Glioma-specific alternative RNA splicing: A role for polypyrimidine tract binding protein-1

Hannah Chung-yan Cheung, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Alternative RNA splicing plays an integral role in cell fate determination and function, especially in the cells of the brain. Errors in RNA processing contribute to diseases such as cancer, where it leads to the production of oncogenic proteins or the loss of tumor suppressors. In silica mining suggests that hundreds of splice isoforms are misexpressed in the glial cell-derived glioma. However, there is little experimental evidence of the prevalence and contribution of these changes and whether they contribute to the formation and progression of this devastating malignancy. To determine the frequency of these aberrant events, global profiling of alternative RNA splice patterns in glioma and nontumor brain was conducted using an exon array. Most splicing changes were less than 5-fold in magnitude and 14 cassette exon events were validated, including 7 previously published events. To determine the possible causes of missplicing, the differential expression levels of splicing factors in these two tissues were also analyzed. Six RNA splicing factors had greater than 2-fold changes in expression. The highest differentially expressed factor was polypyrimidine tract binding protein-1 (PTB). Evaluation by immunohistochemistry determined that this factor was elevated in both early and late stages of glioma. Glial cell-specific PTB expression in the adult brain led me to examine the role of PTB in gliomagenesis. Downregulation of PTB slowed glioma cell proliferation and migration and enhanced cell adhesion to fibronectin and vitronectin. To determine whether PTB was affecting these processes through splicing, genome-wide exon expression levels were correlated with PTB levels. Surprisingly, previously reported PTB target transcripts were insensitive to changes in PTB levels in both patient samples and PTB-depleted glioma cells. Only one validated glioma-specific splice target, RTN4/Nogo, had a significant PTB-mediated splicing change. Downregulation of PTB enhanced inclusion of its alternative exon 3, which encodes an auxiliary domain within a neurite inhibitor protein. Overexpression of this splice isoform in glioma cells slowed proliferation in a manner similar to that observed in PTB knockdown cells. In summary, aberrant expression of splicing factors such as PTB in glioma may elicit changes in splicing patterns that enhance tumorigenesis.

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Recommended Citation

Cheung, Hannah Chung-yan, "Glioma-specific alternative RNA splicing: A role for polypyrimidine tract binding protein-1" (2008). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3302758.