European journal of human genetics : EJHG

Rescue of wild-type E-cadherin expression from nonsense-mutated cancer cells by a suppressor-tRNA.

PMID 24424122


Hereditary diffuse gastric cancer (HDGC) syndrome, although rare, is highly penetrant at an early age, and is severe and incurable because of ineffective screening tools and therapy. Approximately 45% of HDGC families carry germline CDH1/E-cadherin alterations, 20% of which are nonsense leading to premature protein truncation. Prophylactic gastrectomy is the only recommended approach for all asymptomatic CDH1 mutation carriers. Suppressor-tRNAs can replace premature stop codons (PTCs) with a cognate amino acid, inducing readthrough and generating full-length proteins. The use of suppressor-tRNAs in HDGC patients could therefore constitute a less invasive therapeutic option for nonsense mutation carriers, delaying the development of gastric cancer. Our analysis revealed that 23/108 (21.3%) of E-cadherin-mutant families carried nonsense mutations that could be potentially corrected by eight suppressor-tRNAs, and arginine was the most frequently affected amino acid. Using site-directed mutagenesis, we developed an arginine suppressor-tRNA vector to correct one HDGC nonsense mutation. E-cadherin- deficient cell lines were transfected with plasmids carrying simultaneously the suppressor-tRNA and wild-type or mutant CDH1 mini-genes. RT-PCR, western blot, immunofluorescence, flow cytometry and proximity ligation assay (PLA) were used to establish the model, and monitor mRNA and protein expression and function recovery from CDH1 vectors. Cells expressing a CDH1 mini-gene, carrying a nonsense mutation and the suppressor-tRNA, recovered full-length E-cadherin expression and its correct localization and incorporation into the adhesion complex. This is the first demonstration of functional recovery of a mutated causative gene in hereditary cancer by cognate amino acid replacement with suppressor-tRNAs. Of the HDGC families, 21.3% are candidates for correction with suppressor-tRNAs to potentially delay cancer onset.