SOAT1 regulates cholesterol metabolism to induce EMT in hepatocellular carcinoma

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Cell Death Dis. 2024 May 9;15(5):325. doi: 10.1038/s41419-024-06711-9.

ABSTRACT

Cholesterol metabolism reprogramming is one of the significant characteristics of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Cholesterol increases the risk of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in cancer. Sterol O-acyltransferases 1 (SOAT1) maintains the cholesterol homeostasis. However, the exact mechanistic contribution of SOAT1 to EMT in HCC remains unclear. Here we demonstrated that SOAT1 positively related to poor prognosis of HCC, EMT markers and promoted cell migration and invasion in vitro, which was mediated by the increased cholesterol in plasmalemma and cholesterol esters accumulation. Furthermore, we reported that SOAT1 disrupted cholesterol metabolism homeostasis to accelerate tumorigenesis and development in HCC xenograft and NAFLD-HCC. Also, we detected that nootkatone, a sesquiterpene ketone, inhibited EMT by targeting SOAT1 in vitro and in vivo. Collectively, our finding indicated that SOAT1 promotes EMT and contributes to hepatocarcinogenesis by increasing cholesterol esterification, which is suppressed efficiently by nootkatone. This study demonstrated that SOAT1 is a potential biomarker and therapeutic target in NAFLD-HCC and SOAT1-targeting inhibitors are expected to be the potential new therapeutic treatment for HCC.

PMID:38724499 | DOI:10.1038/s41419-024-06711-9