Cancer discovery

The genetics of splicing in neuroblastoma.

PMID 25637275


Regulation of mRNA splicing, a critical and tightly regulated cellular function, underlies the majority of proteomic diversity and is frequently disrupted in disease. Using an integrative genomics approach, we combined both genomic data and exon-level transcriptome data in two somatic tissues (cerebella and peripheral ganglia) from a transgenic mouse model of neuroblastoma, a tumor that arises from the peripheral neural crest. Here, we describe splicing quantitative trait loci associated with differential splicing across the genome that we use to identify genes with previously unknown functions within the splicing pathway and to define de novo intronic splicing motifs that influence splicing from hundreds of bases away. Our results show that these splicing motifs represent sites for functional recurrent mutations and highlight novel candidate genes in human cancers, including childhood neuroblastoma. Somatic mutations with predictable downstream effects are largely relegated to coding regions, which comprise less than 2% of the human genome. Using an unbiased in vivo analysis of a mouse model of neuroblastoma, we have identified intronic splicing motifs that translate into sites for recurrent somatic mutations in human cancers.