SRPK1/2 and PP1α exert opposite functions by modulating SRSF1-guided MKNK2 alternative splicing in colon adenocarcinoma.

Hongda Liu
Zheng Gong, The Jackson Laboratory
Kangshuai Li
Qun Zhang
Zekuan Xu
Yunfei Xu

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license.


BACKGROUND: The Mnk2 kinase, encoded by MKNK2 gene, plays critical roles in MAPK signaling and was involved in oncogenesis. Human MKNK2 pre-mRNA can be alternatively spliced into two splicing isoforms, the MKNK2a and MKNK2b, thus yielding Mnk2a and Mnk2b proteins with different domains. The involvement of Mnk2 alternative splicing in colon cancer has been implicated based on RNA-sequencing data from TCGA database. This study aimed at investigating the upstream modulators and clinical relevance of Mnk2 alternative splicing in colon adenocarcinoma (CAC).

METHODS: PCR, western blotting and immunohistochemistry (IHC) were performed to assess the expression of Mnk2 and upstream proteins in CAC. The function of Mnk2 and its regulators were demonstrated in different CAC cell lines as well as in xenograft models. Two independent cohorts of CAC patients were used to reveal the clinical significance of MKNK2 alternative splicing.

RESULTS: Comparing with adjacent nontumorous tissue, CAC specimen showed a decreased MKNK2a level and an increased MKNK2b level, which were correlated with KRAS mutation and tumor size. The SRSF1 (serine/arginine-rich splicing factor 1) was further confirmed to be the major splicing factor targeting MKNK2 in CAC cells. Higher expression of SRPK1/2 or decreased activity of PP1α were responsible for enhancing SRSF1 phosphorylation and nucleus translocation, subsequently resulted in a switch of MKNK2 alternative splicing.

CONCLUSIONS: Our data showed that phosphorylation and subcellular localization of SRSF1 were balanced by SRPK1/2 and PP1α in CAC cells. High nucleus SRSF1 promoted MKNK2 splicing into MKNK2b instead of MNK2a, consequently enhanced tumor proliferation.