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Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2019 Jan;60(1):49-57. doi: 10.1165/rcmb.2018-0180OC.

Glutaminolysis Epigenetically Regulates Antiapoptotic Gene Expression in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Fibroblasts.

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1 Laboratory of Clinical Medicine, The Second Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, China.
2 Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama; and.
3 Division of Pulmonary, and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.


Fibrotic responses involve multiple cellular processes, including epigenetic changes. Epigenetic changes are sensitive to alterations in the tissue microenvironment such as the flux of tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle metabolites. TCA metabolites directly regulate epigenetic states, in part by regulating histone modification-related enzymes. Glutaminolysis is a critical metabolic process by which glutamine is converted to glutamate by glutaminase and then to α-ketoglutarate (α-KG), a TCA cycle metabolite. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a disease characterized by aberrant metabolism, including enhanced glutaminolysis. IPF fibroblasts are apoptosis resistant. In this study, we explored the relationship between glutaminolysis and the resistance to apoptosis of IPF fibroblasts. Inhibition of glutaminolysis decreased expression of XIAP and survivin, members of the inhibitor of apoptosis protein (IAP) family. α-KG is a cofactor for JMJD3 histone demethylase, which targets H3K27me3. In the absence of glutamine, JMJD3 activity in fibroblasts is significantly decreased, whereas H3K27me3 levels are increased. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays confirmed that JMJD3 directly interacts with XIAP and survivin promoter regions in a glutamine-dependent manner. Exogenous α-KG partially restores JMJD3 function and its interaction with the XIAP and survivin promoter regions under glutamine-deficient conditions. Interestingly, α-KG upregulates XIAP, but not survivin, suggesting differential α-KG-dependent and -independent mechanisms by which glutamine regulates these IAPs. Our data demonstrate a novel mechanism of metabolic regulation in which glutaminolysis promotes apoptosis resistance of IPF fibroblasts through epigenetic regulation of XIAP and survivin.


H3K27me3; IPF fibroblasts; JMJD3; apoptosis; glutamine

[Available on 2020-01-01]

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