Upregulation of cystathionine-β-synthase in colonic epithelia reprograms metabolism and promotes carcinogenesis

Ches'Nique M. Phillips, John R. Zatarain, Michael E. Nicholls, Craig Porter, Steve G. Widen, Ketan Thanki, Paul Johnson, Muhammad U. Jawad, Mary P. Moyer, James W. Randall, Judith L. Hellmich, Manjit Maskey, Suimin Qiu, Thomas G. Wood, Nadiya Druzhyna, Bartosz Szczesny, Katalin Módis, Csaba Szabo, Celia Chao, Mark R. Hellmich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


The trans-sulfuration enzyme cystathionine-β-Synthase (CBS) and its product hydrogen sulfide (H2S) are aberrantly upregulated in colorectal cancers, where they contribute to tumor growth and progression by both autocrine and paracrine mechanisms. However, it is unknown whether the CBS/H2S axis plays a role in colorectal carcinogenesis. Here, we report upregulation of CBS in human biopsies of precancerous adenomatous polyps and show that forced upregulation of CBS in an adenoma-like colonic epithelial cell line is sufficient to induce metabolic and gene expression profiles characteristic of colorectal cancer cells. Differentially expressed metabolites (65 increased and 20 decreased) clustered into the glycolytic pathway, nucleotide sugars, intermediates of the pentose phosphate pathway, and lipogenesis, including primarily phospholipids, sphingolipids, and bile acids. CBS upregulation induced broad changes in the NCM356 cell transcriptome with over 350 differentially expressed genes. These genes overlapped significantly with gene sets related to glycolysis, hypoxia, and a colon cancer cell phenotype, including genes regulated by NF-κB, KRAS, p53, and Wnt signaling, genes downregulated after E-cadherin knockdown, and genes related to increased extracellular matrix, cell adhesion, and epithelial-tomesenchymal transition. The CBS-induced switch to an anabolic metabolism was associated with increased NCM356 cell bioenergetics, proliferation, invasion through Matrigel, resistance to anoikis, and CBS-dependent tumorigenesis in immunocompromised mice. Genetic ablation of CBS in CBS heterozygous mice (CBS+/-) reduced the number of mutagen-induced aberrant colonic crypt foci. Taken together, these results establish that activation of the CBS/H2S axis promotes colon carcinogenesis. Cancer Res; 77(21); 5741-54.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5741-5754
Number of pages14
JournalCancer Research
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Upregulation of cystathionine-β-synthase in colonic epithelia reprograms metabolism and promotes carcinogenesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this