Apoptosis in cancer cells is induced by alternative splicing of hnrnpa2/b1 through splicing of bcl-x, a mechanism that can be stimulated by an extract of the South African medicinal plant, cotyledon orbiculata
Makhafola, Tshepiso Jan
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Alternative splicing is deregulated in cancer and alternatively spliced products can be linked to cancer hallmarks. Targeting alternative splicing could offer novel effective cancer treatments. We investigated the effects of the crude extract of a South African medicinal plant, Cotyledon orbiculata, on cell survival of colon (HCT116) and esophageal (OE33 and KYSE70) cancer cell lines. Using RNASeq, we discovered that the extract interfered with mRNA regulatory pathways. The extract caused hnRNPA2B1 to splice from the hnRNPB1 to the hnRNPA2 isoform, resulting in a switch in the BCL2L1 gene from Bcl-xL to Bcl-xS causing activation of caspase-3-cleavage and apoptosis. Similar splicing effects were induced by the known anti-cancer splicing modulator pladienolide B. Knockdown of hnRNPB1 using siRNA resulted in decreased cell viability and increased caspase-3-cleavage, and over-expression of hnRNPB1 prevented the effect of C.