Takla Griss

McGill University, Montréal, Quebec, Canada

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Publications (7)63.98 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Metformin is a biguanide widely prescribed to treat Type II diabetes that has gained interest as an antineoplastic agent. Recent work suggests that metformin directly antagonizes cancer cell growth through its actions on complex I of the mitochondrial electron transport chain (ETC). However, the mechanisms by which metformin arrests cancer cell proliferation remain poorly defined. Here we demonstrate that the metabolic checkpoint kinases AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and LKB1 are not required for the antiproliferative effects of metformin. Rather, metformin inhibits cancer cell proliferation by suppressing mitochondrial-dependent biosynthetic activity. We show that in vitro metformin decreases the flow of glucose- and glutamine-derived metabolic intermediates into the Tricarboxylic Acid (TCA) cycle, leading to reduced citrate production and de novo lipid biosynthesis. Tumor cells lacking functional mitochondria maintain lipid biosynthesis in the presence of metformin via glutamine-dependent reductive carboxylation, and display reduced sensitivity to metformin-induced proliferative arrest. Our data indicate that metformin inhibits cancer cell proliferation by suppressing the production of mitochondrial-dependent metabolic intermediates required for cell growth, and that metabolic adaptations that bypass mitochondrial-dependent biosynthesis may provide a mechanism of tumor cell resistance to biguanide activity.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · PLoS Biology
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    ABSTRACT: Cancer cells adapt metabolically to proliferate under nutrient limitation. Here we used combined transcriptional-metabolomic network analysis to identify metabolic pathways that support glucose-independent tumor cell proliferation. We found that glucose deprivation stimulated re-wiring of the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle and early steps of gluconeogenesis to promote glucose-independent cell proliferation. Glucose limitation promoted the production of phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP) from glutamine via the activity of mitochondrial PEP-carboxykinase (PCK2). Under these conditions, glutamine-derived PEP was used to fuel biosynthetic pathways normally sustained by glucose, including serine and purine biosynthesis. PCK2 expression was required to maintain tumor cell proliferation under limited-glucose conditions in vitro and tumor growth in vivo. Elevated PCK2 expression is observed in several human tumor types and enriched in tumor tissue from non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients. Our results define a role for PCK2 in cancer cell metabolic reprogramming that promotes glucose-independent cell growth and metabolic stress resistance in human tumors.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · Molecular cell
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    ABSTRACT: As a sensor of cellular energy status, the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is believed to act in opposition to the metabolic phenotypes favored by proliferating tumor cells. Consequently, compounds known to activate AMPK have been proposed as cancer therapeutics. However, the extent to which the anti-neoplastic properties of these agonists are mediated by AMPK is unclear. Here we examined the AMPK dependence of six commonly used AMPK agonists (metformin, phenformin, 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide ribonucleotide (AICAR), 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2DG), salicylate and A-769662) and their influence on cellular processes often deregulated in tumor cells. We demonstrate that the majority of these agonists display AMPK-independent effects on cell proliferation and metabolism with only the synthetic activator, A-769662, exerting AMPK-dependent effects on these processes. We find that A-769662 promotes an AMPK-dependent increase in mitochondrial spare respiratory capacity. Finally, contrary to the view of AMPK activity being tumor suppressive, we find that A-769662 confers a selective proliferative advantage to tumor cells growing under nutrient deprivation. Our results indicate that many of the antigrowth properties of these agonists cannot be attributed to AMPK activity in cells, and thus any observed effects using these agonists should be confirmed using AMPK-deficient cells. Ultimately, our data urge caution not only regarding the type of AMPK agonist proposed for cancer treatment but also the context in which they are used.Oncogene advance online publication, 22 September 2014; doi:10.1038/onc.2014.301.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · Oncogene
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    ABSTRACT: One of the major metabolic changes associated with cellular transformation is enhanced nutrient utilization, which supports tumor progression by fueling both energy production and providing biosynthetic intermediates for growth. The liver kinase B1 (LKB1) is a serine/threonine kinase and tumor suppressor that couples bioenergetics to cell-growth control through regulation of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) activity; however, the influence of LKB1 on tumor metabolism is not well defined. Here, we show that loss of LKB1 induces a progrowth metabolic program in proliferating cells. Cells lacking LKB1 display increased glucose and glutamine uptake and utilization, which support both cellular ATP levels and increased macromolecular biosynthesis. This LKB1-dependent reprogramming of cell metabolism is dependent on the hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α), which accumulates under normoxia in LKB1-deficient cells and is antagonized by inhibition of mTOR complex I signaling. Silencing HIF-1α reverses the metabolic advantages conferred by reduced LKB1 signaling and impairs the growth and survival of LKB1-deficient tumor cells under low-nutrient conditions. Together, our data implicate the tumor suppressor LKB1 as a central regulator of tumor metabolism and growth control through the regulation of HIF-1α-dependent metabolic reprogramming.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2014 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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    ABSTRACT: Germline and somatic mutations in STK11, the gene encoding the serine/threonine kinase LKB1, are strongly associated with tumorigenesis. While loss of LKB1 expression has been linked to breast cancer, the mechanistic role of LKB1 in regulating breast cancer development, metastasis, and tumor metabolism has remained unclear. We have generated and analyzed transgenic mice expressing ErbB2 in the mammary epithelium of LKB1 wild-type or LKB1-deficient mice. We have also utilized ErbB2-expressing breast cancer cells in which LKB1 levels have been reduced using shRNA approaches. These transgenic and xenograft models were characterized for the effects of LKB1 loss on tumor initiation, growth, metastasis and tumor cell metabolism. We demonstrate that loss of LKB1 promotes tumor initiation and induces a characteristic shift to aerobic glycolysis ('Warburg effect') in a model of ErbB2-mediated breast cancer. LKB1-deficient breast cancer cells display enhanced early tumor growth coupled with increased cell migratory and invasive properties in vitro. We show that ErbB2-positive tumors deficient for LKB1 display a pro-growth molecular and phenotypic signature characterized by elevated Akt/mTOR signaling, increased glycolytic metabolism, as well as increased bioenergetic markers both in vitro and in vivo. We also demonstrate that mTOR contributes to the metabolic reprogramming of LKB1-deficient breast cancer, and is required to drive glycolytic metabolism in these tumors; however, LKB1-deficient breast cancer cells display reduced metabolic flexibility and increased apoptosis in response to metabolic perturbations. Together, our data suggest that LKB1 functions as a tumor suppressor in breast cancer. Loss of LKB1 collaborates with activated ErbB2 signaling to drive breast tumorigenesis and pro-growth metabolism in the resulting tumors.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2013
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    ABSTRACT: AMPK is a metabolic sensor that helps maintain cellular energy homeostasis. Despite evidence linking AMPK with tumor suppressor functions, the role of AMPK in tumorigenesis and tumor metabolism is unknown. Here we show that AMPK negatively regulates aerobic glycolysis (the Warburg effect) in cancer cells and suppresses tumor growth in vivo. Genetic ablation of the α1 catalytic subunit of AMPK accelerates Myc-induced lymphomagenesis. Inactivation of AMPKα in both transformed and nontransformed cells promotes a metabolic shift to aerobic glycolysis, increased allocation of glucose carbon into lipids, and biomass accumulation. These metabolic effects require normoxic stabilization of the hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α), as silencing HIF-1α reverses the shift to aerobic glycolysis and the biosynthetic and proliferative advantages conferred by reduced AMPKα signaling. Together our findings suggest that AMPK activity opposes tumor development and that its loss fosters tumor progression in part by regulating cellular metabolic pathways that support cell growth and proliferation.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2012 · Cell metabolism
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    ABSTRACT: T cell activation leads to engagement of cellular metabolic pathways necessary to support cell proliferation and function. However, our understanding of the signal transduction pathways that regulate metabolism and their impact on T cell function remains limited. The liver kinase B1 (LKB1) is a serine/threonine kinase that links cellular metabolism with cell growth and proliferation. In this study, we demonstrate that LKB1 is a critical regulator of T cell development, viability, activation, and metabolism. T cell-specific ablation of the gene that encodes LKB1 resulted in blocked thymocyte development and a reduction in peripheral T cells. LKB1-deficient T cells exhibited defects in cell proliferation and viability and altered glycolytic and lipid metabolism. Interestingly, loss of LKB1 promoted increased T cell activation and inflammatory cytokine production by both CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells. Activation of the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) was decreased in LKB1-deficient T cells. AMPK was found to mediate a subset of LKB1 functions in T lymphocytes, as mice lacking the α1 subunit of AMPK displayed similar defects in T cell activation, metabolism, and inflammatory cytokine production, but normal T cell development and peripheral T cell homeostasis. LKB1- and AMPKα1-deficient T cells each displayed elevated mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 signaling and IFN-γ production that could be reversed by rapamycin treatment. Our data highlight a central role for LKB1 in T cell activation, viability, and metabolism and suggest that LKB1-AMPK signaling negatively regulates T cell effector function through regulation of mammalian target of rapamycin activity.
    Preview · Article · Sep 2011 · The Journal of Immunology