Defense Date

2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Biochemistry

First Advisor

Xianjun Fang

Abstract

The simplest phospholipid, lysophosphatidic acid (LPA), is a heat stable component of serum known for its proliferative and migratory activities in cancer cells. Strong evidence suggests that LPA production and expression of its receptors are dysregulated in multiple human malignancies. The mechanism behind LPA-mediated tumor cell growth and oncogenesis remains poorly understood. In this thesis project I used ovarian and other cancer cells as a model system to examine the hypothesis that LPA present in the tumor microenvironment is a pathophysiological determinant of hyperactive de novo lipogenesis and aerobic glycolysis, two hallmarks of cancer cells. We demonstrated that LPA induced proteolytic activation of sterol regulatory element binding proteins (SREBPs) in a cancer specific manner, leading to activation of the SREBP-FAS (fatty acid synthase) lipogenic pathway. Treatment of cancer cell lines with LPA also led to dephosphorylation and inhibition of AMP-activated kinase (AMPK), thereby activating acetyl CoA carboxylase (ACC). Moreover, these effects of LPA were mediated by LPA2, a receptor subtype overexpressed in multiple cancers, providing an explanation for the cancer specific regulation of FAS and ACC by LPA. Downstream of the LPA2 receptor, we identified the Gα12-Rho-Rock pathway to activate SREBPs and the Gαq-PLC (phospholipase C) pathway to inactivate AMPK. Consistent with LPA mediated activation of the key lipogenic enzymes FAS and ACC, LPA stimulated de novo lipid synthesis via LPA2, leading to accumulation of intracellular triacylglycerol and phospholipids. Pharmacological and molecular inhibition of LPA2, FAS or ACC attenuated LPA-dependent cell proliferation, indicating that upregulation of lipid synthesis is an integral component of the proliferative response to LPA. In further support of this, downregulation of LPA2 expression led to dramatic inhibition of anchorage-dependent and –independent growth of ovarian cancer cells. To support increased biomass generation, rapidly proliferating cancer cells enhance carbon influx by activating glycolysis. In the next part of the study, we investigated if LPA signaling was also involved in activating aerobic glycolysis in cancer cells. LPA indeed activated glycolysis in ovarian and other cancer cells but failed to elicit this response in non-transformed cells, suggesting a cancer specific role of LPA in regulation of glucose metabolism. While LPA had no effect on glucose uptake, we found that LPA altered expression of multiple genes involved in glucose metabolism. The most significant observation was that LPA treatment dramatically upregulated expression of HK-2, one of the rate-limiting glycolytic enzymes. We explored the underlying mechanism and found that LPA activates HK-2 transcription through LPA2-mediated activation of SREBP-1. Two sterol regulator elements (SREs) on the human HK-2 promoter were identified to be responsible for LPA activation of the promoter. DNA pulldown and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays confirmed that SREBP-1 bound to these SREs in LPA-treated cells. Although in ovarian cancer cells, LPA treatment also stabilized Hif-1α protein, an established activator of HK-2 and glycolysis, LPA-regulated HK-2 expression and glycolysis was largely independent of Hif-1α. These results established that LPA stimulates glycolysis via the LPA2-SREBP-HK-2 cascade in neoplastic cells. Taken together, this dissertation provides the first evidence for regulation of cancer cell metabolism by LPA. The results indicate that LPA signaling is causally linked to lipogenic and glycolytic phenotypes of cancer cells. Therefore, targeting the key LPA2 receptor could offer a novel and innovative approach to blocking tumor-specific metabolism.

Rights

© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

8-10-2012

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