R-2-hydroxyglutarate (R-2HG), produced at high levels by mutant isocitrate dehydrogenase 1/2 (IDH1/2) enzymes, was reported as an oncometabolite. We show here that R-2HG also exerts a broad anti-leukemic activity in vitro and in vivo by inhibiting leukemia cell proliferation/viability and by promoting cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis. Mechanistically, R-2HG inhibits fat mass and obesity-associated protein (FTO) activity, thereby increasing global N6-methyladenosine (m6A) RNA modification in R-2HG-sensitive leukemia cells, which in turn decreases the stability of MYC/CEBPA transcripts, leading to the suppression of relevant pathways. Ectopically expressed mutant IDH1 and S-2HG recapitulate the effects of R-2HG. High levels of FTO sensitize leukemic cells to R-2HG, whereas hyperactivation of MYC signaling confers resistance that can be reversed by the inhibition of MYC signaling. R-2HG also displays anti-tumor activity in glioma. Collectively, while R-2HG accumulated in IDH1/2 mutant cancers contributes to cancer initiation, our work demonstrates anti-tumor effects of 2HG in inhibiting proliferation/survival of FTO-high cancer cells via targeting FTO/m6A/MYC/CEBPA signaling.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.