analyzed. Analysis of cultured lymphocytes (CLs) of 47 BMPR2 mutation-positive HPAH-patients and 35 BMPR2 mutation-positive unaffected-carriers showed that patients had higher levels of isoform-B compared to isoform-A (B/A ratio) than carriers (P=0.002). Furthermore compared to cells with low B/A ratio, cells with high B/A ratio had lower levels of unphosphorylated cofilin following BMP stimulation. Analysis of exon 12 sequences identified an exonic splice enhancer, which binds serine arginine splicing factor 2 (SRSF2). Because SRSF2 promotes exon inclusion, reduced SRSF2 expression would mean that exon 12 would not be included in final BMPR2 mRNA (thus promoting increased isoform-B formation). Western blot analysis showed that SRSF2 expression was lower in cells from patients compared to carriers; and, siRNA-mediated knockdown of SRSF2 in pulmonary microvascular endothelial cells resulted in elevated levels of isoform-B compared to isoform-A, i.e. elevated B/A ratio.
Alterations in BMPR2 isoform ratios may provide an explanation of the reduced penetrance among BMPR2 mutation carriers. This ratio is controlled by an exonic splice enhancer in exon 12 and its associated splicing factor SRSF2.
PMCID: PMC4113011  PMID: 22923426
pulmonary hypertension; Alternate Splicing; BMPR2; Penetrance; SRSF2
15.  SRSF10 Regulates Alternative Splicing and Is Required for Adipocyte Differentiation 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2014;34(12):2198-2207.
During adipocyte differentiation, significant alternative splicing changes occur in association with the adipogenic process. However, little is known about roles played by splicing factors in this process. We observed that mice deficient for the splicing factor SRSF10 exhibit severely impaired development of subcutaneous white adipose tissue (WAT) as a result of defects in adipogenic differentiation. To identify splicing events responsible for this, transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq) analysis was performed using embryonic fibroblast cells. Several SRSF10-affected splicing events that are implicated in adipogenesis have been identified. Notably, lipin1, known as an important regulator during adipogenesis, was further investigated. While lipin1β is mainly involved in lipogenesis, its alternatively spliced isoform lipin1α, generated through the skipping of exon 7, is primarily required for initial adipocyte differentiation. Skipping of exon 7 is controlled by an SRSF10-regulated cis element located in the constitutive exon 8. The activity of this element depends on the binding of SRSF10 and correlates with the relative abundance of lipin1α mRNA. A series of experiments demonstrated that SRSF10 controls the production of lipin1α and thus promotes adipocyte differentiation. Indeed, lipin1α expression could rescue SRSF10-mediated adipogenic defects. Taken together, our results identify SRSF10 as an essential regulator for adipocyte differentiation and also provide new insights into splicing control by SRSF10 in lipin1 pre-mRNA splicing.
PMCID: PMC4054296  PMID: 24710272
16.  Abnormal Expression of the Pre-mRNA Splicing Regulators SRSF1, SRSF2, SRPK1 and SRPK2 in Non Small Cell Lung Carcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e46539.
Splicing abnormalities frequently occur in cancer. A key role as splice site choice regulator is played by the members of the SR (Ser/Arg-rich) family of proteins. We recently demonstrated that SRSF2 is involved in cisplatin-mediated apoptosis of human lung carcinoma cell lines. In this study, by using immunohistochemistry, we demonstrate that the SR proteins SRSF1 and SRSF2 are overexpressed in 63% and 65% of lung adenocarcinoma (ADC) as well as in 68% and 91% of squamous cell lung carcinoma (SCC), respectively, compared to normal lung epithelial cells. In addition, we show that SRSF2 overexpression correlates with high level of phosphorylated SRSF2 in both ADC (p<0.0001) and SCC (p = 0.02), indicating that SRSF2 mostly accumulates under a phosphorylated form in lung tumors. Consistently, we further show that the SR-phosphorylating kinases SRPK1 and SRPK2 are upregulated in 92% and 94% of ADC as well as in 72% and 68% of SCC, respectively. P-SRSF2 and SRPK2 scores are correlated in ADC (p = 0.01). Using lung adenocarcinoma cell lines, we demonstrate that SRSF1 overexpression leads to a more invasive phenotype, evidenced by activation of PI3K/AKT and p42/44MAPK signaling pathways, increased growth capacity in soft agar, acquisition of mesenchymal markers such as E cadherin loss, vimentin and fibronectin gain, and increased resistance to chemotherapies. Finally, we provide evidence that high levels of SRSF1 and P-SRSF2 proteins are associated with extensive stage (III–IV) in ADC. Taken together, these results indicate that a global deregulation of pre-mRNA splicing regulators occurs during lung tumorigenesis and does not predict same outcome in both Non Small Cell Lung Carcinoma histological sub-types, likely contributing to a more aggressive phenotype in adenocarcinoma.
PMCID: PMC3468597  PMID: 23071587
17.  Tissue-specific and SRSF1-dependent splicing of fibronectin, a matrix protein that controls host cell invasion 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2013;24(20):3164-3176.
Matching sets of human primary fibroblasts cocultured with placenta explants are used to compare tissue capacities to support trophoblast invasion. Substituting endometrium with dermis dramatically reduces EVCT interstitial invasion, a phenomenon related to the ECM fibronectin content, FN alternative splicing, and expression of the SR protein SRSF1.
Cell invasion targets specific tissues in physiological placental implantation and pathological metastasis, which raises questions about how this process is controlled. We compare dermis and endometrium capacities to support trophoblast invasion, using matching sets of human primary fibroblasts in a coculture assay with human placental explants. Substituting endometrium, the natural trophoblast target, with dermis dramatically reduces trophoblast interstitial invasion. Our data reveal that endometrium expresses a higher rate of the fibronectin (FN) extra type III domain A+ (EDA+) splicing isoform, which displays stronger matrix incorporation capacity. We demonstrate that the high FN content of the endometrium matrix, and not specifically the EDA domain, supports trophoblast invasion by showing that forced incorporation of plasma FN (EDA–) promotes efficient trophoblast invasion. We further show that the serine/arginine-rich protein serine/arginine-rich splicing factor 1 (SRSF1) is more highly expressed in endometrium and, using RNA interference, that it is involved in the higher EDA exon inclusion rate in endometrium. Our data therefore show a mechanism by which tissues can be distinguished, for their capacity to support invasion, by their different rates of EDA inclusion, linked to their SRSF1 protein levels. In the broader context of cancer pathology, the results suggest that SRSF1 might play a central role not only in the tumor cells, but also in the surrounding stroma.
PMCID: PMC3806663  PMID: 23966470
18.  The role of VEGF165b in pathophysiology 
Cell Adhesion & Migration  2012;6(6):561-568.
Anti-angiogenic vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF)165b and pro-angiogenic VEGF165 are generated from the same transcript, and their relative amounts are dependent on alternative splicing. The role of VEGF165b has not been investigated in as much detail as VEGF165, although it appears to be highly expressed in non-angiogenic tissues and, in contrast with VEGF165, is downregulated in tumors and other pathologies associated with abnormal neovascularization such as diabetic retinopathy or Denys Drash syndrome. VEGF165b inhibits VEGFR2 signaling by inducing differential phosphorylation, and it can be used to block angiogenesis in in vivo models of tumorigenesis and angiogenesis-related eye disease. Recent reports have identified three serine/arginine-rich proteins, SRSF1, SRSF2 and SRSF6, and studied their role in regulating terminal splice-site selection. Since the balance of VEGF isoforms is lost in cancer and angiogenesis-related conditions, control of VEGF splicing could also be used as a basis for therapy in these diseases.
PMCID: PMC3547904  PMID: 23076130
angiogenesis; VEGF165b; alternative splicing; cancer; age-related macular degeneration; diabetic retinopathy; Denys Drash syndrome; pre-eclampsia; systemic sclerosis
19.  HnRNP A1 controls a splicing regulatory circuit promoting mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;41(18):8665-8679.
Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is an embryonic program used by cancer cells to acquire invasive capabilities becoming metastatic. ΔRon, a constitutively active isoform of the Ron tyrosine kinase receptor, arises from skipping of Ron exon 11 and provided the first example of an alternative splicing variant causatively linked to the activation of tumor EMT. Splicing of exon 11 is controlled by two adjacent regulatory elements, a silencer and an enhancer of splicing located in exon 12. The alternative splicing factor and oncoprotein SRSF1 directly binds to the enhancer, induces the production of ΔRon and activates EMT leading to cell locomotion. Interestingly, we now find an important role for hnRNP A1 in controlling the activity of the Ron silencer. HnRNP A1 is able to antagonize the binding of SRSF1 and prevent exon skipping. Notably, hnRNP A1, by inhibiting the production of ΔRon, activates the reversal program, namely the mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition, which instead occurs at the final metastasis sites. Also, hnRNP A1 affects Ron splicing by regulating the expression level of hnRNP A2/B1, which similarly to SRSF1 can promote ΔRon production. These results shed light on how splicing regulation contributes to the tumor progression and provide potential targets to develop anticancer therapies.
PMCID: PMC3794575  PMID: 23863836
20.  Splicing-factor oncoprotein SRSF1 stabilizes p53 via RPL5 and induces cellular senescence 
Molecular cell  2013;50(1):56-66.
Splicing and translation are highly regulated steps of gene expression. Altered expression of proteins involved in these processes can be deleterious. Therefore, the cell has many safeguards against such misregulation. We report that the oncogenic splicing factor SRSF1, which is overexpressed in many cancers, stabilizes the tumor-suppressor protein p53 by abrogating its MDM2-dependent proteasomal degradation. We show that SRSF1 is a necessary component of an MDM2/ribosomal-protein complex—separate from the ribosome—that functions in a p53-dependent ribosomal-stress checkpoint pathway. Consistent with the stabilization of p53, increased SRSF1 expression in primary human fibroblasts decreases cellular proliferation and ultimately triggers oncogene-induced senescence (OIS). These findings underscore the deleterious outcome of SRSF1 overexpression and identify a cellular defense mechanism against its aberrant function. Furthermore, they implicate the RPL5-MDM2 complex in OIS, and demonstrate a link between spliceosomal and ribosomal components—functioning independently of their canonical roles—to monitor cellular physiology and cell-cycle progression.
PMCID: PMC3628402  PMID: 23478443
21.  SRSF1 (SRp30a) regulates the alternative splicing of caspase 9 via a novel intronic splicing enhancer affecting the chemotherapeutic sensitivity of non-small cell lung cancer cells 
Molecular cancer research : MCR  2011;9(7):889-900.
Increasing evidence points to the functional importance of alternative splice variations in cancer pathophysiology with the alternative pre-mRNA processing of caspase 9 as one example. In this study, we delve into the underlying molecular mechanisms that regulate the alternative splicing of caspase 9. Specifically, the pre-mRNA sequence of caspase 9 was analyzed for RNA cis-elements known to interact with SRSF1, a required enhancer for caspase 9 RNA splicing. This analysis revealed thirteen possible RNA cis-elements for interaction with SRSF1 with mutagenesis of these RNA cis-elements identifying a strong intronic splicing enhancer located in intron 6 (C9-I6/ISE). SRSF1 specifically interacted with this sequence, which was required for SRSF1 to act as a splicing enhancer of the inclusion of the four exon cassette. To further determine the biological importance of this mechanism, we employed RNA oligonucleotides to redirect caspase 9 pre-mRNA splicing in favor of caspase 9b expression, which resulted in an increase in the IC50 of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells to daunorubicin, cisplatinum, and paclitaxel. In contrast, downregulation of caspase 9b induced a decrease in the the IC50 of these chemotherapeutic drugs. Lastly, these studies demonstrated that caspase 9 RNA splicing was a major mechanism for the synergistic effects of combination therapy with daunorubicin and erlotinib. Overall, we have identified a novel intronic splicing enhancer that regulates caspase 9 RNA splicing and specifically interacts with SRSF1. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the alternative splicing of caspase 9 is an important molecular mechanism with therapeutic relevance to NSCLCs.
PMCID: PMC3140550  PMID: 21622622
ceramide; non-small cell lung cancer; RNA trans-factor; tumor repressor; oncogene; ASF/SF2; SRp30a; SRSF1; chemotherapy; erlotinib; daunorubicin; cisplatinum; paclitaxel
22.  Transcriptome analysis of alternative splicing events regulated by SRSF10 reveals position-dependent splicing modulation 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(6):4019-4030.
Splicing factor SRSF10 is known to function as a sequence-specific splicing activator. Here, we used RNA-seq coupled with bioinformatics analysis to identify the extensive splicing network regulated by SRSF10 in chicken cells. We found that SRSF10 promoted both exon inclusion and exclusion. Motif analysis revealed that SRSF10 binding to cassette exons was associated with exon inclusion, whereas the binding of SRSF10 within downstream constitutive exons was associated with exon exclusion. This positional effect was further demonstrated by the mutagenesis of potential SRSF10 binding motifs in two minigene constructs. Functionally, many of SRSF10-verified alternative exons are linked to pathways of stress and apoptosis. Consistent with this observation, cells depleted of SRSF10 expression were far more susceptible to endoplasmic reticulum stress-induced apoptosis than control cells. Importantly, reconstituted SRSF10 in knockout cells recovered wild-type splicing patterns and considerably rescued the stress-related defects. Together, our results provide mechanistic insight into SRSF10-regulated alternative splicing events in vivo and demonstrate that SRSF10 plays a crucial role in cell survival under stress conditions.
PMCID: PMC3973337  PMID: 24442672
23.  WT1 mutants reveal SRPK1 to be a downstream angiogenesis target by altering VEGF splicing 
Cancer cell  2011;20(6):768-780.
Angiogenesis is regulated by the balance of pro-angiogenic VEGF165 and anti-angiogenic VEGF165b splice isoforms. Mutations in WT1, the Wilms’ tumour suppressor gene, suppress VEGF165b and cause abnormal gonadogenesis, renal failure and Wilms’ tumours. In WT1 mutant cells, reduced VEGF165b was due to lack of WT1 mediated transcriptional repression of the splicing factor kinase SRPK1. WT1 bound to the SRPK1 promoter, and repressed expression through a specific WT1 binding-site. In WT1 mutant cells SRPK1-mediated hyperphosphorylation of the oncogenic RNA binding protein SRSF1 regulated splicing of VEGF, and rendered WT1 mutant cells pro-angiogenic. Altered VEGF splicing was reversed by wildtype WT1, knockdown of SRSF1 or SRPK1 and inhibition of SRPK1, which prevented in vitro and in vivo angiogenesis and associated tumour growth.
PMCID: PMC3574979  PMID: 22172722
24.  SRSF1 regulates the assembly of pre-mRNA processing factors in nuclear speckles 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2012;23(18):3694-3706.
SRSF1 splicing factor and nuclear-localized MALAT1 RNA influence the assembly of nuclear speckles. Depletion of SRSF1 compromises the association of splicing factors to nuclear speckles and influences the levels of other SR proteins. SRSF1 regulates RNA polymerase II–mediated transcription.
The mammalian cell nucleus is compartmentalized into nonmembranous subnuclear domains that regulate key nuclear functions. Nuclear speckles are subnuclear domains that contain pre-mRNA processing factors and noncoding RNAs. Many of the nuclear speckle constituents work in concert to coordinate multiple steps of gene expression, including transcription, pre-mRNA processing and mRNA transport. The mechanism that regulates the formation and maintenance of nuclear speckles in the interphase nucleus is poorly understood. In the present study, we provide evidence for the involvement of nuclear speckle resident proteins and RNA components in the organization of nuclear speckles. SR-family splicing factors and their binding partner, long noncoding metastasis-associated lung adenocarcinoma transcript 1 RNA, can nucleate the assembly of nuclear speckles in the interphase nucleus. Depletion of SRSF1 in human cells compromises the association of splicing factors to nuclear speckles and influences the levels and activity of other SR proteins. Furthermore, on a stably integrated reporter gene locus, we demonstrate the role of SRSF1 in RNA polymerase II–mediated transcription. Our results suggest that SR proteins mediate the assembly of nuclear speckles and regulate gene expression by influencing both transcriptional and posttranscriptional activities within the cell nucleus.
PMCID: PMC3442416  PMID: 22855529
25.  SRSF1 Facilitates Cytosolic DNA-Induced Production of Type I Interferons Recognized by RIG-I 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(2):e0115354.
Evidence has shown that psoriasis is closely associated with infection; however, the mechanism of this association remains unclear. In mammalian cells, viral or bacterial infection is accompanied by the release of cytosolic DNA, which in turn triggers the production of type-I interferons (IFNs). Type I IFNs and their associated genes are significantly upregulated in psoriatic lesions. RIG-I is also highly upregulated in psoriatic lesions and is responsible for IFN production. However, RIG-I mediated regulatory signaling in psoriasis is poorly understood.
We screened a cDNA library and identified potential RIG-I interacting partners that may play a role in psoriasis.
We found that serine/arginine-rich splicing factor 1 (SRSF1) could specifically interact with RIG-I to facilitate RIG-I mediated production of type-I IFN that is triggered by cytosolic DNA. We found SRSF1 associates with RNA polymerase III and RIG-I in a DNA-dependent manner. In addition, treatment with a TNFα inhibitor downregulated SRSF1 expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from psoriasis vulgaris patients.
Based on the abundance of pathogenic cytosolic DNA that is detected in psoriatic lesions, our finding that RIG-I interacts with SRSF1 to regulate type-I IFN production reveals a critical link regarding how cytosolic DNA specifically activates aberrant IFN expression. These data may provide new therapeutic targets for the treatment of psoriasis.
PMCID: PMC4319963  PMID: 25658361

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