Previous studies have linked increased frequency of glycosylphosphatidylinositolanchor protein (GPI-AP) deficiency with genomic instability and the risk of carcinogenesis. However, the underlying mechanism is still not clear. A randomForest analysis of the gene expression array data from 55 MDS patients (GSE4619) demonstrated a significant (p = 0.0007) correlation (Pearson r =-0.4068) between GPI-anchor biosynthesis gene expression and genomic instability, in which PIGN, a gene participating in GPI-AP biosynthesis, was ranked as the third most important in predicting risk of MDS progression. Furthermore, we observed that PIGN gene expression aberrations (increased transcriptional activity but diminished to no protein production) were associated with increased frequency of GPI-AP deficiency in leukemic cells during leukemic transformation/progression. PIGN gene expression aberrations were attributed to partial intron retentions between exons 14 and 15 resulting in frameshifts and premature termination which were confirmed by examining the RNAseq data from a group of AML patients (phs001027.v1.p1). PIGN gene expression aberration correlated with the elevation of genomic instability marker expression that was independent of the TP53 regulatory pathway. Suppression/elimination of PIGN protein expression caused a similar pattern of genomic instability that was rescued by PIGN restoration. Finally, we found that PIGN bound to the spindle assembly checkpoint protein, MAD1, and regulated its expression during the cell cycle. In conclusion, PIGN gene is crucial in regulating mitotic integrity to maintain chromosomal stability and prevents leukemic transformation/progression.
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