Metastasis from primary tumors remains a major problem for tumor therapy. In the search for markers of metastasis and more effective therapies, the tumor metabolome is relevant because of its importance to the malignant phenotype and metastatic capacity of tumor cells. Altered choline metabolism is a hallmark of cancer. More specifically, a decreased glycerophosphocholine (GPC) to phosphocholine (PC) ratio was reported in breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers. Improved strategies to exploit this altered choline metabolism are therefore required. However, the critical enzyme cleaving GPC to produce choline, the initial step in the pathway controlling the GPC/PC ratio, remained unknown. In the present work, we have identified the enzyme, here named EDI3 (endometrial differential 3). Purified recombinant EDI3 protein cleaves GPC to form glycerol-3-phosphate and choline. Silencing EDI3 in MCF-7 cells decreased this enzymatic activity, increased the intracellular GPC/PC ratio, and decreased downstream lipid metabolites. Downregulating EDI3 activity inhibited cell migration via disruption of the PKCα signaling pathway, with stable overexpression of EDI3 showing the opposite effect. EDI3 was originally identified in our screening study comparing mRNA levels in metastasizing and nonmetastasizing endometrial carcinomas. Both Kaplan–Meier and multivariate analyses revealed a negative association between high EDI3 expression and relapse-free survival time in both endometrial (P < 0.001) and ovarian (P = 0.029) cancers. Overall, we have identified EDI3, a key enzyme controlling GPC and choline metabolism. Because inhibition of EDI3 activity corrects the GPC/PC ratio and decreases the migration capacity of tumor cells, it represents a possible target for therapeutic intervention.
Joanna D. Stewart; Rosemarie Marchan; Michaela S. Lesjak; Joerg Lambert; Roland Hergenroeder; James K. Ellis; Chung-Ho Lau; Hector C. Keun; Gerd Schmitz; Juergen Schiller; Mandy Eibisch; Christian Hedberg; Herbert Waldmann; Ekkehart Lausch; Berno Tanner; Jalid Sehouli; Jens Sagemueller; Hagen Staude; Eric Steiner; Jan G. Hengstler
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