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1.  Human Papillomavirus 16 Oncoprotein Expression Is Controlled by the Cellular Splicing Factor SRSF2 (SC35) 
Journal of Virology  2015;89(10):5276-5287.
High-risk human papillomaviruses (HR-HPV) cause anogenital cancers, including cervical cancer, and head and neck cancers. Human papillomavirus 16 (HPV16) is the most prevalent HR-HPV. HPV oncogenesis is driven by two viral oncoproteins, E6 and E7, which are expressed through alternative splicing of a polycistronic RNA to yield four major splice isoforms (E6 full length, E6*I, E6*II, E6*X). The production of multiple mRNA isoforms from a single gene is controlled by serine/arginine-rich splicing factors (SRSFs), and HPV16 infection induces overexpression of a subset of these, SRSFs 1, 2, and 3. In this study, we examined whether these proteins could control HPV16 oncoprotein expression. Small interfering RNA (siRNA) depletion experiments revealed that SRSF1 did not affect oncoprotein RNA levels. While SRSF3 knockdown caused some reduction in E6E7 expression, depletion of SRSF2 resulted in a significant loss of E6E7 RNAs, resulting in reduced levels of the E6-regulated p53 proteins and E7 oncoprotein itself. SRSF2 contributed to the tumor phenotype of HPV16-positive cervical cancer cells, as its depletion resulted in decreased cell proliferation, reduced colony formation, and increased apoptosis. SRSF2 did not affect transcription from the P97 promoter that controls viral oncoprotein expression. Rather, RNA decay experiments showed that SRSF2 is required to maintain stability of E6E7 mRNAs. These data show that SRSF2 is a key regulator of HPV16 oncoprotein expression and cervical tumor maintenance.
IMPORTANCE Expression of the HPV16 oncoproteins E7 and E6 drives HPV-associated tumor formation. Although increased transcription may yield increased levels of E6E7 mRNAs, it is known that the RNAs can have increased stability upon integration into the host genome. SR splicing factors (SRSFs) control splicing but can also control other events in the RNA life cycle, including RNA stability. Previously, we demonstrated increased levels of SRSFs 1, 2, and 3 during cervical tumor progression. Now we show that SRSF2 is required for expression of E6E7 mRNAs in cervical tumor but not nontumor cells and may act by inhibiting their decay. SRSF2 depletion in W12 tumor cells resulted in increased apoptosis, decreased proliferation, and decreased colony formation, suggesting that SRSF2 has oncogenic functions in cervical tumor progression. SRSF function can be targeted by known drugs that inhibit SRSF phosphorylation, suggesting a possible new avenue in abrogating HPV oncoprotein activity.
PMCID: PMC4442513  PMID: 25717103
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
3.  Serine/arginine-rich splicing factor 3 (SRSF3) regulates homologous recombination-mediated DNA repair 
Molecular Cancer  2015;14:158.
Our previous work found that serine/arginine-rich splicing factor 3 (SRSF3) was overexpressed in human ovarian cancer and the overexpression of SRSF3 was required for ovarian cancer cell growth and survival. The mechanism underlying the role of SRSF3 in ovarian cancer remains to be addressed.
We conducted microarray analysis to profile the gene expression and splicing in SRSF3-knockdown cells and employed quantitative PCR and western blotting to validate the profiling results. We used chromatin immunoprecipitation to study transcription and the direct repeat green fluorescent protein reporter assay to study homologous recombination-mediated DNA repair (HRR).
We identified 687 genes with altered expression and 807 genes with altered splicing in SRSF3-knockdown cells. Among expression-altered genes, those involved in HRR, including BRCA1, BRIP1 and RAD51, were enriched and were all downregulated. We demonstrated that the downregulation of BRCA1, BRIP1 and RAD51 expression was caused by decreased transcription and not due to increased nonsense-mediated mRNA decay. Further, we found that SRSF3 knockdown impaired HRR activity in the cell and increased the level of γ-H2AX, a biomarker for double-strand DNA breaks. Finally, we observed that SRSF3 knockdown changed splicing pattern of KMT2C, a H3K4-specific histone methyltransferase, and reduced the levels of mono- and trimethylated H3K4.
These results suggest that SRSF3 is a new regulator of HRR process, which possibly regulates the expression of HRR-related genes indirectly through an epigenetic pathway. This new function of SRSF3 not only explains why overexpression of SRSF3 is required for ovarian cancer cell growth and survival but also offers a new insight into the mechanism of the neoplastic transformation.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12943-015-0422-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4539922  PMID: 26282282
4.  Emerging functions of SRSF1, splicing factor and oncoprotein, in RNA metabolism and cancer 
Molecular cancer research : MCR  2014;12(9):1195-1204.
Serine/Arginine Splicing Factor 1 (SRSF1) is the archetype member of the SR protein family of splicing regulators. Since its discovery, over two decades ago, SRSF1 has been repeatedly surprising and intriguing investigators by the plethora of complex biological pathways it regulates. These include several key aspects of mRNA metabolism, such as mRNA splicing, stability, and translation, as well as other mRNA-independent processes, such as miRNA (miR) processing, protein sumoylation, and the nucleolar-stress response. In this review, the structural features of SRSF1 are discussed as they relate to the intricate mechanism of splicing and the multiplicity of functions it performs. Similarly, a list of relevant alternatively spliced transcripts and SRSF1 interacting proteins is provided. Finally, emphasis is given to the deleterious consequences of overexpression of the SRSF1 proto-oncogene in human cancers, and the complex mechanisms and pathways underlying SRSF1-mediated transformation. The accumulated knowledge about SRSF1 provides critical insight into the integral role it plays in maintaining cellular homeostasis, and suggests new targets for anti-cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC4163531  PMID: 24807918
5.  Expression of SRSF3 is Correlated with Carcinogenesis and Progression of Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma 
Objective: Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is the most common malignancy of head and neck with high mortality rates. The mechanisms of initiation and development of OSCC remain largely unknown. Dysregulated alternative splicing of pre-mRNA has been associated with OSCC. Splicing factor SRSF3 is a proto-oncogene and overexpressed in multiple cancers. The aim of this study was to uncover the relationship between SRSF3 and carcinogenesis and progression of oral squamous cell carcinoma.
Design and Methods: The expression of SRSF3 in oral normal, dysplasia, or carcinoma tissues was analyzed by immunohistochemistry. The expression levels of EMT-related genes were quantified by real-time quantitative RT-PCR. The expression of SRSF3 in DMBA treated primary cultured oral epithelial cells were analyzed by western blot.
Result: SRSF3 is overexpressed in oral cancer and moderate or severe dysplasia tissues. Patients with high grade cancer or lymphatic metastasis showed up-regulated expression of SRSF3. Knockdown of SRSF3 repressed the expression of Snail and N-cadherin in vitro. Carcinogen DMBA treated primary cultured oral epithelial cells showed significantly increased SRSF3 level than in control cells.
Conclusion: Our results suggested that SRSF3 is associated with the initiation and development of OSCC and may be a biomarker and therapeutic target of OSCC.
PMCID: PMC4946124  PMID: 27429590
SRSF3; oral squamous cell carcinoma; metastasis.
6.  SRSF2 promotes splicing and transcription of exon 11 included isoform in Ron proto-oncogene 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2014;1839(11):1132-1140.
The product of proto-oncogene Ron is a human receptor for the macrophage-stimulating protein (MSP). Upon activation, Ron is able to induce cell dissociation, migration and matrix invasion. Exon 11 skipping of Ron pre-mRNA produces Ron△165 protein that is constitutively active even in the absence of its ligand. Here we show that knockdown of SRSF2 promotes the decrease of exon 11 inclusion, whereas overexpression of SRSF2 promotes exon 11 inclusion. We demonstrate that SRSF2 promotes exon 11 inclusion through splicing and transcription procedure. We also present evidence that reduced expression of SRSF2 induce a decrease in the splicing of both intron 10 and 11, by contrast, overexpression of SRSF2 induce an increase in the splicing of intron 10 and 11. Through mutation analysis, we show that SRSF2 functionally target and physically interact with CGAG sequence on exon 11. In addition, we reveal that weak strength of splice sites of exon 11 is not required for the function of SRSF2 on the splicing of Ron exon 11. Our results indicate that SRSF2 promotes exon 11 inclusion of Ron proto-oncogene through targeting exon 11. Our study provides a novel mechanism by which Ron is expressed.
PMCID: PMC4535357  PMID: 25220236
Ron; proto-oncogene; pre-mRNA splicing; SRSF2; transcription; exon 11 inclusion
7.  Human Papillomavirus E2 Regulates SRSF3 (SRp20) To Promote Capsid Protein Expression in Infected Differentiated Keratinocytes 
Journal of Virology  2016;90(10):5047-5058.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) life cycle is tightly linked to differentiation of the infected epithelial cell, suggesting a sophisticated interplay between host cell metabolism and virus replication. Previously, we demonstrated in differentiated keratinocytes in vitro and in vivo that HPV type 16 (HPV16) infection caused increased levels of the cellular SR splicing factors (SRSFs) SRSF1 (ASF/SF2), SRSF2 (SC35), and SRSF3 (SRp20). Moreover, the viral E2 transcription and replication factor that is expressed at high levels in differentiating keratinocytes could bind and control activity of the SRSF1 gene promoter. Here, we show that the E2 proteins of HPV16 and HPV31 control the expression of SRSFs 1, 2, and 3 in a differentiation-dependent manner. E2 has the greatest transactivation effect on expression of SRSF3. Small interfering RNA depletion experiments in two different models of the HPV16 life cycle (W12E and NIKS16) and one model of the HPV31 life cycle (CIN612-9E) revealed that only SRSF3 contributed significantly to regulation of late events in the virus life cycle. Increased levels of SRSF3 are required for L1 mRNA and capsid protein expression. Capsid protein expression was regulated specifically by SRSF3 and appeared independent of other SRSFs. Taken together, these data suggest a significant role of the HPV E2 protein in regulating late events in the HPV life cycle through transcriptional regulation of SRSF3 expression.
IMPORTANCE Human papillomavirus replication is accomplished in concert with differentiation of the infected epithelium. Virus capsid protein expression is confined to the upper epithelial layers so as to avoid immune detection. In this study, we demonstrate that the viral E2 transcription factor activates the promoter of the cellular SRSF3 RNA processing factor. SRSF3 is required for expression of the E4^L1 mRNA and so controls expression of the HPV L1 capsid protein. Thus, we reveal a new dimension of virus-host interaction crucial for production of infectious virus. SRSF proteins are known drug targets. Therefore, this study provides an excellent basis for developing strategies to regulate capsid protein production in the infected epithelium and the production of new virions.
PMCID: PMC4859725  PMID: 26962216
8.  SRSF3 and hnRNP H1 regulate a splicing hotspot of HER2 in breast cancer cells 
RNA Biology  2015;12(10):1139-1151.
Overexpression of the oncogene HER2 occurs in 20–30% of invasive breast cancer and is associated with poor prognosis. A number of different splice variants of HER2 have been identified which produce functionally different proteins. Previously these splice variants have been investigated separately, but in the present study we collectively look at the expression and regulation of a group of HER2 splice variants produced by a splicing hotspot. Initial investigation in a cohort of tumor samples showed large variations in HER2 variant expression between patient samples. RNA interference studies identified 2 splicing factors involved in the regulation of splicing within this region, hnRNP H1 and SRSF3. siRNA targeting hnRNP H1 increases levels of X5 and the oncogenic variant Δ16HER2. Furthermore RNA chromatography assays demonstrated binding of hnRNP H1 to RNA in this region. Additionally the proto-oncogene SRSF3 was also identified as an important regulator of splicing with SRSF3 knockdown resulting in changes in all the splice variants located at the hotspot. Most notably knockdown of SRSF3 resulted in a switch from the oncogenic Δ16HER2 to p100 which inhibits cell proliferation. Binding of SRSF3 to RNA within this region was also demonstrated by RNA chromatography and more specifically 2 SRSF3 binding sites were identified within exon 15. SRSF3 and hnRNP H1 are the first splicing factors identified which regulate the production of these functionally distinct HER2 splice variants and therefore maybe important for the regulation of HER2 signaling.
PMCID: PMC4829299  PMID: 26367347
breast cancer; HER2; hnRNP H1; RNA binding proteins; splice variants; SRSF3
9.  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
10.  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
11.  Construction and evaluation of an adenoviral vector for the liver-specific expression of the serine/arginine-rich splicing factor, SRSF3 
Plasmid  2015;82:1-9.
Serine/arginine-rich splicing factor-3 (SRSF3), alternatively known as SRp20, is a member of the highly-conserved SR protein family of mRNA splicing factors. SRSF3 generally functions as an enhancer of mRNA splicing by binding to transcripts in a sequence-specific manner to both recruit and stabilize the binding of spliceosomal components to the mRNA. In liver, expression of SRSF3 is relatively low and its activity is increased in response to insulin and feeding a high carbohydrate diet. We sought to over-express SRSF3 in primary rat hepatocytes to identify regulatory targets. A standard adenoviral shuttle vector system containing an epitope-tagged SRSF3 under the transcriptional control of the CMV promoter could not be used to produce infectious adenoviral particles. SRSF3 over-expression in the packaging cell line prevented the production of infectious adenovirus particles by interfering with the viral splicing program. To circumvent this issue, SRSF3 expression from the shuttle vector was blocked by placing its expression under the control of the liver-specific albumin promoter. In this system, the FLAG-SRSF3 transgene is only expressed in the target cells (hepatocytes) but not in the packaging cell line. An additional benefit of the albumin promoter is that expression of the transgene does not require the addition of hormones or antibiotics to drive SRSF3 expression in the hepatocytes. Robust expression of FLAG-SRSF3 protein is detected in both HepG2 cells and primary rat hepatocytes infected with adenovirus prepared from this new shuttle vector. Furthermore, abundances of several known and suspected mRNA targets of SRSF3 action are increased in response to over-expression using this virus. This report details the construction of the albumin promoter-driven adenoviral shuttle vector, termed pmAlbAd5-FLAG.SRSF3, that can be used to generate functional adenovirus to express FLAG-SRSF3 specifically in liver. This vector would be suitable for over-expression of other splicing factors that could inhibit virus production. In addition, this vector would allow only liver-specific expression of other cargo genes when used in a whole-animal paradigm.
PMCID: PMC4648679  PMID: 26241824
SRSF3; adenovirus; liver-specific over-expression; liver; mRNA splicing; hepatocytes
12.  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
13.  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
14.  Myelodysplasia-associated mutations in serine/arginine-rich splicing factor SRSF2 lead to alternative splicing of CDC25C 
BMC Molecular Biology  2016;17(1):18.
Serine–arginine rich splicing factor 2 (SRSF2) is a protein known for its role in RNA splicing and genome stability. It has been recently discovered that SRSF2, along with other splicing regulators, is frequently mutated in patients with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). The most common MDS mutations in SRSF2 occur at proline 95; the mutant proteins are shown to have different RNA binding preferences, which may contribute to splicing changes detected in mutant cells. However, the influence of these SRSF2 MDS-associated mutations on specific splicing events remains poorly understood.
A tetracycline-inducible TF-1 erythroleukemia cell line was transduced with retroviruses to create cell lines expressing HA-tagged wildtype SRSF2, SRSF2 with proline 95 point mutations found in MDS, or SRSF2 with a deletion of one of the four major domains of the protein. Effects of these mutants on apoptosis and specific alternative splicing events were evaluated. Cells were also treated with DNA damaging drugs for comparison. MDS-related P95 point mutants of SRSF2 were expressed and phosphorylated at similar levels as wildtype SRSF2. However, cells expressing mutant SRSF2 exhibited higher levels of apoptosis than cells expressing wildtype SRSF2. Regarding alternative splicing events, in nearly all examined cases, SRSF2 P95 mutants acted in a similar fashion as the wildtype SRSF2. However, cells expressing SRSF2 P95 mutants had a percent increase in the C5 spliced isoform of cell division cycle 25C (CDC25C). The same alternative splicing of CDC25C was detected by treating cells with DNA damaging drugs, such as cisplatin, camptothecin, and trichostatin A at appropriate dosage. However, unlike DNA damaging drugs, SRSF2 P95 mutants did not activate the Ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) pathway.
SRSF2 P95 mutants lead to alternative splicing of CDC25C in a manner that is not dependent on the DNA damage response.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12867-016-0071-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4994158  PMID: 27552991
SRSF2; Myelodysplastic syndromes; RNA splicing; CDC25C; DNA damage response
15.  A genome landscape of SRSF3-regulated splicing events and gene expression in human osteosarcoma U2OS cells 
Nucleic Acids Research  2015;44(4):1854-1870.
Alternative RNA splicing is an essential process to yield proteomic diversity in eukaryotic cells, and aberrant splicing is often associated with numerous human diseases and cancers. We recently described serine/arginine-rich splicing factor 3 (SRSF3 or SRp20) being a proto-oncogene. However, the SRSF3-regulated splicing events responsible for its oncogenic activities remain largely unknown. By global profiling of the SRSF3-regulated splicing events in human osteosarcoma U2OS cells, we found that SRSF3 regulates the expression of 60 genes including ERRFI1, ANXA1 and TGFB2, and 182 splicing events in 164 genes, including EP300, PUS3, CLINT1, PKP4, KIF23, CHK1, SMC2, CKLF, MAP4, MBNL1, MELK, DDX5, PABPC1, MAP4K4, Sp1 and SRSF1, which are primarily associated with cell proliferation or cell cycle. Two SRSF3-binding motifs, CCAGC(G)C and A(G)CAGCA, are enriched to the alternative exons. An SRSF3-binding site in the EP300 exon 14 is essential for exon 14 inclusion. We found that the expression of SRSF1 and SRSF3 are mutually dependent and coexpressed in normal and tumor tissues/cells. SRSF3 also significantly regulates the expression of at least 20 miRNAs, including a subset of oncogenic or tumor suppressive miRNAs. These data indicate that SRSF3 affects a global change of gene expression to maintain cell homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC4770227  PMID: 26704980
16.  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
17.  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
18.  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
19.  Comparative expression patterns and diagnostic efficacies of SR splicing factors and HNRNPA1 in gastric and colorectal cancer 
BMC Cancer  2016;16:358.
Serine/arginine-rich splicing factors (SRSFs) and HNRNPA1 have oncogenic properties. However, their proteomic expressions and practical priority in gastric cancer (GC) and colorectal cancer (CRC) are mostly unknown. To apply SFs in clinics, effective marker selection and characterization of properties in the target organ are essential.
We concurrently analyzed SRSF1, 3, and 5–7, and HNRNPA1, together with the conventional tumor marker carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), in stomach and colorectal tissue samples (n = 420) using semiquantitative immunoblot, subcellular fractionation, and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction methods.
In the semiquantitative immunoblot analysis, HNRNPA1 and SRSF7 levels were significantly higher in GC than in gastric normal mucosa, and SRSF7 levels were higher in intestinal-type compared with diffuse-type of gastric adenocarcinoma. Of the SFs, only HNRNPA1 presented greater than 50 % upregulation (cancer/normal mucosa > 2-fold) incidences and CEA-comparable, acceptable (>70 %) detection accuracy (74 %) for GC. All SF protein levels were significantly higher in CRC than in colorectal normal mucosa, and HNRNPA1 levels were higher in low-stage CRC compared with high-stage CRC. Among the SFs, HNRNPA1 and SRSF3 presented the two highest upregulation incidences (88 % and 74 %, respectively) and detection accuracy (90 % and 84 %, respectively) for CRC. The detection accuracy of HNRNPA1 was comparable to that of CEA in low (≤ II)-stage CRC but was inferior to that of CEA in high (>II)-stage CRC. Extranuclear distributions of HNRNPA1 and SRSF6 (cytosol/microsome) differed from those of other SRSFs (membrane/organelle) in both cancers. In an analysis of the six SF mRNAs, all mRNAs presented unacceptable detection accuracies (≤70 %) in both cancers, and all mRNAs except SRSF6 were disproportionate to the corresponding protein levels in GC.
Our results provide a comprehensive insight into the six SF expression profiles in GC and indicate that, among the SFs, HNRNPA1, but not HNRNPA1 mRNA, is the most effective, novel GC marker. Regardless of the good to excellent detection accuracy of SRSF3 and HNRNPA1 in CRC, the SFs have lower practical priority than CEA, especially for high-stage CRC detection.
PMCID: PMC4901428  PMID: 27282379
Gastric cancer; Splicing factor; HNRNPA1; SRSF7; Carcinoembryonic antigen
20.  SRSF1-Regulated Alternative Splicing in Breast Cancer 
Molecular cell  2015;60(1):105-117.
Splicing factor SRSF1 is upregulated in human breast tumors, and its overexpression promotes transformation of mammary cells. Using RNA-seq, we identified SRSF1-regulated alternative splicing (AS) targets in organotypic three-dimensional MCF-10A cell cultures that mimic a context relevant to breast cancer. We identified and validated hundreds of endogenous SRSF1-regulated AS events. De-novo discovery of the SRSF1 binding motif reconciled discrepancies in previous motif analyses. Using a Bayesian model, we determined positional effects of SRSF1 binding on cassette exons: binding close to the 5′ splice site generally promoted exon inclusion, whereas binding near the 3′ splice site promoted either exon skipping or inclusion. Finally, we identified SRSF1-regulated AS events deregulated in human tumors; overexpressing one such isoform, exon-9-included CASC4, increased acinar size and proliferation, and decreased apoptosis, partially recapitulating SRSF1's oncogenic effects. Thus, we uncovered SRSF1 positive and negative regulatory mechanisms, and oncogenic AS events that represent potential targets for therapeutics development.
Graphical abstract
PMCID: PMC4597910  PMID: 26431027
21.  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
22.  The control of alternative splicing by SRSF1 in myelinated afferents contributes to the development of neuropathic pain 
Neurobiology of Disease  2016;96:186-200.
Neuropathic pain results from neuroplasticity in nociceptive neuronal networks. Here we demonstrate that control of alternative pre-mRNA splicing, through the splice factor serine-arginine splice factor 1 (SRSF1), is integral to the processing of nociceptive information in the spinal cord.
Neuropathic pain develops following a partial saphenous nerve ligation injury, at which time SRSF1 is activated in damaged myelinated primary afferent neurons, with minimal found in small diameter (IB4 positive) dorsal root ganglia neurons. Serine arginine protein kinase 1 (SRPK1) is the principal route of SRSF1 activation. Spinal SRPK1 inhibition attenuated SRSF1 activity, abolished neuropathic pain behaviors and suppressed central sensitization. SRSF1 was principally expressed in large diameter myelinated (NF200-rich) dorsal root ganglia sensory neurons and their excitatory central terminals (vGLUT1 + ve) within the dorsal horn of the lumbar spinal cord.
Expression of pro-nociceptive VEGF-Axxxa within the spinal cord was increased after nerve injury, and this was prevented by SRPK1 inhibition. Additionally, expression of anti-nociceptive VEGF-Axxxb isoforms was elevated, and this was associated with reduced neuropathic pain behaviors. Inhibition of VEGF receptor-2 signaling in the spinal cord attenuated behavioral nociceptive responses to mechanical, heat and formalin stimuli, indicating that spinal VEGF receptor-2 activation has potent pro-nociceptive actions. Furthermore, intrathecal VEGF-A165a resulted in mechanical and heat hyperalgesia, whereas the sister inhibitory isoform VEGF-A165b resulted in anti-nociception. These results support a role for myelinated fiber pathways, and alternative pre-mRNA splicing of factors such as VEGF-A in the spinal processing of neuropathic pain. They also indicate that targeting pre-mRNA splicing at the spinal level could lead to a novel target for analgesic development.
•SRSF1 (Serine Arginine-rich Splicing Factor 1) is located in myelinated sensory afferent terminals.•Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor-A (VEGF-A) expression regulates chronic pain at the level of the spinal cord.•SRPK1 (Serine Arginine-rich Protein Kinase 1)-SRSF1 mediated alternative RNA splicing in the spinal cord modulates pain.
PMCID: PMC5113660  PMID: 27616424
VEGF-A, vascular endothelial growth factor – A; SRSF1, Serine Arginine-rich Splicing Factor 1; SRPK1, Serine Arginine-rich Protein Kinase 1; VEGFR2, vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2; PSNI, partial saphenous nerve ligation injury; VEGF-A; SRPK1; SRSF1; Myelinated; Spinal cord; Neuropathic pain
23.  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
24.  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
25.  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

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