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Nutrient profiling reveals extracellular uridine as a fuel for pancreatic cancer through uridine phosphorylase 1

By Matthew H. Ward, Zeribe C. Nwosu, Pawan Poudel, Steven Kasperek, Zach Tolstyka, Rosa Elena Menjivar, Chanthirika Ragulan, Gift Nyamundanda, Li Zhang, Anthony Andren, Christopher J Halbrook, Eileen S. Carpenter, Marina di Magliano, Anguraj Sadanandam, Costas A. Lyssiotis

Posted 08 Jun 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.06.07.447448

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) is a lethal disease characterized by high invasiveness, therapeutic resistance, and metabolic aberrations. Although altered metabolism drives PDA growth and survival, the complete spectrum of metabolites used as nutrients by PDA remains largely unknown. Here, we aimed to determine novel nutrients utilized by PDA. We assessed how >175 metabolites impacted metabolic activity in 19 PDA cell lines under nutrient-restricted conditions. This analysis identified uridine as a novel metabolite driver of PDA survival in glucose-deprived conditions. Uridine utilization strongly correlated with expression of the enzyme uridine phosphorylase 1 (UPP1). Metabolomics profiling, notably 13C-stable isotope tracing, revealed that uridine-derived ribose is the relevant component supporting redox balance, survival, and proliferation in glucose-deprived PDA cells. We demonstrate that UPP1 catabolizes uridine, shunting its ribose component into central carbon metabolism to support glycolysis, the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle and nucleotide biosynthesis. Compared to non-tumoral tissues, we show that PDA tumors express high UPP1, which correlated with poor overall survival in multiple patient cohorts. Further, uridine is enriched in the pancreatic tumor microenvironment, and we demonstrate that this may be provided in part by tumor associated macrophages. Finally, we found that inhibition of UPP1 restricted the ability of PDA cells to use uridine, and that UPP1 knockout impairs tumor growth in vivo. Our data identifies uridine catabolism as a critical aspect of compensatory metabolism in nutrient-deprived PDA cells, suggesting a novel metabolic axis for PDA therapy.

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