Significance of alternative splicing in cancer cells

Chin Med J (Engl). 2020 Jan 20;133(2):221-228. doi: 10.1097/CM9.0000000000000542.


Objective: Alternative splicing can generate various structural and functional protein isoforms. Recently, accumulating evidence shows a relationship between alternative splicing and cancer. Cancer is a complex and chronic disease that involves malignant transformation. In this review, we consider alternative splicing events in relation to the hallmarks of cancer cells, and discuss current therapies to treat cancer-related to alternative splicing.

Data sources: Data cited in this article are from the PubMed and Embase database, primarily focusing on research published from 2000 to 2018.

Study selection: Articles were selected with the search terms "alternative splicing," "cancer cell," "tumor microenvironment," and "therapy."

Results: Alternative splicing plays an important role in tumorigenesis, development, and escape from cell death. Taking this trait of cancer cells into consideration will allow more definite diagnoses of cancer, and allow the development of more effective medicines to intervene in cancer that could focus on controlling alternative splicing or competitively binding to the final products.

Conclusions: Alternative splicing is common in cancer cells. Consideration of alternative splicing may allow different strategies for cancer therapy or the identification of novel biomarkers for cancer diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing / genetics
  • Alternative Splicing / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / physiology
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism


  • Protein Isoforms