Nucleus-exported CLOCK acetylates PRPS to promote de novo nucleotide synthesis and liver tumour growth

Nat Cell Biol. 2023 Feb;25(2):273-284. doi: 10.1038/s41556-022-01061-0. Epub 2023 Jan 16.


Impairment of the circadian clock is linked to cancer development. However, whether the circadian clock is modulated by oncogenic receptor tyrosine kinases remains unclear. Here we demonstrated that receptor tyrosine kinase activation promotes CK2-mediated CLOCK S106 phosphorylation and subsequent disassembly of the CLOCK-BMAL1 dimer and suppression of the downstream gene expression in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells. In addition, CLOCK S106 phosphorylation exposes its nuclear export signal to bind Exportin1 for nuclear exportation. Cytosolic CLOCK acetylates PRPS1/2 K29 and blocks HSC70-mediated and lysosome-dependent PRPS1/2 degradation. Stabilized PRPS1/2 promote de novo nucleotide synthesis and HCC cell proliferation and liver tumour growth. Furthermore, CLOCK S106 phosphorylation and PRPS1/2 K29 acetylation are positively correlated in human HCC specimens and with HCC poor prognosis. These findings delineate a critical mechanism by which oncogenic signalling inhibits canonical CLOCK transcriptional activity and simultaneously confers CLOCK with instrumental moonlighting functions to promote nucleotide synthesis and tumour growth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Nucleotides / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation


  • Nucleotides
  • CLOCK protein, human