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Nat Chem Biol DOI:10.1038/s41589-022-01170-9

Velcrin-induced selective cleavage of tRNA(TAA) by SLFN12 causes cancer cell death.

Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsLee, S, Hoyt, S, Wu, X, Garvie, C, McGaunn, J, Shekhar, M, Tötzl, M, Rees, MG, Cherniack, AD, Meyerson, M, Greulich, H
JournalNat Chem Biol
Date Published2022 Oct 27

Velcrin compounds kill cancer cells expressing high levels of phosphodiesterase 3A (PDE3A) and Schlafen family member 12 (SLFN12) by inducing complex formation between these two proteins, but the mechanism of cancer cell killing by the PDE3A-SLFN12 complex is not fully understood. Here, we report that the physiological substrate of SLFN12 RNase is tRNA(TAA). SLFN12 selectively digests tRNA(TAA), and velcrin treatment promotes the cleavage of tRNA(TAA) by inducing PDE3A-SLFN12 complex formation in vitro. We found that distinct sequences in the variable loop and acceptor stem of tRNA(TAA) are required for substrate digestion. Velcrin treatment of sensitive cells results in downregulation of tRNA(TAA), ribosome pausing at Leu-TTA codons and global inhibition of protein synthesis. Velcrin-induced cleavage of tRNA(TAA) by SLFN12 and the concomitant global inhibition of protein synthesis thus define a new mechanism of apoptosis initiation.


Alternate JournalNat Chem Biol
PubMed ID36302897
Grant ListR35 CA197568 / CA / NCI NIH HHS / United States