The nuclear deubiquitylase BRCA1 associated protein 1 (BAP1) is frequently inactivated in malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) and germline BAP1 mutation predisposes to cancers including MPM. To explore the influence on cell physiology and drug sensitivity, we sequentially edited a predisposition mutation (w-) and a promoter trap (KO) into human mesothelial cells. BAP1w-/KO MeT5A cells express less BAP1 protein and phenocopy key aspects of BAP1 loss in MPM. SILAC-mass spectrometry revealed evidence of metabolic adaptation, with concomitant alteration of cellular metabolites. In MeT5A, BAP1-deficiency reduces glycolytic enzyme levels but increases enzymes involved in the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle and anaplerotic pathways. Notably both argininosuccinate synthase 1 (ASS1), essential for cellular synthesis of arginine, and its substrate aspartate, are elevated in BAP1w-/KO MeT5A cells. Likewise, ASS1 expression is higher in BAP1-altered MPM cell lines, and inversely correlates with BAP1 in the cancer genome atlas (TCGA) MESO dataset. Elevated ASS1 is also evident by immunohistochemical staining in epithelioid MPM lacking nuclear BAP1 expression, with improved survival amongst patients with BAP1-negative/ASS1-expressing tumours. Alterations in arginine metabolism may sensitise cells to metabolic drugs and we find that BAP1-negative/ASS1-expressing MPM cell lines are more sensitive to ASS1 inhibition, although not to inhibition of purine synthesis by mizoribine. Importantly, BAP1w-/KO MeT5A become desensitised to arginine-deprivation by pegylated arginine deiminase (ADI-PEG20), phenocopying BAP1-negative/ASS1-expressing MPM cell lines. Implications: Our data reveal an inter-relationship between BAP1 and arginine metabolism, providing a potential means of identifying epithelioid MPM patients likely to benefit from ADI-PEG20.

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