Nuclear speckle specific hnRNP D-like prevents age- and AD-related cognitive decline by modulating RNA splicing

Mol Neurodegener. 2021 Sep 22;16(1):66. doi: 10.1186/s13024-021-00485-w.

Abstract

Background: Aberrant alternative splicing plays critical role in aging and age-related diseases. Heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoproteins (hnRNPs) reportedly regulate RNA splicing process. Whether and how hnRNPs contribute to age-related neurodegenerative diseases, especially Alzheimer's disease (AD), remain elusive.

Methods: Immunoblotting and immunostaining were performed to determine expression patterns and cellular/subcellular localization of the long isoform of hnRNP D-like (L-DL), which is a hnRNP family member, in mouse hippocampus. Downregulation of L-DL in WT mice was achieved by AAV-mediated shRNA delivery, followed by memory-related behavioural tests. L-DL interactome was analysed by affinity-precipitation and mass spectrometry. Alternative RNA splicing was measured by RNA-seq and analyzed by bioinformatics-based approaches. Downregulation and upregulation of L-DL in APP/PS1 mice were performed using AAV-mediated transduction.

Results: We show that L-DL is specifically localized to nuclear speckles. L-DL levels are decreased in the hippocampus of aged mouse brains and downregulation of L-DL impairs cognition in mice. L-DL serves as a structural component to recruit other speckle proteins, and regulates cytoskeleton- and synapse-related gene expression by altering RNA splicing. Mechanistically, these splicing changes are modulated via L-DL-mediated interaction of SF3B3, a core component of U2 snRNP, and U2AF65, a U2 spliceosome protein that guides U2 snRNP's binding to RNA. In addition, L-DL levels are decreased in APP/PS1 mouse brains. While downregulation of L-DL deteriorates memory deficits and overexpression of L-DL improves cognitive function in AD mice, by regulating the alternative splicing and expression of synaptic gene CAMKV.

Conclusions: Our findings define a molecular mechanism by which hnRNP L-DL regulates alternative RNA splicing, and establish a direct role for L-DL in AD-related synaptic dysfunction and memory decline.

Keywords: Aging; Alternative splicing; Alzheimer’s disease (AD); Cognition; Nuclear speckles; hnRNP DL.