Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a frequent comorbidity of cancer. Hyperinsulinemia secondary to T2DM promotes cancer progression, whereas antidiabetic agents, such as metformin, have anticancer effects. However, the detailed mechanism for insulin and metformin-regulated cancer cell proliferation remains unclear. This study identified a mechanism by which insulin upregulated the expression of c-Myc, sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1 (SREBP1), and acetyl-coenzyme A (CoA) carboxylase 1 (ACC1), which are important regulators of lipogenesis and cell proliferation. Thymine DNA glycosylase (TDG), a DNA demethylase, was transactivated by c-Myc upon insulin treatment, thereby decreasing 5-carboxylcytosine (5caC) abundance in the SREBP1 promoter. On the other hand, metformin-activated AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) increased DNA methyltransferase 3A (DNMT3A) activity to increase 5-methylcytosine (5mC) abundance in the TDG promoter. This resulted in decreased TDG expression and enhanced 5caC abundance in the SREBP1 promoter. These findings demonstrate that c-Myc activates, whereas AMPK inhibits, TDG-mediated DNA demethylation of the SREBP1 promoter in insulin-promoted and metformin-suppressed cancer progression, respectively. This study indicates that TDG is an epigenetic-based therapeutic target for cancers associated with T2DM. Peng and colleagues demonstrate that c-Myc activates, whereas AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) inhibits, thymine DNA glycosylase (TDG)-mediated DNA demethylation of the sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1 (SREBP1) promoter in insulin-promoted and metformin-suppressed cancer progression, respectively. Therefore, targeting TDG represents an epigenetic-based therapeutic strategy for cancers associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Medicine
- Cancer Research
- Pharmacology (medical)