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Deoxynivalenol (DON) is one of the most abundant mycotoxins and has adverse effects on several biological processes, posing risks of protein synthesis-disrupting effects and ribotoxic response. Therefore, chronic exposure to DON would fundamentally reshape the global expression pattern. Whether DON causes toxic effects on mRNA splicing, a fundamental biological process, remains unclear. In this study, we found that administration of the relative low dosage of DON dramatically changed the alternative splicing of pre-mRNA in HepG2 cells. The overall number of transcripts with aberrant selection of 3' splice sites was significantly increased in DON-exposed HepG2 cells. This effect was further confirmed in two other human cell lines, HEK293 and Caco-2, suggesting that this DON-induced alteration in splicing patterns was universal in human cells. Among these DON-induced changes in alternative splicing, the expression levels of two related splicing factors, SF1 and U2AF1, which are essential for 3' splice site recognitions, were strongly suppressed. Overexpression of either of the two splicing factors strongly alleviated the DON-induced aberrant selection of 3' splice sites. Moreover, SF1 was required for human cell proliferation in DON exposure, and the restoration of SF1 expression partially reinstated the proliferation potential for DON-treated cells. In conclusion, our study suggests that DON, even at a low dosage, has great potential to change gene expression globally by affecting not only protein synthesis but also mRNA processing in human cells.


Zhangsheng Hu, Yu Sun, Jiongjie Chen, Yurong Zhao, Han Qiao, Ruohong Chen, Xianhui Wen, Yiqun Deng, Jikai Wen. Deoxynivalenol globally affects the selection of 3' splice sites in human cells by suppressing the splicing factors, U2AF1 and SF1. RNA biology. 2020 Apr;17(4):584-595

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PMID: 31992135

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