- Hepatoblastoma (HB) is the most common pediatric liver cancer. Although long-term survival of HB is generally favorable, it depends on clinical stage, tumor histology, and a variety of biochemical and molecular features. HB appears almost exclusively before the age of 3 years, is represented by seven histological subtypes, and is usually associated with highly heterogeneous somatic mutations in the catenin β1 (CTNNB1) gene, which encodes β-catenin, a Wnt ligand–responsive transcriptional co-factor.
- Eukaryotic cell metabolism consists of processes that generate available energy, such as glycolysis, the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, and oxidative phosphorylation (Oxphos), and those that consume it, including macromolecular synthesis, the maintenance of ionic gradients, and cellular detoxification. By converting pyruvate to acetyl-CoA (AcCoA), the pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) complex (PDC) links glycolysis and the TCA cycle. Surprisingly, disrupting the connection between glycolysis and the TCA cycle by inactivation of PDC has only minor effects on cell replication.
- Analogous to the c-Myc (Myc)/Max family of bHLH-ZIP transcription factors, there exists a parallel regulatory network of structurally and functionally related proteins with Myc-like functions. Two related Myc-like paralogs, termed MondoA and MondoB/carbohydrate response element–binding protein (ChREBP), up-regulate gene expression in heterodimeric association with the bHLH-ZIP Max-like factor Mlx. Myc is necessary to support liver cancer growth, but not for normal hepatocyte proliferation. Here, we investigated ChREBP's role in these processes and its relationship to Myc.
- Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a common cancer that frequently overexpresses the c-Myc (Myc) oncoprotein. Using a mouse model of Myc-induced HCC, we studied the metabolic, biochemical, and molecular changes accompanying HCC progression, regression, and recurrence. These involved altered rates of pyruvate and fatty acid β-oxidation and the likely re-directing of glutamine into biosynthetic rather than energy-generating pathways. Initial tumors also showed reduced mitochondrial mass and differential contributions of electron transport chain complexes I and II to respiration.
- Hepatoblastoma (HB) is associated with aberrant activation of the β-catenin and Hippo/YAP signaling pathways. Overexpression of mutant β-catenin and YAP in mice induces HBs that express high levels of c-Myc (Myc). In light of recent observations that Myc is unnecessary for long-term hepatocyte proliferation, we have now examined its role in HB pathogenesis using the above model. Although Myc was found to be dispensable for in vivo HB initiation, it was necessary to sustain rapid tumor growth. Gene expression profiling identified key molecular differences between myc+/+ (WT) and myc−/− (KO) hepatocytes and HBs that explain these behaviors.