Alternative RNA splicing is widely dysregulated in cancers including lung adenocarcinoma, where aberrant splicing events are frequently caused by somatic splice site mutations or somatic mutations of splicing factor genes. However, the majority of mis-splicing in cancers is unexplained by these known mechanisms. We hypothesize that the aberrant Ras signaling characteristic of lung cancers plays a role in promoting the alternative splicing observed in tumors.
We recently performed transcriptome and proteome profiling of human lung epithelial cells ectopically expressing oncogenic KRAS and another cancer-associated Ras GTPase, RIT1. Unbiased analysis of phosphoproteome data identified altered splicing factor phosphorylation in KRAS-mutant cells, so we performed differential alternative splicing analysis using rMATS to identify significantly altered isoforms in lung epithelial cells. To determine whether these isoforms were uniquely regulated by KRAS, we performed a large-scale splicing screen in which we generated over 300 unique RNA sequencing profiles of isogenic A549 lung adenocarcinoma cells ectopically expressing 75 different wild-type or variant alleles across 28 genes implicated in lung cancer.
Mass spectrometry data showed widespread downregulation of splicing factor phosphorylation in lung epithelial cells expressing mutant KRAS compared to cells expressing wild-type KRAS. We observed alternative splicing in the same cells, with 2196 and 2416 skipped exon events in KRASG12Vand KRASQ61Hcells, respectively, 997 of which were shared (
Proteomic and transcriptomic profiling of lung epithelial cells uncovered splicing factor phosphorylation and mRNA splicing events regulated by oncogenic KRAS. These data suggest that in addition to widespread transcriptional changes, the Ras signaling pathway can promote post-transcriptional splicing changes that may contribute to oncogenic processes.