Malic enzyme 2 maintains protein stability of mutant p53 through 2-hydroxyglutarate
Mengjia Zhao # 1 2, Pengbo Yao # 1, Youxiang Mao # 1, Jinjun Wu # 1, Weihua Wang 3, Chenhui Geng 1, Jie Cheng 1, Wenjing Du 4, Peng Jiang 5
Nat Metab.2022 Feb;4(2):225-238. doi: 10.1038/s42255-022-00532-w.
Many types of cancer feature TP53 mutations with oncogenic properties. However, whether the oncogenic activity of mutant p53 is affected by the cellular metabolic state is unknown. Here we show that cancer-associated mutant p53 protein is stabilized by 2-hydroxyglutarate generated by malic enzyme 2. Mechanistically, malic enzyme 2 promotes the production of 2-hydroxyglutarate by adjusting glutaminolysis, as well as through a reaction that requires pyruvate and NADPH. Malic enzyme 2 depletion decreases cellular 2-hydroxyglutarate levels in vitro and in vivo, whereas elevated malic enzyme 2 expression increases 2-hydroxyglutarate production. We further show that 2-hydroxyglutarate binds directly to mutant p53, which reduces Mdm2-mediated mutant p53 ubiquitination and degradation. 2-Hydroxyglutarate supplementation is sufficient for maintaining mutant p53 protein stability in malic enzyme 2-depleted cells, and restores tumour growth of malic enzyme 2-ablated cells, but not of cells that lack mutant p53. Our findings reveal the previously unrecognized versatility of malic enzyme 2 catalytic functions, and uncover a role for mutant p53 in sensing cellular 2-hydroxyglutarate levels, which contribute to the stabilization of mutant p53 and tumour growth.