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Oncogene. 1999 Jun 17;18(24):3574-82.

Stage-specific changes in SR splicing factors and alternative splicing in mammary tumorigenesis.

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Verna and Marrs McLean Department of Biochemistry, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Using a mouse model of mammary gland development and tumorigenesis we examined changes in both alternative splicing and splicing factors in multiple stages of mammary cancer. The emphasis was on the SR family of splicing factors known to influence alternative splicing in a wide variety of genes, and on alternative splicing of the pre-mRNA encoding CD44, for which alternative splicing has been implicated as important in a number of human cancers, including breast cancer. We observed step-wise increases in expression of individual SR proteins and alternative splicing of CD44 mRNA during mammary gland tumorigenesis. Individual preneoplasias differed as to their expression patterns for SR proteins, often expressing only a sub-set of the family. In contrast, tumors demonstrated a complex pattern of SR expression. Little difference was observed between neoplasias and their metastases. Alternative splicing of CD44 also changed through the disease paradigm such that tumors produced RNA containing a mixture of variable exons, whereas preneoplasias exhibited a more restricted exon inclusion pattern. In contrast, other standard splicing factors changed little in either concentration or splicing pattern in the same cells. These data suggest alterations in relative concentrations of specific splicing factors during early preneoplasia that become more pronounced during tumor formation. Given the ability of SR proteins to affect alternative processing decisions, our results suggest that a number of pre-mRNAs may undergo changes in alternative splicing during the early and intermediate stages of mammary cancer.

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