Epigenetic loss of the transfer RNA-modifying enzyme TYW2 induces ribosome frameshifts in colon cancer
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Transfer RNA (tRNA) activity is tightly regulated to provide a physiological protein translation, and tRNA chemical modifications control its function in a complex with ribosomes and messenger RNAs (mRNAs). In this regard, the correct hypermodification of position G37 of phenylalanine-tRNA, adjacent to the anticodon, is critical to prevent ribosome frameshifting events. Here we report that the tRNA-yW Synthesizing Protein 2 (TYW2) undergoes promoter hypermethylation-associated transcriptional
... d transcriptional silencing in human cancer, particularly in colorectal tumors. The epigenetic loss of TYW2 induces guanosine hypomodification in phenylalanine-tRNA, an increase in −1 ribosome frameshift events, and down-regulation of transcripts by mRNA decay, such as of the key cancer gene ROBO1. Importantly, TYW2 epigenetic inactivation is linked to poor overall survival in patients with early-stage colorectal cancer, a finding that could be related to the observed acquisition of enhanced migration properties and epithelial-to-mesenchymal features in the colon cancer cells that harbor TYW2 DNA methylation-associated loss. These findings provide an illustrative example of how epigenetic changes can modify the epitranscriptome and further support a role for tRNA modifications in cancer biology.