U2AF1 Mutations alter sequence specificity of pre-mRNA binding and splicing.

Leukemia. 2014 Oct 14. doi: 10.1038/leu.2014.303. [Epub ahead of print]


We previously identified missense mutations in the U2AF1 splicing factor affecting codons S34 (S34F and S34Y) or Q157 (Q157R and Q157P) in 11% of patients with de novo myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). Although the role of U2AF1 as an accessory factor in the U2 snRNP is well established, it is not yet clear how mutations affect splicing or contribute to MDS pathophysiology. We analyzed splice junctions in RNA-seq data generated from transfected CD34+ hematopoietic cells and found significant differences in the abundance of known and novel junctions in samples expressing mutant U2AF1 (S34F). For selected transcripts, splicing alterations detected by RNA-seq were confirmed by analysis of primary de novo MDS patient samples. These effects were not due to impaired U2AF1 (S34F) localization as it co-localized normally with U2AF2 within nuclear speckles. We further found evidence in the RNA-seq data for decreased affinity of U2AF1 (S34F) for uridine (relative to cytidine) at the e-3 position immediately upstream of the splice acceptor site and corroborated this finding using affinity binding assays. These data suggest that the S34F mutation alters U2AF1 function in the context of specific RNA sequences, leading to aberrant alternative splicing of target genes, some of which may be relevant for MDS pathogenesis.


Okeyo-Owuor T, White BS, Chatrikhi R, Mohan DR, Kim S, Griffith M, Ding L, Ketkar-Kulkarni S, Hundal J, Laird KM, Kielkopf CL, Ley TJ, Walter MJ, Graubert TA.