Threonine fuels glioblastoma through YRDC-mediated codon-biased translational reprogramming

Nat Cancer. 2024 Mar 22. doi: 10.1038/s43018-024-00748-7. Online ahead of print.


Cancers commonly reprogram translation and metabolism, but little is known about how these two features coordinate in cancer stem cells. Here we show that glioblastoma stem cells (GSCs) display elevated protein translation. To dissect underlying mechanisms, we performed a CRISPR screen and identified YRDC as the top essential transfer RNA (tRNA) modification enzyme in GSCs. YRDC catalyzes the formation of N6-threonylcarbamoyladenosine (t6A) on ANN-decoding tRNA species (A denotes adenosine, and N denotes any nucleotide). Targeting YRDC reduced t6A formation, suppressed global translation and inhibited tumor growth both in vitro and in vivo. Threonine is an essential substrate of YRDC. Threonine accumulated in GSCs, which facilitated t6A formation through YRDC and shifted the proteome to support mitosis-related genes with ANN codon bias. Dietary threonine restriction (TR) reduced tumor t6A formation, slowed xenograft growth and augmented anti-tumor efficacy of chemotherapy and anti-mitotic therapy, providing a molecular basis for a dietary intervention in cancer treatment.