Neurodegenerative disorders such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and Huntington's disease affect a rapidly increasing population worldwide. Although common pathogenic mechanisms have been identified (e.g., protein aggregation or dysfunction, immune response alteration and axonal degeneration), the molecular events underlying timing, dosage, expression, and location of RNA molecules are still not fully elucidated. In particular, the alternative splicing (AS) mechanism is a crucial player in RNA processing and represents a fundamental determinant for brain development, as well as for the physiological functions of neuronal circuits. Although in recent years our knowledge of AS events has increased substantially, deciphering the molecular interconnections between splicing and ALS remains a complex task and still requires considerable efforts. In the present review, we will summarize the current scientific evidence outlining the involvement of AS in the pathogenic processes of ALS. We will also focus on recent insights concerning the tuning of splicing mechanisms by epigenomic and epi-transcriptomic regulation, providing an overview of the available genomic technologies to investigate AS drivers on a genome-wide scale, even at a single-cell level resolution. In the future, gene therapy strategies and RNA-based technologies may be utilized to intercept or modulate the splicing mechanism and produce beneficial effects against ALS.
Keywords: ALS genes; Alternative splicing (AS); Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); RNA-binding protein (RBP); Splicing factors; Splicing machinery.