Correction of aberrant FGFR1 RNA splicing through blocking intronic regulatory elements

Ivone Guzman Bruno, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Analysis of the human genome has revealed that more than 74% of human genes undergo alternative RNA splicing. Aberrations in alternative RNA splicing have been associated with several human disorders, including cancer. We studied the aberrant expression of alternative RNA splicing isoforms of the Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor 1 (FGFR1) gene in a human glioblastoma cancer model. Normal glial cells express the FGFR1α, which contains three extracellular domains. In tumors the most abundant isoform is the FGFR1β, which lacks the first extracellular domain due to the skipping of a single exon, termed alpha. The skipping of the α-exon is regulated by two intronic silencing sequences within the precursor mRNA. Since we observed no mutations on these elements in tumor cells, we hypothesized that the over-expression of regulatory proteins that recognize these sequences is responsible for the aberrant expression of splicing isoforms. Hence, we blocked the formation of protein complexes on the ISS using antisense RNA oligonucleotides in vitro. We also evaluated the impact of the ISS antisense oligonucleotides on the endogenous FGFR1 splicing, in a glioblastoma cell model. By targeting intronic regulatory elements we were able to increase the level of alpha exon inclusion up to 90% in glioblastoma cells. The effect was dose dependent, sequence specific and reproducible in glioblastoma and other cancer cells, which also exhibit an alpha exon skipping phenotype. Targeting FGFR1 endogenous ISS1 and ISS2 sequences did not have an additive or synergistic effect, which suggest a regulatory splicing mechanism that requires the interaction of complexes formed on these elements. An increase in the levels of the FGFR1α isoform resulted in a reduction in cell invasiveness. Also, a significant increase in the levels of caspase 3/7 activities, which is indicative of an elevation in apoptosis levels, suggests that expression of FGFR1β might be relevant for tumor survival. These studies demonstrate that it is possible to prevent aberrant expression of exon skipping events through the targeting of intronic regulatory elements, providing an important new therapeutic tool for the correction of human disease caused by alternative RNA splicing.

Subject Area

Biomedical research|Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Bruno, Ivone Guzman, "Correction of aberrant FGFR1 RNA splicing through blocking intronic regulatory elements" (2004). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3143328.