Rare codons capacitate Kras-driven de novo tumorigenesis.
by Nicole Pershing, Benjamin Lampson, Jason Belsky, Erin Kaltenbrun, David MacAlpine, Christopher Counter.
The KRAS gene is commonly mutated in human cancers, rendering the encoded small GTPase constitutively active and oncogenic. This gene has the unusual feature of being enriched for rare codons, which limit protein expression. Here, to determine the effect of the rare codon bias of the KRAS gene on de novo tumorigenesis, we introduced synonymous mutations that converted rare codons into common codons in exon 3 of the Kras gene in mice. Compared with control animals, mice with at least 1 copy of this Kras(ex3op) allele had fewer tumors following carcinogen exposure, and this allele was mutated less often, with weaker oncogenic mutations in these tumors. This reduction in tumorigenesis was attributable to higher expression of the Kras(ex3op) allele, which induced growth arrest when oncogenic and exhibited tumor-suppressive activity when not mutated. Together, our data indicate that the inherent rare codon bias of KRAS plays an integral role in tumorigenesis.