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The splicing factor SF3B1 is the most frequently mutated gene in myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), and is strongly associated with the presence of ring sideroblasts (RS). We have performed a systematic analysis of cryptic splicing abnormalities from RNA sequencing data on hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) of SF3B1-mutant MDS cases with RS. Aberrant splicing events in many downstream target genes were identified and cryptic 3' splice site usage was a frequent event in SF3B1-mutant MDS. The iron transporter ABCB7 is a well-recognized candidate gene showing marked downregulation in MDS with RS. Our analysis unveiled aberrant ABCB7 splicing, due to usage of an alternative 3' splice site in MDS patient samples, giving rise to a premature termination codon in the ABCB7 mRNA. Treatment of cultured SF3B1-mutant MDS erythroblasts and a CRISPR/Cas9-generated SF3B1-mutant cell line with the nonsense-mediated decay (NMD) inhibitor cycloheximide showed that the aberrantly spliced ABCB7 transcript is targeted by NMD. We describe cryptic splicing events in the HSCs of SF3B1-mutant MDS, and our data support a model in which NMD-induced downregulation of the iron exporter ABCB7 mRNA transcript resulting from aberrant splicing caused by mutant SF3B1 underlies the increased mitochondrial iron accumulation found in MDS patients with RS.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





2322 - 2331


ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters, Base Sequence, Cycloheximide, Hematopoietic Stem Cells, Humans, Iron, Mitochondria, Myelodysplastic Syndromes, Phosphoproteins, RNA Splicing, RNA Splicing Factors, Tumor Cells, Cultured