New Discoveries of Old SON: A Link Between RNA Splicing and Cancer


  • Christopher J. Hickey and Jung-Hyun Kim contributed equally to this work.
  • The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.


The SON protein is a ubiquitously expressed DNA- and RNA-binding protein primarily localized to nuclear speckles. Although several early studies implicated SON in DNA-binding, tumorigenesis and apoptosis, functional significance of this protein had not been recognized until recent studies discovered SON as a novel RNA splicing co-factor. During constitutive RNA splicing, SON ensures efficient intron removal from the transcripts containing suboptimal splice sites. Importantly, SON-mediated splicing is required for proper processing of selective transcripts related to cell cycle, microtubules, centrosome maintenance, and genome stability. Moreover, SON regulates alternative splicing of RNAs from the genes involved in apoptosis and epigenetic modification. In addition to the role in RNA splicing, SON has an ability to suppress transcriptional activation at certain promoter/enhancer DNA sequences. Considering the multiple SON target genes which are directly involved in cell proliferation, genome stability and chromatin modifications, SON is an emerging player in gene regulation during cancer development and progression. Here, we summarize available information from several early studies on SON, and highlight recent discoveries describing molecular mechanisms of SON-mediated gene regulation. We propose that our future effort on better understanding of diverse SON functions would reveal novel targets for cancer therapy. J. Cell. Biochem. 115: 224–231, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.