Ablation of the dystrophin Dp71f alternative C-terminal variant increases sarcoma tumour cell aggressiveness

Nancy Alnassar, Jacek Hajto, Robin M H Rumney, Suraj Verma, Malgorzata Borczyk, Chandrika Saha, Janos Kanczler, Arthur M Butt, Annalisa Occhipinti, Joanna Pomeroy, Claudio Angione, Michal Korostynski, Dariusz C Górecki

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Alterations in Dp71 expression, the most ubiquitous dystrophin isoform, have been associated with patient survival across tumours. Intriguingly, in certain malignancies, Dp71 acts as a tumour suppressor, while manifesting oncogenic properties in others. This diversity could be explained by the expression of two Dp71 splice variants encoding proteins with distinct C-termini, each with specific properties. Expression of these variants has impeded the exploration of their unique roles. Using CRISPR/Cas9, we ablated the Dp71f variant with the alternative C-terminus in a sarcoma cell line not expressing the canonical C-terminal variant, and conducted molecular (RNAseq) and functional characterisation of the knockout cells. Dp71f ablation induced major transcriptomic alterations, particularly affecting the expression of genes involved in calcium signalling and ECM-receptor interaction pathways. The genome-scale metabolic analysis identified significant downregulation of glucose transport via membrane vesicle reaction (GLCter) and downregulated glycolysis/gluconeogenesis pathway. Functionally, these molecular changes corresponded with, increased calcium responses, cell adhesion, proliferation, survival under serum starvation and chemotherapeutic resistance. Knockout cells showed reduced GLUT1 protein expression, survival without attachment and their migration and invasion in vitro and in vivo were unaltered, despite increased matrix metalloproteinases release. Our findings emphasise the importance of alternative splicing of dystrophin transcripts and underscore the role of the Dp71f variant, which appears to govern distinct cellular processes frequently dysregulated in tumour cells. The loss of this regulatory mechanism promotes sarcoma cell survival and treatment resistance. Thus, Dp71f is a target for future investigations exploring the intricate functions of specific DMD transcripts in physiology and across malignancies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberddae094
JournalHuman Molecular Genetics
Early online date9 Jun 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Jun 2024

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© The Author(s) 2024. Published by Oxford University Press.


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