Although elevated glutaminolysis has been demonstrated in cancer cells, the precise mechanism by which glutaminolysis is exploited to promote tumor metastasis has not been elucidated. Lung cancer frequently metastasizes and is the leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Loss of LKB1 is associated with increased metastasis and poor prognosis in lung cancer, but the development of targeted agents in LKB1-deficient lung cancer is still in its infancy. Our recent study reveal that glutamate dehydrogenase 1, upregulated upon detachment via the transcription factor pleomorphic adenoma gene 1 (PLAG1), provides anti-anoikis and pro-metastatic signals in LKB1-deficient lung cancer. Mechanistically, the GDH1 product alpha-KG activates CamKK2 by enhancing its substrate AMPK binding and triggers CamKK2-mediated AMPK signaling, which contributes to energy production that confers anoikis resistance. The effect of GDH1 on AMPK is evident in LKB1-deficient lung cancer, where AMPK activation predominantly depends on CamKK2. Targeting GDH1 with the small molecule GDH1 inhibitor R162 led to attenuated anoikis resistance and tumor metastasis in an LKB1-deficient lung patient-derived xenograft model. Correlation studies between GDH1 signaling and metastatic cancer progression in lung cancer patients further validated the clinical relevance of our finding. Our study provides insight into the molecular mechanism by which GDH1-mediated metabolic reprogramming of glutaminolysis mediates lung cancer metastasis. This knowledge could be leveraged for the development of effective therapeutic strategies for patients with LKB1-deficient lung cancer.

Citation Format: Sumin Kang, Lingtao Jin, Chaoyun Pan, Jaemoo Chun. Glutamate dehydrogenase 1 mediates metabolic reprogramming and promotes tumor metastasis through CamKK2-AMPK signaling in LKB1-deficient lung cancer [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2018; 2018 Apr 14-18; Chicago, IL. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2018;78(13 Suppl):Abstract nr 1454.