Research ArticleCANCER

The abundance of metabolites related to protein methylation correlates with the metastatic capacity of human melanoma xenografts

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Science Advances  01 Nov 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 11, eaao5268
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aao5268


Metabolic reprogramming is a major factor in transformation, and particular metabolic phenotypes correlate with oncogenotype, tumor progression, and metastasis. By profiling metabolites in 17 patient-derived xenograft melanoma models, we identified durable metabolomic signatures that correlate with biological features of the tumors. BRAF mutant tumors had metabolomic and metabolic flux features of enhanced glycolysis compared to BRAF wild-type tumors. Tumors that metastasized efficiently from their primary sites had elevated levels of metabolites related to protein methylation, including trimethyllysine (TML). TML levels correlated with histone H3 trimethylation at Lys9 and Lys27, and methylation at these sites was also enhanced in efficiently metastasizing tumors. Erasing either of these marks by genetically or pharmacologically silencing the histone methyltransferase SETDB1 or EZH2 had no effect on primary tumor growth but reduced cellular invasiveness and metastatic spread. Thus, metabolite profiling can uncover targetable epigenetic requirements for the metastasis of human melanoma cells.

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