Understanding human DNA variants affecting pre-mRNA splicing in the NGS era.


Human Genome and Stem Cell Research Center, Department of Genetics and Evolutionary Biology, Instituto de Biociências, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil. Electronic address: [Email]


Pre-mRNA splicing, an essential step in eukaryotic gene expression, relies on recognition of short sequences on the primary transcript intron ends and takes place along transcription by RNA polymerase II. Exonic and intronic auxiliary elements may modify the strength of exon definition and intron recognition. Splicing DNA variants (SV) have been associated with human genetic diseases at canonical intron sites, as well as exonic substitutions putatively classified as nonsense, missense or synonymous variants. Their effects on mRNA may be modulated by cryptic splice sites associated to the SV allele, comprehending exon skipping or shortening, and partial or complete intron retention. As splicing mRNA outputs result from combinatorial effects of both intrinsic and extrinsic factors, in vitro functional assays supported by computational analyses are recommended to assist SV pathogenicity assessment for human Mendelian inheritance diseases. The increasing use of next-generating sequencing (NGS) targeting full genomic gene sequence has raised awareness of the relevance of deep intronic SV in genetic diseases and inclusion of pseudo-exons into mRNA. Finally, we take advantage of recent advances in sequencing and computational technologies to analyze alternative splicing in cancer. We explore the Catalog of Somatic Mutations in Cancer (COSMIC) to describe the proportion of splice-site mutations in cis and trans regulatory elements. Genomic data from large cohorts of different cancer types are increasingly available, in addition to repositories of normal and somatic genetic variations. These are likely to bring new insights to understanding the genetic control of alternative splicing by mapping splicing quantitative trait loci in tumors.


Cancer,Deep intronic variant,Missense variant,NGS,Pseudo-exon,RNA-Seq,Somatic variant,Splicing,Splicing factor,Synonymous variant,