Cell death & disease

Phospholipase D1-regulated autophagy supplies free fatty acids to counter nutrient stress in cancer cells.

PMID 27809301


Cancer cells utilize flexible metabolic programs to maintain viability and proliferation under stress conditions including nutrient deprivation. Here we report that phospholipase D1 (PLD1) participates in the regulation of metabolic plasticity in cancer cells. PLD1 activity is required for cancer cell survival during prolonged glucose deprivation. Blocking PLD1 sensitizes cancer cells to glycolysis inhibition by 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG) and results in decreased autophagic flux, enlarged lysosomes, and increased lysosomal pH. Mechanistically, PLD1-regulated autophagy hydrolyzes bulk membrane phospholipids to supply fatty acids (FAs) for oxidation in mitochondria. In low glucose cultures, the blockade of fatty acid oxidation (FAO) by PLD1 inhibition suppresses adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production and increases reactive oxygen species (ROS), leading to cancer cell death. In summary, our findings reveal a novel role of PLD1 in sustaining cancer cell survival during metabolic stress, and suggest PLD1 as a potential target for anticancer metabolism therapy.