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Single-cell resolved imaging reveals intra-tumor heterogeneity in glycolysis, transitions between metabolic states, and their regulatory mechanisms.
journal contributionposted on 2021-03-03, 13:14 authored by Hiroshi Kondo, Colin DH Ratcliffe, Steven Hooper, James Ellis, James I MacRae, Marc Hennequart, Christopher W Dunsby, Kurt I Anderson, Erik Sahai
Inter-cellular heterogeneity in metabolic state has been proposed to influence many cancer phenotypes, including responses to targeted therapy. Here, we track the transitions and heritability of metabolic states in single PIK3CA mutant breast cancer cells, identify non-genetic glycolytic heterogeneity, and build on observations derived from methods reliant on bulk analyses. Using fluorescent biosensors in vitro and in tumors, we have identified distinct subpopulations of cells whose glycolytic and mitochondrial metabolism are regulated by combinations of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling, bromodomain activity, and cell crowding effects. The actin severing protein cofilin, as well as PI3K, regulates rapid changes in glucose metabolism, whereas treatment with the bromodomain inhibitor slowly abrogates a subpopulation of cells whose glycolytic activity is PI3K independent. We show how bromodomain function and PI3K signaling, along with actin remodeling, independently modulate glycolysis and how targeting these pathways affects distinct subpopulations of cancer cells.