SMN deficiency causes tissue-specific perturbations in the repertoire of snRNAs and widespread defects in splicing.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6148, USA.
Cell (Impact Factor: 31.96). 06/2008; 133(4):585-600. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2008.03.031
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The survival of motor neurons (SMN) protein is essential for the biogenesis of small nuclear RNA (snRNA)-ribonucleoproteins (snRNPs), the major components of the pre-mRNA splicing machinery. Though it is ubiquitously expressed, SMN deficiency causes the motor neuron degenerative disease spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). We show here that SMN deficiency, similar to that which occurs in severe SMA, has unexpected cell type-specific effects on the repertoire of snRNAs and mRNAs. It alters the stoichiometry of snRNAs and causes widespread pre-mRNA splicing defects in numerous transcripts of diverse genes, preferentially those containing a large number of introns, in SMN-deficient mouse tissues. These findings reveal a key role for the SMN complex in RNA metabolism and in splicing regulation and indicate that SMA is a general splicing disease that is not restricted to motor neurons.

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    ABSTRACT: The RNA-binding protein FUS/TLS, mutation in which is causative of the fatal motor neuron disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is demonstrated to directly bind to the U1-snRNP and SMN complexes. ALS-causative mutations in FUS/TLS are shown to abnormally enhance their interaction with SMN and dysregulate its function, including loss of Gems and altered levels of small nuclear RNAs. The same mutants are found to have reduced association with U1-snRNP. Correspondingly, global RNA analysis reveals a mutant-dependent loss of splicing activity, with ALS-linked mutants failing to reverse changes caused by loss of wild-type FUS/TLS. Furthermore, a common FUS/TLS mutant-associated RNA splicing signature is identified in ALS patient fibroblasts. Taken together, these studies establish potentially converging disease mechanisms in ALS and spinal muscular atrophy, with ALS-causative mutants acquiring properties representing both gain (dysregulation of SMN) and loss (reduced RNA processing mediated by U1-snRNP) of function.
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