Targeting oxidative pentose phosphate pathway prevents recurrence in mutant <i>Kras</i> colorectal carcinomas

by WenChao Gao, YuTing Xu, Tao Chen, ZunGuo Du, XiuJuan Liu, ZhiQian Hu, Dong Wei, ChunFang Gao, Wei Zhang, QingQuan Li

Recurrent tumors originate from cancer stem cells (CSCs) that survive conventional treatments. CSCs consist of heterogeneous subpopulations that display distinct sensitivity to anticancer drugs. Such a heterogeneity presents a significant challenge in preventing tumor recurrence. In the current study, we observed that quiescent CUB-domain–containing protein 1 (CDCP1)+ CSCs are enriched after chemotherapy in mutant Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (Kras) colorectal carcinomas (CRCs) and serve as a reservoir for recurrence. Mechanistically, glucose catabolism in CDCP1+ CSCs is routed to the oxidative pentose phosphate pathway (PPP); multiple cycling of carbon backbones in the oxidative PPP potentially maximizes NADPH reduction to counteract chemotherapy-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation, thereby allowing CDCP1+ CSCs to survive chemotherapeutic attack. This is dependent on silent mating type information regulation 2 homolog 5 (Sirt5)-mediated inhibition of the glycolytic enzyme triosephosphate isomerase (TPI) through demalonylation of Lys56. Blocking demalonylation of TPI at Lys56 increases chemosensitivity of CDCP1+ CSCSs and delays recurrence of mutant Kras CRCs in vivo. These findings pinpoint a new therapeutic approach for combating mutant Kras CRCs.

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