Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), a malignancy arising across multiple anatomical sites, is responsible for significant cancer mortality due to insufficient therapeutic options. Here, we identify exceptional glucose reliance among SCCs dictated by hyperactive GLUT1-mediated glucose influx. Mechanistically, squamous lineage transcription factors p63 and SOX2 transactivate the intronic enhancer cluster of SLC2A1. Elevated glucose influx fuels generation of NADPH and GSH, thereby heightening the anti-oxidative capacity in SCC tumors. Systemic glucose restriction by ketogenic diet and inhibiting renal glucose reabsorption with SGLT2 inhibitor precipitate intratumoral oxidative stress and tumor growth inhibition. Furthermore, reduction of blood glucose lowers blood insulin levels, which suppresses PI3K/AKT signaling in SCC cells. Clinically, we demonstrate a robust correlation between blood glucose concentration and worse survival among SCC patients. Collectively, this study identifies the exceptional glucose reliance of SCC and suggests its candidacy as a highly vulnerable cancer type to be targeted by systemic glucose restriction. Hsieh et al. show that p63 and SOX2 cooperate to induce enhanced GLUT1 expression, driving a critical reliance on glucose, in squamous cell carcinomas. Systemic glucose restriction by ketogenic diet or SGLT2 inhibition attenuates squamous tumor progression by disrupting redox homeostasis and insulin/AKT pathways in vivo.
- glucose restriction
- ketogenic diet
- squamous cell carcinoma
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)