Glucose metabolism attenuates p53 and Puma-dependent cell death upon growth factor deprivation.


Growth factor stimulation and oncogenic transformation lead to increased glucose metabolism that may provide resistance to cell death. We have previously demonstrated that elevated glucose metabolism characteristic of stimulated or cancerous cells can stabilize the anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family protein Mcl-1 through inhibition of GSK-3. Here we show that the pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family protein, Puma, is also metabolically regulated. Growth factor deprivation led to the loss of glucose uptake and induction of Puma. Maintenance of glucose uptake after growth factor withdrawal by expression of the glucose transporter, Glut1, however, suppressed Puma up-regulation and attenuated growth factor withdrawal-induced activation of Bax, DNA fragmentation, and cell death. Conversely, glucose deprivation led to Puma induction even in the presence of growth factor. This regulation of Puma expression was a central component in cell death as a consequence of growth factor or glucose deprivation because Puma deficiency suppressed both of these cell death pathways. Puma induction in growth factor or glucose withdrawal was dependent on p53 in cell lines and in activated primary T lymphocytes because p53 deficiency suppressed Puma induction and delayed Bax and caspase activation, DNA fragmentation, and loss of clonogenic survival. Importantly, although p53 levels did not change or were slightly reduced, p53 activity was suppressed by elevated glucose metabolism to inhibit Puma induction after growth factor withdrawal. These data show that p53 is metabolically regulated and that glucose metabolism initiates a signaling mechanism to inhibit p53 activation and suppress Puma induction, thus promoting an anti-apoptotic balance to Bcl-2 family protein expression that supports cell survival.