The paralogues MAGOH and MAGOHB are oncogenic factors in high-grade gliomas and safeguard the splicing of cell division and cell cycle genes
The exon junction complex (EJC) plays key roles throughout the lifespan of RNA and is particularly relevant in the nervous system. We investigated the roles of two EJC members, the paralogs MAGOH and MAGOHB, with respect to brain tumour development. High MAGOH/MAGOHB expression was observed in 14 tumour types; glioblastoma (GBM) showed the greatest difference compared to normal tissue. Increased MAGOH/MAGOHB expression was associated with poor prognosis in glioma patients, while knockdown of MAGOH/MAGOHB affected different cancer phenotypes. Reduced MAGOH/MAGOHB expression in GBM cells caused alterations in the splicing profile, including re-splicing and skipping of multiple exons. The binding profiles of EJC proteins indicated that exons affected by MAGOH/MAGOHB knockdown accumulated fewer complexes on average, providing a possible explanation for their sensitivity to MAGOH/MAGOHB knockdown. Transcripts (genes) showing alterations in the splicing profile are mainly implicated in cell division, cell cycle, splicing, and translation. We propose that high MAGOH/MAGOHB levels are required to safeguard the splicing of genes in high demand in scenarios requiring increased cell proliferation (brain development and GBM growth), ensuring efficient cell division, cell cycle regulation, and gene expression (splicing and translation). Since differentiated neuronal cells do not require increased MAGOH/MAGOHB expression, targeting these paralogs is a potential option for treating GBM.