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Amino acid restriction has recently emerged as a compelling strategy to inhibit tumor growth. Recent work suggests that amino acids can regulate cellular signaling in addition to their role as biosynthetic substrates. Using lymphoid cancer cells as a model, we found that asparagine depletion acutely reduces the expression of c-MYC protein without changing its mRNA expression. Furthermore, asparagine depletion inhibits the translation of MYC mRNA without altering the rate of MYC protein degradation. Of interest, the inhibitory effect on MYC mRNA translation during asparagine depletion is not due to the activation of the general controlled nonderepressible 2 (GCN2) pathway and is not a consequence of the inhibition of global protein synthesis. In addition, both the 5' and 3' untranslated regions (UTRs) of MYC mRNA are not required for this inhibitory effect. Finally, using a MYC-driven mouse B cell lymphoma model, we found that shRNA inhibition of asparagine synthetase (ASNS) or pharmacological inhibition of asparagine production can significantly reduce the MYC protein expression and tumor growth when environmental asparagine becomes limiting. Since MYC is a critical oncogene, our results uncover a molecular connection between MYC mRNA translation and asparagine bioavailability and shed light on a potential to target MYC oncogene post-transcriptionally through asparagine restriction. © 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.


Sankalp Srivastava, Jie Jiang, Jagannath Misra, Gretchen Seim, Kirk A Staschke, Minghua Zhong, Leonardo Zhou, Yu Liu, Chong Chen, Utpal Davé, Reuben Kapur, Sandeep Batra, Chi Zhang, Jiehao Zhou, Jing Fan, Ronald C Wek, Ji Zhang. Asparagine bioavailability regulates the translation of MYC oncogene. Oncogene. 2022 Oct;41(44):4855-4865

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PMID: 36182969

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