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Background: Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive subtype of breast cancer with limited therapeutic opportunities. Recently, splicing factors have gained attention as potential targets for cancer treatment. Here we systematically evaluated the role of RNA splicing factors in TNBC cell proliferation. Methods: In this study, we performed an RNAi screen targeting 244 individual splicing factors to systematically evaluate their role in TNBC cell proliferation. For top candidates, mechanistic insight was gained using amongst others western blot, PCR, FACS, molecular imaging and cloning. Pulldown followed by mass spectrometry were used to determine protein-protein interactions and patient-derived RNA sequencing data was used relate splicing factor expression levels to proliferation markers. Results: We identified nine splicing factors, including SNRPD2, SNRPD3 and NHP2L1, of which depletion inhibited proliferation in two TNBC cell lines by deregulation of sister chromatid cohesion (SCC) via increased sororin intron 1 retention and down-regulation of SMC1, MAU2 and ESPL1. Protein-protein interaction analysis of SNRPD2, SNRPD3 and NHP2L1 identified that seven out of the nine identified splicing factors belong to the same spliceosome complex including novel component SUN2 that was also critical for efficient sororin splicing. Finally, sororin transcript levels are highly correlated to various proliferation markers in BC patients. Conclusion: We systematically determined splicing factors that control proliferation of breast cancer cells through a mechanism that involves effective sororin splicing and thereby appropriate sister chromatid cohesion. Moreover, we identified SUN2 as an important new spliceosome complex interacting protein that is critical in this process. We anticipate that deregulating sororin levels through targeting of the relevant splicing factors might be a potential strategy to treat TNBC.
Koedoot, E., van Steijn, E., Vermeer, M., González-Prieto, R., Vertegaal, A. C. O., Martens, J. W. M., … van de Water, B. (2021). Splicing factors control triple-negative breast cancer cell mitosis through SUN2 interaction and sororin intron retention. Journal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research, 40(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13046-021-01863-4