Tumor cells rely on glutamine to fulfill their metabolic demands and sustain proliferation. The elevated consumption of glutamine can lead to intratumoral nutrient depletion, causing metabolic stress that has the potential to impact tumor progression. Here, we show that nutrient stress caused by glutamine deprivation leads to the induction of epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) cells. Mechanistically, we demonstrate that glutamine deficiency regulates EMT through the up-regulation of the EMT master regulator Slug, a process that is dependent on both MEK/ERK signaling and ATF4. We find that Slug is required in PDAC cells for glutamine deprivation–induced EMT, cell motility, and nutrient stress survival. Importantly, we decipher that Slug is associated with nutrient stress in PDAC tumors and is required for metastasis. These results delineate a novel role for Slug in the nutrient stress response and provide insight into how nutrient depletion might influence PDAC progression.
Glutamine depletion regulates Slug to promote EMT and metastasis in pancreatic cancer
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Maria Victoria Recouvreux, Matthew R. Moldenhauer, Koen M.O. Galenkamp, Michael Jung, Brian James, Yijuan Zhang, Andrew Lowy, Anindya Bagchi, Cosimo Commisso; Glutamine depletion regulates Slug to promote EMT and metastasis in pancreatic cancer. J Exp Med 7 September 2020; 217 (9): e20200388. doi: https://doi.org/10.1084/jem.20200388
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