Cancer-associated mutations in genes encoding RNA splicing factors (SFs) commonly occur in leukemias, as well as in a variety of solid tumors, and confer dependence on wild-type splicing. These observations have led to clinical efforts to directly inhibit the spliceosome in patients with refractory leukemias. Here, we identify that inhibiting symmetric or asymmetric dimethylation of arginine, mediated by PRMT5 and type I protein arginine methyltransferases (PRMTs), respectively, reduces splicing fidelity and results in preferential killing of SF-mutant leukemias over wild-type counterparts. These data identify genetic subsets of cancer most likely to respond to PRMT inhibition, synergistic effects of combined PRMT5 and type I PRMT inhibition, and a mechanistic basis for the therapeutic efficacy of PRMT inhibition in cancer. Fong et al. show that spliceosomal mutant leukemias are preferentially sensitive to inhibition of protein arginine methyltransferases (PRMTs), that RNA-binding proteins are enriched among substrates of PRMT5 and type I PRMTs, and that combined PRMT5 and type I PRMT inhibition synergistically kill these leukemia cells.

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Cancer Cell
Department of Hematology

Fong, J.Y. (Jia Yi), Pignata, L. (Luca), Goy, P.-A. (Pierre-Alexis), Kawabata, K.C. (Kimihito Cojin), Lee, S.C.-W. (Stanley Chun-Wei), Koh, C.M. (Cheryl M.), … Guccione, E. (Ernesto). (2019). Therapeutic Targeting of RNA Splicing Catalysis through Inhibition of Protein Arginine Methylation. Cancer Cell. doi:10.1016/j.ccell.2019.07.003