Ph.D., Michigan State University
Adenosine-to-inosine (A-to-I) RNA editing is the most common posttranscriptional editing to create somatic mutations and increase proteomic diversity. However, the functions of the edited mutations are largely underexplored. To identify novel targets in lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD), we conducted a genome-wide somatic A-to-I RNA editing analysis of 23 paired adjacent normal and LUAD transcriptomes and identified 26,280 events, including known nonsynonymous AZIN1-S367G and novel RHOAiso2 (RHOA isoform 2)-R176G, tubulin gamma complex associated protein 2 (TUBGCP2)-N211S, and RBMXL1-I40 M mutations. We validated the edited mutations in silico in multiple databases and in newly collected LUAD tissue pairs with the SEQUENOM MassARRAY® and TaqMan PCR Systems. We selected RHOAiso2-R176G due to its significant level, isoform-specificity, and being the most common somatic edited nonsynonymous mutation of RHOAiso2 to investigate its roles in LUAD tumorigenesis. RHOAiso2 is a ubiquitous but low-expression alternative spliced isoform received a unique Alu-rich exon at the 3' RHOA mRNA to become an editing RNA target, leading to somatic hypermutation and protein diversity. Interestingly, LUAD patients harboring the RHOAiso2-R176G mutation were associated with aberrant RHOA functions, cancer cell proliferation and migration, and poor clinical outcomes in transcriptome analysis. Mechanistically, RHOAiso2-R176G mutation-expressing LUAD cells potentiate RHOA-guanosine triphosphate (GTP) activity to phosphorylate ROCK1/2 effectors and enhance cell proliferation and migration in vitro and increase tumor growth in xenograft and systemic metastasis models in vivo. Taken together, the RHOAiso2-R176G mutation is a common somatic A-to-I edited mutation of the hypermutated RHOA isoform 2. It is an oncogenic and isoform-specific theranostic target that activates RHOA-GTP/p-ROCK1/2 signaling to promote tumor progression.