bims-glucam Biomed News
on Glutamine cancer metabolism
Issue of 2020‒10‒11
six papers selected by
Sreeparna Banerjee
Middle East Technical University


  1. Elife. 2020 10 05. pii: e56749. [Epub ahead of print]9
    Jin H, Wang S, Zaal EA, Wang C, Wu H, Bosma A, Jochems F, Isima N, Jin G, Lieftink C, Beijersbergen R, Berkers CR, Qin W, Bernards R.
      The dependency of cancer cells on glutamine may be exploited therapeutically as a new strategy for treating cancers that lack druggable driver genes. Here we found that human liver cancer was dependent on extracellular glutamine. However, targeting glutamine addiction using the glutaminase inhibitor CB-839 as monotherapy had a very limited anticancer effect, even against the most glutamine addicted human liver cancer cells. Using a chemical library, we identified V-9302, a novel inhibitor of glutamine transporter ASCT2, as sensitizing glutamine dependent (GD) cells to CB-839 treatment. Mechanically, a combination of CB-839 and V-9302 depleted glutathione and induced reactive oxygen species (ROS), resulting in apoptosis of GD cells. Moreover, this combination also showed tumor inhibition in HCC xenograft mouse models in vivo. Our findings indicate that dual inhibition of glutamine metabolism by targeting both glutaminase and glutamine transporter ASCT2 represents a potential novel treatment strategy for glutamine addicted liver cancers.
    Keywords:  CB-839; cancer biology; glutamine addiction; glutaminolysis; hepatocellular carcinoma; human
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.56749
  2. FEBS J. 2020 Oct 08.
    Berndt N, Eckstein J, Heucke N, Wuensch T, Gajowski R, Stockmann M, Meierhofer D, Holzhütter HG.
      Metabolic reprogramming is a characteristic feature of cancer cells but there is no unique metabolic program for all tumors. Genetic and gene expression studies have revealed heterogeneous inter- and intra-tumor patterns of metabolic enzymes and membrane transporters. The functional implications of this heterogeneity remain often elusive. Here, we applied a systems biology approach to gain a comprehensive and quantitative picture of metabolic changes in individual hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We used protein intensity profiles determined by mass spectrometry in samples of ten human HCCs and the adjacent non-cancerous tissue to calibrate Hepatokin1, a complex mathematical model of liver metabolism. We computed the 24h profile of 18 metabolic functions related to carbohydrate, lipid and nitrogen metabolism. There was a general tendency among the tumors towards downregulated glucose uptake and glucose release albeit with large inter-tumor variability. This finding calls into question that the Warburg effect dictates the metabolic phenotype of HCC. All tumors comprised elevated β-oxidation rates. Urea synthesis was found to be consistently downregulated but without compromising the tumor's capacity for ammonia detoxification owing to increased glutamine synthesis. The largest inter-tumor heterogeneity was found for the uptake and release of lactate and the size of the cellular glycogen content. In line with the observed metabolic heterogeneity, the individual HCCs differed largely in their vulnerability against pharmacological treatment with metformin. Taken together, our approach provided a comprehensive and quantitative characterization of HCC metabolism that may pave the way for a computational a priori assessment of pharmacological therapies targeting metabolic processes of HCC.
    Keywords:  kinetic modeling; liver; mathematical model; metabolism; tumor metabolism
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1111/febs.15587
  3. Br J Cancer. 2020 Oct 08.
    Morotti M, Zois CE, El-Ansari R, Craze ML, Rakha EA, Fan SJ, Valli A, Haider S, Goberdhan DCI, Green AR, Harris AL.
      BACKGROUND: Glutamine (Gln) is an abundant nutrient used by cancer cells. Breast cancers cells and particularly triple-receptor negative breast cancer (TNBC) are reported to be dependent on Gln to produce the energy required for survival and proliferation. Despite intense research on the role of the intracellular Gln pathway, few reports have focussed on Gln transporters in breast cancer and TNBC.METHODS: The role and localisation of the Gln transporter SLC38A2/SNAT2 in response to Gln deprivation or pharmacological stresses was examined in a panel of breast cancer cell lines. Subsequently, the effect of SLC38A2 knockdown in Gln-sensitive cell lines was analysed. The prognostic value of SLC38A2 in a cohort of breast cancer was determined by immunohistochemistry.
    RESULTS: SLC38A2 was identified as a strongly expressed amino acid transporter in six breast cancer cell lines. We confirmed an autophagic route of degradation for SLC38A2. SLC38A2 knockdown decreased Gln consumption, inhibited cell growth, induced autophagy and led to ROS production in a subgroup of Gln-sensitive cell lines. High expression of SLC38A2 protein was associated with poor breast cancer specific survival in a large cohort of patients (p = 0.004), particularly in TNBC (p = 0.02).
    CONCLUSIONS: These results position SLC38A2 as a selective target for inhibiting growth of Gln-dependent breast cancer cell lines.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41416-020-01113-y
  4. Food Chem Toxicol. 2020 Oct 06. pii: S0278-6915(20)30691-8. [Epub ahead of print] 111801
    Li X, Qin X, Tian J, Gao X, Wu X, Du G, Zhou Y.
      Liquiritin, a flavone derived from the medicine food homology plant liquorice, possesses neuroprotective. However, the neuroprotective mechanism is not clear. In this study, metabolomics based LC-MS was performed to discover the metabolite changes in PC12 cells treated with corticosterone-induced neurotoxicity after liquiritin treatment. A total of 30 metabolites were identified as differential metabolites. Among them, 11 metabolites were regulated by liquiritin, and involved in the D-glutamine and D-glutamate metabolism, and glutathione metabolism, etc. Based on the results of metabolomics, three cell signaling pathways related to these metabolic pathways were verified. The results showed that the ERK1/2-NF-κB pathway related to the D-glutamine and D-glutamate metabolism was attenuated by liquiritin via down-regulation phospho-ERK1/2, phospho-IκBα, phospho-NF-κB protein expression levels. Furthermore, the Nrf2-Keap1 pathway related to glutathione metabolism was activated by liquiritin via up-regulation Nrf2, Keap1, HO-1, NQO1 protein expression levels, and increased SOD, CAT, GSH-PX enzyme activity, thus exerting antioxidant activity. Additionally, liquiritin inhibited the mitochondrial apoptosis by decreasing the Ca2+ concentration, improving MMP, up-regulating Bcl-2, and down-regulating Bax, cytochrome C, cleaved-Caspase-3 expression levels. These results suggest that the neuroprotective mechanisms of liquiritin are connected to the regulation of metabolic disorders, activation Nrf2/Keap1 pathway, attenuation ERK1/2/NF-κB pathway, and inhibition mitochondrial apoptosis pathway.
    Keywords:  ERK1/2-NF-κB; Liquiritin; Metabolic disorders; Mitochondrial apoptosis; Neuroprotective; Nrf2-Keap1
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2020.111801
  5. Sci Rep. 2020 Oct 05. 10(1): 16523
    Bera S, Rashid M, Medvinsky AB, Sun GQ, Li BL, Acquisti C, Sljoka A, Chakraborty A.
      Glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH) is a key enzyme interlinking carbon and nitrogen metabolism. Recent discoveries of the GDH specific role in breast cancer, hyperinsulinism/hyperammonemia (HI/HA) syndrome, and neurodegenerative diseases have reinvigorated interest on GDH regulation, which remains poorly understood despite extensive and long standing studies. Notwithstanding the growing evidence of the complexity of allosteric network behind GDH regulation, identifications of allosteric factors and associated mechanisms are paramount to deepen our understanding of the complex dynamics that regulate GDH enzymatic activity. Combining structural analyses of cryo-electron microscopy data with molecular dynamic simulations, here we show that the cofactor NADH is a key player in the GDH regulation process. Our structural analysis indicates that, binding to the regulatory sites in proximity of the antenna region, NADH acts as a positive allosteric modulator by enhancing both the affinity of the inhibitor GTP binding and inhibition of GDH catalytic activity. We further show that the binding of GTP to the NADH-bound GDH activates a triangular allosteric network, interlinking the inhibitor with regulatory and catalytic sites. This allostery produces a local conformational rearrangement that triggers an anticlockwise rotational motion of interlinked alpha-helices with specific tilted helical extension. This structural transition is a fundamental switch in the GDH enzymatic activity. It introduces a torsional stress, and the associated rotational shift in the Rossmann fold closes the catalytic cleft with consequent inhibition of the deamination process. In silico mutagenesis examinations further underpin the molecular basis of HI/HA dominant mutations and consequent over-activity of GDH through alteration of this allosteric communication network. These results shed new light on GDH regulation and may lay new foundation in the design of allosteric agents.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-73743-4
  6. J Neurochem. 2020 Oct 07.
    Hinca SB, Salcedo C, Wagner A, Goldeman C, Sadat E, Aibar MMD, Maechler P, Brodin B, Aldana BI, Helms HCC.
      The endothelial cells of the blood-brain barrier participate in the regulation of glutamate concentrations in the brain interstitial fluid by taking up brain glutamate. However, endothelial glutamate metabolism has not been characterized, nor is its role in brain glutamate homeostasis and endothelial energy production known. The aim of this study was to investigate endothelial glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH) expression and glutamate metabolism and probe its functional significance. Primary brain endothelial cells were isolated from bovine and mouse brains, and human brain endothelial cells were derived from induced pluripotent stem cells. GDH expression on the protein level and GDH function were investigated in the model systems using western blotting, confocal microscopy, 13 C-glutamate metabolism and Seahorse assay. In the present study it was shown that GDH was expressed in murine and bovine brain capillaries and in cultured primary mouse and bovine brain endothelial cells as well as in human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived endothelial cells. The endothelial GDH expression was confirmed in brain capillaries from mice carrying a central nervous system specific GDH knockout. Endothelial cells from all tested species metabolized 13 C-glutamate to α-ketoglutarate, which subsequently entered the tricarboxylic acid (TCA)-cycle. Brain endothelial cells maintained mitochondrial oxygen consumption rates, when supplied with glutamate alone, whereas glutamate supplied in addition to glucose did not lead to additional oxygen consumption. In conclusion, brain endothelial cells directly take up and metabolize glutamate and utilize the resulting α-ketoglutarate in the TCA cycle to ultimately yield ATP if glucose is unavailable.
    Keywords:  Brain glutamate efflux; Endothelial cells; Glutamate metabolism; Oxidative phosphorylation; blood-brain barrier
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1111/jnc.15207