Although the translational function of tRNA has long been established, extra translational functions of tRNA are still being discovered. We previously developed a computational method to systematically predict new tRNA-protein complexes and experimentally validated six candidate proteins, including the mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 2 (MEK2), that interact with tRNA in HEK293T cells. However, consequences of the interaction between tRNA and these proteins remain to be elucidated. Here we tested the consequence of the interaction between tRNA and MEK2 in pancreatic cancer cell lines. We also generated disease and drug resistance-derived MEK2 mutants (Q60P, P128Q, S154F, E207K) to evaluate the function of the tRNA-MEK2 interaction. Our results demonstrate that tRNA interacts with the wild-type and mutant MEK2 in pancreatic cancer cells; furthermore, the MEK2 inhibitor U0126 significantly reduces the tRNA-MEK2 interaction. In addition, tRNA affects the catalytic activity of the wild type and mutant MEK2 proteins in different ways. Overall, our findings demonstrate the interaction of tRNA with MEK2 in pancreatic cancer cells and suggest that tRNA may impact MEK2 activity in cancer cells.
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