Selective modification of alternative splicing by indole derivatives that target serine-arginine-rich protein splicing factors.
ABSTRACT: The prevalence of alternative splicing as a target for alterations leading to human genetic disorders makes it highly relevant for therapy. Here we have used in vitro splicing reactions with different splicing reporter constructs to screen 4,000 chemical compounds for their ability to selectively inhibit spliceosome assembly and splicing. We discovered indole derivatives as potent inhibitors of the splicing reaction. Importantly, compounds of this family specifically inhibit exonic splicing enhancer (ESE)-dependent splicing, because they interact directly and selectively with members of the serine-arginine-rich protein family. Treatment of cells expressing reporter constructs with ESE sequences demonstrated that selected indole derivatives mediate inhibition of ESE usage in vivo and prevent early splicing events required for HIV replication. This discovery opens the exciting possibility of a causal pharmacological treatment of aberrant splicing in human genetic disorders and development of new antiviral therapeutic approaches.
Project description:The guanosine-adenosine-rich exonic splicing enhancer (GAR ESE) identified in exon 5 of the human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) pre-mRNA activates either an enhancer-dependent 5' splice site (ss) or 3' ss in 1-intron reporter constructs in the presence of the SR proteins SF2/ASF2 and SRp40. Characterizing the mode of action of the GAR ESE inside the internal HIV-1 exon 5 we found that this enhancer fulfils a dual splicing regulatory function (i) by synergistically mediating exon recognition through its individual SR protein-binding sites and (ii) by conferring 3' ss selectivity within the 3' ss cluster preceding exon 5. Both functions depend upon the GAR ESE, U1 snRNP binding at the downstream 5' ss D4 and the E42 sequence located between these elements. Therefore, a network of cross-exon interactions appears to regulate splicing of the alternative exons 4a and 5. As the GAR ESE-mediated activation of the upstream 3' ss cluster also is essential for the processing of intron-containing vpu/env-mRNAs during intermediate viral gene expression, the GAR enhancer substantially contributes to the regulation of viral replication.
Project description:CD200, a type I membrane glycoprotein, plays an important role in prevention of inflammatory disorders, graft rejection, autoimmune diseases and spontaneous fetal loss. It also regulates tumor immunity. A truncated CD200 (CD200(tr)) resulting from alternative splicing has been identified and characterized as a functional antagonist to full-length CD200. Thus, it is important to explore the mechanism(s) controlling alternative splicing of CD200. In this study, we identified an exonic splicing enhancer (ESE) located in exon 2, which is a putative binding site for a splicing regulatory protein SF2/ASF. Deletion or mutation of the ESE site decreased expression of the full-length CD200. Direct binding of SF2/ASF to the ESE site was confirmed by RNA electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA). Knockdown of expression of SF2/ASF resulted in the same splicing pattern as seen after deletion or mutation of the ESE, whereas overexpression of SF2/ASF increased expression of the full-length CD200. In vivo studies showed that viral infection reversed the alternative splicing pattern of CD200 with increased expression of SF2/ASF and the full-length CD200. Taken together, our data suggest for the first time that SF2/ASF regulates the function of CD200 by controlling CD200 alternative splicing, through direct binding to an ESE located in exon 2 of CD200.
Project description:Sequence-specific recognition of nucleic-acid motifs is critical to many cellular processes. We have developed a new and general method called Neighborhood Inference (NI) that predicts sequences with activity in regulating a biochemical process based on the local density of known sites in sequence space. Applied to the problem of RNA splicing regulation, NI was used to predict hundreds of new exonic splicing enhancer (ESE) and silencer (ESS) hexanucleotides from known human ESEs and ESSs. These predictions were supported by cross-validation analysis, by analysis of published splicing regulatory activity data, by sequence-conservation analysis, and by measurement of the splicing regulatory activity of 24 novel predicted ESEs, ESSs, and neutral sequences using an in vivo splicing reporter assay. These results demonstrate the ability of NI to accurately predict splicing regulatory activity and show that the scope of exonic splicing regulatory elements is substantially larger than previously anticipated. Analysis of orthologous exons in four mammals showed that the NI score of ESEs, a measure of function, is much more highly conserved above background than ESE primary sequence. This observation indicates a high degree of selection for ESE activity in mammalian exons, with surprisingly frequent interchangeability between ESE sequences.
Project description:There is a critical need to understand why missense mutations are deleterious. The deleterious effects of missense mutations are commonly attributed to their impact on primary amino acid sequence and protein structure. However, several recent studies have shown that some missense mutations are deleterious because they disturb cis-acting splicing elements-so-called "exonic splicing enhancers" (ESEs). It is not clear whether the ESE-related deleterious effects of missense mutations are common. We have evaluated colocalization of pathogenic missense mutations (found in affected individuals) with high-score ESE motifs in the human mismatch-repair genes hMSH2 and hMLH1. We found that pathogenic missense mutations in the hMSH2 and hMLH1 genes are located in ESE sites significantly more frequently than expected. Pathogenic missense mutations also tended to decrease ESE scores, thus leading to a higher propensity for splicing defects. In contrast, nonpathogenic missense mutations (polymorphisms found in unaffected individuals) and nonsense mutations are distributed randomly in relation to ESE sites. Comparison of the observed and expected frequencies of missense mutations in ESE sites shows that pathogenic effects of >/=20% of mutations in hMSH2 result from disruption of ESE sites and disturbed splicing. Similarly, pathogenic effects of >/=16% of missense mutations in the hMLH1 gene are ESE related. The colocalization of pathogenic missense mutations with ESE sites strongly suggests that their pathogenic effects are splicing related.
Project description:Indole derivatives compounds (IDC) are a new class of splicing inhibitors that have a selective action on exonic splicing enhancers (ESE)-dependent activity of individual serine-arginine-rich (SR) proteins. Some of these molecules have been shown to compromise assembly of HIV infectious particles in cell cultures by interfering with the activity of the SR protein SF2/ASF and by subsequently suppressing production of splicing-dependent retroviral accessory proteins. For all replication-competent retroviruses, a limiting requirement for infection and pathogenesis is the expression of the envelope glycoprotein which strictly depends on the host splicing machinery. Here, we have evaluated the efficiency of IDC on an animal model of retroviral pathogenesis using a fully replication-competent retrovirus. In this model, all newborn mice infected with a fully replicative murine leukemia virus (MLV) develop erythroleukemia within 6 to 8 weeks of age. We tested several IDC for their ability to interfere ex vivo with MLV splicing and virus spreading as well as for their protective effect in vivo. We show here that two of these IDC, IDC13 and IDC78, selectively altered splicing-dependent production of the retroviral envelope gene, thus inhibiting early viral replication in vivo, sufficiently to protect mice from MLV-induced pathogenesis. The apparent specificity and clinical safety observed here for both IDC13 and IDC78 strongly support further assessment of inhibitors of SR protein splicing factors as a new class of antiretroviral therapeutic agents.
Project description:Correct splice site recognition is critical in pre-mRNA splicing. We find that almost all of a diverse panel of exonic splicing silencer (ESS) elements alter splice site choice when placed between competing sites, consistently inhibiting use of intron-proximal 5' and 3' splice sites. Supporting a general role for ESSs in splice site definition, we found that ESSs are both abundant and highly conserved between alternative splice site pairs and that mutation of ESSs located between natural alternative splice site pairs consistently shifted splicing toward the intron-proximal site. Some exonic splicing enhancers (ESEs) promoted use of intron-proximal 5' splice sites, and tethering of hnRNP A1 and SF2/ASF proteins between competing splice sites mimicked the effects of ESS and ESE elements, respectively. Further, we observed that specific subsets of ESSs had distinct effects on a multifunctional intron retention reporter and that one of these subsets is likely preferred for regulation of endogenous intron retention events. Together, our findings provide a comprehensive picture of the functions of ESSs in the control of diverse types of splicing decisions.
Project description:Influenza virus utilizes host splicing machinery to process viral mRNAs expressed from both M and NS segments. Through genetic analysis and functional characterization, we here show that the NS segment of H7N9 virus contains a unique G540A substitution, located within a previously undefined exonic splicing enhancer (ESE) motif present in the NEP mRNA of influenza A viruses. G540A supports virus replication in mammalian cells while retaining replication ability in avian cells. Host splicing regulator, SF2, interacts with this ESE to regulate splicing of NEP/NS1 mRNA and G540A substitution affects SF2-ESE interaction. The NS1 protein directly interacts with SF2 in the nucleus and modulates splicing of NS mRNAs during virus replication. We demonstrate that splicing of NEP/NS1 mRNA is regulated through a cis NEP-ESE motif and suggest a unique NEP-ESE may contribute to provide H7N9 virus with the ability to both circulate efficiently in avian hosts and replicate in mammalian cells.
Project description:Inefficient splicing of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) RNA is necessary to preserve unspliced and singly spliced viral RNAs for transport to the cytoplasm by the Rev-dependent pathway. Signals within the HIV-1 genome that control the rate of splicing include weak 3' splice sites, exon splicing enhancers (ESE), and exon splicing silencers (ESS). We have previously shown that an ESS present within tat exon 2 (ESS2) and a suboptimal 3' splice site together act to inhibit splicing at the 3' splice site flanking tat exon 2. This occurs at an early step in spliceosome assembly. Splicing at the 3' splice site flanking tat exon 3 is regulated by a bipartite element composed of an ESE and an ESS (ESS3). Here we show that ESS3 is composed of two smaller elements (AGAUCC and UUAG) that can inhibit splicing independently. We also show that ESS3 is more active in the context of a heterologous suboptimal splice site than of an optimal 3' splice site. ESS3 inhibits splicing by blocking the formation of a functional spliceosome at an early step, since A complexes are not detected in the presence of ESS3. Competitor RNAs containing either ESS2 or ESS3 relieve inhibition of splicing of substrates containing ESS3 or ESS2. This suggests that a common cellular factor(s) may be required for the inhibition of tat mRNA splicing mediated by ESS2 and ESS3.
Project description:Exonic splicing enhancers (ESEs) are pre-mRNA cis-acting elements required for splice-site recognition. We previously developed a web-based program called ESEfinder that scores any sequence for the presence of ESE motifs recognized by the human SR proteins SF2/ASF, SRp40, SRp55 and SC35 (http://rulai.cshl.edu/tools/ESE/). Using ESEfinder, we have undertaken a large-scale analysis of ESE motif distribution in human protein-coding genes. Significantly higher frequencies of ESE motifs were observed in constitutive internal protein-coding exons, compared with both their flanking intronic regions and with pseudo exons. Statistical analysis of ESE motif frequency distributions revealed a complex relationship between splice-site strength and increased or decreased frequencies of particular SR protein motifs. Comparison of constitutively and alternatively spliced exons demonstrated slightly weaker splice-site scores, as well as significantly fewer ESE motifs, in the alternatively spliced group. Our results underline the importance of ESE-mediated SR protein function in the process of exon definition, in the context of both constitutive splicing and regulated alternative splicing.
Project description:Exonic splicing enhancer (ESE) sequences are bound by serine & arginine-rich (SR) proteins, which in turn enhance the recruitment of splicing factors. It was inferred from measurements of splicing around twenty years ago that Drosophila doublesex ESEs are bound stably by SR proteins, and that the bound proteins interact directly but with low probability with their targets. However, it has not been possible with conventional methods to demonstrate whether mammalian ESEs behave likewise. Using single molecule multi-colour colocalization methods to study SRSF1-dependent ESEs, we have found that that the proportion of RNA molecules bound by SRSF1 increases with the number of ESE repeats, but only a single molecule of SRSF1 is bound. We conclude that initial interactions between SRSF1 and an ESE are weak and transient, and that these limit the activity of a mammalian ESE. We tested whether the activation step involves the propagation of proteins along the RNA or direct interactions with 3' splice site components by inserting hexaethylene glycol or abasic RNA between the ESE and the target 3' splice site. These insertions did not block activation, and we conclude that the activation step involves direct interactions. These results support a model in which regulatory proteins bind transiently and in dynamic competition, with the result that each ESE in an exon contributes independently to the probability that an activator protein is bound and in close proximity to a splice site.