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Publication
Journal: Cell
February/23/2015
Abstract
Alternative splicing (AS) generates vast transcriptomic and proteomic complexity. However, which of the myriad of detected AS events provide important biological functions is not well understood. Here, we define the largest program of functionally coordinated, neural-regulated AS described to date in mammals. Relative to all other types of AS within this program, 3-15 nucleotide "microexons" display the most striking evolutionary conservation and switch-like regulation. These microexons modulate the function of interaction domains of proteins involved in neurogenesis. Most neural microexons are regulated by the neuronal-specific splicing factor nSR100/SRRM4, through its binding to adjacent intronic enhancer motifs. Neural microexons are frequently misregulated in the brains of individuals with autism spectrum disorder, and this misregulation is associated with reduced levels of nSR100. The results thus reveal a highly conserved program of dynamic microexon regulation associated with the remodeling of protein-interaction networks during neurogenesis, the misregulation of which is linked to autism.
Publication
Journal: Molecular Cell
December/22/2011
Abstract
Neurogenesis requires the concerted action of numerous genes that are regulated at multiple levels. However, how different layers of gene regulation are coordinated to promote neurogenesis is not well understood. We show that the neural-specific Ser/Arg repeat-related protein of 100 kDa (nSR100/SRRM4) negatively regulates REST (NRSF), a transcriptional repressor of genes required for neurogenesis. nSR100 directly promotes alternative splicing of REST transcripts to produce a REST isoform (REST4) with greatly reduced repressive activity, thereby activating expression of REST targets in neural cells. Conversely, REST directly represses nSR100 in nonneural cells to prevent the activation of neural-specific splicing events. Consistent with a critical role for nSR100 in the inhibition of REST activity, blocking nSR100 expression in the developing mouse brain impairs neurogenesis. Our results thus reveal a fundamental role for direct regulatory interactions between a splicing activator and transcription repressor in the control of the multilayered regulatory programs required for neurogenesis.
Publication
Journal: Molecular Cell
December/29/2014
Abstract
The vertebrate and neural-specific Ser/Arg (SR)-related protein nSR100/SRRM4 regulates an extensive program of alternative splicing with critical roles in nervous system development. However, the mechanism by which nSR100 controls its target exons is poorly understood. We demonstrate that nSR100-dependent neural exons are associated with a unique configuration of intronic cis-elements that promote rapid switch-like regulation during neurogenesis. A key feature of this configuration is the insertion of specialized intronic enhancers between polypyrimidine tracts and acceptor sites that bind nSR100 to potently activate exon inclusion in neural cells while weakening 3' splice site recognition and contributing to exon skipping in nonneural cells. nSR100 further operates by forming multiple interactions with early spliceosome components bound proximal to 3' splice sites. These multifaceted interactions achieve dominance over neural exon silencing mediated by the splicing regulator PTBP1. The results thus illuminate a widespread mechanism by which a critical neural exon network is activated during neurogenesis.
Publication
Journal: PLoS Genetics
March/22/2013
Abstract
Sensory hair cells are essential for hearing and balance. Their development from epithelial precursors has been extensively characterized with respect to transcriptional regulation, but not in terms of posttranscriptional influences. Here we report on the identification and functional characterization of an alternative-splicing regulator whose inactivation is responsible for defective hair-cell development, deafness, and impaired balance in the spontaneous mutant Bronx waltzer (bv) mouse. We used positional cloning and transgenic rescue to locate the bv mutation to the splicing factor-encoding gene Ser/Arg repetitive matrix 4 (Srrm4). Transcriptome-wide analysis of pre-mRNA splicing in the sensory patches of embryonic inner ears revealed that specific alternative exons were skipped at abnormally high rates in the bv mice. Minigene experiments in a heterologous expression system confirmed that these skipped exons require Srrm4 for inclusion into the mature mRNA. Sequence analysis and mutagenesis experiments showed that the affected transcripts share a novel motif that is necessary for the Srrm4-dependent alternative splicing. Functional annotations and protein-protein interaction data indicated that the encoded proteins cluster in the secretion and neurotransmission pathways. In addition, the splicing of a few transcriptional regulators was found to be Srrm4 dependent, and several of the genes known to be targeted by these regulators were expressed at reduced levels in the bv mice. Although Srrm4 expression was detected in neural tissues as well as hair cells, analyses of the bv mouse cerebellum and neocortex failed to detect splicing defects. Our data suggest that Srrm4 function is critical in the hearing and balance organs, but not in all neural tissues. Srrm4 is the first alternative-splicing regulator to be associated with hearing, and the analysis of bv mice provides exon-level insights into hair-cell development.
Publication
Journal: Genes and Development
May/29/2015
Abstract
Alternative splicing (AS) generates vast transcriptomic complexity in the vertebrate nervous system. However, the extent to which trans-acting splicing regulators and their target AS regulatory networks contribute to nervous system development is not well understood. To address these questions, we generated mice lacking the vertebrate- and neural-specific Ser/Arg repeat-related protein of 100 kDa (nSR100/SRRM4). Loss of nSR100 impairs development of the central and peripheral nervous systems in part by disrupting neurite outgrowth, cortical layering in the forebrain, and axon guidance in the corpus callosum. Accompanying these developmental defects are widespread changes in AS that primarily result in shifts to nonneural patterns for different classes of splicing events. The main component of the altered AS program comprises 3- to 27-nucleotide (nt) neural microexons, an emerging class of highly conserved AS events associated with the regulation of protein interaction networks in developing neurons and neurological disorders. Remarkably, inclusion of a 6-nt, nSR100-activated microexon in Unc13b transcripts is sufficient to rescue a neuritogenesis defect in nSR100 mutant primary neurons. These results thus reveal critical in vivo neurodevelopmental functions of nSR100 and further link these functions to a conserved program of neuronal microexon splicing.
Publication
Journal: European Urology
December/13/2016
Abstract
Neuroendocrine prostate cancer (NEPC) is an aggressive subtype of castration-resistant prostate cancer that typically does not respond to androgen receptor pathway inhibition (ARPI), and its diagnosis is increasing.
To understand how NEPC develops and to identify driver genes to inform therapy for NEPC prevention.
Whole-transcriptome sequencing data were extracted from prostate tumors from two independent cohorts: The Beltran cohort contained 27 adenocarcinoma and five NEPC patient samples, and the Vancouver Prostate Centre cohort contained three patient samples and nine patient-derived xenografts.
A novel bioinformatics tool, comparative alternative splicing detection (COMPAS), was invented to analyze alternative RNA splicing on RNA-sequencing data.
COMPAS identified potential driver genes for NEPC development. Biochemical and biological validations were performed in both prostate cell and tumor models.
More than 66% of the splice events were predicted to be regulated by the RNA splicing factor serine/arginine repetitive matrix 4 (SRRM4). In vitro and in vivo evidence confirmed that one SRRM4 target gene was the RE1 silencing transcription factor (REST), a master regulator of neurogenesis. Moreover, SRRM4 strongly stimulated adenocarcinoma cells to express NEPC biomarkers, and this effect was exacerbated by ARPI. ARPI combined with a gain of SRRM4-induced adenocarcinoma cells to assume multicellular spheroid morphology and was essential in establishing progressive NEPC xenografts. These SRRM4 actions were further enhanced by loss of function of TP53.
SRRM4 drives NEPC progression. This knowledge may guide the development of novel therapeutics aimed at NEPC.
Using next-generation RNA sequencing and our newly developed bioinformatics tool, we identified a neuroendocrine prostate cancer (NEPC)-specific RNA splicing signature that is predominantly controlled by serine/arginine repetitive matrix 4 (SRRM4). We confirmed that SRRM4 drives NEPC progression, and we propose SRRM4 as a potential therapeutic target for NEPC.
Publication
Journal: Clinical Cancer Research
August/1/2016
Abstract
OBJECTIVE
The neuroendocrine phenotype is associated with the development of metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). Our objective was to characterize the molecular features of the neuroendocrine phenotype in CRPC.
METHODS
Expression of chromogranin A (CHGA), synaptophysin (SYP), androgen receptor (AR), and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) was analyzed by IHC in 155 CRPC metastases from 50 patients and in 24 LuCaP prostate cancer patient-derived xenografts (PDX). Seventy-one of 155 metastases and the 24 LuCaP xenograft lines were analyzed by whole-genome microarrays. REST splicing was verified by PCR.
RESULTS
Coexpression of CHGA and SYP in >30% of cells was observed in 22 of 155 metastases (9 patients); 11 of the 22 metastases were AR(+)/PSA(+) (6 patients), 11/22 were AR-/PSA- (4 patients), and 4/24 LuCaP PDXs were AR(-)/PSA(-). By IHC, of the 71 metastases analyzed by whole-genome microarrays, 5 metastases were CHGA(+)/SYP(+)/AR(-), and 5 were CHGA(+)/SYP(+)/AR(+). Only CHGA(+)/SYP(+) metastases had a neuroendocrine transcript signature. The neuronal transcriptional regulator SRRM4 transcript was associated with the neuroendocrine signature in CHGA(+)/SYP(+) metastases and all CHGA(+)/SYP(+) LuCaP xenografts. In addition, expression of SRRM4 in LuCaP neuroendocrine xenografts correlated with a splice variant of REST that lacks the transcriptional repressor domain.
CONCLUSIONS
(i) Metastatic neuroendocrine status can be heterogeneous in the same patient, (ii) the CRPC neuroendocrine molecular phenotype can be defined by CHGA(+)/SYP(+) dual positivity, (iii) the neuroendocrine phenotype is not necessarily associated with the loss of AR activity, and (iv) the splicing of REST by SRRM4 could promote the neuroendocrine phenotype in CRPC.
Publication
Journal: Cerebral Cortex
May/6/2016
Abstract
Alternative splicing in the brain is dynamic and instrumental to adaptive changes in response to stimuli. Lysine-specific demethylase 1 (LSD1/KDM1A) is a ubiquitously expressed histone H3Lys4 demethylase that acts as a transcriptional co-repressor in complex with its molecular partners CoREST and HDAC1/2. In mammalian brain, alternative splicing of LSD1 mini-exon E8a gives rise to neuroLSD1, a neurospecific isoform that, upon phosphorylation, acts as a dominant-negative causing disassembly of the co-repressor complex and de-repression of target genes. Here we show that the LSD1/neuroLSD1 ratio changes in response to neuronal activation and such effect is mediated by neurospecific splicing factors NOVA1 and nSR100/SRRM4 together with a novel cis-silencer. Indeed, we found that, in response to epileptogenic stimuli, downregulation of NOVA1 reduces exon E8a splicing and expression of neuroLSD1. Using behavioral and EEG analyses we observed that neuroLSD1-specific null mice are hypoexcitable and display decreased seizure susceptibility. Conversely, in a mouse model of Rett syndrome characterized by hyperexcitability, we measured higher levels of NOVA1 protein and upregulation of neuroLSD1. In conclusion, we propose that, in the brain, correct ratio between LSD1 and neuroLSD1 contributes to excitability and, when altered, could represent a pathogenic event associated with neurological disorders involving altered E/I.
Publication
Journal: Molecular Cancer Research
May/28/2014
Abstract
Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is a highly malignant form of cancer, which originates from primitive neuroendocrine cells in the lung. SCLC cells express several autocrine neurotransmitters/neuropeptides and their respective receptors. Expression of these neuronal markers is frequently regulated by RE1-silencing transcription factor (REST). In SCLC cells, an SCLC-specific isoform of REST (sREST) is highly expressed, whereas REST expression is undetectable, suggesting that the expression of sREST correlates with the pathogenesis of SCLC. Expression of sREST, which is derived through alternative splicing of REST, is abnormally regulated in SCLC cells, but the mechanism is unknown. Most recently, nSR100 (SRRM4) was described as an activator of REST alternative splicing. We now show that nSR100 is highly expressed in SCLC cells correlating with high sREST and low REST expression. Adhesion to the extracellular matrix (ECM) is thought to enhance tumorigenicity and confer resistance to apoptosis. Interestingly, nSR100 expression is enhanced in cells grown with ECM. Overexpression of REST caused repression of sREST and nSR100, the latter containing RE1 element controlled by REST. Culturing the SCLC cell line NCI-N417 cells with ECM also upregulated RE1-containing gene, the voltage-gated calcium channel subunit. Inhibition of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway by LY294002 induced nSR100 expression, whereas the specific MEK/ERK inhibitor U0126 inhibited nSR100 expression. Repressing nSR100 by siRNA effectively repressed sREST, and conversely increased REST in NCI-N417 cells. Taken together, this report clarifies the ECM-dependent signaling pathway that impacts nSR100 expression and its regulation of alternative splicing in SCLC.
CONCLUSIONS
The splicing factor nSR100 may be novel SCLC-specific biomarker, as well as a therapeutic target.
Publication
Journal: Molecular Cell
September/5/2017
Abstract
A key challenge in understanding and ultimately treating autism is to identify common molecular mechanisms underlying this genetically heterogeneous disorder. Transcriptomic profiling of autistic brains has revealed correlated misregulation of the neuronal splicing regulator nSR100/SRRM4 and its target microexon splicing program in more than one-third of analyzed individuals. To investigate whether nSR100 misregulation is causally linked to autism, we generated mutant mice with reduced levels of this protein and its target splicing program. Remarkably, these mice display multiple autistic-like features, including altered social behaviors, synaptic density, and signaling. Moreover, increased neuronal activity, which is often associated with autism, results in a rapid decrease in nSR100 and splicing of microexons that significantly overlap those misregulated in autistic brains. Collectively, our results provide evidence that misregulation of an nSR100-dependent splicing network controlled by changes in neuronal activity is causally linked to a substantial fraction of autism cases.
Publication
Journal: Human Genetics
November/17/2017
Abstract
Changes in mRNA splice patterns have been associated with key pathological mechanisms in prostate cancer progression. The androgen receptor (abbreviated AR) transcription factor is a major driver of prostate cancer pathology and activated by androgen steroid hormones. Selection of alternative promoters by the activated AR can critically alter gene function by switching mRNA isoform production, including creating a pro-oncogenic isoform of the normally tumour suppressor gene TSC2. A number of androgen-regulated genes generate alternatively spliced mRNA isoforms, including a prostate-specific splice isoform of ST6GALNAC1 mRNA. ST6GALNAC1 encodes a sialyltransferase that catalyses the synthesis of the cancer-associated sTn antigen important for cell mobility. Genetic rearrangements occurring early in prostate cancer development place ERG oncogene expression under the control of the androgen-regulated TMPRSS2 promoter to hijack cell behaviour. This TMPRSS2-ERG fusion gene shows different patterns of alternative splicing in invasive versus localised prostate cancer. Alternative AR mRNA isoforms play a key role in the generation of prostate cancer drug resistance, by providing a mechanism through which prostate cancer cells can grow in limited serum androgen concentrations. A number of splicing regulator proteins change expression patterns in prostate cancer and may help drive key stages of disease progression. Up-regulation of SRRM4 establishes neuronal splicing patterns in neuroendocrine prostate cancer. The splicing regulators Sam68 and Tra2β increase expression in prostate cancer. The SR protein kinase SRPK1 that modulates the activity of SR proteins is up-regulated in prostate cancer and has already given encouraging results as a potential therapeutic target in mouse models.