Aberrant Glycogen in Lung Adenocarcinoma Tumorigenesis

Grants and Contracts Details


Abstract: Lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD) is the major histological subtype of lung cancer and the leading cause of cancer-related mortalities worldwide. For a substantial number of LUAD patients, the only treatment options available are traditional multi-agent chemotherapy coupled with surgery and/or radiation. For these patients, the 5-year survival remains disappointingly low. Additional molecular mechanisms driving LUAD proliferation and tumorigenesis remain a critical knowledge gap in lung cancer research, and a major barrier for the development of personalized therapies. Recent reports, including our own, reveal critical roles for glycogen in lung tumor progression. Building on these foundational studies, we developed a robust and precision technology to visualize glycogen in situ with 50 µm spatial resolution using mass spectrometry imaging that provides 1,000x increased sensitivity compared to previous methods. Using this technology, we defined glycogen levels in 122 NSCLC patients treated at the University of Kentucky’s NCI Designated Cancer Center. Our preliminary data demonstrate that: 1) significantly elevated glycogen is observed in LUAD and not in normal lung tissue. 2) Elevated glycogen is a LUAD tissue-specific hallmark and is not observed in lung squamous cell carcinoma. 3) LUAD-glycogen is structurally unique with increased phosphorylation and branching. 4) This LUAD phenotype correlated with marked protein decreases in the glycogen phosphatase laforin. Strikingly, laforin knockout in model lung cell lines and the KrasG12D/p53-/- LUAD mouse model drives: 1) glycogen hyper-phosphorylation, 2) increased affinity with the master metabolic regulator AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), 3) decreased AMPK activity, and 4) accelerated tumor proliferation and progression. We hypothesize that the structurally unique LUAD-glycogen is a critical component of LUAD metabolism, proliferation, and progression. The overall objective of this study is to define the etiology of LUAD-glycogen on both cancer metabolism and tumor progression. To achieve this, we will: Define the LUAD-glycogen clinical course and its interaction with AMPK (Aim 1). Then, we will define the signaling role of LUAD-glycogen in cellular metabolism through AMPK (Aim 2). Finally, we will establish the role of LUAD-glycogen in tumor progression and early transformation in vivo (Aim3). This proposal builds on exciting and rigorous preliminary data and presents an integrated approach to define this unique LUAD hallmark of excess glycogen utilizing robust, complementary, and state-of-the-art methodologies such as mass spectrometry imaging, protein and glycogen biochemistry, and targeted metabolomics. The salient findings from this proposal will significantly advance the knowledge base regarding the roles of glycogen in LUAD biology and progression and drive the discovery of personalized therapies that can be leveraged for the LUAD population that only qualify for conventional chemotherapy.
Effective start/end date7/1/2210/31/22


  • National Cancer Institute: $52,466.00


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