Blocking of an intronic splicing silencer completely rescues IKBKAP exon 20 splicing in familial dysautonomia patient cells

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Abstract

Familial dysautonomia (FD) is a severe genetic disorder causing sensory and autonomic dysfunction. It is predominantly caused by a c.2204+6T>C mutation in the IKBKAP gene. This mutation decreases the 5' splice site strength of IKBKAP exon 20 leading to exon 20 skipping and decreased amounts of full-length IKAP protein. We identified a binding site for the splicing regulatory protein hnRNP A1 downstream of the IKBKAP exon 20 5'-splice site. We show that hnRNP A1 binds to this splicing regulatory element (SRE) and that two previously described inhibitory SREs inside IKBKAP exon 20 are also bound by hnRNP A1. Knockdown of hnRNP A1 in FD patient fibroblasts increases IKBKAP exon 20 inclusion demonstrating that hnRNP A1 is a negative regulator of IKBKAP exon 20 splicing. Furthermore, by mutating the SREs in an IKBKAP minigene we show that all three SREs cause hnRNP A1-mediated exon repression. We designed splice switching oligonucleotides (SSO) that blocks the intronic hnRNP A1 binding site, and demonstrate that this completely rescues splicing of IKBKAP exon 20 in FD patient fibroblasts and increases the amounts of IKAP protein. We propose that this may be developed into a potential new specific treatment of FD.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNucleic Acids Research
Volume46
Issue number15
Pages (from-to)7938-7952
ISSN0305-1048
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6. Sep 2018

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