Alternative splicing and cell survival: from tissue homeostasis to disease

Maria Paola Paronetto, Ilaria Passacantilli, Claudio Sette

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Most human genes encode multiple mRNA variants and protein products through alternative splicing of exons and introns during pre-mRNA processing. In this way, alternative splicing amplifies enormously the coding potential of the human genome and represents a powerful evolutionary resource. Nonetheless, the plasticity of its regulation is prone to errors and defective splicing underlies a large number of inherited and sporadic diseases, including cancer. One key cellular process affected by alternative splicing is the programmed cell death or apoptosis. Many apoptotic genes encode for splice variants having opposite roles in cell survival. This regulation modulates cell and tissue homeostasis and is implicated in both developmental and pathological processes. Furthermore, recent evidence has also unveiled splicing-mediated regulation of genes involved in autophagy, another essential process for tissue homeostasis. In this review, we highlight some of the best-known examples of alternative splicing events involved in cell survival. Emphasis is given to the role of this regulation in human cancer and in the response to chemotherapy, providing examples of how alternative splicing of apoptotic genes can be exploited therapeutically.Cell Death and Differentiation advance online publication, 30 September 2016; doi:10.1038/cdd.2016.91.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCell Death and Differentiation
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Sept 30 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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