Protein arginine methyltransferase 3 promotes glycolysis and hepatocellular carcinoma growth by enhancing arginine methylation of lactate dehydrogenase A

Clin Transl Med. 2022 Jan;12(1):e686. doi: 10.1002/ctm2.686.


Background: Protein arginine methylation has emerged a pivotal role in cancer progression. However, the role of protein arginine methyltransferase 3 (PRMT3) in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains unknown.

Methods: The expression pattern of PRMT3 in HCC was analysed using quantitative real-time-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR), Western blotting and immunohistochemistry assays. Loss- and gain-of-function experiments were carried out to determine the oncogenic role of PRMT3 in HCC. Glucose consumption and lactate production assays, seahorse bioscience, mass spectrometry, co-immunoprecipitation, metabonomic analysis and site-specific mutation experiments were used to explore the underlying molecular mechanisms. Furthermore, a xenograft mouse model was established to investigate the effects of PRMT3 and its inhibitor, SGC707, treatment on tumour growth in vivo.

Results: The expression of PRMT3 was significantly upregulated in HCC, with high expression of which correlated with poor prognosis. PRMT3 knockdown led to the decrease in proliferation, glycolysis of HCC cells and tumour growth, whilst its overexpression showed opposite results. The catalytic activity of PRMT3 was important in mediating these biological processes. Mechanistically, our data showed that PRMT3 interacted with and mediated asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA) modification of lactate dehydrogenase A (LDHA) at arginine 112 (R112). Compared with LDHA-wild-type (LDHA-WT) cells, LDHA-R112K-mutant-expressing HCC cells exhibited a decrease in lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) activity, HCC cell glycolysis and proliferation. Furthermore, the administration of SGC707, a selective inhibitor of PRMT3, disrupted the PRMT3-mediated LDHA methylation and abolished PRMT3-induced HCC glycolysis and tumour growth.

Conclusions: Our results suggested a novel oncogenic role of PRMT3 in HCC, and it could be a promising therapeutic target for HCC by linking post-translational modification and cancer metabolism.

Keywords: glycolysis; hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC); lactate dehydrogenase A (LDHA); protein arginine methyltransferase 3 (PRMT3).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / drug therapy*
  • Cell Line, Tumor / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor / metabolism
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • China
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Glycolysis / drug effects*
  • Histology / instrumentation
  • Histology / trends
  • Humans
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase / pharmacology*
  • Liver Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Methylation / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Protein-Arginine N-Methyltransferases / metabolism
  • Protein-Arginine N-Methyltransferases / pharmacology*


  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase
  • LDHA protein, human
  • PRMT3 protein, human
  • Protein-Arginine N-Methyltransferases