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This article is the author's final published version in Cancer Research Communications, Volume 3, Issue 10, October 2023, Pages 2195 - 2210.

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Copyright © 2023 The Authors


UNLABELLED: Lipid droplets (LD) are dynamic organelles that serve as hubs of cellular metabolic processes. Emerging evidence shows that LDs also play a critical role in maintaining redox homeostasis and can mitigate lipid oxidative stress. In multiple cancers, including prostate cancer, LD accumulation is associated with cancer aggressiveness, therapy resistance, and poor clinical outcome. Prostate cancer arises as an androgen receptor (AR)-driven disease. Among its myriad roles, AR mediates the biosynthesis of LDs, induces autophagy, and modulates cellular oxidative stress in a tightly regulated cycle that promotes cell proliferation. The factors regulating the interplay of these metabolic processes downstream of AR remain unclear. Here, we show that Sigma1/SIGMAR1, a unique ligand-operated scaffolding protein, regulates LD metabolism in prostate cancer cells. Sigma1 inhibition triggers lipophagy, an LD selective form of autophagy, to prevent accumulation of LDs which normally act to sequester toxic levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS). This disrupts the interplay between LDs, autophagy, buffering of oxidative stress and redox homeostasis, and results in the suppression of cell proliferation in vitro and tumor growth in vivo. Consistent with these experimental results, SIGMAR1 transcripts are strongly associated with lipid metabolism and ROS pathways in prostate tumors. Altogether, these data reveal a novel, pharmacologically responsive role for Sigma1 in regulating the redox homeostasis required by oncogenic metabolic programs that drive prostate cancer proliferation.

SIGNIFICANCE: To proliferate, cancer cells must maintain productive metabolic and oxidative stress (eustress) while mitigating destructive, uncontrolled oxidative stress (distress). LDs are metabolic hubs that enable adaptive responses to promote eustress. Targeting the unique Sigma1 protein can trigger distress by disrupting the LD-mediated homeostasis required for proliferation.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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