EWS–FLI1 modulated alternative splicing of ARID1A reveals novel oncogenic function through the BAF complex


Saravana P Selvanathan, Garrett T Graham, Alexander R Grego, Tabari M Baker, J Robert Hogg, Mark Simpson, Mona Batish, Brian Crompton, Kimberly Stegmaier, Eleni M Tomazou, Heinrich Kovar, Aykut Üren, Jeffrey A Toretsky


Connections between epigenetic reprogramming and transcription or splicing create novel mechanistic networks that can be targeted with tailored therapies. Multiple subunits of the chromatin remodeling BAF complex, including ARID1A, play a role in oncogenesis, either as tumor suppressors or oncogenes. Recent work demonstrated that EWS–FLI1, the oncogenic driver of Ewing sarcoma (ES), plays a role in chromatin regulation through interactions with the BAF complex. However, the specific BAF subunits that interact with EWS–FLI1 and the precise role of the BAF complex in ES oncogenesis remain unknown. In addition to regulating transcription, EWS–FLI1 also alters the splicing of many mRNA isoforms, but the role of splicing modulation in ES oncogenesis is not well understood. We have identified a direct connection between the EWS–FLI1 protein and ARID1A isoform protein variant ARID1A-L. We demonstrate here that ARID1A-L is critical for ES maintenance and supports oncogenic transformation. We further report a novel feed-forward cycle in which EWS–FLI1 leads to preferential splicing of ARID1A-L, promoting ES growth, and ARID1A-L reciprocally promotes EWS–FLI1 protein stability. Dissecting this interaction may lead to improved cancer-specific drug targeting.

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