Fatty Acid Synthase Inhibition Triggers Apoptosis during S Phase in Human Cancer Cells

Weibo Zhou, P. Jeanette Simpson, Jill M. McFadden, Craig A. Townsend, Susan M. Medghalchi, Aravinda Vadlamudi, Michael L. Pinn, Gabriele V. Ronnett, Francis P. Kuhajda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


C75, an inhibitor of fatty acid synthase (FAS), induces apoptosis in cultured human cancer cells. Its proposed mechanism of action linked high levels of malonyl-CoA after FAS inhibition to potential downstream effects including inhibition of carnitine palmitoyltransferase-1 (CPT-1) with resultant inhibition of fatty acid oxidation. Recent data has shown that C75 directly stimulates CPT-1 increasing fatty acid oxidation in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells despite inhibitory concentrations of malonyl-CoA. In light of these findings, we have studied fatty acid metabolism in MCF7 human breast cancer cells to elucidate the mechanism of action of C75. We now report that: (a) in the setting of increased fatty acid oxidation, C75 inhibits fatty acid synthesis; (b) C273, a reduced form of C75, is unable to inhibit fatty acid synthesis and is nontoxic to MCF7 cells; (c) C75 and 5-(tetradecyloxy)-2-furoic acid (TOFA), an inhibitor of acetyl-CoA carboxylase, both cause a significant reduction of fatty acid incorporation into phosphatidylcholine, the major membrane phospholipid, within 2 h; (d) pulse chase studies with [ 14C]acetate labeling of membrane lipids show that both C75 and TOFA accelerate the decay of 14C-labeled lipid from membranes within 2 h; (e) C75 also promotes a 2-3-fold increase in oxidation of membrane lipids within 2 h; and (f) because interference with phospholipid synthesis during S phase is known to trigger apoptosis in cycling cells, we performed double-labeled terminal deoxynucleotidyltransferase-mediated nick end labeling and BrdUrd analysis with both TOFA and C75. C75 triggered apoptosis during S phase, whereas TOFA did not. Moreover, application of TOFA 2 h before C75 blocked the C75 induced apoptosis, whereas etomoxir did not. Taken together these data indicate that FAS inhibition and its downstream inhibition of phospholipid production is a necessary part of the mechanism of action of C75. CPT-1 stimulation does not likely play a role in the cytotoxic response. The continued ability of TOFA to rescue cancer cells from C75 cytotoxicity implies a proapoptotic role for malonyl-CoA independent of CPT-1 that selectively targets cancer cells as they progress into S phase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7330-7337
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Research
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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