The hexosamine biosynthesis pathway is a targetable liability in lung cancers with concurrent KRAS and LKB1 mutations.

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
J. KimRalph J DeBerardinis

Abstract

In non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), concurrent mutations in the oncogene KRAS and the tumor suppressor STK11 encoding the kinase LKB1 result in aggressive tumors prone to metastasis but with liabilities arising from reprogrammed metabolism. We previously demonstrated perturbed nitrogen metabolism and addiction to an unconventional pathway of pyrimidine synthesis in KRAS/LKB1 co-mutant (KL) cancer cells. To gain broader insight into metabolic reprogramming in NSCLC, we analyzed tumor metabolomes in a series of genetically engineered mouse models with oncogenic KRAS combined with mutations in LKB1 or p53. Metabolomics and gene expression profiling pointed towards an activation of the hexosamine biosynthesis pathway (HBP), another nitrogen-related metabolic pathway, in both mouse and human KL mutant tumors. KL cells contain high levels of HBP metabolites, higher flux through the HBP pathway and elevated dependence on the HBP enzyme Glutamine-Fructose-6-Phosphate Transaminase 2 (GFPT2). GFPT2 inhibition selectively reduced KL cell growth in culture and xenografts. Our results define a new metabolic vulnerability in KL tumors and provide a rationale for targeting GFPT2 in this aggressive NSCLC subtype.

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