Although cancer cells are frequently faced with a nutrient- and oxygen-poor microenvironment, elevated hexosamine-biosynthesis pathway (HBP) activity and protein O-GlcNAcylation (a nutrient sensor) contribute to rapid growth of tumor and are emerging hallmarks of cancer. Inhibiting O-GlcNAcylation could be a promising anticancer strategy. The gluconeogenic enzyme phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase 1 (PCK1) is downregulated in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, little is known about the potential role of PCK1 in enhanced HBP activity and HCC carcinogenesis under glucose-limited conditions. In this study, PCK1 knockout markedly enhanced the global O-GlcNAcylation levels under low-glucose conditions. Mechanistically, metabolic reprogramming in PCK1-loss hepatoma cells led to oxaloacetate accumulation and increased de novo uridine triphosphate synthesis contributing to uridine diphosphate-N-acetylglucosamine (UDP-GlcNAc) biosynthesis. Meanwhile, deletion of PCK1 also resulted in AMPK-GFAT1 axis inactivation, promoting UDP-GlcNAc synthesis for elevated O-GlcNAcylation. Notably, lower expression of PCK1 promoted CHK2 threonine 378 O-GlcNAcylation, counteracting its stability and dimer formation, increasing CHK2-dependent Rb phosphorylation and HCC cell proliferation. Moreover, aminooxyacetic acid hemihydrochloride and 6-diazo-5-oxo-L-norleucine blocked HBP-mediated O-GlcNAcylation and suppressed tumor progression in liver-specific Pck1-knockout mice. We reveal a link between PCK1 depletion and hyper-O-GlcNAcylation that underlies HCC oncogenesis and suggest therapeutic targets for HCC that act by inhibiting O-GlcNAcylation.
Jin Xiang, Chang Chen, Rui Liu, Dongmei Gou, Lei Chang, Haijun Deng, Qingzhu Gao, Wanjun Zhang, Lin Tuo, Xuanming Pan, Li Liang, Jie Xia, Luyi Huang, Ke Yao, Bohong Wang, Zeping Hu, Ailong Huang, Kai Wang, Ni Tang