MYC-driven small-cell lung cancer is metabolically distinct and vulnerable to arginine depletion

Milind D. Chalishazar, Sarah J. Wait, Fang Huang, Abbie S. Ireland, Anandaroop Mukhopadhyay, Younjee Lee, Sophia S. Schuman, Matthew R. Guthrie, Kristofer C. Berrett, Jeffery M. Vahrenkamp, Zeping Hu, Marek Kudla, Katarzyna Modzelewska, Guoying Wang, Nicholas T. Ingolia, Jason Gertz, David H. Lum, Sabina C. Cosulich, John S. Bomalaski, Ralph J. DeBerardinisTrudy G. Oliver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Purpose: Small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) has been treated clinically as a homogeneous disease, but recent discoveries suggest that SCLC is heterogeneous. Whether metabolic differences exist among SCLC subtypes is largely unexplored. In this study, we aimed to determine whether metabolic vulnerabilities exist between SCLC subtypes that can be therapeutically exploited. Experimental Design: We performed steady state metabolomics on tumors isolated from distinct genetically engineered mouse models (GEMM) representing the MYC- and MYCL-driven subtypes of SCLC. Using genetic and pharmacologic approaches, we validated our findings in chemo-na€ve and -resistant human SCLC cell lines, multiple GEMMs, four human cell line xenografts, and four newly derived PDX models. Results: We discover that SCLC subtypes driven by different MYC family members have distinct metabolic profiles. MYC-driven SCLC preferentially depends on arginine-regulated pathways including polyamine biosynthesis and mTOR pathway activation. Chemo-resistant SCLC cells exhibit increased MYC expression and similar metabolic liabilities as chemo-na€ve MYC-driven cells. Arginine depletion with pegylated arginine deiminase (ADI-PEG 20) dramatically suppresses tumor growth and promotes survival of mice specifically with MYC-driven tumors, including in GEMMs, human cell line xenografts, and a patient-derived xenograft from a relapsed patient. Finally, ADI-PEG 20 is significantly more effective than the standard-of-care chemotherapy. Conclusions: These data identify metabolic heterogeneity within SCLC and suggest arginine deprivation as a subtype-specific therapeutic vulnerability for MYC-driven SCLC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5107-5121
Number of pages15
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 15 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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