Walker OS, Elsässer SJ, Mahesh M, Bachman M, Balasubramanian S, Chin JW
Journal of the American Chemical Society 138 (3) 718-721 [2016-01-27; online 2016-01-12]
Isocitrate dehydrogenase is mutated at a key active site arginine residue (Arg172 in IDH2) in many cancers, leading to the synthesis of the oncometabolite (R)-2-hydroxyglutarate (2HG). To investigate the early events following acquisition of this mutation in mammalian cells we created a photoactivatable version of IDH2(R172K), in which K172 is replaced with a photocaged lysine (PCK), via genetic code expansion. Illumination of cells expressing this mutant protein led to a rapid increase in the levels of 2HG, with 2HG levels reaching those measured in patient tumor samples, within 8 h. 2HG accumulation is closely followed by a global decrease in 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5-hmC) in DNA, demonstrating that perturbations in epigenetic DNA base modifications are an early consequence of mutant IDH2 in cells. Our results provide a paradigm for rapidly and synchronously uncloaking diverse oncogenic mutations in live cells to reveal the sequence of events through which they may ultimately cause transformation.