Arginine deprivation enriches lung cancer proteomes with cysteine by inducing arginine-to-cysteine substitutants

Chao Yang, Abhijeet Pataskar*, Xiaodong Feng, Jasmine Montenegro Navarro, Inés Paniagua, Jacqueline J.L. Jacobs, Esther A. Zaal, Celia R. Berkers, Onno B. Bleijerveld, Reuven Agami*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Many types of human cancers suppress the expression of argininosuccinate synthase 1 (ASS1), a rate-limiting enzyme for arginine production. Although dependency on exogenous arginine can be harnessed by arginine-deprivation therapies, the impact of ASS1 suppression on the quality of the tumor proteome is unknown. We therefore interrogated proteomes of cancer patients for arginine codon reassignments (substitutants) and surprisingly identified a strong enrichment for cysteine (R>C) in lung tumors specifically. Most R>C events did not coincide with genetically encoded R>C mutations but were likely products of tRNA misalignments. The expression of R>C substitutants was highly associated with oncogenic kelch-like epichlorohydrin (ECH)-associated protein 1 (KEAP1)-pathway mutations and suppressed by intact-KEAP1 in KEAP1-mutated cancer cells. Finally, functional interrogation indicated a key role for R>C substitutants in cell survival to cisplatin, suggesting that regulatory codon reassignments endow cancer cells with more resilience to stress. Thus, we present a mechanism for enriching lung cancer proteomes with cysteines that may affect therapeutic decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1904-1916.e7
JournalMolecular Cell
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2024

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