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Gastroenterology. 2008 May;134(5):1521-31. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2008.02.015. Epub 2008 Feb 13.

Ras promotes growth by alternative splicing-mediated inactivation of the KLF6 tumor suppressor in hepatocellular carcinoma.

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Division of Liver Diseases and Department of Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA.

Erratum in

  • Gastroenterology. 2008 Jul;135(1):326.



Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fifth most prevalent cancer worldwide and the third most lethal. Dysregulation of alternative splicing underlies a number of human diseases, yet its contribution to liver cancer has not been explored fully. The Krüppel-like factor 6 (KLF6) gene is a zinc finger transcription factor that inhibits cellular growth in part by transcriptional activation of p21. KLF6 function is abrogated in human cancers owing to increased alternative splicing that yields a dominant-negative isoform, KLF6 splice variant 1 (SV1), which antagonizes full-length KLF6-mediated growth suppression. The molecular basis for stimulation of KLF6 splicing is unknown.


In human HCC samples and cell lines, we functionally link oncogenic Ras signaling to increased alternative splicing of KLF6 through signaling by phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase and Akt, mediated by the splice regulatory protein ASF/SF2.


In 67 human HCCs, there is a significant correlation between activated Ras signaling and increased KLF6 alternative splicing. In cultured cells, Ras signaling increases the expression of KLF6 SV1, relative to full-length KLF6, thereby enhancing proliferation. Abrogation of oncogenic Ras signaling by small interfering RNA (siRNA) or a farnesyl-transferase inhibitor decreases KLF6 SV1 and suppresses growth. Growth inhibition by farnesyl-transferase inhibitor in transformed cell lines is overcome by ectopic expression of KLF6 SV1. Down-regulation of the splice factor ASF/SF2 by siRNA increases KLF6 SV1 messenger RNA levels. KLF6 alternative splicing is not coupled to its transcriptional regulation.


Our findings expand the role of Ras in human HCC by identifying a novel mechanism of tumor-suppressor inactivation through increased alternative splicing mediated by an oncogenic signaling cascade.

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