Background: Rewiring of metabolism induced by oncogenic K-Ras in cancer cells involves both glucose and glutamine utilization sustaining enhanced, unrestricted growth. The development of effective anti-cancer treatments targeting metabolism may be facilitated by the identification and rational combinatorial targeting of metabolic pathways.
Methods: We performed mass spectrometric metabolomics analysis in vitro and in vivo experiments to evaluate the efficacy of drugs and identify metabolic connectivity.
Results: We show that K-Ras-mutant lung and colon cancer cells exhibit a distinct metabolic rewiring, the latter being more dependent on respiration. Combined treatment with the glutaminase inhibitor CB-839 and the PI3K/aldolase inhibitor NVP-BKM120 more consistently reduces cell growth of tumor xenografts. Maximal growth inhibition correlates with the disruption of redox homeostasis, involving loss of reduced glutathione regeneration, redox cofactors, and a decreased connectivity among metabolites primarily involved in nucleic acid metabolism.
Conclusions: Our findings open the way to develop metabolic connectivity profiling as a tool for a selective strategy of combined drug repositioning in precision oncology.