Tissue of origin dictates GOT1 dependence and confers synthetic lethality to radiotherapy

Cancer Metab. 2020 Jan 2;8:1. doi: 10.1186/s40170-019-0202-2. eCollection 2020.


Background: Metabolic programs in cancer cells are influenced by genotype and the tissue of origin. We have previously shown that central carbon metabolism is rewired in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) to support proliferation through a glutamate oxaloacetate transaminase 1 (GOT1)-dependent pathway.

Methods: We utilized a doxycycline-inducible shRNA-mediated strategy to knockdown GOT1 in PDA and colorectal cancer (CRC) cell lines and tumor models of similar genotype. These cells were analyzed for the ability to form colonies and tumors to test if tissue type impacted GOT1 dependence. Additionally, the ability of GOT1 to impact the response to chemo- and radiotherapy was assessed. Mechanistically, the associated specimens were examined using a combination of steady-state and stable isotope tracing metabolomics strategies and computational modeling. Statistics were calculated using GraphPad Prism 7. One-way ANOVA was performed for experiments comparing multiple groups with one changing variable. Student's t test (unpaired, two-tailed) was performed when comparing two groups to each other. Metabolomics data comparing three PDA and three CRC cell lines were analyzed by performing Student's t test (unpaired, two-tailed) between all PDA metabolites and CRC metabolites.

Results: While PDA exhibits profound growth inhibition upon GOT1 knockdown, we found CRC to be insensitive. In PDA, but not CRC, GOT1 inhibition disrupted glycolysis, nucleotide metabolism, and redox homeostasis. These insights were leveraged in PDA, where we demonstrate that radiotherapy potently enhanced the effect of GOT1 inhibition on tumor growth.

Conclusions: Taken together, these results illustrate the role of tissue type in dictating metabolic dependencies and provide new insights for targeting metabolism to treat PDA.

Keywords: CRC; Colorectal cancer; Fluxomics; Metabolomics; NADPH; PDA; Pancreatic cancer; Redox; Stable isotope tracing.