Therapeutic failures in cancer therapy are often associated with metabolic plasticity. The use of metabolic modulators as anti-cancer agents has been effective in correcting metabolic alterations; however, molecular events behind metabolic switch are still largely unexplored. Herein, we characterize the molecular and functional events that follow prolonged oxidative phosphorylation inhibition by phenformin in order to study how melanoma cells adapt to this specific metabolic pressure. We show that melanoma cells cultured up to 3 months with high doses of phenformin (R-cells) are less viable and migrate and invade less than parental (S-) cells. Microarray analysis of R-melanoma cells reveals a switch in the energy production strategy accompanied by the modulation of several immunological-associated genes. R-cells display low oxygen consumption rate and high basal extracellular acidification rate. When treated with vemurafenib, R-cell viability, growth and extracellular signal-regulated kinase activation decrease. Finally, phenformin withdrawal reverts R-cells phenotype. In summary, our study provides an in vitro model of on-off metabolic switch in melanoma and reveals interesting molecular signatures controlling metabolic reprogramming in this tumour.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research