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Dis Model Mech. 2008 Jul-Aug;1(1):37-42. doi: 10.1242/dmm.000331.

Aberrant RNA splicing and its functional consequences in cancer cells.

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Section of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine and the Cancer Research Center, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Among the myriad of alterations present in cancer cells are an abundance of aberrant mRNA transcripts. Whether abnormal gene transcription is a by-product of cellular transformation or whether it represents an inherent element that contributes to the properties of cancer cells is not yet clear. Here, we present growing evidence that in many cases, aberrant mRNA transcripts contribute to essential phenotypes associated with transformed cells, suggesting that alterations in the splicing machinery are common and functionally important for cancer development. The proteins encoded by these abnormal transcripts are often truncated or missing domains, thereby altering protein function or conferring new functions altogether. Thus, aberrant splicing regulation has genome-wide effects, potentially altering gene expression in many cancer-associated pathways.

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