Fatty acid synthase (FASN), the key enzyme in de novo lipogenesis, is significantly upregulated and activated in many carcinomas, including breast cancer. Pharmacological inhibition of FASN induces apoptosis of FASN expressing cancer cells. However, the mechanism is still unclear. Inhibition of FASN in breast cancer cells induces a dose dependent increase in apoptotic cell death with a concomitant upregulation of the pro-apoptotic BH3-only proteins Noxa, Bim and Puma (mRNA and protein). Blockage of the BH3-only protein expression using specific small interfering ribonucleic acid (siRNA), significantly diminishes the apoptotic effect induced by the inhibition of FASN. Moreover, addition of palmitate, the end product of FASN, protects the cells from the proapoptotic effects of FASN inhibition by suppressing expression of Noxa, Bim and Puma. These data indicate that Noxa, Bim and Puma are essential for the apoptotic effect induced by the inhibition of FASN. Combination therapeutic regimens have received growing attention for the possibility of higher efficacy with reduced toxicity. Thus, we investigated the combinatorial effect of pharmacological inhibition of FASN and Bcl-2/Bcl-xL. While a small molecule Bcl-2/Bcl-xL inhibitor alone did not induce apoptosis, co-treatment of the small molecule Bcl-2/Bcl-xL inhibitor with a synthetic FASN inhibitor significantly surpassed the apoptotic effect of the synthetic FASN inhibitor alone. Accordingly, combined treatment of a FASN inhibitors and Bcl-2/Bcl-xL antagonists represents a new rational combination that merits further consideration in FASN overexpressing tumors.

Citation Format: Chandra Mohan Kurapaty Venkatapoorna, Ingrid Espinoza, Scott H Kaufmann, Ruth Lupu. Pharmacological inhibition of fatty acid synthase regulates BH3-only proteins and sensitizes breast cancer cells to a small molecule Bcl-2/Bcl-xL inhibitor to induce apoptosis. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 104th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2013 Apr 6-10; Washington, DC. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2013;73(8 Suppl):Abstract nr 1737. doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2013-1737

Note: This abstract was not presented at the AACR Annual Meeting 2013 because the presenter was unable to attend.