Therapeutic targeting of SPIB/SPI1-facilitated interplay of cancer cells and neutrophils inhibits aerobic glycolysis and cancer progression

Clin Transl Med. 2021 Nov;11(11):e588. doi: 10.1002/ctm2.588.


Background: As a metabolic reprogramming feature, cancer cells derive most of their energy from aerobic glycolysis, while its regulatory mechanisms and therapeutic strategies continue to be illusive.

Methods: Integrative analysis of publically available expression profile datasets was used to identify critical transcriptional regulators and their target glycolytic enzymes. The functions and acting mechanisms of transcriptional regulators in cancer cells were investigated by using in vitro and in vivo assays. The Kaplan-Meier curve and log-rank assay were used to conduct the survival study.

Results: Salmonella pathogenicity island 1 (SPI1/PU.1), a haematopoietic transcription factor, was identified to facilitate glycolytic process, tumourigenesis, invasiveness, as well as metastasis of colon cancer cells, which was interplayed by tumour-associated neutrophils. Mechanistically, neutrophils delivered SPI1 mRNA via extracellular vesicles, resulting in enhanced SPI1 expression of cancer cells. Through physical interaction with SPI1-related protein (SPIB), SPI1 drove expression of glycolytic genes within cancer cells, which in turn induced polarization of neutrophils via glycolytic metabolite lactate. Depletion of neutrophils or SPIB-SPI1 interaction in cancer cells significantly inhibited glycolytic process, tumourigenesis and aggressiveness. Upregulation of SPI1 or SPIB was found to be associated with poor prognosis in patients suffering from colon cancer.

Conclusions: Therapeutic targeting of SPIB/SPI1-facilitated interplay of cancerous cells and neutrophils suppresses aerobic glycolysis and progression of cancer.

Keywords: SPI1-related protein; Salmonella pathogenicity island 1; aerobic glycolysis; cancer progression; extracellular vesicles; neutrophil.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't