The cell's repertoire of transfer RNAs (tRNAs) has been linked to cancer. Recently, levels of the initiator methionine tRNA (tRNAiMet) in stromal fibroblasts have been shown to influence extracellular matrix (ECM) secretion to drive tumour growth and angiogenesis. Here we show that increased tRNAiMet within cancer cells does not influence tumour growth, but drives cell migration and invasion via a mechanism that is independent from ECM synthesis and dependent on α5β1 integrin and levels of the translation initiation ternary complex. In vivo and ex vivo migration (but not proliferation) of melanoblasts is significantly enhanced in transgenic mice which express additional copies of the tRNAiMet gene. We show that increased tRNAiMet in melanoma drives migratory, invasive behaviour and metastatic potential without affecting cell proliferation and primary tumour growth, and that expression of RNA polymerase III-associated genes (which drive tRNA expression) are elevated in metastases by comparison with primary tumours. Thus specific alterations to the cancer cell tRNA repertoire drive a migration/invasion programme that may lead to metastasis.
- Received April 14, 2016.
- Accepted August 12, 2016.
- © 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd
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