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Identification of a Novel Function of CX-4945 as a Splicing Regulator  [PDF]
Hyeongki Kim, Kwangman Choi, Hyunju Kang, So-Young Lee, Seung-Wook Chi, Min-Sung Lee, Jaehyoung Song, Donghwa Im, Yura Choi, Sungchan Cho
PLOS ONE , 2014, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0094978
Abstract: Alternative splicing is a nearly ubiquitous versatile process that controls gene expression and creates numerous protein isoforms with different functions from a single gene. The significance of alternative splicing has been confirmed by the increasing number of human diseases that are caused by misregulation of splicing events. Very few compounds, however, have been reported to act as inhibitors of alternative splicing, and their potential clinical use needs to be evaluated. Here, we report that CX-4945, a previously well-characterized inhibitor of casein kinase 2 (CK2) and a molecule currently in clinical trials (Phase II) for cancer treatment, regulates splicing in mammalian cells in a CK2-independent manner. Transcriptome-wide analysis using exon array also showed a widespread alteration in alternative splicing of numerous genes. We found that CX-4945 potently inhibits the Cdc2-like kinases (Clks) in vitro and in turn, leads to suppression of the phosphorylation of serine/arginine-rich (SR) proteins in mammalian cells. Surprisingly, the overall efficacy of CX-4945 on Clks (IC50 = 3–90 nM) was stronger than that of TG-003, the strongest inhibitor reported to date. Of the Clks, Clk2 was most strongly inhibited by CX-4945 in an ATP-competitive manner. Our research revealed an unexpected activity of the drug candidate CX-4945 as a potent splicing modulator and also suggested a potential application for therapy of diseases caused by abnormal splicing.
Conservation and Sex-Specific Splicing of the transformer Gene in the Calliphorids Cochliomyia hominivorax, Cochliomyia macellaria and Lucilia sericata  [PDF]
Fang Li, Steven P. Vensko, Esther J. Belikoff, Maxwell J. Scott
PLOS ONE , 2013, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0056303
Abstract: Transformer (TRA) promotes female development in several dipteran species including the Australian sheep blowfly Lucilia cuprina, the Mediterranean fruit fly, housefly and Drosophila melanogaster. tra transcripts are sex-specifically spliced such that only the female form encodes full length functional protein. The presence of six predicted TRA/TRA2 binding sites in the sex-specific female intron of the L. cuprina gene suggested that tra splicing is auto-regulated as in medfly and housefly. With the aim of identifying conserved motifs that may play a role in tra sex-specific splicing, here we have isolated and characterized the tra gene from three additional blowfly species, L. sericata, Cochliomyia hominivorax and C. macellaria. The blowfly adult male and female transcripts differ in the choice of splice donor site in the first intron, with males using a site downstream of the site used in females. The tra genes all contain a single TRA/TRA2 site in the male exon and a cluster of four to five sites in the male intron. However, overall the sex-specific intron sequences are poorly conserved in closely related blowflies. The most conserved regions are around the exon/intron junctions, the 3′ end of the intron and near the cluster of TRA/TRA2 sites. We propose a model for sex specific regulation of tra splicing that incorporates the conserved features identified in this study. In L. sericata embryos, the male tra transcript was first detected at around the time of cellular blastoderm formation. RNAi experiments showed that tra is required for female development in L. sericata and C. macellaria. The isolation of the tra gene from the New World screwworm fly C. hominivorax, a major livestock pest, will facilitate the development of a “male-only” strain for genetic control programs.
Regulator of G Protein Signaling 2 (RGS2) and RGS4 Form Distinct G Protein-Dependent Complexes with Protease Activated-Receptor 1 (PAR1) in Live Cells  [PDF]
Sungho Ghil, Kelly L. McCoy, John R. Hepler
PLOS ONE , 2014, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0095355
Abstract: Protease-activated receptor 1 (PAR1) is a G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) that is activated by natural proteases to regulate many physiological actions. We previously reported that PAR1 couples to Gi, Gq and G12 to activate linked signaling pathways. Regulators of G protein signaling (RGS) proteins serve as GTPase activating proteins to inhibit GPCR/G protein signaling. Some RGS proteins interact directly with certain GPCRs to modulate their signals, though cellular mechanisms dictating selective RGS/GPCR coupling are poorly understood. Here, using bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET), we tested whether RGS2 and RGS4 bind to PAR1 in live COS-7 cells to regulate PAR1/Gα-mediated signaling. We report that PAR1 selectively interacts with either RGS2 or RGS4 in a G protein-dependent manner. Very little BRET activity is observed between PAR1-Venus (PAR1-Ven) and either RGS2-Luciferase (RGS2-Luc) or RGS4-Luc in the absence of Gα. However, in the presence of specific Gα subunits, BRET activity was markedly enhanced between PAR1-RGS2 by Gαq/11, and PAR1-RGS4 by Gαo, but not by other Gα subunits. Gαq/11-YFP/RGS2-Luc BRET activity is promoted by PAR1 and is markedly enhanced by agonist (TFLLR) stimulation. However, PAR1-Ven/RGS-Luc BRET activity was blocked by a PAR1 mutant (R205A) that eliminates PAR1-Gq/11 coupling. The purified intracellular third loop of PAR1 binds directly to purified His-RGS2 or His-RGS4. In cells, RGS2 and RGS4 inhibited PAR1/Gα-mediated calcium and MAPK/ERK signaling, respectively, but not RhoA signaling. Our findings indicate that RGS2 and RGS4 interact directly with PAR1 in Gα-dependent manner to modulate PAR1/Gα-mediated signaling, and highlight a cellular mechanism for selective GPCR/G protein/RGS coupling.
Discovery of a Splicing Regulator Required for Cell Cycle Progression  [PDF]
Elena S. Suvorova,Matthew Croken,Stella Kratzer,Li-Min Ting,Magnolia Conde de Felipe,Bharath Balu,Meng L. Markillie,Louis M. Weiss,Kami Kim,Michael W. White
PLOS Genetics , 2013, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003305
Abstract: In the G1 phase of the cell division cycle, eukaryotic cells prepare many of the resources necessary for a new round of growth including renewal of the transcriptional and protein synthetic capacities and building the machinery for chromosome replication. The function of G1 has an early evolutionary origin and is preserved in single and multicellular organisms, although the regulatory mechanisms conducting G1 specific functions are only understood in a few model eukaryotes. Here we describe a new G1 mutant from an ancient family of apicomplexan protozoans. Toxoplasma gondii temperature-sensitive mutant 12-109C6 conditionally arrests in the G1 phase due to a single point mutation in a novel protein containing a single RNA-recognition-motif (TgRRM1). The resulting tyrosine to asparagine amino acid change in TgRRM1 causes severe temperature instability that generates an effective null phenotype for this protein when the mutant is shifted to the restrictive temperature. Orthologs of TgRRM1 are widely conserved in diverse eukaryote lineages, and the human counterpart (RBM42) can functionally replace the missing Toxoplasma factor. Transcriptome studies demonstrate that gene expression is downregulated in the mutant at the restrictive temperature due to a severe defect in splicing that affects both cell cycle and constitutively expressed mRNAs. The interaction of TgRRM1 with factors of the tri-SNP complex (U4/U6 & U5 snRNPs) indicate this factor may be required to assemble an active spliceosome. Thus, the TgRRM1 family of proteins is an unrecognized and evolutionarily conserved class of splicing regulators. This study demonstrates investigations into diverse unicellular eukaryotes, like the Apicomplexa, have the potential to yield new insights into important mechanisms conserved across modern eukaryotic kingdoms.
An RGS4-Mediated Phenotypic Switch of Bronchial Smooth Muscle Cells Promotes Fixed Airway Obstruction in Asthma  [PDF]
Gautam Damera, Kirk M. Druey, Philip R. Cooper, Vera P. Krymskaya, Roy J. Soberman, Yassine Amrani, Toshinori Hoshi, Christopher E. Brightling, Reynold A. Panettieri
PLOS ONE , 2012, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0028504
Abstract: In severe asthma, bronchodilator- and steroid-insensitive airflow obstruction develops through unknown mechanisms characterized by increased lung airway smooth muscle (ASM) mass and stiffness. We explored the role of a Regulator of G-protein Signaling protein (RGS4) in the ASM hyperplasia and reduced contractile capacity characteristic of advanced asthma. Using immunocytochemical staining, ASM expression of RGS4 was determined in endobronchial biopsies from healthy subjects and those from subjects with mild, moderate and severe asthma. Cell proliferation assays, agonist-induced calcium mobilization and bronchoconstriction were determined in cultured human ASM cells and in human precision cut lung slices. Using gain- and loss-of-function approaches, the precise role of RGS proteins was determined in stimulating human ASM proliferation and inhibiting bronchoconstriction. RGS4 expression was restricted to a subpopulation of ASM and was specifically upregulated by mitogens, which induced a hyperproliferative and hypocontractile ASM phenotype similar to that observed in recalcitrant asthma. RGS4 expression was markedly increased in bronchial smooth muscle of patients with severe asthma, and expression correlated significantly with reduced pulmonary function. Whereas RGS4 inhibited G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR)-mediated bronchoconstriction, unexpectedly RGS4 was required for PDGF-induced proliferation and sustained activation of PI3K, a mitogenic signaling molecule that regulates ASM proliferation. These studies indicate that increased RGS4 expression promotes a phenotypic switch of ASM, evoking irreversible airway obstruction in subjects with severe asthma.
Structural and Functional Characterization of Two Alternative Splicing Variants of Mouse Endothelial Cell-Specific Chemotaxis Regulator (ECSCR)  [PDF]
Wen Wu,Chunwei Shi,Fanxin Ma,James Balducci,Hanju Huang,Hong-Long Ji,Yongchang Chang,Yao Huang
International Journal of Molecular Sciences , 2012, DOI: 10.3390/ijms13044920
Abstract: Endothelial cells (ECs) that line the lumen of blood vessels are important players in blood vessel formation, and EC migration is a key component of the angiogenic process. Thus, identification of genes that are specifically or preferentially expressed in vascular ECs and in-depth understanding of their biological functions may lead to discovery of new therapeutic targets. We have previously reported molecular characterization of human endothelial cell-specific molecule 2 (ECSM2)/endothelial cell-specific chemotaxis regulator (ECSCR). In the present study, we cloned two mouse full-length cDNAs by RT-PCR, which encode two putative ECSCR isoform precursors with considerable homology to the human ECSCR. Nucleotide sequence and exon-intron junction analyses suggested that they are alternative splicing variants (ECSCR isoform-1 and -2), differing from each other in the first and second exons. Quantitative RT-PCR results revealed that isoform-2 is the predominant form, which was most abundant in heart, lung, and muscles, and moderately abundant in uterus and testis. In contrast, the expression of isoform-1 seemed to be more enriched in testis. To further explore their potential cellular functions, we expressed GFP- and FLAG-tagged ECSCR isoforms, respectively, in an ECSCR deficient cell line (HEK293). Interestingly, the actual sizes of either ECSCR-GFP or -FLAG fusion proteins detected by immunoblotting are much larger than their predicted sizes, suggesting that both isoforms are glycoproteins. Fluorescence microscopy revealed that both ECSCR isoforms are localized at the cell surface, which is consistent with the structural prediction. Finally, we performed cell migration assays using mouse endothelial MS1 cells overexpressing GFP alone, isoform-1-GFP, and isoform-2-GFP, respectively. Our results showed that both isoforms significantly inhibited vascular epidermal growth factor (VEGF)-induced cell migration. Taken together, we have provided several lines of experimental evidence that two mouse ECSCR splicing variants/isoform precursors exist. They are differentially expressed in a variety of tissue types and likely involved in modulation of vascular EC migration. We have also defined the gene structure of mouse ECSCR using bioinformatics tools, which provides new information towards a better understanding of alternative splicing of ECSCR.
Differential Splicing Alters Subcellular Localization of the Alpha but not Beta Isoform of the MIER1 Transcriptional Regulator in Breast Cancer Cells  [PDF]
Jaclyn A. Clements, F. Corinne Mercer, Gary D. Paterno, Laura L. Gillespie
PLOS ONE , 2012, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0032499
Abstract: MIER1 was originally identified in a screen for novel fibroblast growth factor activated early response genes. The mier1 gene gives rise to multiple transcripts encoding protein isoforms that differ in their amino (N-) and carboxy (C-) termini. Much of the work to date has focused on the two C-terminal variants, MIER1α and β, both of which have been shown to function as transcriptional repressors. Our previous work revealed a dramatic shift in MIER1α subcellular localization from nuclear in normal breast tissue to cytoplasmic in invasive breast carcinoma, suggesting that loss of nuclear MIER1α may play a role in breast cancer development. In the present study, we investigated whether alternative splicing to include a cassette exon and produce an N–terminal variant of MIER1α affects its subcellular localization in MCF7 breast carcinoma cells. We demonstrate that this cassette exon, exon 3A, encodes a consensus leucine-rich nuclear export signal (NES). Inclusion of this exon in MIER1α to produce the MIER1-3Aα isoform altered its subcellular distribution in MCF7 cells from 81% nuclear to 2% nuclear and this change in localization was abrogated by mutation of critical leucines within the NES. Treatment with leptomycin B (LMB), an inhibitor of the nuclear export receptor CRM1, resulted in a significant increase in the percentage of cells with nuclear MIER1-3Aα, from 4% to 53%, demonstrating that cytoplasmic localization of this isoform was due to CRM1-dependent nuclear export. Inclusion of exon 3A in MIER1β to produce the N-terminal variant MIER1-3Aβ however had little effect on the nuclear targeting of this isoform. Our results demonstrate that alternative splicing to include exon 3A specifically affects the localization pattern of the α isoform.
New Insights into the Genomic Organization and Splicing of the Doublesex Gene, a Terminal Regulator of Sexual Differentiation in the Silkworm Bombyx mori  [PDF]
Jianping Duan, Hanfu Xu, Huizhen Guo, David A. O'Brochta, Feng Wang, Sanyuan Ma, Liying Zhang, Xingfu Zha, Ping Zhao, Qingyou Xia
PLOS ONE , 2013, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079703
Abstract: Sex-determination mechanisms differ among organisms. The primary mechanism is diverse, whereas the terminal regulator is relatively-conserved. We analyzed the transcripts of the Bombyx mori doublesex gene (Bmdsx), and reported novel results concerning the genomic organization and expression of Bmdsx. Bmdsx consists of nine exons and eight introns, of which two exons are novel and have not been reported previously. Bmdsx transcripts are spliced to generate seventeen alternatively-spliced forms and eleven putative trans-spliced variants. Thirteen of the alternatively-spliced forms and five of the putative trans-spliced forms are reported here for the first time. Sequence analysis predicts that ten female-specific, six male-specific splice forms and one splice form found in males and females will result in four female-specific, two male-specific Dsx proteins and one Dsx protein common to males and females. The Dsx proteins are expected to be functional and regulate downstream target genes. Some of the predicted Dsx proteins are described here for the first time. Therefore the expression of the dsx gene in B. mori results in a variety of cis- and trans-spliced transcripts and multiple Dsx proteins. These findings show that in B. mori there is a complicated pattern of dsx splicing, and that the regulation of splicing and sex-specific functions of lepidopteran dsx have evolved complexity.
Differential Requirement for the CD45 Splicing Regulator hnRNPLL for Accumulation of NKT and Conventional T Cells  [PDF]
Mehmet Yabas, Dale I. Godfrey, Christopher C. Goodnow, Gerard F. Hoyne
PLOS ONE , 2011, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0026440
Abstract: Natural killer T (NKT) cells represent an important regulatory T cell subset that develops in the thymus and contains immature (NK1.1lo) and mature (NK1.1hi) cell subsets. Here we show in mice that an inherited mutation in heterogeneous ribonucleoprotein L-like protein (hnRNPLLthunder), that shortens the survival of conventional T cells, has no discernible effect on NKT cell development, homeostasis or effector function. Thus, Hnrpll deficiency effectively increases the NKT:T cell ratio in the periphery. However, Hnrpll mutation disrupts CD45RA, RB and RC exon silencing of the Ptprc mRNA in both NKT and conventional T cells, and leads to a comparably dramatic shift to high molecular weight CD45 isoforms. In addition, Hnrpll mutation has a cell intrinsic effect on the expression of the developmentally regulated cell surface marker NK1.1 on NKT cells in the thymus and periphery but does not affect cell numbers. Therefore our results highlight both overlapping and divergent roles for hnRNPLL between conventional T cells and NKT cells. In both cell subsets it is required as a trans-acting factor to regulate alternative splicing of the Ptprc mRNA, but it is only required for survival of conventional T cells.
PTB-Associated Splicing Factor (PSF) Is a PPARγ-Binding Protein and Growth Regulator of Colon Cancer Cells  [PDF]
Tamotsu Tsukahara, Hisao Haniu, Yoshikazu Matsuda
PLOS ONE , 2013, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0058749
Abstract: Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ) is a nuclear receptor that plays an essential role in cell proliferation, apoptosis, and inflammation. It is over-expressed in many types of cancer, including colon, stomach, breast, and lung cancer, suggesting that regulation of PPARγ might affect cancer pathogenesis. Here, using a proteomic approach, we identify PTB-associated splicing factor (PSF) as a novel PPARγ-interacting protein and demonstrate that PSF is involved in several important regulatory steps of colon cancer cell proliferation. To investigate the relationship between PSF and PPARγ in colon cancer, we evaluated the effects of PSF expression in DLD-1 and HT-29 colon cancer cell lines, which express low and high levels of PPARγ, respectively PSF affected the ability of PPARγ to bind, and expression of PSF siRNA significantly suppressed the proliferation of colon cancer cells. Furthermore, PSF knockdown induced apoptosis via activation of caspase-3. Interestingly, DLD-1 cells were more susceptible to PSF knockdown-induced cell death than HT-29 cells. Our data suggest that PSF is an important regulator of cell death that plays critical roles in the survival and growth of colon cancer cells. The PSF-PPARγ axis may play a role in the control of colorectal carcinogenesis. Taken together, this study is the first to describe the effects of PSF on cell proliferation, tumor growth, and cell signaling associated with PPARγ.
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