SF2/ASF is a splicing factor recently described as an oncoprotein. In the present work, we examined the role of SF2/ASF in human non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and analyzed the molecular mechanisms involved in SF2/ASF-related carcinogenesis.
SF2/ASF protein levels were analyzed in 81 NSCLC patients by immunohistochemistry. SF2/ASF downregulation cellular models were generated using small interfering RNAs, and the effects on proliferation and apoptosis were evaluated. Survivin and SF2/ASF expression in lung tumors was analyzed by Western blot and immunohistochemistry. Survival curves and log-rank test were used to identify the association between the expression of the proteins and time to progression.
Overexpression of SF2/ASF was found in most human primary NSCLC tumors. In vitro downregulation of SF2/ASF induced apoptosis in NSCLC cell lines. This effect was associated with a reduction in the expression of survivin, an antiapoptotic protein widely upregulated in cancer. In fact, SF2/ASF specifically bound survivin mRNA and enhanced its translation, via a mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) pathway-dependent mechanism, through the phosphorylation and inactivation of the translational repressor 4E-BP1. Moreover, SF2/ASF promoted the stability of survivin mRNA. A strong correlation was observed between the expression of SF2/ASF and survivin in tumor biopsies from NSCLC patients, supporting the concept that survivin expression levels are controlled by SF2/ASF. Furthermore, combined expression of these proteins was associated with prognosis.
This study provides novel data on the mTORC1- and survivin-dependent mechanisms of SF2/ASF-related carcinogenic