Dynamic partitioning of branched-chain amino acids-derived nitrogen supports renal cancer progression

Marco Sciacovelli, Aurelien Dugourd, Lorea Valcarcel Jimenez, Ming Yang, Efterpi Nikitopoulou, Ana S.H. Costa, Laura Tronci, Veronica Caraffini, Paulo Rodrigues, Christina Schmidt, Dylan Gerard Ryan, Timothy Young, Vincent R. Zecchini, Sabrina H. Rossi, Charlie Massie, Caroline Lohoff, Maria Masid, Vassily Hatzimanikatis, Christoph Kuppe, Alex Von KriegsheimRafael Kramann, Vincent Gnanapragasam, Anne Y. Warren, Grant D. Stewart, Ayelet Erez, Sakari Vanharanta, Julio Saez-Rodriguez, Christian Frezza*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
18 Downloads (Pure)


Metabolic reprogramming is critical for tumor initiation and progression. However, the exact impact of specific metabolic changes on cancer progression is poorly understood. Here, we integrate multimodal analyses of primary and metastatic clonally-related clear cell renal cancer cells (ccRCC) grown in physiological media to identify key stage-specific metabolic vulnerabilities. We show that a VHL loss-dependent reprogramming of branched-chain amino acid catabolism sustains the de novo biosynthesis of aspartate and arginine enabling tumor cells with the flexibility of partitioning the nitrogen of the amino acids depending on their needs. Importantly, we identify the epigenetic reactivation of argininosuccinate synthase (ASS1), a urea cycle enzyme suppressed in primary ccRCC, as a crucial event for metastatic renal cancer cells to acquire the capability to generate arginine, invade in vitro and metastasize in vivo. Overall, our study uncovers a mechanism of metabolic flexibility occurring during ccRCC progression, paving the way for the development of novel stage-specific therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7830
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Open Access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL.

Publisher Copyright: © 2022, The Author(s).


Dive into the research topics of 'Dynamic partitioning of branched-chain amino acids-derived nitrogen supports renal cancer progression'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this