Lipid degradation promotes prostate cancer cell survival.
Itkonen HM., Brown M., Urbanucci A., Tredwell G., Ho Lau C., Barfeld S., Hart C., Guldvik IJ., Takhar M., Heemers HV., Erho N., Bloch K., Davicioni E., Derua R., Waelkens E., Mohler JL., Clarke N., Swinnen JV., Keun HC., Rekvig OP., Mills IG.
Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer and androgen receptor (AR) is the major driver of the disease. Here we show that Enoyl-CoA delta isomerase 2 (ECI2) is a novel AR-target that promotes prostate cancer cell survival. Increased ECI2 expression predicts mortality in prostate cancer patients (p = 0.0086). ECI2 encodes for an enzyme involved in lipid metabolism, and we use multiple metabolite profiling platforms and RNA-seq to show that inhibition of ECI2 expression leads to decreased glucose utilization, accumulation of fatty acids and down-regulation of cell cycle related genes. In normal cells, decrease in fatty acid degradation is compensated by increased consumption of glucose, and here we demonstrate that prostate cancer cells are not able to respond to decreased fatty acid degradation. Instead, prostate cancer cells activate incomplete autophagy, which is followed by activation of the cell death response. Finally, we identified a clinically approved compound, perhexiline, which inhibits fatty acid degradation, and replicates the major findings for ECI2 knockdown. This work shows that prostate cancer cells require lipid degradation for survival and identifies a small molecule inhibitor with therapeutic potential.