Inhibition of the hexosamine biosynthetic pathway promotes castration-resistant prostate cancer

Nat Commun. 2016 May 19;7:11612. doi: 10.1038/ncomms11612.


The precise molecular alterations driving castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) are not clearly understood. Using a novel network-based integrative approach, here, we show distinct alterations in the hexosamine biosynthetic pathway (HBP) to be critical for CRPC. Expression of HBP enzyme glucosamine-phosphate N-acetyltransferase 1 (GNPNAT1) is found to be significantly decreased in CRPC compared with localized prostate cancer (PCa). Genetic loss-of-function of GNPNAT1 in CRPC-like cells increases proliferation and aggressiveness, in vitro and in vivo. This is mediated by either activation of the PI3K-AKT pathway in cells expressing full-length androgen receptor (AR) or by specific protein 1 (SP1)-regulated expression of carbohydrate response element-binding protein (ChREBP) in cells containing AR-V7 variant. Strikingly, addition of the HBP metabolite UDP-N-acetylglucosamine (UDP-GlcNAc) to CRPC-like cells significantly decreases cell proliferation, both in-vitro and in animal studies, while also demonstrates additive efficacy when combined with enzalutamide in-vitro. These observations demonstrate the therapeutic value of targeting HBP in CRPC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Hexosamines / biosynthesis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, SCID
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Prostatic Neoplasms, Castration-Resistant / drug therapy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms, Castration-Resistant / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors
  • Hexosamines
  • MLXIPL protein, human
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt