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Title: Investigation of the physiological roles of SRSF1-mediated translation
Author: Haward, Fiona
ISNI:       0000 0004 7429 3635
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2018
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The serine/arginine-rich (SR-) family proteins constitute a diverse group of pre-mRNA splicing factors that are essential for viability. They can be characterised based on the presence of one or two RRMs and an RS domain. A subset, of which SRSF1 is the prototype, is capable of nucleocytoplasmic shuttling; a process governed by continual cyclic phosphorylation of the RS domain. In contrast, SRSF2, another member of the SR family, is unable to shuttle due to the presence of a nuclear retention sequence (NRS) at the C-terminus of its RS domain. When this NRS is fused to SRSF1, it prevents nucleocytoplasmic shuttling of the SRSF1-NRS fusion protein. In addition to its nuclear roles, SRSF1 is directly associated with the translation machinery and can activate mRNA translation of target transcripts via an mTOR-dependent mechanism. The specific mRNA translational targets that SRSF1 serves to regulate encode numerous factors including RNA processing factors and cell-cycle proteins. The aim of this work is to study the physiological relevance of SRSF1 cytoplasmic functions, as previous data have relied on overexpression systems. CRISPR/Cas9 editing was used to knock-in the NRS naturally present in SRSF2 at the SRSF1 genomic locus, creating an SRSF1-NRS fusion protein. After numerous attempts, it was only possible to obtain a single viable homozygous clone in mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs), despite being able to successfully tag the genomic SRSF1 locus. This strongly suggests that the ablation of SRSF1 shuttling ability is highly selected against in mESCs. To assess the physiological importance of SRSF1 nucleocytoplasmic shuttling during development, a mouse model for SRSF1-NRS was also developed. SRSF1-NRS homozygous mice are born at correct Mendelian ratios, but are small in size and present with severe hydrocephalus. Finally, proteomics was used to identify interactors of endogenous cytoplasmic SRSF1 and those that bind the NRS of SRSF2 to gain insights into the mechanism of nuclear retention for non-shuttling SR proteins. In summary, this work analyses the physiological relevance of cytoplasmic SRSF1 function and the consequences of the SRSF1-NRS allele in mouse development.
Supervisor: Caceres, Javier ; Wood, Andrew Sponsor: Medical Research Council (MRC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: mRNA ; SRSF1 ; gene expression ; SRSF1-NRS fusion protein ; CRISPR/Cas9 editing