Transcriptome 3'end organization by PCF11 links alternative polyadenylation to formation and neuronal differentiation of neuroblastoma
Diversification at the transcriptome 3'end is an important and evolutionarily conserved layer of gene regulation associated with differentiation and dedifferentiation processes. Here, we identify extensive transcriptome 3'end-alterations in neuroblastoma, a tumour entity with a paucity of recurrent somatic mutations and an unusually high frequency of spontaneous regression. Utilising extensive RNAi-screening we reveal the landscape and drivers of transcriptome 3'end-diversification, discovering PCF11 as critical regulator, directing alternative polyadenylation (APA) of hundreds of transcripts including a differentiation RNA-operon. PCF11 shapes inputs converging on WNT-signalling, and governs cell cycle, proliferation, apoptosis and neurodifferentiation. Postnatal PCF11 down-regulation induces a neurodifferentiation program, and low-level PCF11 in neuroblastoma associates with favourable outcome and spontaneous tumour regression. Our findings document a critical role for APA in tumorigenesis and describe a novel mechanism for cell fate reprogramming in neuroblastoma with potentially important clinical implications. We provide an interactive data repository of transcriptome-wide APA covering > 170 RNAis, and an APA-network map with regulatory hubs.