Downregulation of serine/arginine-rich splicing factor 3 induces G1 cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in colon cancer cells

Oncogene. 2014 Mar 13;33(11):1407-17. doi: 10.1038/onc.2013.86. Epub 2013 Mar 18.


Serine/arginine-rich splicing factor 3 (SRSF3) likely has wide-ranging roles in gene expression and facilitation of tumor cell growth. SRSF3 knockdown induced G1 arrest and apoptosis in colon cancer cells (HCT116) in association with altered expression of 833 genes. Pathway analysis revealed 'G1/S Checkpoint Regulation' as the most highly enriched category in the affected genes. SRSF3 knockdown did not induce p53 or stimulate phosphorylation of p53 or histone H2A.X in wild-type HCT116 cells. Furthermore, the knockdown induced G1 arrest in p53-null HCT116 cells, suggesting that p53-dependent DNA damage responses did not mediate the G1 arrest. Real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and western blotting confirmed that SRSF3 knockdown reduced mRNA and protein levels of cyclins (D1, D3 and E1), E2F1 and E2F7. The decreased expression of cyclin D and E2F1 likely impaired the G1-to-S-phase progression. Consequently, retinoblastoma protein remained hypophosphorylated in SRSF3 knockdown cells. The knockdown also induced apoptosis in association with reduction of BCL2 protein levels. We also found that SRSF3 knockdown facilitated skipping of 81 5'-nucleotides (27 amino acids) from exon 8 of homeodomain-interacting protein kinase-2 (HIPK2) and produced a HIPK2 Δe8 isoform. Full-length HIPK2 (HIPK2 FL) is constantly degraded through association with an E3 ubiquitin ligase (Siah-1), whereas HIPK2 Δe8, lacking the 27 amino acids, lost Siah-1-binding ability and became resistant to proteasome digestion. Interestingly, selective knockdown of HIPK2 FL induced apoptosis in various colon cancer cells expressing wild-type or mutated p53. Thus, these findings disclose an important role of SRSF3 in the regulation of the G1-to-S-phase progression and alternative splicing of HIPK2 in tumor growth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing
  • Apoptosis
  • Colonic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Down-Regulation*
  • G1 Phase*
  • Humans
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Serine-Arginine Splicing Factors


  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • SRSF3 protein, human
  • Serine-Arginine Splicing Factors