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J Biol Chem. 2019 Jul 26;294(30):11354-11368. doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA118.007152. Epub 2019 Jun 6.

Peroxynitrite supports a metabolic reprogramming in merlin-deficient Schwann cells and promotes cell survival.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, College of Science, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331.
Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida 32827.
Department of Pediatrics and Otolaryngology, NYU Langone Health, New York, New York 10016.
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, College of Science, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331


Neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) is an autosomal-dominant disorder characterized by the development of bilateral vestibular schwannomas. The NF2 gene encodes the tumor suppressor merlin, and loss of merlin activity promotes tumorigenesis and causes NF2. Cellular redox signaling has been implicated in different stages of tumor development. Among reactive nitrogen species, peroxynitrite is the most powerful oxidant produced by cells. We recently showed that peroxynitrite-mediated tyrosine nitration down-regulates mitochondrial metabolism in tumor cells. However, whether peroxynitrite supports a metabolic shift that could be exploited for therapeutic development is unknown. Here, we show that vestibular schwannomas from NF2 patients and human, merlin-deficient (MD) Schwann cells have high levels of endogenous tyrosine nitration, indicating production of peroxynitrite. Furthermore, scavenging or inhibiting peroxynitrite formation significantly and selectively decreased survival of human and mouse MD-Schwann cells. Using multiple complementary methods, we also found that merlin deficiency leads to a reprogramming of energy metabolism characterized by a peroxynitrite-dependent decrease of oxidative phosphorylation and increased glycolysis and glutaminolysis. In MD-Schwann cells, scavenging of peroxynitrite increased mitochondrial oxygen consumption and membrane potential, mediated by the up-regulation of the levels and activity of mitochondrial complex IV. This increase in mitochondrial activity correlated with a decrease in the glycolytic rate and glutamine dependence. This is the first demonstration of a peroxynitrite-dependent reprogramming of energy metabolism in tumor cells. Oxidized proteins constitute a novel target for therapeutic development not only for the treatment of NF2 schwannomas but also other tumors in which peroxynitrite plays a regulatory role.


Schwann cells; bioenergetics; energy metabolism; merlin; neurofibromatosis; nitration; peroxynitrite; redox signaling; schwannoma; tumor metabolism

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