Dynamic protein deacetylation is a limited carbon source for acetyl-CoA-dependent metabolism

J Biol Chem. 2023 May 2;104772. doi: 10.1016/j.jbc.2023.104772. Online ahead of print.


The ability of cells to store and rapidly mobilize energy reserves in response to nutrient availability is essential for survival. Breakdown of carbon stores produces acetyl-coenzyme-A (AcCoA), which fuels essential metabolic pathways and is also the acyl donor for protein lysine acetylation. Histones are abundant and highly acetylated proteins, accounting for 40% - 75% of cellular protein acetylation. Notably, histone acetylation is sensitive to AcCoA availability and nutrient replete conditions induce a substantial accumulation of acetylation on histones. Deacetylation releases acetate, which can be recycled to AcCoA, suggesting that deacetylation could be mobilized as an AcCoA source to feed downstream metabolic processes under nutrient depletion. While the notion of histones as a metabolic reservoir has been frequently proposed, experimental evidence has been lacking. Therefore, to test this concept directly, we used acetate-dependent ATP citrate lyase-deficient fibroblasts (Acly-/- MEFs) and designed a pulse-chase experimental system to trace deacetylation-derived acetate and its incorporation into AcCoA. We found that dynamic protein deacetylation in Acly-/- MEFs contributed carbons to AcCoA and proximal downstream metabolites. However, deacetylation had no significant effect on acyl-CoA pool sizes, and even at maximal acetylation, deacetylation transiently supplied less than 10% of cellular AcCoA. Together, our data reveal that although histone acetylation is dynamic and nutrient-sensitive, its potential for maintaining cellular AcCoA-dependent metabolic pathways is limited compared to cellular demand.

Keywords: Acetylation; acetate; acetyl-coenzyme A; histone; metabolism; stable isotope tracing.