EGFR Signal-Network Reconstruction Demonstrates Metabolic Crosstalk in EMT

Kumari Sonal Choudhary, Neha Rohatgi, Skarphedinn Halldorsson, Eirikur Briem, Thorarinn Gudjonsson, Steinn Gudmundsson, Ottar Rolfsson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) is an important event during development and cancer metastasis. There is limited understanding of the metabolic alterations that give rise to and take place during EMT. Dysregulation of signalling pathways that impact metabolism, including epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), are however a hallmark of EMT and metastasis. In this study, we report the investigation into EGFR signalling and metabolic crosstalk of EMT through constraint-based modelling and analysis of the breast epithelial EMT cell model D492 and its mesenchymal counterpart D492M. We built an EGFR signalling network for EMT based on stoichiometric coefficients and constrained the network with gene expression data to build epithelial (EGFR_E) and mesenchymal (EGFR_M) networks. Metabolic alterations arising from differential expression of EGFR genes was derived from a literature review of AKT regulated metabolic genes. Signaling flux differences between EGFR_E and EGFR_M models subsequently allowed metabolism in D492 and D492M cells to be assessed. Higher flux within AKT pathway in the D492 cells compared to D492M suggested higher glycolytic activity in D492 that we confirmed experimentally through measurements of glucose uptake and lactate secretion rates. The signaling genes from the AKT, RAS/MAPK and CaM pathways were predicted to revert D492M to D492 phenotype. Follow-up analysis of EGFR signaling metabolic crosstalk in three additional breast epithelial cell lines highlighted variability in in vitro cell models of EMT. This study shows that the metabolic phenotype may be predicted by in silico analyses of gene expression data of EGFR signaling genes, but this phenomenon is cell-specific and does not follow a simple trend.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1004924
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Choudhary et al.


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