U2AF65-Dependent SF3B1 Function in SMN Alternative Splicing.

Cells (2020-12-16)
Namjeong Choi, Yongchao Liu, Jagyeong Oh, Jiyeon Ha, Xuexiu Zheng, Haihong Shen

Splicing factor 3b subunit 1 (SF3B1) is an essential protein in spliceosomes and mutated frequently in many cancers. While roles of SF3B1 in single intron splicing and roles of its cancer-linked mutant in aberrant splicing have been identified to some extent, regulatory functions of wild-type SF3B1 in alternative splicing (AS) are not well-understood yet. Here, we applied RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) to analyze genome-wide AS in SF3B1 knockdown (KD) cells and to identify a large number of skipped exons (SEs), with a considerable number of alternative 5' splice-site selection, alternative 3' splice-site selection, mutually exclusive exons (MXE), and retention of introns (RI). Among altered SEs by SF3B1 KD, survival motor neuron 2 (SMN2) pre-mRNA exon 7 splicing was a regulatory target of SF3B1. RT-PCR analysis of SMN exon 7 splicing in SF3B1 KD or overexpressed HCT116, SH-SY5Y, HEK293T, and spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) patient cells validated the results. A deletion mutation demonstrated that the U2 snRNP auxiliary factor 65 kDa (U2AF65) interaction domain of SF3B1 was required for its function in SMN exon 7 splicing. In addition, mutations to lower the score of the polypyrimidine tract (PPT) of exon 7, resulting in lower affinity for U2AF65, were not able to support SF3B1 function, suggesting the importance of U2AF65 in SF3B1 function. Furthermore, the PPT of exon 7 with higher affinity to U2AF65 than exon 8 showed significantly stronger interactions with SF3B1. Collectively, our results revealed SF3B1 function in SMN alternative splicing.