Although cancer cells are frequently faced with a nutrient- and oxygen-poor microenvironment, elevated hexosaminebiosynthesis pathway (HBP) activity and protein O-GlcNAcylation (a nutrient sensor) contribute to rapid growth of tumor and are emerging hallmarks of cancer. Inhibiting O-GlcNAcylation could be a promising anticancer strategy. The gluconeogenic enzyme phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase 1 (PCK1) is downregulated in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, little is known about the potential role of PCK1 in enhanced HBP activity and HCC carcinogenesis under glucose-limited conditions. In this study, PCK1 knockout markedly enhanced the global O-GlcNAcylation levels under low-glucose conditions. Mechanistically, metabolic reprogramming in PCK1-loss hepatoma cells led to oxaloacetate accumulation and increased de novo uridine triphosphate synthesis contributing to uridine diphosphate-N-acetylglucosamine (UDP-GlcNAc) biosynthesis. Meanwhile, deletion of PCK1 also resulted in AMPK-GFAT1 axis inactivation, promoting UDP-GlcNAc synthesis for elevated OGlcNAcylation. Notably, lower expression of PCK1 promoted CHK2 threonine 378 O-GlcNAcylation, counteracting its stability and dimer formation, increasing CHK2-dependent Rb phosphorylation and HCC cell proliferation. Moreover, aminooxyacetic acid hemihydrochloride and 6-diazo-5-oxo-L-norleucine blocked HBP-mediated O-GlcNAcylation and suppressed tumor progression in liver-specific Pck1-knockout mice. We reveal a link between PCK1 depletion and hyper-O-GlcNAcylation that underlies HCC oncogenesis and suggest therapeutic targets for HCC that act by inhibiting O-GlcNAcylation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas