Eukaryotic translation initiation factor 5A2 promotes metabolic reprogramming in hepatocellular carcinoma cells

Carcinogenesis. 2017 Jan;38(1):94-104. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgw119. Epub 2016 Nov 22.


Reprogramming of intracellular metabolism is common in liver cancer cells. Understanding the mechanisms of cell metabolic reprogramming may present a new basis for liver cancer treatment. In our previous study, we reported that a novel oncogene eukaryotic translation initiation factor 5A2 (EIF5A2) promotes tumorigenesis under hypoxic condition. Here, we aim to investigate the role of EIF5A2 in cell metabolic reprogramming during hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development. In this study, we reported that the messenger RNA (mRNA) level of EIF5A2 was upregulated in 59 of 105 (56.2%) HCC clinical samples (P = 0.015), and EIF5A2 overexpression was significantly associated with shorter survival time of patients with HCC (P = 0.021). Ectopic expression of EIF5A2 in HCC cell lines significantly promoted cell growth and accelerated glucose utilization and lipogenesis rates. The high rates of glucose uptake and lactate secretion conferred by EIF5A2 revealed an abnormal activity of aerobic glycolysis in HCC cells. Several key enzymes involved in glycolysis including glucose transporter type 1 and 2, hexokinase 2, phosphofructokinase liver type, glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase, pyruvate kinase M2 isoform, phosphoglycerate mutase 1 and lactate dehydrogenase A were upregulated by overexpression of EIF5A2. Moreover, EIF5A2 showed positive correlations with FASN and ACSS2, two key enzymes involved in the fatty acid de novo biosynthetic pathway, at both protein and mRNA levels in HCC. These results indicated that EIF5A2 may regulate fatty acid de novo biosynthesis by increasing the uptake of acetate. In conclusion, our findings demonstrate that EIF5A2 has a critical role in HCC cell metabolic reprogramming and may serve as a prominent novel therapeutic target for liver cancer treatment.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cellular Reprogramming
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glycolysis
  • Humans
  • Lipogenesis*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Neoplasms / genetics
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Peptide Initiation Factors / genetics
  • Peptide Initiation Factors / metabolism*
  • Prognosis
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Survival Rate


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Peptide Initiation Factors
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • eukaryotic translation initiation factor 5A
  • Glucose