Combined intermittent fasting and ERK inhibition enhance the anti-tumor effects of chemotherapy

Dietary interventions such as intermittent fasting (IF) have emerged as an attractive strategy for cancer therapies; therefore, understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms is pivotal. Here, we find SIRT7 decline markedly attenuates the anti-tumor effect of IF. Mechanistically, AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) phosphorylating SIRT7 at T263 triggers further phosphorylation at T255/S259 by glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK3β), which stabilizes SIRT7 by decoupling E3 ligase UBR5. SIRT7 hyperphosphorylation achieves anti-tumor activity by disrupting the SKP2-SCF E3 ligase, thus preventing SKP2-mediated K63-linked AKT polyubiquitination and subsequent activation. In contrast, GSK3β-SIRT7 axis is inhibited by EGF/ERK2 signaling, with ERK2 inactivating GSK3β, thus accelerating SIRT7 degradation.

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Fig:  Intermittent fasting inhibits tumor growth and metastasis via SIRT7

Unfavorably, glucose deprivation or chemotherapy hijacks the GSK3β-SIRT7 axis via ERK2, thus activating AKT and ensuring survival. Notably, Trametinib, an FDA-approved MEK inhibitor, enhances the efficacy of combination therapy with doxorubicin and IF. Overall, we have revealed the GSK3β-SIRT7 axis that must be fine-tuned in the face of the energetic and oncogenic stresses in malignancy.

Tang, X., Li, G., Shi, L. et al. Combined intermittent fasting and ERK inhibition enhance the anti-tumor effects of chemotherapy via the GSK3β-SIRT7 axis. Nat Commun 12, 5058 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-25274-3

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