Splicing modulators elicit global translational repression by condensate-prone proteins translated from introns
Chemical splicing modulators that bind to the spliceosome have provided an attractive avenue for cancer treatment. Splicing modulators induce accumulation and subsequent translation of a subset of intron-retained mRNAs. Yet, the biological effect of proteins containing translated intron sequences remains unclear. Here we identified a number of truncated proteins generated upon treatment with the splicing modulator spliceostatin A (SSA) using genome-wide ribosome profiling and bio-orthogonal non-canonical amino-acid tagging (BONCAT) mass spectrometry. A subset of these truncated proteins has intrinsically disordered regions, forms insoluble cellular condensates, and triggers the proteotoxic stress response through JNK phosphorylation, thereby inhibiting the mTORC1 pathway. In turn, this reduces global translation. These findings indicate that creating an overburden of condensate-prone proteins derived from introns represses translation and prevents further production of harmful truncated proteins. This mechanism appears to contribute to the antiproliferative and proapoptotic activity of splicing modulators.