Global Transcriptomics Uncovers Distinct Contributions From Splicing Regulatory Proteins to the Macrophage Innate Immune Response. Academic Article uri icon


  • Pathogen sensing via pattern recognition receptors triggers massive reprogramming of macrophage gene expression. While the signaling cascades and transcription factors that activate these responses are well-known, the role of post-transcriptional RNA processing in modulating innate immune gene expression remains understudied. Given their crucial role in regulating pre-mRNA splicing and other RNA processing steps, we hypothesized that members of the SR/hnRNP protein families regulate innate immune gene expression in distinct ways. We analyzed steady state gene expression and alternatively spliced isoform production in ten SR/hnRNP knockdown RAW 264.7 macrophage-like cell lines following infection with the bacterial pathogen Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (Salmonella). We identified thousands of transcripts whose abundance is increased or decreased by SR/hnRNP knockdown in macrophages. Notably, we observed that SR and hnRNP proteins influence expression of different genes in uninfected versus Salmonella-infected macrophages, suggesting functionalization of these proteins upon pathogen sensing. Likewise, we found that knockdown of SR/hnRNPs promoted differential isoform usage (DIU) for thousands of macrophage transcripts and that these alternative splicing changes were distinct in uninfected and Salmonella-infected macrophages. Finally, having observed a surprising degree of similarity between the differentially expressed genes (DEGs) and DIUs in hnRNP K and U knockdown macrophages, we found that hnRNP K and U knockdown macrophages are both more restrictive to Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV), while hnRNP K knockdown macrophages are more permissive to Salmonella Typhimurium. Based on these findings, we conclude that many innate immune genes evolved to rely on one or more SR/hnRNPs to ensure the proper magnitude of their induction, supporting a model wherein pre-mRNA splicing is critical for regulating innate immune gene expression and controlling infection outcomes in macrophages ex vivo.

published proceedings

  • Front Immunol

altmetric score

  • 3.6

author list (cited authors)

  • Wagner, A. R., Scott, H. M., West, K. O., Vail, K. J., Fitzsimons, T. C., Coleman, A. K., ... Patrick, K. L.

citation count

  • 12

complete list of authors

  • Wagner, Allison R||Scott, Haley M||West, Kelsi O||Vail, Krystal J||Fitzsimons, Timothy C||Coleman, Aja K||Carter, Kaitlyn E||Watson, Robert O||Patrick, Kristin L

publication date

  • January 2021