Mammalian glutaminase Gls2 gene encodes two functional alternative transcripts by a surrogate promoter usage mechanism.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Glutaminase is expressed in most mammalian tissues and cancer cells, but the regulation of its expression is poorly understood. An essential step to accomplish this goal is the characterization of its species- and cell-specific isoenzyme pattern of expression. Our aim was to identify and characterize transcript variants of the mammalian glutaminase Gls2 gene. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:We demonstrate for the first time simultaneous expression of two transcript variants from the Gls2 gene in human, rat and mouse. A combination of RT-PCR, primer-extension analysis, bioinformatics, real-time PCR, in vitro transcription and translation and immunoblot analysis was applied to investigate GLS2 transcripts in mammalian tissues. Short (LGA) and long (GAB) transcript forms were isolated in brain and liver tissue of human, rat and mouse. The short LGA transcript arises by a combination of two mechanisms of transcriptional modulation: alternative transcription initiation and alternative promoter. The LGA variant contains both the transcription start site (TSS) and the alternative promoter in the first intron of the Gls2 gene. The full human LGA transcript has two in-frame ATGs in the first exon, which are missing in orthologous rat and mouse transcripts. In vitro transcription and translation of human LGA yielded two polypeptides of the predicted size, but only the canonical full-length protein displayed catalytic activity. Relative abundance of GAB and LGA transcripts showed marked variations depending on species and tissues analyzed. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:This is the first report demonstrating expression of alternative transcripts of the mammalian Gls2 gene. Transcriptional mechanisms giving rise to GLS2 variants and isolation of novel GLS2 transcripts in human, rat and mouse are presented. Results were also confirmed at the protein level, where catalytic activity was demonstrated for the human LGA protein. Relative abundance of GAB and LGA transcripts was species- and tissue-specific providing evidence of a differential regulation of GLS2 transcripts in mammals.
Project description:Glutaminase, which converts glutamine to glutamate, is involved in Warburg effect in cancer cells. Two human glutaminase genes have been identified, GLS (GLS1) and GLS2. Two alternative transcripts arise from each glutaminase gene: first, the kidney isoform (KGA) and glutaminase C (GAC) for GLS; and, second, the liver isoform (LGA) and glutaminase B (GAB) for GLS2. While GLS1 is considered as a cancer therapeutic target, the potential role of GLS2 in cancer remains unclear. Here, we discovered a series of alkyl benzoquinones that preferentially inhibit glutaminase B isoform (GAB, GLS2) rather than the kidney isoform of glutaminase (KGA, GLS1). We identified amino acid residues in an allosteric binding pocket responsible for the selectivity. Treatment with the alkyl benzoquinones decreased intracellular glutaminase activity and glutamate levels. GLS2 inhibition by either alkyl benzoquinones or GLS2 siRNA reduced carcinoma cell proliferation and anchorage-independent colony formation, and induced autophagy via AMPK mediated mTORC1 inhibition. Our findings demonstrate amino acid sequences for selective inhibition of glutaminase isozymes and validate GLS2 as a potential anti-cancer target.
Project description:GLS-encoded glutaminase promotes tumorigenesis, while GLS2-encoded glutaminase displays tumor-suppressive properties. In glioblastoma (GBM), the most aggressive brain tumor, GLS is highly expressed and in most cases GLS2 is silenced. Previously, it was shown that transfection with a sequence encoding GAB, the main GLS2 isoform, decreased the survival, growth, and ability to migrate of human GBM cells T98G and increased their sensitivity towards an alkylating agent temozolomide (TMZ) and oxidative stress compared to the controls, by a not well-defined mechanism. In this study we report that GAB transfection inhibits growth and increases susceptibility towards TMZ and H?O?-mediated oxidative stress of two other GBM cell lines, U87MG and LN229. We also show that in GAB-transfected cells treated with H?O?, the PI3K/AKT pathway is less induced compared to the pcDNA-transfected counterparts and that pretreatment with PDGF-BB, an activator of AKT, protects GAB-transfected cells from death caused by the H?O? treatment. In conclusion, our results show that (i) GAB suppresses the malignant phenotype of the GBM cells of different tumorigenic potentials and genetic backgrounds and (ii) the GAB-mediated increase of sensitivity to oxidative stress is causally related to the inhibition of the PI3K/AKT pathway. The upregulation of the GLS2 expression and the inhibition of the PI3K/AKT pathway may become a novel combined therapeutic strategy for anti-glioma preclinical investigations.
Project description:Glutamine (Gln) metabolism, initiated by its degradation by glutaminases (GA), is elevated in neoplastic cells and tissues. In malignant glia-derived tumors, GA isoforms, KGA and GAC, coded by the GLS gene, are overexpressed, whereas the GLS2-coded GAB and LGA isoforms, are hardly detectable in there. Our previous study revealed that transfection of T98G glioblastoma cells with GAB reduced cell proliferation and migration, by a yet unknown mechanism not related to Gln degradation. The question arose how simultaneous overexpression of GAB and inhibition of KGA would affect glioblastoma cell growth. Here, we used siRNA to silence the expression of Gls in T98G cells which were or were not stably transfected with GAB (TGAB cells). In both T98G and TGAB cell lines, silencing of Gls with siRNAs targeted at different sequences decreased cell viability and proliferation in a different, sequence-dependent degree, and the observed decreases were in either cell line highly correlated with increase of intracellular Gln (r > 0.9), a parameter manifesting decreased Gln degradation. The results show that combination of negative modulation of GA isoforms arising from GLS gene with the introduction of the GLS2 gene product, GAB, may in the future provide a useful means to curb glioblastoma growth in situ. At the same time, the results underscore the critical role of Gln degradation mediated by KGA in the manifestations of aggressive glial tumor phenotype.
Project description:Many cancer cells exhibit an altered metabolic phenotype, in which glutamine consumption is upregulated relative to healthy cells. This metabolic reprogramming often depends upon mitochondrial glutaminase activity, which converts glutamine to glutamate, a key precursor for biosynthetic and bioenergetic processes. Two isozymes of glutaminase exist, a kidney-type (GLS) and a liver-type enzyme (GLS2 or LGA). While a majority of studies have focused on GLS, here we summarize key findings on both glutaminases, describing their structure and function, their roles in cancer and pharmacological approaches to inhibiting their activities.
Project description:Kidney-type glutaminase (GLS) and liver-type glutaminase (GLS2) are dysregulated in many cancers, making them appealing targets for cancer therapy. However, their use as prognostic biomarkers is controversial and remains an active area of cancer research. Here, we performed a systematic multiomic analysis to determine whether glutaminases function as prognostic biomarkers in human cancers. Glutaminase expression and methylation status were assessed and their prominent functional protein partners and correlated genes were identified using various web-based bioinformatics tools. The cross-cancer relationship of glutaminases with mutations and copy number alterations was also investigated. Gene ontology (GO) and pathway analysis were performed to assess the integrated effect of glutaminases and their correlated genes on various cancers. Subsequently, the prognostic roles of GLS and GLS2 in human cancers were mined using univariate and multivariate survival analyses. GLS was frequently over-expressed in breast, esophagus, head-and-neck, and blood cancers, and was associated with a poor prognosis, whereas GLS2 overexpression implied poor overall survival in colon, blood, ovarian, and thymoma cancers. Both GLS and GLS2 play oncogenic and anti-oncogenic roles depending on the type of cancer. The varying prognostic characteristics of glutaminases suggest that GLS and GLS2 expression differentially modulate the clinical outcomes of cancers.
Project description:The tumor suppressor p53 and its signaling pathway play a critical role in tumor prevention. As a direct p53 target gene, the role of glutaminase 2 (GLS2) in tumorigenesis is unclear. In this study, we found that GLS2 expression is significantly decreased in majority of human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Restoration of GLS2 expression in HCC cells inhibits the anchorage-independent growth of cells and reduces the growth of HCC xenograft tumors. Interestingly, we found that GLS2 negatively regulates the PI3K/AKT signaling, which is frequently activated in HCC. Blocking the PI3K/AKT signaling in HCC cells largely abolishes the inhibitory effect of GLS2 on the anchorage-independent cell growth and xenograft tumor growth. The GLS2 promoter is hypermethylated in majority of HCC samples. CpG methylation of GLS2 promoter inhibits GLS2 transcription, whereas reducing the methylation of GLS2 promoter induces GLS2 expression. Taken together, our results demonstrate that GLS2 plays an important role in tumor suppression in HCC, and the negative regulation of PI3K/AKT signaling contributes greatly to this function of GLS2. Furthermore, hypermethylation of GLS2 promoter is an important mechanism contributing to the decreased GLS2 expression in HCC.
Project description:Whereas cell cycle arrest, apoptosis, and senescence are traditionally thought of as the major functions of the tumor suppressor p53, recent studies revealed two unique functions for this protein: p53 regulates cellular energy metabolism and antioxidant defense mechanisms. Here, we identify glutaminase 2 (GLS2) as a previously uncharacterized p53 target gene to mediate these two functions of the p53 protein. GLS2 encodes a mitochondrial glutaminase catalyzing the hydrolysis of glutamine to glutamate. p53 increases the GLS2 expression under both nonstressed and stressed conditions. GLS2 regulates cellular energy metabolism by increasing production of glutamate and alpha-ketoglutarate, which in turn results in enhanced mitochondrial respiration and ATP generation. Furthermore, GLS2 regulates antioxidant defense function in cells by increasing reduced glutathione (GSH) levels and decreasing ROS levels, which in turn protects cells from oxidative stress (e.g., H(2)O(2))-induced apoptosis. Consistent with these functions of GLS2, the activation of p53 increases the levels of glutamate and alpha-ketoglutarate, mitochondrial respiration rate, and GSH levels and decreases reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels in cells. Furthermore, GLS2 expression is lost or greatly decreased in hepatocellular carcinomas and the overexpression of GLS2 greatly reduced tumor cell colony formation. These results demonstrated that as a unique p53 target gene, GLS2 is a mediator of p53's role in energy metabolism and antioxidant defense, which can contribute to its role in tumor suppression.
Project description:The transcription factor p63 is critical for many biological processes, including development and maintenance of epidermal tissues and tumorigenesis. Here, we report that the TAp63 isoforms regulate cell metabolism through the induction of the mitochondrial glutaminase 2 (GLS2) gene both in primary cells and tumor cell lines. By ChIP analysis and luciferase assay, we confirmed that TAp63 binds directly to the p53/p63 consensus DNA binding sequence within the GLS2 promoter region. Given the critical role of p63 in epidermal differentiation, we have investigated the regulation of GLS2 expression during this process. GLS2 and TAp63 expression increases during the in vitro differentiation of primary human keratinocytes, and depletion of GLS2 inhibits skin differentiation both at molecular and cellular levels. We found that GLS2 and TAp63 expression are concomitantly induced in cancer cells exposed to oxidative stresses. siRNA-mediated depletion of GLS2 sensitizes cells to ROS-induced apoptosis, suggesting that the TAp63/GLS2 axis can be functionally important as a cellular antioxidant pathway in the absence of p53. Accordingly, we found that GLS2 is upregulated in colon adenocarcinoma. Altogether, our findings demonstrate that GLS2 is a bona fide TAp63 target gene, and that the TAp63-dependent regulation of GLS2 is important for both physiological and pathological processes.
Project description:On the basis of tissue-specific enzyme activity and inhibition by catalytic products, Hans Krebs first demonstrated the existence of multiple glutaminases in mammals. Currently, two human genes are known to encode at least four glutaminase isoforms. However, the phylogeny of these medically relevant enzymes remains unclear, prompting us to investigate their origin and evolution. Using prokaryotic and eukaryotic glutaminase sequences, we built a phylogenetic tree whose topology suggested that the multidomain architecture was inherited from bacterial ancestors, probably simultaneously with the hosting of the proto-mitochondrion endosymbiont. We propose an evolutionary model wherein the appearance of the most active enzyme isoform, glutaminase C (GAC), which is expressed in many cancers, was a late retrotransposition event that occurred in fishes from the Chondrichthyes class. The ankyrin (ANK) repeats in the glutaminases were acquired early in their evolution. To obtain information on ANK folding, we solved two high-resolution structures of the ANK repeat-containing C termini of both kidney-type glutaminase (KGA) and GLS2 isoforms (glutaminase B and liver-type glutaminase). We found that the glutaminase ANK repeats form unique intramolecular contacts through two highly conserved motifs; curiously, this arrangement occludes a region usually involved in ANK-mediated protein-protein interactions. We also solved the crystal structure of full-length KGA and present a small-angle X-ray scattering model for full-length GLS2. These structures explain these proteins' compromised ability to assemble into catalytically active supra-tetrameric filaments, as previously shown for GAC. Collectively, these results provide information about glutaminases that may aid in the design of isoform-specific glutaminase inhibitors.
Project description:Glutaminase (GA) catalyzes the first step in mitochondrial glutaminolysis playing a key role in cancer metabolic reprogramming. Humans express two types of GA isoforms: GLS and GLS2. GLS isozymes have been consistently related to cell proliferation, but the role of GLS2 in cancer remains poorly understood. GLS2 is repressed in many tumor cells and a better understanding of its function in tumorigenesis may further the development of new therapeutic approaches. We analyzed GLS2 expression in HCC, GBM and neuroblastoma cells, as well as in monkey COS-7 cells. We studied GLS2 expression after induction of differentiation with phorbol ester (PMA) and transduction with the full-length cDNA of GLS2. In parallel, we investigated cell cycle progression and levels of p53, p21 and c-Myc proteins. Using the baculovirus system, human GLS2 protein was overexpressed, purified and analyzed for posttranslational modifications employing a proteomics LC-MS/MS platform. We have demonstrated a dual targeting of GLS2 in human cancer cells. Immunocytochemistry and subcellular fractionation gave consistent results demonstrating nuclear and mitochondrial locations, with the latter being predominant. Nuclear targeting was confirmed in cancer cells overexpressing c-Myc- and GFP-tagged GLS2 proteins. We assessed the subnuclear location finding a widespread distribution of GLS2 in the nucleoplasm without clear overlapping with specific nuclear substructures. GLS2 expression and nuclear accrual notably increased by treatment of SH-SY5Y cells with PMA and it correlated with cell cycle arrest at G2/M, upregulation of tumor suppressor p53 and p21 protein. A similar response was obtained by overexpression of GLS2 in T98G glioma cells, including downregulation of oncogene c-Myc. Furthermore, human GLS2 was identified as being hypusinated by MS analysis, a posttranslational modification which may be relevant for its nuclear targeting and/or function. Our studies provide evidence for a tumor suppressor role of GLS2 in certain types of cancer. The data imply that GLS2 can be regarded as a highly mobile and multilocalizing protein translocated to both mitochondria and nuclei. Upregulation of GLS2 in cancer cells induced an antiproliferative response with cell cycle arrest at the G2/M phase.