To investigate the metabolism of synovial sarcoma (SS) and elucidate the effect of malic enzyme 1 absence on SS redox homeostasis.
ME1 expression was measured in SS clinical samples, SS cell lines, and tumors from an SS mouse model. The effect of ME1 absence on glucose metabolism was evaluated utilizing Seahorse assays, metabolomics, and C13 tracings. The impact of ME1 absence on SS redox homeostasis was evaluated by metabolomics, cell death assays with inhibitors of antioxidant systems, and measurements of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS). The susceptibility of ME1-null SS to ferroptosis induction was interrogated in vitro and in vivo.
ME1 absence in SS was confirmed in clinical samples, SS cell lines, and an SS tumor model. Investigation of SS glucose metabolism revealed that ME1-null cells exhibit higher rates of glycolysis and higher flux of glucose into the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP), which is necessary to produce NADPH. Evaluation of cellular redox homeostasis demonstrated that ME1 absence shifts dependence from the glutathione system to the thioredoxin system. Concomitantly, ME1 absence drives the accumulation of ROS and labile iron. ROS and iron accumulation enhances the susceptibility of ME1-null cells to ferroptosis induction with inhibitors of xCT (erastin and ACXT-3102). In vivo xenograft models of ME1-null SS demonstrate significantly increased tumor response to ACXT-3102 compared with ME1-expressing controls.
These findings demonstrate the translational potential of targeting redox homeostasis in ME1-null cancers and establish the preclinical rationale for a phase I trial of ACXT-3102 in SS patients.