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The craniofacial disorder mandibulofacial dysostosis Guion-Almeida type is caused by haploinsufficiency of the U5 snRNP gene EFTUD2/SNU114. However, it is unclear how reduced expression of this core pre-mRNA splicing factor leads to craniofacial defects. Here we use a CRISPR-Cas9 nickase strategy to generate a human EFTUD2-knockdown cell line and show that reduced expression of EFTUD2 leads to diminished proliferative ability of these cells, increased sensitivity to endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and the mis-expression of several genes involved in the ER stress response. RNA-Seq analysis of the EFTUD2-knockdown cell line revealed transcriptome-wide changes in gene expression, with an enrichment for genes associated with processes involved in craniofacial development. Additionally, our RNA-Seq data identified widespread mis-splicing in EFTUD2-knockdown cells. Analysis of the functional and physical characteristics of mis-spliced pre-mRNAs highlighted conserved properties, including length and splice site strengths, of retained introns and skipped exons in our disease model. We also identified enriched processes associated with the affected genes, including cell death, cell and organ morphology and embryonic development. Together, these data support a model in which EFTUD2 haploinsufficiency leads to the mis-splicing of a distinct subset of pre-mRNAs with a widespread effect on gene expression, including altering the expression of ER stress response genes and genes involved in the development of the craniofacial region. The increased burden of unfolded proteins in the ER resulting from mis-splicing would exceed the capacity of the defective ER stress response, inducing apoptosis in cranial neural crest cells that would result in craniofacial abnormalities during development.

Original publication

DOI

10.1093/hmg/ddz169

Type

Journal article

Journal

Hum Mol Genet

Publication Date

15/11/2019

Volume

28

Pages

3704 - 3723

Keywords

CRISPR-Cas Systems, Cell Proliferation, Craniofacial Abnormalities, Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress, Exons, Gene Expression, Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental, HEK293 Cells, Haploinsufficiency, Humans, Introns, Mandibulofacial Dysostosis, Mutation, Peptide Elongation Factors, Phenotype, RNA Precursors, RNA Splicing, Ribonucleoprotein, U5 Small Nuclear, Sequence Analysis, RNA, Spliceosomes