Glutamine to proline conversion is associated with response to glutaminase inhibition in breast cancer.
ABSTRACT: INTRODUCTION:Glutaminase inhibitors target cancer cells by blocking the conversion of glutamine to glutamate, thereby potentially interfering with anaplerosis and synthesis of amino acids and glutathione. The drug CB-839 has shown promising effects in preclinical experiments and is currently undergoing clinical trials in several human malignancies, including triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). However, response to glutaminase inhibitors is variable and there is a need for identification of predictive response biomarkers. The aim of this study was to determine how glutamine is utilized in two patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models of breast cancer representing luminal-like/ER+ (MAS98.06) and basal-like/triple-negative (MAS98.12) breast cancer and to explore the metabolic effects of CB-839 treatment. EXPERIMENTAL:MAS98.06 and MAS98.12 PDX mice received CB-839 (200?mg/kg) or drug vehicle two times daily p.o. for up to 28?days (n?=?5 per group), and the effect on tumor growth was evaluated. Expression of 60 genes and seven glutaminolysis key enzymes were determined using gene expression microarray analysis and immunohistochemistry (IHC), respectively, in untreated tumors. Uptake and conversion of glutamine were determined in the PDX models using HR MAS MRS after i.v. infusion of [5-13C] glutamine when the models had received CB-839 (200?mg/kg) or vehicle for 2 days (n?=?5 per group). RESULTS:Tumor growth measurements showed that CB-839 significantly inhibited tumor growth in MAS98.06 tumors, but not in MAS98.12 tumors. Gene expression and IHC analysis indicated a higher proline synthesis from glutamine in untreated MAS98.06 tumors. This was confirmed by HR MAS MRS of untreated tumors demonstrating that MAS98.06 used glutamine to produce proline, glutamate, and alanine, and MAS98.12 to produce glutamate and lactate. In both models, treatment with CB-839 resulted in accumulation of glutamine. In addition, CB-839 caused depletion of alanine, proline, and glutamate ([1-13C] glutamate) in the MAS98.06 model. CONCLUSION:Our findings indicate that TNBCs may not be universally sensitive to glutaminase inhibitors. The major difference in the metabolic fate of glutamine between responding MAS98.06 xenografts and non-responding MAS98.12 xenografts is the utilization of glutamine for production of proline. We therefore suggest that addiction to proline synthesis from glutamine is associated with response to CB-839 in breast cancer. The effect of glutaminase inhibition in two breast cancer patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models. 13C HR MAS MRS analysis of tumor tissue from CB-839-treated and untreated models receiving 13C-labeled glutamine ([5-13C] Gln) shows that the glutaminase inhibitor CB-839 is causing an accumulation of glutamine (arrow up) in two PDX models representing luminal-like breast cancer (MAS98.06) and basal-like breast cancer (MAS98.12). In MAS98.06 tumors, CB-839 is in addition causing depletion of proline ([5-13C] Pro), alanine ([1-13C] Ala), and glutamate ([1-13C] Glu), which could explain why CB-839 causes tumor growth inhibition in MAS98.06 tumors, but not in MAS98.12 tumors.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Glutamine serves as an important nutrient with many cancer types displaying glutamine dependence. Following cellular uptake glutamine is converted to glutamate in a reaction catalysed by mitochondrial glutaminase. This glutamate has many uses, including acting as an anaplerotic substrate (via alpha-ketoglutarate) to replenish TCA cycle intermediates. CB-839 is a potent, selective, orally bioavailable inhibitor of glutaminase that has activity in Triple receptor-Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) cell lines and evidence of efficacy in advanced TNBC patients. METHODS:A panel of eleven breast cancer cell lines was used to investigate the anti-proliferative effects of the glutaminase inhibitors CB-839 and BPTES in different types of culture medium, with or without additional pyruvate supplementation. The abundance of the TCA cycle intermediate fumarate was quantified as a measure if TCA cycle anaplerosis. Pyruvate secretion by TNBC cultures was then assessed with or without AZD3965, a monocarboxylate transporter 1 (MCT1) inhibitor. Finally, two dimensional (2D) monolayer and three dimensional (3D) spheroid assays were used to compare the effect of microenvironmental growth conditions on CB-839 activity. RESULTS:The anti-proliferative activity of CB-839 in a panel of breast cancer cell lines was similar to published reports, but with a major caveat; growth inhibition by CB-839 was strongly attenuated in culture medium containing pyruvate. This pyruvate-dependent attenuation was also observed with a related glutaminase inhibitor, BPTES. Studies demonstrated that exogenous pyruvate acted as an anaplerotic substrate preventing the decrease of fumarate in CB-839-treated conditions. Furthermore, endogenously produced pyruvate secreted by TNBC cell lines was able to act in a paracrine manner to significantly decrease the sensitivity of recipient cells to glutaminase inhibition. Suppression of pyruvate secretion using the MCT1 inhibitor AZD3965, antagonised this paracrine effect and increased CB-839 activity. Finally, CB-839 activity was significantly compromised in 3D compared with 2D TNBC culture models, suggesting that 3D microenvironmental features impair glutaminase inhibitor responsiveness. CONCLUSION:This study highlights the potential influence that both circulating and tumour-derived pyruvate can have on glutaminase inhibitor efficacy. Furthermore, it highlights the benefits of 3D spheroid cultures to model the features of the tumour microenvironment and improve the in vitro investigation of cancer metabolism-targeted therapeutics.
Project description:Triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs) lack progesterone and estrogen receptors and do not have amplified human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, the main therapeutic targets for managing breast cancer. TNBCs have an altered metabolism, including an increased Warburg effect and glutamine dependence, making the glutaminase inhibitor CB-839 therapeutically promising for this tumor type. Accordingly, CB-839 is currently in phase I/II clinical trials. However, not all TNBCs respond to CB-839 treatment, and the tumor resistance mechanism is not yet fully understood. Here we classified cell lines as CB-839-sensitive or -resistant according to their growth responses to CB-839. Compared with sensitive cells, resistant cells were less glutaminolytic and, upon CB-839 treatment, exhibited a smaller decrease in ATP content and less mitochondrial fragmentation, an indicator of poor mitochondrial health. Transcriptional analyses revealed that the expression levels of genes linked to lipid metabolism were altered between sensitive and resistant cells and between breast cancer tissues (available from The Cancer Genome Atlas project) with low versus high glutaminase (GLS) gene expression. Of note, CB-839-resistant TNBC cells had increased carnitine palmitoyltransferase 2 (CPT2) protein and CPT1 activity levels. In agreement, CB-839-resistant TNBC cells mobilized more fatty acids into mitochondria for oxidation, which responded to AMP-activated protein kinase and acetyl-CoA carboxylase signaling. Moreover, chemical inhibition of both glutaminase and CPT1 decreased cell proliferation and migration of CB-839-resistant cells compared with single inhibition of each enzyme. We propose that dual targeting of glutaminase and CPT1 activities may have therapeutic relevance for managing CB-839-resistant tumors.
Project description:Cancer cells employ glutaminolysis to provide a source of intermediates for their upregulated biosynthetic needs. Glutaminase, which catalyzes the conversion of glutamine to glutamate, is gaining increasing attention as a potential drug target. Small-molecule inhibitors such as BPTES and CB-839, which target the allosteric site of glutaminase with high specificity, demonstrate immense promise as anti-tumor drugs. Here, we report the study of a new BPTES analog, N,N'-(5,5'-(trans-cyclohexane-1,3-diyl)bis(1,3,4-tiadiazole-5,2-diyl))bis(2-phenylacetamide) (trans-CBTBP), and compared its inhibitory effect against that of CB-839 and BPTES. We show that CB-839 has a 30- and 50-fold lower IC50 than trans-CBTBP and BPTES, respectively. To explore the structural basis for the differences in their inhibitory efficacy, we solved the complex structures of cKGA with 1S, 3S-CBTBP and CB-839. We found that CB-839 produces a greater degree of interaction with cKGA than 1S, 3S-CBTBP or BPTES. The results of this study will facilitate the rational design of new KGA inhibitors to better treat glutamine-addicted cancers.
Project description:Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a blood cancer that is poorly responsive to conventional cytotoxic chemotherapy and a diagnosis of AML is usually fatal. More effective and better-tolerated therapies for AML are desperately needed. Activating mutations in FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) are one of the most frequently observed genetic defects in AML. FLT3 inhibitors have shown impressive anti-leukemic activity in clinical trials; however, sustained remissions using these inhibitors as monotherapy have not been achieved. Our previous studies have implicated impaired glutamine metabolism in response to FLT3 inhibitors as a dominant factor causing AML cell death. In this study, we have employed metabolic flux analysis to examine the effects of FLT3 inhibition on glutamine utilization in FLT3-mutated AML cells using stable isotope tracers. We found that the FLT3 inhibitor AC220 inhibited glutamine flux into the antioxidant factor glutathione profoundly due to defective glutamine import. We also found that the glutaminase inhibitor CB-839 similarly impaired glutathione production by effectively blocking flux of glutamine into glutamate. Moreover, the combination of AC220 with CB-839 synergized to deplete glutathione, induce mitochondrial reactive oxygen species, and cause loss of viability through apoptotic cell death. In vivo, glutaminase inhibition with CB-839 facilitated leukemic cell elimination by AC220 and improved survival significantly in a patient-derived xenograft AML mouse model. Therefore, targeting glutaminase in combination with FLT3 may represent an effective therapeutic strategy for improving treatment of FLT3-mutated AML.
Project description:Cancer cells exhibit increased use of nutrients, including glucose and glutamine, to support the bioenergetic and biosynthetic demands of proliferation. We tested the small-molecule inhibitor of glutaminase CB-839 in combination with erlotinib on epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutant non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) as a therapeutic strategy to simultaneously impair cancer glucose and glutamine utilization and thereby suppress tumor growth. Here, we show that CB-839 cooperates with erlotinib to drive energetic stress and activate the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) pathway in EGFR (del19) lung tumors. Tumor cells undergo metabolic crisis and cell death, resulting in rapid tumor regression in vivo in mouse NSCLC xenografts. Consistently, positron emission tomography (PET) imaging with 18F-fluoro-2-deoxyglucose (18F-FDG) and 11C-glutamine (11C-Gln) of xenografts indicated reduced glucose and glutamine uptake in tumors following treatment with CB-839 + erlotinib. Therefore, PET imaging with 18F-FDG and 11C-Gln tracers can be used to non-invasively measure metabolic response to CB-839 and erlotinib combination therapy.
Project description:Aberrant glutamatergic signaling has been implicated in altered metabolic activity in many cancer types, including malignant melanoma. Previously, we have illustrated the role of metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (GRM1) in neoplastic transformation of melanocytes in vitro and spontaneous metastatic melanoma in vivo. In this study, we showed that autocrine stimulation constitutively activates the GRM1 receptor and its downstream mitogenic signaling. GRM1-activated (GRM1+) melanomas exhibited significantly increased expression of glutaminase (GLS), which catalyzes the first step in the conversion of glutamine to glutamate. In cultured GRM1+ melanoma cell lines, CB-839, a potent, selective, and orally bioavailable inhibitor of GLS, suppressed cell proliferation, while riluzole, an inhibitor of glutamate release, promoted apoptotic cell death in vitro and in vivo. Combined treatment with CB-839 and riluzole treatment proved to be superior to single-agent treatment, restricting glutamate bioavailability and leading to effective suppression of tumor cell proliferation in vitro and tumor progression in vivo. Hyperactivation of GRM1 in malignant melanoma is an oncogenic driver, which acts independently of canonical melanoma proto-oncogenes, BRAF or NRAS. Overall, these results indicate that expression of GRM1 promotes a metabolic phenotype that supports increased glutamate production and autocrine glutamatergic signaling, which can be pharmacologically targeted by decreasing glutamate bioavailability and the GLS-dependent glutamine to glutamate conversion. SIGNIFICANCE: These findings demonstrate that targeting glutaminolytic glutamate bioavailability is an effective therapeutic strategy for GRM1-activated tumors.
Project description:Mitochondrial function is important for aspartate biosynthesis in proliferating cells. Here, we show that mitochondrial aspartate export via the aspartate-glutamate carrier 1 (AGC1) supports cell proliferation and cellular redox homeostasis. Insufficient cytosolic aspartate delivery leads to cell death when TCA cycle carbon is reduced following glutamine withdrawal and/or glutaminase inhibition. Moreover, loss of AGC1 reduces allograft tumor growth that is further compromised by treatment with the glutaminase inhibitor CB-839. Together, these findings argue that mitochondrial aspartate export sustains cell survival in low-glutamine environments and AGC1 inhibition can synergize with glutaminase inhibition to limit tumor growth.
Project description:The dependency of cancer cells on glutamine may be exploited therapeutically as a new strategy for treating cancers that lack druggable driver genes. Here we found that human liver cancer was dependent on extracellular glutamine. However, targeting glutamine addiction using the glutaminase inhibitor CB-839 as monotherapy had a very limited anticancer effect, even against the most glutamine addicted human liver cancer cells. Using a chemical library, we identified V-9302, a novel inhibitor of glutamine transporter ASCT2, as sensitizing glutamine dependent (GD) cells to CB-839 treatment. Mechanically, a combination of CB-839 and V-9302 depleted glutathione and induced reactive oxygen species (ROS), resulting in apoptosis of GD cells. Moreover, this combination also showed tumor inhibition in HCC xenograft mouse models in vivo. Our findings indicate that dual inhibition of glutamine metabolism by targeting both glutaminase and glutamine transporter ASCT2 represents a potential novel treatment strategy for glutamine addicted liver cancers.
Project description:Cancer cells require glutamine to adapt to increased biosynthetic activity. The limiting step in intracellular glutamine catabolism involves its conversion to glutamate by glutaminase (GA). Different GA isoforms are encoded by the genes GLS1 and GLS2 in humans. Herein, we show that glutamine levels control mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells. Glutaminase C (GAC) is the GA isoform that is most abundantly expressed in AML. Both knockdown of GLS1 expression and pharmacologic GLS1 inhibition by the drug CB-839 can reduce OXPHOS, leading to leukemic cell proliferation arrest and apoptosis without causing cytotoxic activity against normal human CD34(+) progenitors. Strikingly, GLS1 knockdown dramatically inhibited AML development in NSG mice. The antileukemic activity of CB-839 was abrogated by both the expression of a hyperactive GAC(K320A) allele and the addition of the tricarboxyclic acid cycle product ?-ketoglutarate, indicating the critical function of GLS1 in AML cell survival. Finally, glutaminolysis inhibition activated mitochondrial apoptosis and synergistically sensitized leukemic cells to priming with the BCL-2 inhibitor ABT-199. These findings show that targeting glutamine addiction via GLS1 inhibition offers a potential novel therapeutic strategy for AML.