Forcing ATGL expression in hepatocarcinoma cells imposes glycolytic rewiring through PPAR-α/p300-mediated acetylation of p53

Luca Di Leo, Rolando Vegliante, Fabio Ciccarone, Illari Salvatori, Manuel Scimeca, Elena Bonanno, Andrea Sagnotta, Gian Luca Grazi, Katia Aquilano, Maria Rosa Ciriolo

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Metabolic reprogramming is a typical feature of cancer cells aimed at sustaining high-energetic demand and proliferation rate. Here, we report clear-cut evidence for decreased expression of the adipose triglyceride lipase (ATGL), the first and rate-limiting enzyme of triglyceride hydrolysis, in both human and mouse-induced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We identified metabolic rewiring as major outcome of ATGL overexpression in HCC-derived cell lines. Indeed, ATGL slackened both glucose uptake/utilization and cell proliferation in parallel with increased oxidative metabolism of fatty acids and enhanced mitochondria capacity. We ascribed these ATGL—downstream events to the activity of the tumor-suppressor p53, whose protein levels—but not transcript—were upregulated upon ATGL overexpression. The role of p53 was further assessed by abrogation of the ATGL-mediated effects upon p53 silencing or in p53-null hepatocarcinoma Hep3B cells. Furthermore, we provided insights on the molecular mechanisms governed by ATGL in HCC cells, identifying a new PPAR-α/p300 axis responsible for p53 acetylation/accumulation. Finally, we highlighted that ATGL levels confer different susceptibility of HCC cells to common therapeutic drugs, with ATGL overexpressing cells being more resistant to glycolysis inhibitors (e.g., 2-deoxyglucose and 3-bromopyruvate), compared to genotoxic compounds. Collectively, our data provide evidence for a previously uncovered tumor-suppressor function of ATGL in HCC, with the outlined molecular mechanisms shedding light on new potential targets for anticancer therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research

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