CORDIS - EU research results

Pathogenesis and treatment of splicing factor mutant myelodysplastic syndromes

Project description

Insight into the pathogenesis of MDS: the role of splicing factors

Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) is a heterogeneous group of disorders that is associated with dysfunctional blood cells and often progresses to leukaemia. MDS is characterised by mutations in genes implicated in mRNA splicing, but the pathogenic mechanism is unclear. The EU-funded PATRES-MDS project will investigate the hypothesis that blood cells carrying mutations in splicing factor genes dominate and drive clonal haematopoiesis in individuals over 70 years of age. Researchers will study the interaction of ageing with mutations in SF3B1 and SRSF2 genes which encode proteins of the splicing machinery. These will also be tested in a mouse model of the disease to identify further in vivo perturbations that drive MDS.


The myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a heterogeneous group of malignancies of the haematopoietic stem cell (HSC) with a tendency for leukaemic transformation. Despite some new therapies, the MDS are lethal to most sufferers and in need of new effective treatments. Splicing factor gene mutations are the commonest class of somatic alterations in MDS and primarily affect the genes SF3B1, SRSF2, U2AF1 and ZRSR2. The mutations are associated with altered mRNA splicing, but each affects different transcripts and it is unclear how they drive MDS. It has been hypothesised that different mutations share pathogenetic mechanisms, distinct from their effects on alternative splicing. Recently, augmented R-Loop formation leading to cell cycle arrest of haematopoietic progenitors was identified as one such mechanism. However, we have no understanding of how the mutations drive clonal HSC expansion, a critical node for the development of new treatments. To this end, we and others described the phenomenon of clonal haematopoiesis (CH), widely held as the precursor of MDS and other myeloid cancers. We observed CH driven by splicing gene mutations only in individuals aged ≥ 70-years-old. This and other observations point to an interaction between ageing and the ability of splice factor mutations to drive clonal expansion. Here, I propose to investigate the two most common variants in MDS, SF3B1-K700E and SRSF2-P95H.

Research Plan
1. Characterise the global impact of the mutations using state-of-the-art transcriptomics and proteomics
2. Use bone marrow samples from elderly humans to study the interaction of ageing with splicing factor mutations
3. Generate mosaic mutant mice to investigate the impact of ageing and other perturbations on SF3B1-K700E and SRSF2-P95H haematopoiesis

Findings will be validated and pursued mechanistically to derive new insights into the molecular mechanisms and interaction of the mutations with ageing, whilst also identifying new candidate therapies.


Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 999 771,00
CB2 1TN Cambridge
United Kingdom

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East of England East Anglia Cambridgeshire CC
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 999 771,00

Beneficiaries (1)