Splicing regulatory factors in breast cancer hallmarks and disease progression

Esmee Koedoot, Liesanne Wolters, Bob van de Water and Sylvia E. Le Dévédec _

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Oncotarget. 2019; 10:6021-6037. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.27215

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Esmee Koedoot1, Liesanne Wolters1, Bob van de Water1 and Sylvia E. Le Dévédec1

1 Division of Drug Discovery and Safety, LACDR, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands

Correspondence to:

Sylvia E. Le Dévédec,email: [email protected]

Keywords: hallmarks of cancer; breast cancer; alternative splicing; splice factors; RNA sequencing

Received: April 23, 2019     Accepted: August 29, 2019     Published: October 15, 2019


By regulating transcript isoform expression levels, alternative splicing provides an additional layer of protein control. Recent studies show evidence that cancer cells use different splicing events to fulfill their requirements in order to develop, progress and metastasize. However, there has been less attention for the role of the complex catalyzing the complicated multistep splicing reaction: the spliceosome. The spliceosome consists of multiple sub-complexes in total comprising 244 proteins or splice factors and 5 associated RNA molecules. Here we discuss the role of splice factors in the oncogenic processes tumors cells need to fulfill their oncogenic properties (the so-called the hallmarks of cancer). Despite the fact that splice factors have been investigated only recently, they seem to play a prominent role in already five hallmarks of cancer: angiogenesis, resisting cell death, sustaining proliferation, deregulating cellular energetics and invasion and metastasis formation by affecting major signaling pathways such as epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, the Warburg effect, DNA damage response and hormone receptor dependent proliferation. Moreover, we could relate expression of representative genes of four other hallmarks (enabling replicative mortality, genomic instability, avoiding immune destruction and evading growth suppression) to splice factor levels in human breast cancer tumors, suggesting that also these hallmarks could be regulated by splice factors. Since many splice factors are involved in multiple hallmarks of cancer, inhibiting splice factors might provide a new layer of oncogenic control and a powerful method to combat breast cancer progression.

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