The innate immune kinase IKKε as a novel regulator of PSAT1 and serine metabolism
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Induced and activated as part of the innate immune response, the first line of defence against bacterial or viral infections, Inhibitor of Kappa-B Kinase ε (IKKε) triggers NF-κB and IFNβ signalling. Whilst not expressed at basal levels in healthy cells and tissue, the kinase is overexpressed in roughly 30% of human breast cancer cases, driving oncogenesis through aberrant activation of NF-κB. The impracticality of therapeutic targeting of NF-κB for cancer treatment has led to a requirement for greater understanding of IKKε’s oncogenic potential to treat tumours driven by the kinase. Considering that IKKε alters cellular metabolism in dendritic cells, promoting aerobic glycolysis akin to the metabolic phenotype observed in cancer, it was hypothesised that the kinase would play a similar role in breast cancer. Using a Flp-In 293 model of IKKε induction and suppressing IKKε expression in a panel of breast cancer cell lines using siRNA, IKKε-dependent changes in cellular metabolism were characterised using labelled metabolite analysis. IKKε was found to induce serine biosynthesis, an important pathway in breast cancer development that supports glutamine-fuelling of the TCA cycle and contributes to one carbon metabolism to maintain redox balance. Promotion of serine biosynthesis occurred via a dual mechanism. Firstly, PSAT1, the second enzyme of the pathway, was found to be phosphorylated in an IKKε-dependent manner, promoting protein stabilisation. Secondly, an IKKε-dependent transcriptional upregulation of all three serine biosynthesis enzymes, PHGDH, PSAT1 and PSPH, was observed, induced by the inhibition of mitochondrial activity and the subsequent induction of ATF4-mediated mitochondria-to-nucleus retrograde signalling. These data demonstrate a previously uncharacterised mechanism of metabolic regulation by IKKε and highlight new potential therapeutic targets for the treatment of IKKε-driven breast cancer in the form of the enzymes of the serine biosynthesis pathway.
AuthorsJones, William Edward
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