University of Kentucky Center for Cancer and Metabolism (Pilot Project - Dr. Qingjun Wang)

Grants and Contracts Details


Cancer cells boost biosynthesis and energy metabolism to enable growth and proliferation. The autophagy-lysosomal system degrades intracellular proteins and organelles, particularly under nutrientdeprivation conditions, providing energy and metabolites for cell survival and proliferation. Eileen White’s pioneering work in mice shows that acute ablation of Atg7, an essential autophagy gene, blocked tumor growth and promoted tumor cell death in pre-existing KrasG12D-frt/+;Trp53frt/frt non-small cell lung cancer. Thus, metabolism modulation via acute inhibition of the autophagy-lysosomal system may provide a novel cancer therapeutic strategy. Ceroid lipofuscinosis, neuronal 3 (CLN3) is a component of the autophagy protein-protein interaction network. Homozygous deletion of 1 kb genomic sequence within the CLN3 gene leads to lysosomal storage disease and is the predominant cause for juvenile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis. Our preliminary data show overexpression of CLN3 in breast cancer including all subtypes, and that CLN3 deficiency leads to impaired cell proliferation and profound metabolic defects including the serine and one-carbon metabolism. Here we propose to investigate the roles of CLN3 in breast cancer metabolism in two aims: In Aim 1, we will test the hypothesis that CLN3 promotes cancer cell proliferation through enhancing serine and onecarbon metabolism. In Aim 2, we will test the hypothesis that CLN3 maintains the serine and one-carbon metabolite pools via (A) activation of the amino acid sensing mTORC1 pathway and (B) a direct pathway involving CLN3-PHGDH binding (Aim 2). We expect that our work will shed light on important roles of CLN3 in breast cancer metabolism and tumor growth/metastasis, facilitating ultimate discovery of novel therapeutic strategies via modulating cancer metabolism by targeting CLN3 and autophagy-lysosomal system. The work performed under this award will be used to generate a NCI R01 proposal: The acquired data will help 1) generate preliminary data (e.g., SIRM analysis of CLN3-deficient vs. proficient breast cancer cells) for the R01 proposal; 2) further focus the R01 proposal, e.g., on mTORC1-dependent and/or independent mechanisms; 3) generate critical reagents, e.g., CLN3-deficient breast cancer mouse models.
Effective start/end date3/1/1712/31/18


  • National Institute of General Medical Sciences


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