The WW domain-containing oxidoreductase (WWOX) encodes a tumor suppressor that is frequently lost in many cancer types. Wwox-deficient mice develop normally but succumb to a lethal hypoglycemia early in life. Here, we identify WWOX as a tumor suppressor with emerging role in regulation of aerobic glycolysis. WWOX controls glycolytic genes' expression through hypoxia-inducible transcription factor 1α (HIF1α) regulation. Specifically, WWOX, via its first WW domain, physically interacts with HIF1α and modulates its levels and transactivation function. Consistent with this notion, Wwox-deficient cells exhibited increased HIF1α levels and activity and displayed increased glucose uptake. Remarkably, WWOX deficiency is associated with enhanced glycolysis and diminished mitochondrial respiration, conditions resembling the 'Warburg effect'. Furthermore, Wwox-deficient cells are more tumorigenic and display increased levels of GLUT1 in vivo. Finally, WWOX expression is inversely correlated with GLUT1 levels in breast cancer samples highlighting WWOX as a modulator of cancer metabolism. Our studies uncover an unforeseen role for the tumor-suppressor WWOX in cancer metabolism.
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Acknowledgements. We are grateful to Dr. Zaidoun Salah and Mr. Saleh Khawaled for technical help with mice work and to all the Aqeilan’s lab members for fruitful discussion. This work was supported, in part, by startup research funds from the Lautenberg Center for Immunology and Cancer Research to RIA.
© 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited.