Transcriptional Profiling Reveals a Common Metabolic Program in High-Risk Human Neuroblastoma and Mouse Neuroblastoma Sphere-Forming Cells

Mengling Liu, Yingfeng Xia, Jane Ding, Bingwei Ye, Erhu Zhao, Jeong Hyeon Choi, Ahmet Alptekin, Chunhong Yan, Zheng Dong, Shuang Huang, Liqun Yang, Hongjuan Cui, Yunhong Zha, Han Fei Ding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations


High-risk neuroblastoma remains one of the deadliest childhood cancers. Identification of metabolic pathways that drive or maintain high-risk neuroblastoma may open new avenues of therapeutic interventions. Here, we report the isolation and propagation of neuroblastoma sphere-forming cells with self-renewal and differentiation potential from tumors of the TH-MYCN mouse, an animal model of high-risk neuroblastoma with MYCN amplification. Transcriptional profiling reveals that mouse neuroblastoma sphere-forming cells acquire a metabolic program characterized by transcriptional activation of the cholesterol and serine-glycine synthesis pathways, primarily as a result of increased expression of sterol regulatory element binding factors and Atf4, respectively. This metabolic reprogramming is recapitulated in high-risk human neuroblastomas and is prognostic for poor clinical outcome. Genetic and pharmacological inhibition of the metabolic program markedly decreases the growth and tumorigenicity of both mouse neuroblastoma sphere-forming cells and human neuroblastoma cell lines. These findings suggest a therapeutic strategy for targeting the metabolic program of high-risk neuroblastoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)609-623
Number of pages15
JournalCell Reports
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 4 2016



  • MYCN
  • TH-MYCN mouse
  • cancer metabolism
  • cholesterol biosynthesis
  • high-risk neuroblastoma
  • mevalonate pathway
  • neuroblastoma stem cells
  • serine-glycine biosynthesis
  • statin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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