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1.  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
2.  SpliceTrap: a method to quantify alternative splicing under single cellular conditions 
Bioinformatics  2011;27(21):3010-3016.
Motivation: Alternative splicing (AS) is a pre-mRNA maturation process leading to the expression of multiple mRNA variants from the same primary transcript. More than 90% of human genes are expressed via AS. Therefore, quantifying the inclusion level of every exon is crucial for generating accurate transcriptomic maps and studying the regulation of AS.
Results: Here we introduce SpliceTrap, a method to quantify exon inclusion levels using paired-end RNA-seq data. Unlike other tools, which focus on full-length transcript isoforms, SpliceTrap approaches the expression-level estimation of each exon as an independent Bayesian inference problem. In addition, SpliceTrap can identify major classes of alternative splicing events under a single cellular condition, without requiring a background set of reads to estimate relative splicing changes. We tested SpliceTrap both by simulation and real data analysis, and compared it to state-of-the-art tools for transcript quantification. SpliceTrap demonstrated improved accuracy, robustness and reliability in quantifying exon-inclusion ratios.
Conclusions: SpliceTrap is a useful tool to study alternative splicing regulation, especially for accurate quantification of local exon-inclusion ratios from RNA-seq data.
Availability and Implementation: SpliceTrap can be implemented online through the CSH Galaxy server and is also available for download and installation at
Supplementary Information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC3198574  PMID: 21896509
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
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
5.  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
6.  SFmap: a web server for motif analysis and prediction of splicing factor binding sites 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;38(Web Server issue):W281-W285.
Alternative splicing (AS) is a post-transcriptional process considered to be responsible for the huge diversity of proteins in higher eukaryotes. AS events are regulated by different splicing factors (SFs) that bind to sequence elements on the RNA. SFmap is a web server for predicting putative SF binding sites in genomic data ( SFmap implements the COS(WR) algorithm, which computes similarity scores for a given regulatory motif based on information derived from its sequence environment and its evolutionary conservation. Input for SFmap is a human genomic sequence or a list of sequences in FASTA format that can either be uploaded from a file or pasted into a window. SFmap searches within a given sequence for significant hits of binding motifs that are either stored in our database or defined by the user. SFmap results are provided both as a text file and as a graphical web interface.
PMCID: PMC2896136  PMID: 20501600
7.  Predicting and controlling the reactivity of immune cell populations against cancer 
Heterogeneous cell populations form an interconnected network that determine their collective output. One example of such a heterogeneous immune population is tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs), whose output can be measured in terms of its reactivity against tumors. While the degree of reactivity varies considerably between different TILs, ranging from null to a potent response, the underlying network that governs the reactivity is poorly understood. Here, we asked whether one can predict and even control this reactivity. To address this we measured the subpopulation compositions of 91 TILs surgically removed from 27 metastatic melanoma patients. Despite the large number of subpopulations compositions, we were able to computationally extract a simple set of subpopulation-based rules that accurately predict the degree of reactivity. This raised the conjecture of whether one could control reactivity of TILs by manipulating their subpopulation composition. Remarkably, by rationally enriching and depleting selected subsets of subpopulations, we were able to restore anti-tumor reactivity to nonreactive TILs. Altogether, this work describes a general framework for predicting and controlling the output of a cell mixture.
PMCID: PMC2683719  PMID: 19401677
decision tree algorithms; heterogeneous cell population; subpopulation signature; systems immunology; tumor immunology
8.  A computational approach for genome-wide mapping of splicing factor binding sites 
Genome Biology  2009;10(3):R30.
A computational method is presented for genome-wide mapping of splicing factor binding sites that considers both the genomic environment and evolutionary conservation.
Alternative splicing is regulated by splicing factors that serve as positive or negative effectors, interacting with regulatory elements along exons and introns. Here we present a novel computational method for genome-wide mapping of splicing factor binding sites that considers both the genomic environment and the evolutionary conservation of the regulatory elements. The method was applied to study the regulation of different alternative splicing events, uncovering an interesting network of interactions among splicing factors.
PMCID: PMC2691001  PMID: 19296853
9.  Does distance matter? Variations in alternative 3′ splicing regulation 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(16):5487-5498.
Alternative splicing constitutes a major mechanism creating protein diversity in humans. This diversity can result from the alternative skipping of entire exons or by alternative selection of the 5′ or 3′ splice sites that define the exon boundaries. In this study, we analyze the sequence and evolutionary characteristics of alternative 3′ splice sites conserved between human and mouse genomes for distances ranging from 3 to 100 nucleotides. We show that alternative splicing events can be distinguished from constitutive splicing by a combination of properties which vary depending on the distance between the splice sites. Among the unique features of alternative 3′ splice sites, we observed an unexpectedly high occurrence of events in which a polypyrimidine tract was found to overlap the upstream splice site. By applying a machine-learning approach, we show that we can successfully discriminate true alternative 3′ splice sites from constitutive 3′ splice sites. Finally, we propose that the unique features of the intron flanking alternative splice sites are indicative of a regulatory mechanism that is involved in splice site selection. We postulate that the process of splice site selection is influenced by the distance between the competitive splice sites.
PMCID: PMC2018619  PMID: 17704130
10.  Alternative splicing regulation at tandem 3′ splice sites 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;34(1):23-31.
Alternative splicing (AS) constitutes a major mechanism creating protein diversity in humans. Previous bioinformatics studies based on expressed sequence tag and mRNA data have identified many AS events that are conserved between humans and mice. Of these events, ∼25% are related to alternative choices of 3′ and 5′ splice sites. Surprisingly, half of all these events involve 3′ splice sites that are exactly 3 nt apart. These tandem 3′ splice sites result from the presence of the NAGNAG motif at the acceptor splice site, recently reported to be widely spread in the human genome. Although the NAGNAG motif is common in human genes, only a small subset of sites with this motif is confirmed to be involved in AS. We examined the NAGNAG motifs and observed specific features such as high sequence conservation of the motif, high conservation of ∼30 bp at the intronic regions flanking the 3′ splice site and overabundance of cis-regulatory elements, which are characteristic of alternatively spliced tandem acceptor sites and can distinguish them from the constitutive sites in which the proximal NAG splice site is selected. Our findings imply that AS at tandem splice sites and constitutive splicing of the distal NAG are highly regulated.
PMCID: PMC1325015  PMID: 16394021

Results 1-10 (10)