A04 The role of splicing factor SRSF6 in incomplete splicing of the HTT transcript

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Abstract

Background

Huntington’s disease (HD) is caused by an expanded CAG repeat in exon 1 of the HTT gene. In models of HD, an expanded CAG repeat in HTT causes premature termination of HTT RNA during transcription; this occurs by a process called incomplete splicing. Incompletely spliced HTT (HTTexon1) includes exon 1 of the coding region of HTT, as well as a 5’ region of intron 1, which is non-coding. HTTexon1 encodes a truncated exon 1 HTT protein, which is implicated in HD pathogenesis. Although the precise RNA processing mechanism of Httexon1 is unknown, splicing factor SRSF6 has been shown to co-precipitate with transcripts containing Htt intron 1 in HD mice.

Aim

To elucidate the role of splicing factor SRSF6 in incomplete splicing of Htt in HD mice.

Methods

Heterozygous Srsf6 knock-out (KO) mice (Srsf6±) were generated by CRISPR/Cas9. Characterisation of Srsf6± mice was undertaken by quantitative RT-PCR and western blotting. Viability of homozygous Srsf6 KO (Srsf6-/-) mice was examined by inbreeding of Srsf6± mice. To assess the modulation of incomplete splicing by decreasing SRSF6, Srsf6± mice were bred to HD knock in mice (zQ175) and tissues were analysed. Levels of Httexon1 were measured by Quantigene, a gene expression assay.

Results

Srsf6-/- homozygotes were embryonic lethal, limiting us to the use of Srsf6± mice only. In Srsf6± heterozygotes, Srsf6 mRNA was decreased by 50% in brain and peripheral regions, and SRSF6 protein was decreased by 70% in brain compared to wild type mice. However, heterozygosity for Srsf6 knock out did not modulate the level on incomplete splicing in zQ175 mice.

Conclusion

Ablation of a single Srsf6 allele did not reduce levels of incomplete splicing in HD mice and therefore, further Srsf6 knock down may be required. Accordingly, mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) have been generated and will be used to measure Httexon1 levels after further Srsf6 knockdown by RNA interference.

Conclusion

This work is supported by the CHDI foundation.

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