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Modification of BCLX pre-mRNA splicing has antitumor efficacy alone or in combination with radiotherapy in human glioblastoma cells

Dou Z, Lei H, Su W, Zhang T, Chen X, Yu B, Zhen X, Si J, Sun C, Zhang H, Di C
Cell Death Dis. 2024;15:160. doi:10.1038/s41419-024-06507-x
Dysregulation of anti-apoptotic and pro-apoptotic protein isoforms arising from aberrant splicing is a crucial hallmark of cancers and may contribute to therapeutic resistance. Thus, targeting RNA splicing to redirect isoform expression of apoptosis-related genes could lead to promising anti-cancer phenotypes. Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common type of malignant brain tumor in adults. In this study, through RT-PCR and Western Blot analysis, we found that BCLX pre-mRNA is aberrantly spliced in GBM cells with a favored splicing of anti-apoptotic Bcl-xL. Modulation of BCLX pre-mRNA splicing using splice-switching oligonucleotides (SSOs) efficiently elevated the pro-apoptotic isoform Bcl-xS at the expense of the anti-apoptotic Bcl-xL. Induction of Bcl-xS by SSOs activated apoptosis and autophagy in GBM cells. In addition, we found that ionizing radiation could also modulate the alternative splicing of BCLX. In contrast to heavy (carbon) ion irradiation, low energy X-ray radiation-induced an increased ratio of Bcl-xL/Bcl-xS. Inhibiting Bcl-xL through splicing regulation can significantly enhance the radiation sensitivity of 2D and 3D GBM cells. These results suggested that manipulation of BCLX pre-mRNA alternative splicing by splice-switching oligonucleotides is a novel approach to inhibit glioblastoma tumorigenesis alone or in combination with radiotherapy.
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cell culture: A172, normal astrocyte cells (HA1800)
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