Nav: Home

Monitoring sugar metabolism in liver may be a key to cancer diagnosis

April 18, 2016

Scientists may have discovered a significant new diagnostic marker for liver cancer, according to a paper published in the April 18 online issue of Nature Cell Biology.

A study led by The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center found that a gene known as KHK (ketohexokinase or fructokinase) is expressed differently in normal liver tissues versus liver tumors. The findings reveal that liver cancer cells had a much reduced level of fructose metabolism versus healthy cells.

"Normal liver cells catalyze both glucose and fructose for energy, amino acid and lipid production," said Zhimin Lu, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Neuro-Oncology. "However, we found that liver tumors stopped using fructose. Thus, monitoring fructose metabolism could potentially be used for liver cancer diagnosis."

Lu's team discovered that reduced fructose metabolism in liver tumor cells is caused by aberrant alternative splicing of the KHK gene. This resulted in expression of a variety of the gene product called KHK-A, which lost the ability to process fructose.

"KHK-A has two enzymatic activities, sugar kinase and protein kinase," said Lu. "We discovered that KHK-A was not only a sugar kinase but also a protein kinase."

The team showed that KHK-A's protein kinase activity enhanced tumor cell DNA and RNA synthesis and newly identified KHK-A as essential for liver tumor formation. Kinases are enzymes that allow cells to transfer phosphate, crucial for energy production and protein regulation.

"It is this protein kinase activity that we believe can be targeted to treat the liver tumor," he said. "Our study revealed a pivotal mechanism underlying how liver and liver tumor cells use fructose and highlight the instrumental role of the KHK-A protein in promoting tumor development."
-end-
MD Anderson study team participants included Xinjian Li, Ph.D., Xu Qian, Ph.D., Yuhui Jiang, Ph.D., Yanhua Zheng, Ph.D., Yan Xia, Ph.D. and Jong-Ho Lee, Ph.D., all of Neuro-Oncology; David Hawke, Ph.D., Systems Biology; and Gilbert Cote, Ph.D., Endocrine Neoplasia and Hormonal Disorders.

Other participating institutions included Sun Yat-Sen University Cancer Center, Guangzhou, China; Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai; and The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Houston.

University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

Related Liver Cancer Articles:

Report looks at liver cancer, fastest-growing cause of cancer deaths in US
A new report provides an overview of incidence, mortality, and survival rates and trends for liver cancer, a cancer for which death rates have doubled in the United States since the mid-1980s
The IT-LIVER European consortium unveils new TGF-beta functions in liver cancer
Recent research results from the European consortium IT-Liver provide a better understanding of the role of the TGF-beta cytokine in liver cancer.
A novel molecular link between cholesterol, inflammation and liver cancer
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a deadly disease with no effective cure that develops in the context of liver diseases associated with chronic inflammation.
One more piece in the puzzle of liver cancer identified
Manuela Baccarini and her team at the Max F. Perutz Laboratories (MFPL) of the University of Vienna and Medical University of Vienna are one step closer to unraveling the mechanisms behind liver cancer.
New approach to liver transplantation: Using a damaged liver to replace a dying liver
There's new hope for patients with liver disease who are waiting for a donor liver to become available for transplantation.
Damage to tiny liver protein function leads to heart disease, fatty liver
A UCF College of Medicine researcher has identified for the first time a tiny liver protein that when disrupted can lead to the nation's top killer -- cardiovascular disease -- as well as fatty liver disease, a precursor to cancer.
Targeted treatment for liver cancer under way
Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland and Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen have discovered a new molecular mechanism that can be used to inhibit the growth of hepatocellular carcinoma, which is the most common liver cancer.
Transplanted liver cells protect against liver failure after massive hepatectomy surgery
Because liver failure often occurs after an extensive hepatectomy, researchers using animal models investigated safer ways to transplant liver cells post-extensive hepatectomy found that rather than transplanting cells into the liver portal vein, transplantation into an extra-hepatic site, such as the intra-mesentery, a fold of membranous tissue on the posterior wall of the abdominal cavity attached to the intestinal tract, can help protect against post-operative liver failure and aid in survival of the remaining liver.
Scientists root out the 'bad seeds' of liver cancer
Researchers have found the 'bad seeds' of liver cancer and believe they could one day reprogram them to remain responsive to cancer treatment, a new USC study has found.
Retroviral RNA may play a part in liver cancer
Researchers have found that retroviral long-terminal-repeat (LTR) promoters -- a type of repetitive element that are widely distributed in the human genome -- are highly activated in hepatocellular carcinomas, the most common type of liver cancer.

Related Liver Cancer Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...