A high-throughput assay to identify small-molecule modulators of alternative pre-mRNA splicing.
ABSTRACT: Alternative splicing (AS) is an efficient mechanism that involves the generation of transcriptome and protein diversity from a single gene. Defects in pre-messenger RNA (mRNA) splicing are an important cause of numerous diseases, including cancer. AS of pre-mRNA as a target for cancer therapy has not been well studied. We have reported previously that a splicing factor, polypyrimidine tract-binding protein (PTB), is overexpressed in ovarian tumors compared with matched normal controls, and knockdown of PTB expression by short-hairpin RNA impairs ovarian tumor cell growth, colony formation, and invasiveness. Given the complexity of PTB's molecular functions, a chemical method for controlling PTB activity might provide a therapeutic and experimental tool. However, no commercially available PTB inhibitors have yet been described. To expand our ability to find novel inhibitors, we developed a robust, fluorometric, cell-based high-throughput screening assay in 96-well plates that reports on the splicing activity of PTB. In an attempt to use the cells for large-scale chemical screens to identify PTB modulators, we established cell lines stably expressing the reporter gene. Our results suggest that this high-throughput assay could be used to identify small-molecule modulators of PTB activity. Based on these findings and the role that upregulated PTB has on cell proliferation and malignant properties of tumors, targeting PTB for inhibition with small molecules offers a promising strategy for cancer therapy.
Project description:Our previous study revealed that two splicing factors, polypyrimidine tract-binding protein (PTB) and SRp20, were upregulated in epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) and knockdown of PTB expression inhibited ovarian tumor cell growth and transformation properties. In this report, we show that knockdown of SRp20 expression in ovarian cancer cells also causes substantial inhibition of tumor cell growth and colony formation in soft agar and the extent of such inhibition appeared to correlate with the extent of suppression of SRp20. Massive knockdown of SRp20 expression triggered remarkable apoptosis in these cells. These results suggest that overexpression of SRp20 is required for ovarian tumor cell growth and survival. Immunohistochemical staining for PTB and SRp20 of two specialized tissue microarrays, one containing benign ovarian tumors, borderline/low malignant potential (LMP) ovarian tumors as well as invasive EOC and the other containing invasive EOC ranging from stage I to stage IV disease, reveals that PTB and SRp20 are both expressed differentially between benign tumors and invasive EOC, and between borderline/LMP tumors and invasive EOC. There were more all-negative or mixed staining cases (at least two evaluable section cores per case) in benign tumors than in invasive EOC, whereas there were more all-positive staining cases in invasive EOC than in the other two disease classifications. Among invasive EOC, the majority of cases were stained all positive for both PTB and SRp20, and there were no significant differences in average staining or frequency of positive cancer cells between any of the tumor stages. Therefore, the expression of PTB and SRp20 is associated with malignancy of ovarian tumors but not with stage of invasive EOC.
Project description:The Δ6 desaturase, encoded by FADS2, plays a crucial role in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid synthesis. These fatty acids are essential components of the central nervous system, and they act as precursors for eicosanoid signaling molecules and as direct modulators of gene expression. The polypyrimidine tract binding protein (PTB or hnRNP I) is a splicing factor that regulates alternative pre-mRNA splicing. Here, PTB is shown to bind an exonic splicing silencer element and repress alternative splicing of FADS2 into FADS2 AT1. PTB and FADS2AT1 were inversely correlated in neonatal baboon tissues, implicating PTB as a major regulator of tissue-specific FADS2 splicing. In HepG2 cells, PTB knockdown modulated alternative splicing of FADS2, as well as FADS3, a putative desaturase of unknown function. Omega-3 fatty acids decreased by nearly one half relative to omega-6 fatty acids in PTB knockdown cells compared with controls, with a particularly strong decrease in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) concentration and its ratio to arachidonic acid (ARA). This is a rare demonstration of a mechanism specifically altering the cellular omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid ratio without any change in diet/media. These findings reveal a novel role for PTB, regulating availability of membrane components and eicosanoid precursors for cell signaling.
Project description:Polypyrimidine tract-binding protein (PTB) is an RNA-binding protein with multiple functions in the regulation of RNA processing and IRES-mediated translation. We report here overexpression of PTB in a majority of epithelial ovarian tumors revealed by immunoblotting and tissue microarray (TMA) staining. By western blotting, we found that PTB was overexpressed in 17 out of 19 ovarian tumor specimens compared to their matched-normal tissues. By TMA staining, we found PTB expression in 38 out of 44 ovarian cancer cases but only in two out of nine normal adjacent tissues. PTB is also overexpressed in SV40 large T-antigen immortalized ovarian epithelial cells compared to normal human ovarian epithelial cells. Using doxycycline-inducible small interfering RNA technology, we found that knockdown of PTB expression in the ovarian tumor cell line A2780 substantially impaired tumor cell proliferation, anchorage-independent growth and in vitro invasiveness. These results suggest that overexpression of PTB is an important component of the multistep process of tumorigenesis, and might be required for the development and maintenance of epithelial ovarian tumors. Moreover, because of its novel role in tumor cell growth and invasiveness, shown here for the first time, PTB may be a novel therapeutic target in the treatment of ovarian cancer.
Project description:Polypyrimidine tract binding protein (PTB) is known to silence the splicing of many alternative exons. However, exons repressed by PTB are affected by other RNA regulatory elements and proteins. This makes it difficult to dissect the structure of the pre-mRNP complexes that silence splicing, and to understand the role of PTB in this process. We determined the minimal requirements for PTB-mediated splicing repression. We find that the minimal sequence for high affinity binding by PTB is relatively large, containing multiple polypyrimidine elements. Analytical ultracentrifugation and proteolysis mapping of RNA cross-links on the PTB protein indicate that most PTB exists as a monomer, and that a polypyrimidine element extends across multiple PTB domains. The high affinity site is bound initially by a PTB monomer and at higher concentrations by additional PTB molecules. Significantly, this site is not sufficient for splicing repression when placed in the 3' splice site of a strong test exon. Efficient repression requires a second binding site within the exon itself or downstream from it. This second site enhances formation of a multimeric PTB complex, even if it does not bind well to PTB on its own. These experiments show that PTB can be sufficient to repress splicing of an otherwise constitutive exon, without binding sites for additional regulatory proteins and without competing with U2AF binding. The minimal complex mediating splicing repression by PTB requires two binding sites bound by an oligomeric PTB complex.
Project description:Among the targets of the repressive splicing regulator, polypyrimidine tract binding protein (PTB) is its own pre-mRNA, where PTB-induced exon 11 skipping produces an RNA substrate for nonsense-mediated decay (NMD). To identify additional PTB-regulated alternative splicing events, we used quantitative proteomic analysis of HeLa cells after knockdown of PTB. Apart from loss of PTB, the only change was upregulation of the neuronally restricted nPTB, resulting from decreased skipping of nPTB exon 10, a splicing event that leads to NMD of nPTB mRNA. Compared with knockdown of PTB alone, simultaneous knockdown of PTB and nPTB led to larger changes in alternative splicing of known and newly identified PTB-regulated splicing events. Strikingly, the hematopoietic PTB paralog ROD1 also switched from a nonproductive splicing pathway upon PTB/nPTB knockdown. Our data indicate crossregulation between PTB and its paralogs via nonproductive alternative splicing and a large degree of functional overlap between PTB and nPTB.
Project description:Recent advances in the development of small chemical compounds that can modulate RNA splicing brought excitement to the field of splicing-targeting therapy. Splicing-targeting therapy tries to ameliorate the disease by altering the exon combination of transcripts to reduce the undesired effect of genetic mutations. However, the knowledge and tools to understand factors contributing to splicing modulator compound sensitivity have been lacking. Our goal was to establish a method to characterize sequence features found in compound sensitive exons.Here we developed a comparative transcriptomic approach to explore features that make an exon sensitive to a chemical compound. In this study, we chose TG003, a potential drug for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and performed RNA-sequencing on samples from human and mouse skeletal muscle cells, with and without TG003 treatments. We compared TG003 responsiveness between homologous exon pairs and identified 21 pairs in which human exons were skip-enhanced but not mouse exons. We compared the sequence features; splice site scores, number of splicing factor binding sites, and properties of branch sequence and polypyrimidine tracts, and found that polypyrimidine tracts were stronger (longer stretches and richer content of consecutive polypyrimidine) in the mouse TG003 insensitive exons. We also compared the features between TG003 skip-enhanced and insensitive exons within the species, and discovered that human TG003 skip-enhanced exons were shorter and had less splicing factor binding sites than the group of human TG003 insensitive exons. Mouse insensitive exons homologous to human TG003 skip-enhanced exons shared these properties. Our results suggested that these features are prerequisites for TG003 skip-enhanced exons and weak polypyrimidine tracts are defining features, which were supported by a decision tree analysis on all cassette exons in human.In this study we established a comparative transcriptomic approach, which shed lights on how small chemical compounds modulate RNA splicing. The results described here was the first attempt to decipher the targeting rules of a splicing modulator compound. We expect that this approach would contribute to the precise understanding of the mechanism of TG003-induced splicing modulation, expand target diseases of splicing modulators in general, as well as the development of new splicing modulators.
Project description:Polypyrimidine-tract-binding protein (PTB) is involved in pre-mRNA splicing and internal-ribosomal-entry-site-dependent translation. The biochemical properties of various segments of PTB were analysed in order to understand the molecular basis of the PTB functions. The protein exists in oligomeric as well as monomeric form. The central part of PTB (amino acids 169-293) plays a major role in the oligomerization. PTB contains several RNA-binding motifs. Among them, the C-terminal part of PTB (amino acids 329-530) exhibited the strongest RNA-binding activity. The N-terminal part of PTB is responsible for the enhancement of RNA binding by HeLa cell cytoplasmic factor(s).
Project description:Splicing is regulated by complex interactions of numerous RNA-binding proteins. The molecular mechanisms involved remain elusive, in large part because of ignorance regarding the numbers of proteins in regulatory complexes. Polypyrimidine tract-binding protein (PTB), which regulates tissue-specific splicing, represses exon 3 of alpha-tropomyosin through distant pyrimidine-rich tracts in the flanking introns. Current models for repression involve either PTB-mediated looping or the propagation of complexes between tracts. To test these models, we used single-molecule approaches to count the number of bound PTB molecules both by counting the number of bleaching steps of GFP molecules linked to PTB within complexes and by analysing their total emissions. Both approaches showed that five or six PTB molecules assemble. Given the domain structures, this suggests that the molecules occupy primarily multiple overlapping potential sites in the polypyrimidine tracts, excluding propagation models. As an alternative to direct looping, we propose that repression involves a multistep process in which PTB binding forms small local loops, creating a platform for recruitment of other proteins that bring these loops into close proximity.
Project description:We recently reported that the intronic splice-site mutation IVS3-8G>A of CHRNA1 that encodes the muscle nicotinic acetylcholine receptor alpha subunit disrupts binding of a splicing repressor, hnRNP H. This, in turn, results in exclusive inclusion of the downstream exon P3A. The P3A(+) transcript encodes a non-functional alpha subunit that comprises 50% of the transcripts in normal human skeletal muscle, but its functional significance remains undetermined. In an effort to search for a potential therapy, we screened off-label effects of 960 bioactive chemical compounds and found that tannic acid ameliorates the aberrant splicing due to IVS3-8G>A but without altering the expression of hnRNP H. Therefore, we searched for another splicing trans-factor. We found that the polypyrimidine tract binding protein (PTB) binds close to the 3' end of CHRNA1 intron 3, that PTB induces skipping of exon P3A and that tannic acid increases the expression of PTB in a dose-dependent manner. Deletion assays of the PTB promoter region revealed that the tannic acid-responsive element is between positions -232 and -74 from the translation initiation site. These observations open the door to the discovery of novel therapies based on PTB overexpression and to detecting possible untoward effects of the overexpression.
Project description:Trypanosomatid genomes encode for numerous proteins containing an RNA recognition motif (RRM), but the function of most of these proteins in mRNA metabolism is currently unknown. Here, we report the function of two such proteins that we have named PTB1 and PTB2, which resemble the mammalian polypyrimidine tract binding proteins (PTB). RNAi silencing of these factors indicates that both are essential for life. PTB1 and PTB2 reside mostly in the nucleus, but are found in the cytoplasm, as well. Microarray analysis performed on PTB1 and PTB2 RNAi silenced cells indicates that each of these factors differentially affects the transcriptome, thus regulating a different subset of mRNAs. PTB1 and PTB2 substrates were categorized bioinformatically, based on the presence of PTB binding sites in their 5' and 3' flanking sequences. Both proteins were shown to regulate mRNA stability. Interestingly, PTB proteins are essential for trans-splicing of genes containing C-rich polypyrimidine tracts. PTB1, but not PTB2, also affects cis-splicing. The specificity of binding of PTB1 was established in vivo and in vitro using a model substrate. This study demonstrates for the first time that trans-splicing of only certain substrates requires specific factors such as PTB proteins for their splicing. The trypanosome PTB proteins, like their mammalian homologs, represent multivalent RNA binding proteins that regulate mRNAs from their synthesis to degradation.