Tanshinone IIA inhibits oral squamous cell carcinoma via reducing Akt-c-Myc signaling-mediated aerobic glycolysis.
Cell Death Dis. 2020 May 18 ;11(5):381. Epub 2020 May 18. PMID: 32424132
Aerobic glycolysis is one of the hallmarks of human cancer cells. Overexpression of hexokinase 2 (HK2) plays a crucial role in the maintaining of unlimited tumor cell growth. In the present study, we found that the oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) cells exhibited an aerobic glycolysis phenotype. Moreover, HK2 is highly expressed in OSCC patient derived-tissues and cell lines. Depletion of HK2 inhibited OSCC cell growth in vitro and in vivo. With a natural product screening, we identified Tanshinone IIA (Tan IIA) as a potential anti-tumor compound for OSCC through suppressing HK2-mediated glycolysis. Tan IIA decreased glucose consumption, lactate production, and promoted intrinsic apoptosis in OSCC cells. The mechanism study revealed that Tan IIA inhibited the Akt-c-Myc signaling and promoted E3 ligase FBW7-mediated c-Myc ubiquitination and degradation, which eventually reduced HK2 expression at the transcriptional level. In summary, these results indicate that targeting HK2-mediated aerobic glycolysis is a promising anti-tumor strategy for OSCC treatment.