The glycolytic enzyme hexokinase (HK2), which is aberrantly expressed in various types of tumours, is associated with metastasis. However, its role in the progression and metastasis of tongue squamous cell carcinoma (TSCC) remains unclear. The results of our study showed that HK2 expression is often deregulated in TSCC patients. Increased HK2 expression was associated with tumour stage, clinical stage, lymph node metastasis, but not pathological grade, and reduced overall survival. Microarray and western blotting analyses revealed increases in HK2 expression in TSCC cells with higher metastatic potential. The following effects were observed with HK2 knockdown: inhibition of cell migration and invasion; reduced SOD2 activity and intracellular H2O2 levels; suppression of pERK1/2, Slug and Vimentin expression; and inhibition of tumour growth and lung metastasis in vivo. Conversely, HK2 overexpression promoted cell migration and invasion, increased SOD2 activity and intracellular H2O2, and enhanced expression of pERK1/2, Slug and Vimentin. Thus, our results demonstrate that deregulation of HK2 expression has an important function in the progression of TSCC and may serve as a biomarker of its metastatic potential in TSCC patients. HK2 enhances the metastatic potential of TSCC by stimulating the SOD2-H2O2 pathway.
Wang, W., Liu, Z., Zhao, L., Sun, J., He, Q., Yan, W., … Wang, A. (2017). Hexokinase 2 enhances the metastatic potential of tongue squamous cell carcinoma via the SOD2-H2O2 pathway. Oncotarget, 8(2), 3344–3354. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.13763