Metabolic Regulation of Protein Phosphorylation and Acetylation




Zhang, Menglu

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Celluar metabolism can influence phosphorylation and acetylation modifications on proteins as part of an intricate network of cellular and organismal regulation. We have investigated one molecular mechanism through which protein phosphorylation and acetylation can be regulated based on metabolic status and how metabolic enzymes are regulated by nutrient availability. In the first part of this study, we report that a simple enzyme involved in acetate utilization, Acetyl-CoA synthetase 2 (ACSS2), promotes systemic fat storage and utilization through selective regulation of genes involved in lipid metabolism. We reveal that mice lacking ACSS2 exhibit a significant reduction in body weight and hepatic steatosis in a diet-induced obesity model. ACSS2 deficiency reduces dietary lipid absorption by the intestine, and perturbs repartitioning and utilization of triglycerides from adipose tissue to the liver due to lowered expression of lipid transporters and fatty acid oxidation genes. In this manner, ACSS2 promotes the systemic storage or metabolism of fat according to the fed or fasted state. Targeting ACSS2 may therefore offer therapeutic benefit for the treatment of fatty liver disease. We also report that ACSS2 may play a critical role in the development of pancreatic cancer. We have demonstrated that ACSS2 expression in a KRas-driven mouse model of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) showed that ACSS2 was absent in normal pancreatic tissue but expressed at very high levels in precancerous lesions of PDAC. The absence of ACSS2 in mouse pancreatic cancer models reduced the tumor burdens, and ACSS2 expression is correlated with tumor size. These data indicate that ACSS2 has a potential function in the development of PDAC. The experiments reported in the first two chapters of this thesis were performed in close collaboration with a former postdoc in the lab, Dr. Zhiguang Huang. In the second part of the study, we report that methylation of Protein Phosphatase 2A (PP2A) may play a critical role in regulating cell growth and autophagy. We have reconstituted the methylation activity of leucine carboxyl methyltransferase 1 (LCMT-1) in vitro and determined the kinetic parameters of LCMT-1-catalyzed methylation of PP2A. We reveal that LCMT-1 might be a "SAM sensor" as it is very sensitive to the SAM/SAH ratio. Methionine deprivation study in cell lines revealed that methionine depletion boosts PP2A demethylation. We further conducted a high-throughput screen to identify potent and specific small molecule inhibitors of LCMT-1.

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Pages i-xviii are misnumbered in a variety of ways.

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