The distinct metabolic phenotype of lung squamous cell carcinoma defines selective vulnerability to glycolytic inhibition

Justin Goodwin, Michael L. Neugent, Shin Yup Lee, Joshua H. Choe, Hyunsung Choi, Dana M.R.J. Enkins, Robin J. Ruthenborg, Maddox W. Robinson, Ji Yun Jeong, Masaki Wake, Hajime Abe, Norihiko Takeda, Hiroko Endo, Masahiro Inoue, Zhenyu Xuan, Hyuntae Yoo, Min Chen, Jung Mo Ahn, John D. Minna, Kristi L. HelkePankaj K. Singh, David B. Shackelford, Jung Whan Kim

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46 Scopus citations


Adenocarcinoma (ADC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SqCC) are the two predominant subtypes of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and are distinct in their histological, molecular and clinical presentation. However, metabolic signatures specific to individual NSCLC subtypes remain unknown. Here, we perform an integrative analysis of human NSCLC tumour samples, patient-derived xenografts, murine model of NSCLC, NSCLC cell lines and The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and reveal a markedly elevated expression of the GLUT1 glucose transporter in lung SqCC, which augments glucose uptake and glycolytic flux. We show that a critical reliance on glycolysis renders lung SqCC vulnerable to glycolytic inhibition, while lung ADC exhibits significant glucose independence. Clinically, elevated GLUT1-mediated glycolysis in lung SqCC strongly correlates with high 18 F-FDG uptake and poor prognosis. This previously undescribed metabolic heterogeneity of NSCLC subtypes implicates significant potential for the development of diagnostic, prognostic and targeted therapeutic strategies for lung SqCC, a cancer for which existing therapeutic options are clinically insufficient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number15503
JournalNature Communications
StatePublished - May 26 2017


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

Cite this

Goodwin, J., Neugent, M. L., Lee, S. Y., Choe, J. H., Choi, H., Enkins, D. M. R. J., Ruthenborg, R. J., Robinson, M. W., Jeong, J. Y., Wake, M., Abe, H., Takeda, N., Endo, H., Inoue, M., Xuan, Z., Yoo, H., Chen, M., Ahn, J. M., Minna, J. D., ... Kim, J. W. (2017). The distinct metabolic phenotype of lung squamous cell carcinoma defines selective vulnerability to glycolytic inhibition. Nature Communications, 8, [15503].