Nonsense-Mediated decay (NMD) selectively degrades mRNA transcripts that carry premature stop codons. NMD is often triggered by alternative splicing (AS) modifications introducing such codons. NMD plays an important regulatory role in brain neurons, but the in vivo dynamics of AS and NMD changes in neurological diseases and under treatment were scarcely explored.
Here, we report exon arrays analysis of leukocyte mRNA AS events prior to and following Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) neurosurgery, which efficiently improves the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD), the leading movement disorder, and is increasingly applied to treat other diseases. We also analyzed publicly available exon array dataset of whole blood cells from mixed early and advanced PD patients. Our in-house exon array dataset of leukocyte transcripts was derived from advanced PD patients’ pre- and post-DBS stimulation and matched healthy control volunteers. The mixed cohort exhibited 146 AS changes in 136 transcripts compared to controls, including 9 NMD protein-level assessed events. In comparison, PD patients from our advanced cohort differed from healthy controls by 319 AS events in 280 transcripts, assessed as inducing 27 protein-level NMD events. DBS stimulation induced 254 AS events in 229 genes as compared to the pre-DBS state including 44 NMD inductions. A short, one hour electrical stimulus cessation caused 234 AS changes in 125 genes compared to ON-stimulus state, 22 of these were assessed for NMD. Functional analysis highlighted disease-induced DNA damage and inflammatory control and its reversal under ON and OFF stimulus as well as alternative splicing in all the tested states.
The study findings indicate a potential role for NMD both in PD and following electrical brain stimulation. Furthermore, our current observations entail future implications for developing therapies for PD, and for interfering with the impaired molecular mechanisms that underlie PD and other neurodegenerative and neurological disorders, as well as DBS-treatable conditions in general.