Proteome analysis of hypoxic glioblastoma cells reveals sequential metabolic adaptation of one-carbon metabolic pathways

Kangling Zhang, Pei Xu, James L. Sowers, Daniel F. Machuca, Barsam Mirfattah, Jason Herring, Hui Tang, Yan Chen, Bing Tian, Allan R. Brasier, Lawrence C. Sowers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Rapidly proliferating tumors are exposed to a hypoxic microenvironment because of their density, high metabolic consumption, and interruptions in blood flow because of immature angiogenesis. Cellular responses to hypoxia promote highly malignant and metastatic behavior, as well as a chemotherapy-resistant state. To better understand the complex relationships between hypoxic adaptations and cancer progression, we studied the dynamic proteome responses of glioblastoma cells exposed to hypoxia via an innovative approach: quantification of newly synthesized proteins using heavy stable-isotope arginine labeling combined with accurate assessment of cell replication by quantification of the light/heavy arginine ratio of peptides in histone H4. We found that hypoxia affects cancer cells in multiple intertwined ways: inflammation, typically with over-expressed glucose transporter (GLUT1), DUSP4/MKP2, and RelA proteins; a metabolic adaptation with overexpression of all glycolytic pathway enzymes for pyruvate/lactate synthesis; and the EMT (epithelial-mesenchymal transition) and cancer stem cell (CSC) renewal with characteristic morphological changes and mesenchymal/CSC protein expression profiles. For the first time, we identified the Vitamin B12 transporter protein TCN2, which is essential for one-carbon metabolism, as being significantly downregulated. Further, we found, by knockdown and overexpression experiments, that TCN2 plays an important role in controlling cancer cell transformation toward the highly aggressive mesenchymal/CSC stage; low expression of TCN2 has an effect similar to hypoxia, whereas high expression of TCN2 can reverse it. We conclude that hypoxia induces sequential metabolic responses of one-carbon metabolism in tumor cells. Our mass spectrometry data are available via ProteomeXchange with identifiers PXD005487 (TMT-labeling) and PXD007280 (label-free).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1906-1921
Number of pages16
JournalMolecular and Cellular Proteomics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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