Research Perspectives:

Targeting super-enhancers reprograms glioblastoma central carbon metabolism

Trang T.T. Nguyen, Mike-Andrew Westhoff, Georg Karpel-Massler and Markus D. Siegelin _

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Oncotarget. 2021; 12:1309-1313. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.27938

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Trang T.T. Nguyen1, Mike-Andrew Westhoff2, Georg Karpel-Massler3 and Markus D. Siegelin1

1 Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY, USA

2 Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Ulm University Medical Center, Ulm, Germany

3 Department of Neurosurgery, Ulm University Medical Center, Ulm, Germany

Correspondence to:

Markus D. Siegelin,email: [email protected]

Keywords: glioblastoma; metabolism; HDAC-inhibitor; c-Myc; fatty acid oxidation

Received: March 23, 2021     Accepted: March 24, 2021     Published: June 22, 2021

Copyright: © 2021 Nguyen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


The concept that tumor cells demand a distinct form of metabolism was appreciated almost a century ago when the German biochemist Otto Warburg realized that tumor cells heavily utilize glucose and produce lactic acid while relatively reducing oxidative metabolism. How this phenomenon is orchestrated and regulated is only partially understood and seems to involve certain transcription factors, including c-Myc, HIF1A and others. The epigenome eintails the posttranslational modification of histone proteins which in turn are involved in regulation of transcription. Recently, it was found that cis-regulatory elements appear to facilitate the Warburg effects since several genes encoding for glycolysis and associated pathways are surrounded by enhancer/super-enhancer regions. Disruption of these regions by FDA-approved HDAC inhibitors suppressed the transcription of these genes and elicited a reversal of the Warburg effect with activation of transcription factors facilitating oxidative energy metabolism with increases in transcription factors that are part of the PPARA family. Therefore, combined targeting of HDACs and oxidative metabolism suppressed tumor growth in patient-derived xenograft models of solid tumors, including glioblastoma.

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