Detection and characterisation of novel alternative splicing variants of the mitochondrial folate enzyme MTHFD2

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Through the process of alternative splicing, proteins with distinct biological functions and localisations are generated from a single gene. The mitochondrial folate metabolism enzyme methylenetetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase 2 (MTHFD2) has been receiving attention in recent years as one of the most frequently upregulated metabolic enzymes across multiple tumour types. We hypothesized that alternative splicing of MTHFD2 could be a mechanism that generates novel isoforms of this enzyme, with potentially distinct and important biological functions. Multiple alternatively spliced MTHFD2 transcripts were first characterized in the UCSC and Ensemble genome browser. Subsequently, investigating the transcriptomic data for the Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTeX) project it was found that beyond the canonical MTHFD2 transcript, alternative transcripts lacking the second exon of MTHFD2 are also common. The presence of MTHFD2 transcripts lacking the second exon was confirmed by RT-PCR in normal and cancer cells. Translation of MTHFD2 transcripts lacking this second exon are predicted to generate a truncated protein lacking the first 102 N-terminal amino acids of the full-length protein, including the mitochondrial transport sequence. Hence, the truncated MTHFD2 protein could be an isoform with distinct localisation and functions. However, we were not able to confirm the generation of a stable truncated MTHFD2 protein in eukaryotic cells. This study characterizes for the first time alternative spliced transcripts of the enzyme MTHFD2, although further work is required to investigate their biological significance.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Biology Reports
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • Folate
  • Isoform
  • Mitochondria
  • MTHFD2
  • Nucleus
  • Splicing


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