The rapid proliferation of myeloid leukemia cells is highly dependent on increased glucose metabolism. Through an unbiased metabolomics analysis of leukemia cells, we found that the glycogenic precursor UDP-D-glucose is pervasively upregulated, despite low glycogen levels. Targeting the rate-limiting glycogen synthase 1 (GYS1) not only decreased glycolytic flux but also increased activation of the glycogen-responsive AMP kinase (AMPK), leading to significant growth suppression. Further, genetic and pharmacological hyper-activation of AMPK was sufficient to induce the changes observed with GYS1 targeting. Cancer genomics data also indicate that elevated levels of the glycogenic enzymes GYS1/2 or GBE1 (glycogen branching enzyme 1) are associated with poor survival in AML. These results suggest a novel mechanism whereby leukemic cells sustain aberrant proliferation by suppressing excess AMPK activity through elevated glycogenic flux and provide a therapeutic entry point for targeting leukemia cell metabolism.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine