The metabolic changes in melanoma cells that are required for tumor metastasis have not been fully elucidated. In this study, we show that the increase in glucose uptake and mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation confers metastatic ability as a result of aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator (ARNT) deficiency. In clinical tissue specimens, increased ARNT, pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 1 (PDK1), and NAD(P)H quinine oxidoreductase-1 (NQO1) was observed in benign nevi, whereas lower expression was observed in melanoma. The depletion of ARNT dramatically repressed PDK1 and NQO1 expression, which resulted in an increase of ROS levels. The elimination of ROS using N-acetylcysteine (NAC) and inhibition of oxidative phosphorylation using carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenyl hydrazone (CCCP) and rotenone inhibited the ARNT and PDK1 deficiency-induced cell migration and invasion. In addition, ARNT deficiency in tumor cells manipulated the glycolytic pathway through enhancement of the glucose uptake rate, which reduced glucose dependence. Intriguingly, CCCP and NAC dramatically inhibited ARNT and PDK1 deficiency-induced tumor cell extravasation in mouse models. Our work demonstrates that downregulation of ARNT and PDK1 expression serves as a prognosticator, which confers metastatic potential as the metastasizing cells depend on metabolic changes.
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