Environmental research

Effects of airborne particulate matter on alternative pre-mRNA splicing in colon cancer cells.

PMID 25863591


Alternative pre-mRNA splicing plays key roles in determining tissue- and species-specific cell differentiation as well as in the onset of hereditary disease and cancer, being controlled by multiple post- and co-transcriptional regulatory mechanisms. We report here that airborne particulate matter, resulting from industrial pollution, inhibits expression and specifically affects alternative splicing at the 5' untranslated region of the mRNA encoding the bone morphogenetic protein BMP4 in human colon cells in culture. These effects are consistent with a previously reported role for BMP4 in preventing colon cancer development, suggesting that ingestion of particulate matter could contribute to the onset of colon cell proliferation. We also show that the underlying mechanism might involve changes in transcriptional elongation. This is the first study to demonstrate that particulate matter causes non-pleiotropic changes in alternative splicing.