Dietary thiamine influences l-asparaginase sensitivity in a subset of leukemia cells

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Science Advances  09 Oct 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 41, eabc7120
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abc7120


Tumor environment influences anticancer therapy response but which extracellular nutrients affect drug sensitivity is largely unknown. Using functional genomics, we determine modifiers of l-asparaginase (ASNase) response and identify thiamine pyrophosphate kinase 1 as a metabolic dependency under ASNase treatment. While thiamine is generally not limiting for cell proliferation, a DNA-barcode competition assay identifies leukemia cell lines that grow suboptimally under low thiamine and are characterized by low expression of solute carrier family 19 member 2 (SLC19A2), a thiamine transporter. SLC19A2 is necessary for optimal growth and ASNase resistance, when standard medium thiamine is lowered ~100-fold to human plasma concentrations. In addition, humanizing blood thiamine content of mice through diet sensitizes SLC19A2-low leukemia cells to ASNase in vivo. Together, our work reveals that thiamine utilization is a determinant of ASNase response for some cancer cells and that oversupplying vitamins may affect therapeutic response in leukemia.

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