J Cancer 2013; 4(2):96-103. doi:10.7150/jca.5470 This issue
Department of Basic Sciences, The Commonwealth Medical College, 525 Pine Street, Scranton, PA 18509, USA.
RNA processing involves a variety of processes affecting gene expression, including the removal of introns through RNA splicing, as well as 3' end processing (cleavage and polyadenylation). Alternative RNA processing is fundamentally important for gene regulation, and aberrant processing is associated with the initiation and progression of cancer. Deregulated Wnt signaling, which is the initiating event in the development of most cases of human colorectal cancer (CRC), has been linked to modified RNA processing, which may contribute to Wnt-mediated colonic carcinogenesis. Crosstalk between Wnt signaling and alternative RNA splicing with relevance to CRC includes effects on the expression of Rac1b, an alternatively spliced gene associated with tumorigenesis, which exhibits alternative RNA splicing that is influenced by Wnt activity. In addition, Tcf4, a crucial component of Wnt signaling, also exhibits alternative splicing, which is likely involved in colonic tumorigenesis. Modulation of 3' end formation, including of the Wnt target gene COX-2, also can influence the neoplastic process, with implications for CRC. While many human genes are dependent on introns and splicing for normal levels of gene expression, naturally intronless genes exist with a unique metabolism that allows for intron-independent gene expression. Effects of Wnt activity on the RNA metabolism of the intronless Wnt-target gene c-jun is a likely contributor to cancer development. Further, butyrate, a breakdown product of dietary fiber and a histone deacetylase inhibitor, upregulates Wnt activity in CRC cells, and also modulates RNA processing; therefore, the interplay between Wnt activity, the modulation of this activity by butyrate, and differential RNA metabolism in colonic cells can significantly influence tumorigenesis. Determining the role played by altered RNA processing in Wnt-mediated neoplasia may lead to novel interventions aimed at restoring normal RNA metabolism for therapeutic benefit. Therefore, this minireview presents a brief overview of several aspects of RNA processing of relevance to cancer, which potentially influence, or are influenced by, Wnt signaling activity.
Keywords: colon cancer, butyrate, Wnt activity, RNA processing, splicing, polyadenylation.