Loss of glycogen debranching enzyme AGL drives bladder tumor growth via induction of hyaluronic acid synthesis

Sunny Guin, Yuanbin Ru, Neeraj Agarwal, Carolyn R. Lew, Charles Owens, Giacomo P. Comi, Dan Theodorescu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: We demonstrated that amylo-alpha-1-6-glucosidase-4-alpha-glucanotransferase (AGL) is a tumor growth suppressor and prognostic marker in human bladder cancer. Here we determine how AGL loss enhances tumor growth, hoping to find therapeutically tractable targets/pathways that could be used in patients with low AGL-expressing tumors. Experimental Design: We transcriptionally profiled bladder cell lines with different AGL expression. By focusing on transcripts overexpressed as a function of low AGL and associated with adverse clinicopathologic variables in human bladder tumors, we sought to increase the chances of discovering novel therapeutic opportunities. Results: One such transcript was hyaluronic acid synthase 2 (HAS2), an enzyme responsible for hyaluronic acid (HA) synthesis. HAS2 expression was inversely proportional to that of AGL in bladder cancer cells and immortalized and normal urothelium. HAS2-driven HA synthesis was enhanced in bladder cancer cells with low AGL, and this drove anchorage-dependent and independent growth. siRNA-mediated depletion of HAS2 or inhibition of HA synthesis by 4-methylumbelliferone (4MU) abrogated in vitro and xenograft growth of bladder cancer cells with low AGL. AGL and HAS2 mRNA expression in human tumors was inversely correlated in patient datasets. Patients with high HAS2 and low AGL tumor mRNA expression had poor survival, lending clinical support to xenograft findings that HAS2 drives growth of tumors with low AGL. Conclusions: Our study establishes HAS2-mediated HA synthesis as a driver of growth of bladder cancer with low AGL and provides preclinical rationale for personalized targeting of HAS2/HA signaling in patients with low AGL-expressing tumors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1274-1283
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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