Aberrant RNA splicing and mutations in spliceosome complex in acute myeloid leukemia

Jianbiao Zhou, Wee-Joo Chng


The spliceosome, the cellular splicing machinery, regulates RNA splicing of messenger RNA precursors (pre-mRNAs) into maturation of protein coding RNAs. Recurrent mutations and copy number changes in genes encoding spliceosomal proteins and splicing regulatory factors have tumor promoting or suppressive functions in hematological malignancies, as well as some other cancers. Leukemia stem cell (LSC) populations, although rare, are essential contributors of treatment failure and relapse. Recent researches have provided the compelling evidence that link the erratic spicing activity to the LSC phenotype in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). In this article, we describe the diverse roles of aberrant splicing in hematological malignancies, particularly in AML and their contributions to the characteristics of LSC. We review these promising strategies to exploit the addiction of aberrant spliceosomal machinery for anti-leukemic therapy with aim to eradicate LSC. However, given the complexity and plasticity of spliceosome and not fully known functions of splicing in cancer, the challenges facing the development of the therapeutic strategies targeting RAN splicing are highlighted and future directions are discussed too.