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Cell reports  2012;1(2):110-117.
The SR protein splicing factor SRSF1 is a potent proto-oncogene that is frequently upregulated in cancer. Here we show that SRSF1 is a direct target of the transcription-factor oncoprotein MYC. These two oncogenes are significantly co-expressed in lung carcinomas, and MYC knockdown downregulates SRSF1 expression in lung-cancer cell lines. MYC directly activates transcription of SRSF1 through two non-canonical E-boxes in its promoter. The resulting increase in SRSF1 protein is sufficient to modulate alternative splicing of a subset of transcripts. In particular, MYC induction leads to SRSF1-mediated alternative splicing of the signaling kinase MKNK2 and the transcription factor TEAD1. SRSF1 knockdown reduces MYC’s oncogenic activity, decreasing proliferation and anchorage-independent growth. These results suggest a mechanism for SRSF1 upregulation in tumors with elevated MYC, and identify SRSF1 as a critical MYC target that contributes to its oncogenic potential by enabling MYC to regulate the expression of specific protein isoforms through alternative splicing.
PMCID: PMC3334311  PMID: 22545246
2.  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
3.  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
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 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
6.  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
7.  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
8.  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
9.  SRSF1 and SRSF9 RNA binding proteins promote Wnt signalling-mediated tumorigenesis by enhancing β-catenin biosynthesis 
EMBO Molecular Medicine  2013;5(5):737-750.
Wnt/β-catenin signalling is widely implicated in embryogenesis, tissue homeostasis and tumorigenesis. The key event in Wnt signalling activation is β-catenin accumulation, which is controlled by both its production and degradation. However, much more emphasis has been placed on the understanding of its degradation. Here, we show that the synthesis of β-catenin protein, which requires a group of serine/arginine-rich splicing factors (SRSF), also contributes to its tumorigenic activity. Overexpression of SRSF1 and SRSF9 promote β-catenin accumulation via the recruitment of β-catenin mRNA and by enhancing its translation in an mTOR-dependent manner. We further demonstrate that, like SRSF1, SRSF9 is also an oncogene, and is frequently overexpressed in multiple types of human tumours. Finally, our results suggest that promoting degradation and blocking production of β-catenin synergistically reduce β-catenin levels under pathological conditions and that a combinational therapy could be a promising approach for the treatment of cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC3662316  PMID: 23592547
β-catenin synthesis; oncogene; SRSF1; SRSF9; Wnt signalling
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.  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
12.  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
13.  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
14.  AR-A 014418 Used against GSK3beta Downregulates Expression of hnRNPA1 and SF2/ASF Splicing Factors 
Journal of Oncology  2014;2014:695325.
Glioblastoma is one of the most aggressive forms of primary brain tumors of glial cells, including aberrant regulation of glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK3β) and splicing factors deregulation. Here, we investigate the role of small molecule AR-A014418 and Manzamine A against GSK3 kinase with factual control on splicing regulators. AR-A 014418, 48 hrs posttreatment, caused dose (25–100 μM) dependent inhibition in U373 and U87 cell viability with also inhibition in activating tyrosine phosphorylation of GSK3alpha (Tyr 279) and beta (Tyr 216). Furthermore, inhibition of GSK3 kinase resulted in significant downregulation of splicing factors (SRSF1, SRSF5, PTPB1, and hnRNP) in U87 cells with downregulation of antiapoptotic genes such as BCL2, BCL-xL, Survivin, MCL1, and BMI1. Similarly, downregulation of splicing factors was also observed in U373 glioma cell after using SiRNA against AKT and GSK3beta kinase. In addition, potential roles of AR-A014418 in downregulation of splicing factors were reflected with decrease in Anxa7 (VA) variant and increase in Anxa7 WT tumor suppressor transcript and protein. The above results suggest that inhibition of GSK3beta kinase activation could be the beneficial strategy to inhibit the occurrence of alternative cancer escape pathway via downregulating the expression of splicing regulators as well as apoptosis.
PMCID: PMC3914408  PMID: 24550987
15.  RNA-dependent dynamic histone acetylation regulates MCL1 alternative splicing 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;42(3):1656-1670.
Histone deacetylases (HDACs) and lysine acetyltransferases (KATs) catalyze dynamic histone acetylation at regulatory and coding regions of transcribed genes. Highly phosphorylated HDAC2 is recruited within corepressor complexes to regulatory regions, while the nonphosphorylated form is associated with the gene body. In this study, we characterized the nonphosphorylated HDAC2 complexes recruited to the transcribed gene body and explored the function of HDAC-complex-mediated dynamic histone acetylation. HDAC1 and 2 were coimmunoprecipitated with several splicing factors, including serine/arginine-rich splicing factor 1 (SRSF1) which has roles in alternative splicing. The co-chromatin immunoprecipitation of HDAC1/2 and SRSF1 to the gene body was RNA-dependent. Inhibition of HDAC activity and knockdown of HDAC1, HDAC2 or SRSF1 showed that these proteins were involved in alternative splicing of MCL1. HDAC1/2 and KAT2B were associated with nascent pre-mRNA in general and with MCL1 pre-mRNA specifically. Inhibition of HDAC activity increased the occupancy of KAT2B and acetylation of H3 and H4 of the H3K4 methylated alternative MCL1 exon 2 nucleosome. Thus, nonphosphorylated HDAC1/2 is recruited to pre-mRNA by splicing factors to act at the RNA level with KAT2B and other KATs to catalyze dynamic histone acetylation of the MCL1 alternative exon and alter the splicing of MCL1 pre-mRNA.
PMCID: PMC3919583  PMID: 24234443
16.  The Splicing Factor SRSF1 as a Marker for Endothelial Senescence 
Aging is the major risk factor per se for the development of cardiovascular diseases. The senescence of the endothelial cells (ECs) that line the lumen of blood vessels is the cellular basis for these age-dependent vascular pathologies, including atherosclerosis and hypertension. During their lifespan, ECs may reach a stage of senescence by two different pathways; a replicative one derived from their preprogrammed finite number of cell divisions; and one induced by stress stimuli. Also, certain physiological stimuli, such as transforming growth factor-β, are able to modulate cellular senescence. Currently, the cellular aging process is being widely studied to identify novel molecular markers whose changes correlate with senescence. This review focuses on the regulation of alternative splicing mediated by the serine–arginine splicing factor 1 (SRSF1, or ASF/SF2) during endothelial senescence, a process that is associated with a differential subcellular localization of SRSF1, which typically exhibits a scattered distribution throughout the cytoplasm. Based on its senescence-dependent involvement in alternative splicing, we postulate that SRSF1 is a key marker of EC senescence, regulating the expression of alternative isoforms of target genes such as endoglin (ENG), vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA), tissue factor (T3), or lamin A (LMNA) that integrate in a common molecular senescence program.
PMCID: PMC3314196  PMID: 22470345
alternative splicing; endothelial senescence; SRSF1; endoglin; progerin; VEGF; tissue factor
17.  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
18.  The SRSF1 linker induces semi-conservative ESE binding by cooperating with the RRMs 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(21):9413-9421.
SR proteins promote spliceosome formation by recognizing exonic splicing enhancers (ESEs) during pre-mRNA splicing. Each SR protein binds diverse ESEs using strategies that are yet to be elucidated. Here, we show that the RNA-binding domain (RBD) of SRSF1 optimally binds to decameric purine rich ESE sequences although locations of purines are not stringently specified. The presence of uracils either within or outside of the recognition site is detrimental for binding with SRSF1. The entire RBD, comprised of two RRMs and a glycine-rich linker, is essential for ESE binding. Mutation within each segment reduced or nearly abolished binding, suggesting that these segments mediate cooperative binding. The linker plays a decisive role in organizing ESE binding. The flanking basic regions of the linker appear to communicate with each other in bringing the two RRMs close together to form the complex with RNA. Our study thus suggests semi-conservative adaptable interaction between ESE and SRSF1, and such binding mode is not only essential for the recognition of plethora of physiological ESE sequences but may also be essential for the interaction with various factors during the spliceosome assembly.
PMCID: PMC3241662  PMID: 21852328
19.  SR Proteins Induce Alternative Exon Skipping through Their Activities on the Flanking Constitutive Exons▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2010;31(4):793-802.
SR proteins are well known to promote exon inclusion in regulated splicing through exonic splicing enhancers. SR proteins have also been reported to cause exon skipping, but little is known about the mechanism. We previously characterized SRSF1 (SF2/ASF)-dependent exon skipping of the CaMKIIδ gene during heart remodeling. By using mouse embryo fibroblasts derived from conditional SR protein knockout mice, we now show that SR protein-induced exon skipping depends on their prevalent actions on a flanking constitutive exon and requires collaboration of more than one SR protein. These findings, coupled with other established rules for SR proteins, provide a theoretical framework to understand the complex effect of SR protein-regulated splicing in mammalian cells. We further demonstrate that heart-specific CaMKIIδ splicing can be reconstituted in fibroblasts by downregulating SR proteins and upregulating a RBFOX protein and that SR protein overexpression impairs regulated CaMKIIδ splicing and neuronal differentiation in P19 cells, illustrating that SR protein-dependent exon skipping may constitute a key strategy for synergism with other splicing regulators in establishing tissue-specific alternative splicing critical for cell differentiation programs.
PMCID: PMC3028638  PMID: 21135118
20.  Phosphorylation of SRSF1 is modulated by replicational stress 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;40(3):1106-1117.
DNA ligase I-deficient 46BR.1G1 cells show a delay in the maturation of replicative intermediates resulting in the accumulation of single- and double-stranded DNA breaks. As a consequence the ataxia telangiectasia mutated protein kinase (ATM) is constitutively phosphorylated at a basal level. Here, we use 46BR.1G1 cells as a model system to study the cell response to chronic replication-dependent DNA damage. Starting from a proteomic approach, we demonstrate that the phosphorylation level of factors controlling constitutive and alternative splicing is affected by the damage elicited by DNA ligase I deficiency. In particular, we show that SRSF1 is hyperphosphorylated in 46BR.1G1 cells compared to control fibroblasts. This hyperphosphorylation can be partially prevented by inhibiting ATM activity with caffeine. Notably, hyperphosphorylation of SRSF1 affects the subnuclear distribution of the protein and the alternative splicing pattern of target genes. We also unveil a modulation of SRSF1 phosphorylation after exposure of MRC-5V1 control fibroblasts to different exogenous sources of DNA damage. Altogether, our observations indicate that a relevant aspect of the cell response to DNA damage involves the post-translational regulation of splicing factor SRSF1 which is associated with a shift in the alternative splicing program of target genes to control cell survival or cell death.
PMCID: PMC3273819  PMID: 21984412
21.  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
22.  Bim Regulation of Lumen Formation in Cultured Mammary Epithelial Acini Is Targeted by Oncogenes 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2005;25(11):4591-4601.
Epithelial cells organize into cyst-like structures that contain a spherical monolayer of cells that enclose a central lumen. Using a three-dimensional basement membrane culture model in which mammary epithelial cells form hollow, acinus-like structures, we previously demonstrated that lumen formation is achieved, in part, through apoptosis of centrally localized cells. We demonstrate that the proapoptotic protein Bim may selectively trigger apoptosis of the centrally localized acinar cells, leading to temporally controlled lumen formation. Bim is not detectable during early stages of three-dimensional mammary acinar morphogenesis and is then highly upregulated in all cells of acini, coincident with detection of apoptosis in the centrally localized acinar cells. Inhibition of Bim expression by RNA interference transiently blocks luminal apoptosis and delays lumen formation. Oncogenes that induce acinar luminal filling, such as ErbB2 and v-Src, suppress expression of Bim through a pathway dependent on Erk-mitogen-activated protein kinase; however, HPV 16 E7, an oncogene that stimulates cell proliferation but not luminal filling, is unable to reduce Bim expression. Thus, Bim is a critical regulator of luminal apoptosis during mammary acinar morphogenesis in vitro and may be an important target of oncogenes that disrupt glandular epithelial architecture.
PMCID: PMC1140636  PMID: 15899862
23.  Deregulation of Scribble promotes mammary tumorigenesis and reveals a role for cell polarity in carcinoma 
Cell  2008;135(5):865-878.
Loss of cell polarity proteins such as Scribble induces neoplasia in Drosophila by promoting uncontrolled proliferation. The role polarity proteins play during tumorigenesis in mammals is poorly understood. We demonstrate that knockdown of Scribble in mammary epithelia disrupts cell polarity, blocks three-dimensional morphogenesis, inhibits apoptosis and induces dysplasia in vivo that progress to tumors after long latency. Knockdown of Scribble also cooperates with oncogenes such as Myc to transform epithelial cells in 3D acini and induce tumors in vivo by blocking activation of an apoptosis pathway. Like knockdown, mislocalization of Scribble from cell-cell junction was sufficient to promote cell transformation. Interestingly, spontaneous mammary tumors in mice and humans possess both downregulated and mislocalized Scribble suggesting a selection-pressure for Scribble inactivation. Thus, we demonstrate that Scribble is a novel regulator of breast cancer and that deregulation of polarity pathways promotes dysplastic and neoplastic growth in mammals by disrupting morphogenesis and inhibiting cell death.
PMCID: PMC3015046  PMID: 19041750
Myc; Scribble; 3D; mammary epithelia; mammary tumorigenesis; mouse models; epithelial organization; polarity; apoptosis; cell architecture
24.  Exon-centric regulation of pyruvate kinase M alternative splicing via mutually exclusive exons 
Alternative splicing of the pyruvate kinase M gene (PK-M) can generate the M2 isoform and promote aerobic glycolysis and tumor growth. However, the cancer-specific alternative splicing regulation of PK-M is not completely understood. Here, we demonstrate that PK-M is regulated by reciprocal effects on the mutually exclusive exons 9 and 10, such that exon 9 is repressed and exon 10 is activated in cancer cells. Strikingly, exonic, rather than intronic, cis-elements are key determinants of PK-M splicing isoform ratios. Using a systematic sub-exonic duplication approach, we identify a potent exonic splicing enhancer in exon 10, which differs from its homologous counterpart in exon 9 by only two nucleotides. We identify SRSF3 as one of the cognate factors, and show that this serine/arginine-rich protein activates exon 10 and mediates changes in glucose metabolism. These findings provide mechanistic insights into the complex regulation of alternative splicing of a key regulator of the Warburg effect, and also have implications for other genes with a similar pattern of alternative splicing.
PMCID: PMC3493165  PMID: 22044881
alternative splicing; cancer metabolism; pyruvate kinase; SRSF3
25.  Ectopic Runx2 Expression in Mammary Epithelial Cells Disrupts Formation of Normal Acini Structure: Implications for Breast Cancer Progression 
Cancer research  2009;69(17):6807-6814.
The transcription factor Runx2 is highly expressed in breast cancer cells compared to mammary epithelial cells and contributes to metastasis. Here we directly show that Runx2 expression promotes a tumor cell phenotype of mammary acini in three dimensional culture. Human mammary epithelial cells (MCF-10A) form polarized, growth-arrested acini-like structures with glandular architecture. The ectopic expression of Runx2 disrupts acini formation, and electron microscopic ultrastructural analysis revealed the absence of lumens. Characterization of the disrupted acini structures showed increased cell proliferation (Ki-67 positive cells), decreased apoptosis (Bcl-2 induction) and loss of basement membrane formation (absence of β4-integrin expression). In complementary experiments, inhibition of Runx2 function in metastatic MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells by stable expression of either shRNA-Runx2 or a mutant Runx2 deficient in subnuclear targeting resulted in reversion of acini to more normal structures and reduced tumor growth in vivo. These novel findings provide direct mechanistic evidence for the biological activity of Runx2, dependent on its subnuclear localization, in promoting early events of breast cancer progression and suggest a molecular therapeutic target.
PMCID: PMC2742766  PMID: 19690135
Runx2; acini; mammary epithelial cells; breast cancer; 3D culture

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