Subcutaneous adipocytes promote melanoma cell growth by activating the Akt signaling pathway: Role of palmitic acid

Hiu Yee KWAN*, Xiuqiong FU, Bin Liu, Xiaojuan Chao, Chi Leung Chan, Huihui Cao, Tao Su, Anfernee K W TSE, David W F FONG, Zhiling YU

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Tumorigenesis involves constant communication between tumor cells and neighboring normal cells such as adipocytes. The canonical function of adipocytes is to store triglyceride and release fatty acids for other tissues. This study was aimed to find out if adipocytes promoted melanoma cell growth and to investigate the underlying mechanism. Here we isolated adipocytes from inguinal adipose tissue in mice and co-cultured with melanoma cells. We found that the co-cultured melanoma had higher lipid accumulation compared with mono-cultured melanoma. In addition, fluorescently labeled fatty acid BODIPY® FLC16 signal was detected in melanoma co-cultured with the adipocytes that had been loaded with the fluorescent dye, suggesting that the adipocytes provide fatty acids to melanoma cells. Compared with mono-cultured melanoma, co-cultured melanoma cells had a higher proliferation and phospho-Akt (Ser-473 and Thr-450) expression. Overexpression of Akt mutants in melanoma cells reduced the co-culture-enhanced proliferation. A lipidomic study showed that the co-cultured melanoma had an elevated palmitic acid level. Interestingly, we found that palmitic acid stimulated melanoma cell proliferation, changed the cell cycle distribution, and increased phospho-Akt (Ser-473 and Thr-450) and PI3K but not phospho-PTEN (phosphophosphatase and tensin homolog) expressions. More importantly, the palmitic acid-stimulated proliferation was further enhanced in the Akt-overexpressed melanoma cells and was reduced by LY294002 or knockdown of endogenous Akt or overexpression of Akt mutants. We also found that palmitic acid-pretreated B16F10 cells were grown to a significantly larger tumor in mice compared with control cells. Taken together, we suggest that adipocytes may serve as an exogenous source of palmitic acid that promotes melanoma cell growth by activating Akt.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30525-30537
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Volume289
Issue number44
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2014

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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