Deregulation of Hexokinase II Is Associated with Glycolysis, Autophagy, and the Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition in Tongue Squamous Cell Carcinoma under Hypoxia

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Abstract

The glycolytic enzyme Hexokinase (HKII) participates in tumor glycolysis and the progression of various cancers, but its clinicopathological effect on the progression of tongue squamous cell carcinoma (TSCC) and its role in glycolysis, autophagy, and the epithelial-mesenchymal transition of TSCC in a hypoxic microenvironment remain unknown. Our results showed that HKII expression was dramatically increased in TSCC tissues and that its upregulation was significantly associated with the presence of pathological differentiation, lymph node metastasis, and clinical stage. The level of autophagy-specific protein LC3, EMT-related proteins, and the migration and invasion capabilities of TSCC cells all increased under hypoxia. Moreover, hypoxia increased the glucose consumption and lactate production of TSCC cells, and we demonstrated that the expression of the glycolytic key gene HKII was significantly higher than in that of the control group. Notably, the downregulation of HKII resulted in a significant decrease of TSCC cell glucose consumption lactate production and autophagic activity during hypoxia. HKII knockdown blocked the migratory and invasive capacity of TSCC cells and we specifically determined that the EMT ability decreased. Therefore, our findings revealed that the upregulation of HKII enhanced glycolysis and increased autophagy and the epithelial-mesenchymal transition of tongue squamous cell carcinoma under hypoxia.

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Chen, G., Zhang, Y., Liang, J., Li, W., Zhu, Y., Zhang, M., … Hou, J. (2018). Deregulation of Hexokinase II Is Associated with Glycolysis, Autophagy, and the Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition in Tongue Squamous Cell Carcinoma under Hypoxia. BioMed Research International, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/8480762

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