Medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase, a gatekeeper of mitochondrial function in glioblastoma multiforme
Edoardo Del Poggetto,
Frederick F Lang,
Philip L Lorenzi,
Zachary P Tolstyka,
Angela K. Deem,
Pier Paolo Scaglioni,
Posted 28 Sep 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.09.28.316554
Posted 28 Sep 2020
Glioblastoma (GBM) is among the deadliest of human cancers. Despite extensive efforts, it has proven to be highly resistant to chemo- and immune-based therapeutic strategies, and little headway has been made with targeted inhibitors. Like many cancers, metabolism is dysregulated in GBM. Thus, to identify new vulnerabilities and drug targets in GBM, we conducted genetic screens using pooled RNAi libraries targeting metabolic enzymes. We screened multiple glioma stem cell-derived (GSC) xenograft models, which revealed that several enzymes involved in the mitochondrial metabolism of fatty acids were required for tumor cell proliferation. From among these, we focused on medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (MCAD), which oxidizes medium-chain fatty acids, due to its consistently high score across all of our screens, as well as its high expression level in multiple GSC models and its upregulation in GBM compared to normal brain. In this manuscript, we describe the dependence of GBM on sustained fatty acid metabolism to actively catabolize lipid species that would otherwise damage the mitochondrial structure. The uptake of mediumchain fatty acids lacks negative feedback regulation; therefore, in the absence of MCAD, medium-chain fatty acids accumulate to toxic levels, inducing reactive oxygen species (ROS), mitochondrial damage and failure, and apoptosis. Taken together, our findings uncover a previously unappreciated protective role exerted by MCAD in GBM cells, making it a unique and therapeutically exploitable vulnerability. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.
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