The functional and therapeutic importance of the Warburg effect is increasingly recognized, and glycolysis has become a target of anticancer strategies. We recently reported the identification of a group of novel small compounds that inhibit basal glucose transport and reduce cancer cell growth by a glucose deprivation-like mechanism. We hypothesized that the compounds target Glut1 and are efficacious in vivo as anticancer agents. Here, we report that a novel representative compound WZB117 not only inhibited cell growth in cancer cell lines but also inhibited cancer growth in a nude mouse model. Daily intraperitoneal injection of WZB117 at 10 mg/kg resulted in a more than 70% reduction in the size of human lung cancer of A549 cell origin. Mechanism studies showed that WZB117 inhibited glucose transport in human red blood cells (RBC), which express Glut1 as their sole glucose transporter. Cancer cell treatment with WZB117 led to decreases in levels of Glut1 protein, intracellular ATP, and glycolytic enzymes. All these changes were followed by increase in ATPsensing enzyme AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and declines in cyclin E2 as well as phosphorylated retinoblastoma, resulting in cell-cycle arrest, senescence, and necrosis. Addition of extracellular ATP rescued compound-treated cancer cells, suggesting that the reduction of intracellular ATP plays an important role in the anticancer mechanism of the molecule. Senescence induction and the essential role of ATP were reported for the first time in Glut1 inhibitor-treated cancer cells. Thus, WZB117 is a prototype for further development of anticancer therapeutics targeting Glut1-mediated glucose transport and glucose metabolism.
Metabolic reprogramming and altered bioenergetics have become emerged as a hallmark of cancer and an area of active basic and translational cancer research. Drastically upregulated glucose transport and metabolism in most cancers regardless the oxygen supply, a phenomenon called the Warburg effect, is one of major focuses of the research. Warburg speculated that cancer cells, due to defective mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS), switch to glycolysis for ATP synthesis, even in the presence of oxygen. Studies in the recent decade indicated that while glycolysis is indeed drastically upregulated in almost all cancer cells, mitochondrial respiration continues to operate normally at rates proportional to oxygen supply. There is no OXPHOS-to-glycolysis switch but rather upregulation of glycolysis. Furthermore, upregulated glycolysis appears to be for synthesis of biomass and reducing equivalents in addition to ATP production. The new finding that a significant amount of glycolytic intermediates are diverted to the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) for production of NADPH has profound implications in how cancer cells use the Warburg effect to cope with reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation and oxidative stress, opening the door for anti-cancer interventions taking advantage of this. Recent findings in the Warburg effect and its relationship with ROS and oxidative stress controls will be reviewed. Cancer treatment strategies based on these new findings will be presented and discussed.
Cancer cells are able to uptake extracellular ATP (eATP) via macropinocytosis to elevate intracellular ATP (iATP) levels, enhancing their survival in drug treatment. However, the involved drug resistance mechanisms are unknown. Here we investigated the roles of eATP as either an energy or a phosphorylating molecule in general drug resistance mediated by ATP internalization and iATP elevation. We report that eATP increased iATP levels and promoted drug resistance to various tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) and chemo-drugs in human cancer cell lines of five cancer types. In A549 lung cancer cells, the resistance was downregulated by macropinocytosis inhibition or siRNA knockdown of PAK1, an essential macropinocytosis enzyme. The elevated iATP upregulated the efflux activity of ABC transporters in A549 and SK-Hep-1 cells as well as phosphorylation of PDGFRα and proteins in the PDGFR-mediated Akt-mTOR and Raf-MEK signaling pathways in A549 cells. Similar phosphorylation upregulations were found in A549 tumors. These results demonstrate that eATP induces different types of drug resistance by eATP internalization and iATP elevation, implicating the ATP-rich tumor microenvironment in cancer drug resistance, expanding our understanding of the roles of eATP in the Warburg effect and offering new anticancer drug resistance targets.
Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is a key enzyme of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS). ACE2 plays a critical counterbalancing role by degrading angiotensin II (Ang II) to Ang 1-7. Recent studies suggest that RAS influences tumor growth and development by its paracrine effects on the tumor microenvironment. Epithelial‑mesenchymal transition (EMT) is now thought to be a process that plays a fundamental role in tumor progression and metastasis. In the present study, we investigated the role of ACE2 in lung cancer metastasis and the mechanism of EMT. This is the first study to elucidate the mechanism through which the overexpression of ACE2 in the A549 lung cancer cell line decreases metastasis formation in vivo and upregulates the expression of E-cadherin both in vitro and in vivo. We also observed the downregulation of vimentin, which supports a role of ACE2 in influencing EMT in lung cancer. Further analysis indicated that ACE2 abrogated the upregulation of TGF-β1-induced EMT markers, such as vimentin and α-smooth muscle actin (αSMA) in vitro in A549 cells. Finally, exposing A549 cells stably expressing ACE2 to DX600, an inhibitor of ACE2, recovered the sensitivity of lung cancer cells to TGF-β1-mediated induction of EMT. Our study demonstrated that ACE2 attenuated the metastasis of lung cancer and may serve as a target for new strategies to inhibit EMT in cancer cells.
A new alkylated chalcone (1), a new 1,16-hexadecanediol diester (2), and eight known compounds, were isolated from a dichloromethane-soluble repository extract of the leaves and twigs of Cryptocarya rubra collected in Hawaii. The structures of the new compounds were determined by interpretation of their spectroscopic data, and the absolute configurations of the two known cryptocaryanone-type flavonoid dimers, (+)-bicaryanone A (3) and (+)-chalcocaryanone C (4), were ascertained by analysis of their electronic circular dichroism and NOESY NMR spectra. All compounds isolated were evaluated against HT-29 human colon cancer cells, and, of these, (+)-cryptocaryone (5) was found to be potently cytotoxic toward this cancer cell line, with an IC50 value of 0.32 µM. This compound also exhibited glucose transport inhibitory activity when tested in a glucose uptake assay.
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