An mRNA processing pathway suppresses metastasis by governing translational control from the nucleus
AbstractCancer cells often co-opt post-transcriptional regulatory mechanisms to achieve pathologic expression of gene networks that drive metastasis. Translational control is a major regulatory hub in oncogenesis, however its effects on cancer progression remain poorly understood. To address this, we used ribosome profiling to compare genome-wide translation efficiencies of poorly and highly metastatic breast cancer cells and patient-derived xenografts. We developed novel regression-based methods to analyze ribosome profiling and alternative polyadenylation data, and identified HNRNPC as a translational controller of a specific mRNA regulon. Mechanistically, HNRNPC, in concert with PABPC4, binds near to poly(A) signals, thereby governing the alternative polyadenylation of a set of mRNAs. We found that HNRNPC and PABPC4 are downregulated in highly metastatic cells, which causes HNRNPC-bound mRNAs to undergo 3’ UTR lengthening and subsequently, translational repression. We showed that modulating HNRNPC expression impacts the metastatic capacity of breast cancer cells in xenograft mouse models. We also found that a small molecule, previously shown to induce a distal-to-proximal poly(A) site switching, counteracts the HNRNPC-PABPC4 driven deregulation of alternative polyadenylation and decreases the metastatic lung colonization by breast cancer cells in vivo.