Special Issue "Aberrant Pre-mRNA Splicing in Disease"

A special issue of Genes (ISSN 2073-4425).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2017

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Michael Ladomery

Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences, University of the West of England, Bristol; Frenchay Campus, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol BS16 1QY, UK
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +44-117-3283531
Interests: RNA biology in development and disease; RNA binding proteins; alternative splicing; splice factors; splice factor kinases

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

After the discovery of pre-mRNA splicing in the late 1970s, it became apparent that exons can be spliced together in different ways: in other words, pre-mRNA is alternatively spliced. The extent of alternative splicing in different species is remarkable; indeed, in humans, it is now thought that over 94% of our genes are alternatively spliced. Genes can even express dozens, if not hundreds of splice isoforms; alternative splicing is a major contributor to proteomic complexity. Alternative splicing affects all parts of mRNAs; not only the open reading frame altering the amino-acid sequence, but also the 5' and 3' UTRs influencing mRNA translation, localization and stability. Splice isoforms often encode functionally distinct proteins. Mutations that disrupt normal pre-mRNA splicing—as many as one in six mutations in humans—are associated with a wide range of diseases. The purpose of this Special Issue is to illustrate the growing prominence of alternative splicing in biomedical research.

Dr. Michael Ladomery
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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  • pre-mRNA splicing
  • alternative splicing
  • RNA-binding proteins
  • splice factors
  • splice factor kinases

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Tentative Title: Modulation of VEGF-A splicing as a novel treatment in chronic kidney disease
Putative Authors: Megan Stevens1 and Sebastian Oltean1
Affiliations: 1Institute of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences, University of Exeter Medical School, Exeter, EX1 2LU, UK

Abstract: Vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) is a prominent pro-angiogenic and pro-permeability factor in the kidney. Alternative splicing of the terminal exon of VEGF-A through the use of an alternative 3’ splice site gives rise to a functionally different family of isoforms, termed VEGF-Axxxb, which are known to be anti-angiogenic and anti-permeability. Dysregulation of the VEGF-Axxx/VEGF-Axxxb isoform balance has recently been reported in several kidney pathologies, including diabetic nephropathy (DN) and Denys-Drash syndrome. Using mouse models of kidney disease where the VEGF-A isoform balance is disrupted, several reports have shown that VEGF-A165b treatment/over-expression in the kidney is therapeutically beneficial. Furthermore, inhibition of certain splice factor kinases involved in the regulation of VEGF-A terminal exon splicing has provided some mechanistic insight into how VEGF-A splicing could be regulated in the kidney. This review highlights the importance for further investigation into the novel area of VEGF-A splicing in chronic kidney disease pathogenesis and how future studies may allow for the development of splicing modifying therapeutic drugs.

Tentative Title: Splicing regulation of canonical NO-cGMP signaling pathway in vascular inflammation.
Putative Authors: Gilbert J. Cote1, Emil Martin2, Iraida G. Sharina2
Affiliations: 1Department of Endocrine Neoplasia and Hormonal Disorders, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA
2Department of Internal Medicine/Cardiology, McGovern School Of Medicine, Houston , Texas, USA

Abstract: More than 30 years passed since nitric oxide (NO), a gaseous free radical, was acknowledged as a critical physiologic signaling molecule. It originated with the discovery that “canonical” NO signal transduction through the secondary messenger cGMP mediates smooth muscle relaxation in vascular tissue and, therefore, important in regulation of blood pressure. Since then the list of known NO-directed functions has grown exponentially and includes, presently, regulation of smooth muscle in gastrointestinal system, neurotransmission and neuromodulation, inhibition of platelet aggregation and adhesion, immune defense, regulation of cellular respiration and cytotoxicity, and mitochondrial biogenesis. An alternative splicing of the enzymes of NO signaling pathway is started to emerge as one of multiple regulatory mechanisms governing NO signaling. Alternative splicing enriches transcriptome diversity and allows cells to meet the new challenges of extracellular environment. One of the main interests of our laboratory is an understanding of how the splicing of NO/cGMP enzymes participates in cellular adaptation to oxidative stress persisting in human blood vessels. In this review we will summarize the available information on splicing regulation of major enzymes of NO/cGMP pathway, including nitric oxide synthases (NOSs), heterodimeric soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC) and cGMP-dependent protein kinase (PKG). We will discuss putative genetic mechanisms participating in this process. We will also highlight the evidence accumulated from different laboratories suggesting that the splicing of NO/cGMP enzymes is very complex and is strongly affected by various environmental cues and, specifically, by the changes in extra- and intracellular oxidative balance. Despite that our understanding of the mechanisms governing this process remains very limited and awaits systematic investigation, future studies promise to bring new exciting insights into the role that alternative splicing plays in NO/cGMP biology.

Tentative Title: Splicing analysis of exonic OCRL mutations causing Lowe syndrome or Dent-2 disease
Putative Authors: Suarez-Artiles L, Perdomo-Ramirez A, E. Ramos-Trujillo, Claverie-Martin F
Affiliations: Unidad de Investigación, Hospital Nuestra Señora de Candelaria, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain

Abstract: Mutations in the OCRL gene are associated with both Lowe syndrome and Dent-2 disease. Patients with Lowe syndrome present congenital cataracts, mental disabilities and a renal proximal tubulopathy, whereas patients with Dent-2 disease exhibit similar proximal tubule dysfunction but only mild, or no additional clinical defects. It is not yet understood why some OCRL mutations cause the phenotype of Lowe syndrome, while others develop the milder phenotype of Dent-2 disease. Our goal was to gain new insights into the consequences of OCRL exonic mutations on pre-mRNA splicing.
Thirteen missense mutations and one synonymous mutation located mainly in poorly defined exons and potentially affecting splicing regulatory elements or splice sites were selected. Their effects on splicing were studied using bioinformatics tools and a minigene assay. Specific mutations were introduced by site-directed mutagenesis, and the RNA was analysed by RT-PCR and DNA sequencing.
We found that three presumed missense mutations caused alterations in pre-mRNA splicing. Mutation p.W247C generated a splicing silencer and disrupted a splicing enhancer resulting in skipping of exon 9, while mutations p.A861T and p.A861P abolished a donor splice site and resulted in skipping of exon 23.
In conclusion, these results highlight the importance to evaluate the effects of missense mutations at the mRNA level in Lowe syndrome. Our findings also allowed the detection of previously unpredicted splicing regulatory elements in OCRL exon 9.

Tentative Title: Signaling pathways driving aberrant splicing in cancer cells
Putative Authors: Peter Jordan
Affiliations: Departamento de Genética Humana, Instituto Nacional de Saúde Doutor Ricardo Jorge, Av. Padre Cruz, 1649-016 Lisboa, Portugal

Abstract: Aberrant profiles of pre-messenger RNA splicing are frequently observed in cancer. At the molecular level, an altered profile reflects differences in splice site choices, which are mediated by the binding of splicing factors (SFs) to gene-specific splice-regulatory sequence elements. Change in expression levels of key SFs can trigger aberrant splicing but, in addition, oncogenic signal transduction pathways can affect the ratio of nuclear versus cytoplasmic SF localization. Here, we will review currently known mechanisms by which cancer cell signaling, including the MAPK, PI3K and Wnt pathways, modulates the activity or localization of the SR protein and hnRNP family of SFs.

Tentative Title: Alternative splicing of alpha- and beta-synuclein genes plays differential roles in neurodegenerative disease
Putative Authors: Ana-Gámez-Valero, MSc, Katrin Beyer, PhD
Affiliations: Dept Pathology, Research Institute Germans Trias i Pujol, Badalona, Barcelona, Spain

Abstract: The synuclein family is composed of three members, two of which, alpha- and beta-synuclein, play a major role in the development of synucleinopathies including Parkinson’s disease (PD) as most important movement disorder, dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) as second most frequent cause of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease and multiple system atrophy. Whereas abnormal oligomerization and fibrillation of alpha-synuclein are now well recognized as initial steps in the development of synucleinopathies, beta-synuclein is thought to be a natural alpha-synuclein antiaggregant.
Alpha- synuclein is encoded by the SNCA gene and beta-synuclein by SNCB. Both genes show an elevated homology and undergo complex splicing events. On the one hand, in-frame splicing of coding exons gives rise to at least three shorter transcripts with predictable changes in function of the correspondent protein isoforms. Another type of alternative splicing is the alternative inclusion of at least four initial exons in the case of SNCA and two in the case of SNCB. Finally, different lengths of 3’UTRs have been also reported for both genes. SNCB only expresses in the brain, but some of the numerous SNCA transcripts are also brain-specific.

Tentative Title: Impact, characterization and rescue of pre-mRNA splicing mutations in lysosomal storage disorders.
Putative Authors: Andrea Dardis1 and Emanuele Buratti2
Affiliations: 1Regional Coordinator Centre for Rare Diseases, Academic Hospital “Santa Maria della Misericordia”, Udine, Italy
2International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), Trieste, Italy

Abstract: Lysosomal storage disorders (LSDs) represent a group of more than 50 severe metabolic diseases caused by the deficiency of specific lysosomal hydrolases, activators, carriers or lysosomal integral membrane proteins, leading to the abnormal accumulation of substrates within the lysosomes. Numerous mutations have been described in each disease causing gene; among them about 5-19 % affect the pre-mRNA splicing process.
In the last decade, several strategies to rescue/increase normal splicing of mutated transcripts have been developed and LSDs represent excellent candidates for this type of approach: (i) most of them are inherited in an autosomic recessive manner and patients affected by late onset phenotypes often retain a quite fair residual enzymatic activity; thus, even a small recovery of normal splicing may be beneficial in clinical settings; (ii) most LSDs still lack effective treatments or are currently treated with extremely expensive approaches; (iii) in few LSDs a single splicing mutation accounts for up to 40-70% of pathogenic alleles.
At present, numerous preclinical studies support the feasibility of reverting the pathological phenotype by partially rescuing splicing defects in LSDs. This review provides an overview of the impact of splicing mutations in LSDs and the related therapeutic approaches currently under investigation in these disorders.


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