J Cell Biol 2010 Oct 27;191(1):87-99. Epub 2010 Sep 27.
Istituto di Genetica Molecolare, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (IGM-CNR), 27100 Pavia, Italy.
Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and its reversal (MET) are crucial cell plasticity programs that act during development and tumor metastasis. We have previously shown that the splicing factor and proto-oncogene SF2/ASF impacts EMT/MET through production of a constitutively active splice variant of the Ron proto-oncogene. Using an in vitro model, we now show that SF2/ASF is also regulated during EMT/MET by alternative splicing associated with the nonsense-mediated mRNA decay pathway (AS-NMD). Overexpression and small interfering RNA experiments implicate the splicing regulator Sam68 in AS-NMD of SF2/ASF transcripts and in the choice between EMT/MET programs. Moreover, Sam68 modulation of SF2/ASF splicing appears to be controlled by epithelial cell-derived soluble factors that act through the ERK1/2 signaling pathway to regulate Sam68 phosphorylation. Collectively, our results reveal a hierarchy of splicing factors that integrate splicing decisions into EMT/MET programs in response to extracellular stimuli.