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      The Nutrient-Sensing Hexosamine Biosynthetic Pathway as the Hub of Cancer Metabolic Rewiring


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          Alterations in glucose and glutamine utilizing pathways and in fatty acid metabolism are currently considered the most significant and prevalent metabolic changes observed in almost all types of tumors. Glucose, glutamine and fatty acids are the substrates for the hexosamine biosynthetic pathway (HBP). This metabolic pathway generates the “sensing molecule” UDP- N-Acetylglucosamine (UDP-Glc NAc). UDP-Glc NAc is the substrate for the enzymes involved in protein N- and O-glycosylation, two important post-translational modifications (PTMs) identified in several proteins localized in the extracellular space, on the cell membrane and in the cytoplasm, nucleus and mitochondria. Since protein glycosylation controls several key aspects of cell physiology, aberrant protein glycosylation has been associated with different human diseases, including cancer. Here we review recent evidence indicating the tight association between the HBP flux and cell metabolism, with particular emphasis on the post-transcriptional and transcriptional mechanisms regulated by the HBP that may cause the metabolic rewiring observed in cancer. We describe the implications of both protein O- and N-glycosylation in cancer cell metabolism and bioenergetics; focusing our attention on the effect of these PTMs on nutrient transport and on the transcriptional regulation and function of cancer-specific metabolic pathways.

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          Oncogenic Kras Maintains Pancreatic Tumors through Regulation of Anabolic Glucose Metabolism

          Tumor maintenance relies on continued activity of driver oncogenes, although their rate-limiting role is highly context dependent. Oncogenic Kras mutation is the signature event in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), serving a critical role in tumor initiation. Here, an inducible Kras(G12D)-driven PDAC mouse model establishes that advanced PDAC remains strictly dependent on Kras(G12D) expression. Transcriptome and metabolomic analyses indicate that Kras(G12D) serves a vital role in controlling tumor metabolism through stimulation of glucose uptake and channeling of glucose intermediates into the hexosamine biosynthesis and pentose phosphate pathways (PPP). These studies also reveal that oncogenic Kras promotes ribose biogenesis. Unlike canonical models, we demonstrate that Kras(G12D) drives glycolysis intermediates into the nonoxidative PPP, thereby decoupling ribose biogenesis from NADP/NADPH-mediated redox control. Together, this work provides in vivo mechanistic insights into how oncogenic Kras promotes metabolic reprogramming in native tumors and illuminates potential metabolic targets that can be exploited for therapeutic benefit in PDAC. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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            Mitochondria and Cancer.

            Decades ago, Otto Warburg observed that cancers ferment glucose in the presence of oxygen, suggesting that defects in mitochondrial respiration may be the underlying cause of cancer. We now know that the genetic events that drive aberrant cancer cell proliferation also alter biochemical metabolism, including promoting aerobic glycolysis, but do not typically impair mitochondrial function. Mitochondria supply energy; provide building blocks for new cells; and control redox homeostasis, oncogenic signaling, innate immunity, and apoptosis. Indeed, mitochondrial biogenesis and quality control are often upregulated in cancers. While some cancers have mutations in nuclear-encoded mitochondrial tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle enzymes that produce oncogenic metabolites, there is negative selection for pathogenic mitochondrial genome mutations. Eliminating mtDNA limits tumorigenesis, and rare human tumors with mutant mitochondrial genomes are relatively benign. Thus, mitochondria play a central and multifunctional role in malignant tumor progression, and targeting mitochondria provides therapeutic opportunities.
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              Cross talk between O-GlcNAcylation and phosphorylation: roles in signaling, transcription, and chronic disease.

              O-GlcNAcylation is the addition of β-D-N-acetylglucosamine to serine or threonine residues of nuclear and cytoplasmic proteins. O-linked N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) was not discovered until the early 1980s and still remains difficult to detect and quantify. Nonetheless, O-GlcNAc is highly abundant and cycles on proteins with a timescale similar to protein phosphorylation. O-GlcNAc occurs in organisms ranging from some bacteria to protozoans and metazoans, including plants and nematodes up the evolutionary tree to man. O-GlcNAcylation is mostly on nuclear proteins, but it occurs in all intracellular compartments, including mitochondria. Recent glycomic analyses have shown that O-GlcNAcylation has surprisingly extensive cross talk with phosphorylation, where it serves as a nutrient/stress sensor to modulate signaling, transcription, and cytoskeletal functions. Abnormal amounts of O-GlcNAcylation underlie the etiology of insulin resistance and glucose toxicity in diabetes, and this type of modification plays a direct role in neurodegenerative disease. Many oncogenic proteins and tumor suppressor proteins are also regulated by O-GlcNAcylation. Current data justify extensive efforts toward a better understanding of this invisible, yet abundant, modification. As tools for the study of O-GlcNAc become more facile and available, exponential growth in this area of research will eventually take place.

                Author and article information

                02 June 2018
                June 2018
                : 7
                : 6
                : 53
                Department of Biotechnology and Biosciences, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan 20126, Italy; francesca.ricciardiello@ 123456unimib.it (F.R.); roberta.palorini@ 123456unimib.it (R.P.)
                Author notes
                [* ]Corresponding: ferdinando.chiaradonna@ 123456unimib.it ; Tel.: +39-0264483526
                Author information
                © 2018 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

                : 30 April 2018
                : 31 May 2018

                hexosamine biosynthesis pathway,udp-glcnac,protein glycosylation,metabolism,bioenergetics,cancer


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