Metabolic regulation by p53 prevents R-loop-associated genomic instability

Cell Reports
Panatta Emanuele, Butera Alessio, Mammarella Eleonora, Pitolli Consuelo, Mauriello Alessandro, Leist Marcel, Knight Richard A., Melino Gerry, Amelio Ivano
DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2022.111568
PMID: 36323249
Keyword: CP: Molecular biology · Cancer · Chromosome stability · Epigenetic integrity · p53 · Tumor suppression


Gene-environment interactions can perturb the epigenome, triggering network alterations that participate in cancer pathogenesis. Integrating epigenomics, transcriptomics, and metabolic analyses with functional perturbation, we show that the tumor suppressor p53 preserves genomic integrity by empowering adequate levels of the universal methyl donor S-adenosylmethionine (SAM). In p53-deficient cells, perturbation of DNA methylation promotes derepression of heterochromatin, massive loss of histone H3-lysine 9 methylation, and consequent upregulation of satellite RNAs that triggers R-loop-associated replication stress and chromosomal aberrations. In p53-deficient cells, the inadequate SAM level underlies the inability to respond to perturbation because exogenous reintroduction of SAM represses satellite elements and restores the ability to cope with stress. Mechanistically, p53 transcriptionally controls genes involved in one-carbon metabolism, including Slc43a2, the methionine uptake transporter that is critical for SAM synthesis. Supported by clinical data, our findings shed light on the role of p53-mediated metabolism in preventing unscheduled R-loop-associated genomic instability.