Heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoproteins (HnRNPs) are a group of ubiquitously expressed RNA-binding proteins implicated in the regulation of all aspects of nucleic acid metabolism. HnRNP K is a member of this highly versatile hnRNP family. Pathological redistribution of hnRNP K to the cytoplasm has been linked to the pathogenesis of several malignancies but, until now, has been underexplored in the context of neurodegenerative disease. Here we show hnRNP K mislocalisation in pyramidal neurons of the frontal cortex to be a novel neuropathological feature that is associated with both frontotemporal lobar degeneration and ageing. HnRNP K mislocalisation is mutually exclusive to TDP-43 and tau pathological inclusions in neurons and was not observed to colocalise with mitochondrial, autophagosomal or stress granule markers. De-repression of cryptic exons in RNA targets following TDP-43 nuclear depletion is an emerging mechanism of potential neurotoxicity in frontotemporal lobar degeneration and the mechanistically overlapping disorder amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We silenced hnRNP K in neuronal cells to identify the transcriptomic consequences of hnRNP K nuclear depletion. Intriguingly, by performing RNA-seq analysis we find that depletion of hnRNP K induces 101 novel cryptic exon events. We validated cryptic exon inclusion in an SH-SY5Y hnRNP K knockdown and in FTLD brain exhibiting hnRNP K nuclear depletion. We, therefore, present evidence for hnRNP K mislocalisation to be associated with FTLD and for this to induce widespread changes in splicing.
- Cryptic exons
- Frontotemporal dementia
- Frontotemporal lobar degeneration
- hnRNP K