Frequent pathway mutations of splicing machinery in myelodysplasia

Nature. 2011 Sep 11;478(7367):64-9. doi: 10.1038/nature10496.


Myelodysplastic syndromes and related disorders (myelodysplasia) are a heterogeneous group of myeloid neoplasms showing deregulated blood cell production with evidence of myeloid dysplasia and a predisposition to acute myeloid leukaemia, whose pathogenesis is only incompletely understood. Here we report whole-exome sequencing of 29 myelodysplasia specimens, which unexpectedly revealed novel pathway mutations involving multiple components of the RNA splicing machinery, including U2AF35, ZRSR2, SRSF2 and SF3B1. In a large series analysis, these splicing pathway mutations were frequent (∼45 to ∼85%) in, and highly specific to, myeloid neoplasms showing features of myelodysplasia. Conspicuously, most of the mutations, which occurred in a mutually exclusive manner, affected genes involved in the 3'-splice site recognition during pre-mRNA processing, inducing abnormal RNA splicing and compromised haematopoiesis. Our results provide the first evidence indicating that genetic alterations of the major splicing components could be involved in human pathogenesis, also implicating a novel therapeutic possibility for myelodysplasia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing / genetics
  • Exome / genetics
  • Hematopoiesis / genetics
  • Humans
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes / genetics*
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics
  • RNA Splice Sites / genetics
  • RNA Splicing / genetics*
  • Ribonucleoproteins / genetics
  • Spliceosomes / genetics
  • Splicing Factor U2AF


  • Nuclear Proteins
  • RNA Splice Sites
  • Ribonucleoproteins
  • Splicing Factor U2AF
  • U2AF1 protein, human

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE31171
  • GEO/GSE31172
  • GEO/GSE31174