Sex hormones and their receptors play critical roles in the development and progression of the breast and prostate cancers. Here we report that a novel type of transfer RNA (tRNA)-derived small RNA, termed Sex HOrmone-dependent TRNA-derived RNAs (SHOT-RNAs), are specifically and abundantly expressed in estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer and androgen receptor (AR)-positive prostate cancer cell lines. SHOT-RNAs are not abundantly present in ER(-) breast cancer, AR(-) prostate cancer, or other examined cancer cell lines from other tissues. ER-dependent accumulation of SHOT-RNAs is not limited to a cell culture system, but it also occurs in luminal-type breast cancer patient tissues. SHOT-RNAs are produced from aminoacylated mature tRNAs by angiogenin-mediated anticodon cleavage, which is promoted by sex hormones and their receptors. Resultant 5'- and 3'-SHOT-RNAs, corresponding to 5'- and 3'-tRNA halves, bear a cyclic phosphate (cP) and an amino acid at the 3'-end, respectively. By devising a "cP-RNA-seq" method that is able to exclusively amplify and sequence cP-containing RNAs, we identified the complete repertoire of 5'-SHOT-RNAs. Furthermore, 5'-SHOT-RNA, but not 3'-SHOT-RNA, has significant functional involvement in cell proliferation. These results have unveiled a novel tRNA-engaged pathway in tumorigenesis of hormone-dependent cancers and implicate SHOT-RNAs as potential candidates for biomarkers and therapeutic targets.
Keywords: breast cancer; prostate cancer; sex hormone; tRNA; tRNA half.