Argininosuccinate synthetase 1 (ASS1) is the rate-limiting enzyme that catalyzes the biosynthesis of arginine (Arg). Many malignant human tumors are auxotrophic for Arg because ASS1 is silenced. ASS1 has been established as a sensor of Arg auxotrophic response and a chemosensitivity marker for Arg starvation therapy. Here, we report that ASS1 is also a sensor for glutamine (Gln)-deprivation response, and that upregulation of ASS1 expression is associated with resistance to Gln-starvation treatments. Knockdown of ASS1 expression resulted in increased sensitivity to both Arg- and Gln-starvation, whereas increased ASS1 expression by ectopic transfection is associated with resistance to both Arg- and Gln-starvation. The addition of permeable fumarate, a metabolite that bridges the tricarboxylic acid and urea cycles, resulted in downregulation of ASS1 expression and increased sensitivity to both Arg- and Gln-deprivation treatments. Mechanistically, the Gln-deprivation response, like the arginine-auxotrophic response, downregulates HIF-1α resulting in de-silencing of ASS1. Our results demonstrate that ASS1 is a common biosensor for Arg and Gln deprivation response and a shared target for Arg- and Gln-starvation therapies which have been in several current clinical trials.
Keywords: ADI-PEG20; ASS1; Arginine-starvation therapy; Glutamine-starvation therapy; HIF-1alpha and c-Myc.
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