Minervo Perez, Kellie D Nance, Daniel W Bak, Supuni Thalalla Gamage, Susana S Najera, Amy N Conte, W. Marston Linehan, Eranthie Weerapana, Jordan L Meier
Hereditary leiomyomatosis and renal cell carcinoma (HLRCC) is a cancer predisposition syndrome driven by mutation of the tumor suppressor fumarate hydratase (FH). Inactivation of FH causes accumulation of the electrophilic oncometabolite fumarate. In the absence of methods for reactivation, tumor suppressors can be targeted via identification of synthetic lethal interactions using genetic screens. Inspired by recent advances in chemoproteomic target identification, here we test the hypothesis that the electrophilicity of the HLRCC metabolome may produce unique susceptibilities to covalent small molecules, a phenomenon we term conditional covalent lethality. Screening a panel of chemically diverse electrophiles we identified a covalent ligand, MP-1, that exhibits FH-dependent cytotoxicity. Synthesis and structure-activity profiling identified key molecular determinants underlying the molecule's effects. Chemoproteomic profiling of cysteine reactivity together with clickable probes validated the ability of MP-1 to engage an array of functional cysteines, including one lying in the Zn-finger domain of the tRNA methyltransferase enzyme TRMT1. TRMT1 overexpression rescues tRNA methylation from inhibition by MP-1 and partially attenuates the covalent ligand's cytotoxicity. Our studies highlight the potential for covalent metabolites and small molecules to synergistically produce novel synthetic lethal interactions and raise the possibility of applying phenotypic screening with chemoproteomic target identification to identify new functional oncometabolite targets.