Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2019 02 24;116(8):2987-2995. Epub 2019 Jan 24.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1662;
The nutrient-sensing metabolite S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) controls one-carbon metabolism by donating methyl groups to biochemical building blocks, DNA, RNA, and protein. Our recent work uncovered a requirement for cytoplasmic arginine methylation during Wnt signaling through the activity of protein arginine methyltransferase 1 (PRMT1), which transfers one-carbon groups from SAM to many protein substrates. Here, we report that treatments that decrease levels of the universal methyl donor SAM were potent inhibitors of Wnt signaling and of Wnt-induced digestion of extracellular proteins in endolysosomes. Thus, arginine methylation provides the canonical Wnt pathway with metabolic sensing properties through SAM. The rapid accumulation of Wnt-induced endolysosomes within 30 minutes was inhibited by the depletion of methionine, an essential amino acid that serves as the direct substrate for SAM production. We also found that methionine is required for GSK3 sequestration into multivesicular bodies through microautophagy, an essential step in Wnt signaling activity. Methionine starvation greatly reduced Wnt-induced endolysosomal degradation of extracellular serum proteins. Similar results were observed by addition of nicotinamide (vitamin B3), which serves as a methyl group sink. Methotrexate, a pillar in the treatment of cancer since 1948, decreases SAM levels. We show here that methotrexate blocked Wnt-induced endocytic lysosomal activity and reduced canonical Wnt signaling. Importantly, the addition of SAM during methionine depletion or methotrexate treatment was sufficient to rescue endolysosomal function and Wnt signaling. Inhibiting the Wnt signaling pathway by decreasing one-carbon metabolism provides a platform for designing interventions in Wnt-driven disease.