Mutations in succinate dehydrogenase B (SDHB) gene are frequently observed in several tumors and associated with poor prognosis in these tumors. Therefore, drugs effective for SDHB-deficient tumors could fulfill an unmet medical need. In addition, such drugs would have an advantage in that selection of patients with SDHB-mutant cancer could increase the probability of success in clinical trials. Currently, however, the characteristics of SDHB-deficient cancers are not completely understood. Here, we established SDHB knockout cancer cell lines from human colon cancer HCT116 cells using the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)/ Cas9 knockout system, and clarified its metabolic characteristics. In the SDHB knockout cells, succinate was accumulated and fumarate was decreased. The oxygen consumption rate was decreased while the extracellular acidification rate was increased in the SDHB knockout cells. Accordingly, an enhanced glycolysis pathway in the SDHB knockout cells was demonstrated by metabolomics analysis. Tracer experiments showed bidirectional metabolic flow in the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, possibly to maintain the necessary amounts of metabolites in the SDHB knockout cells. The proliferation of SDHB knockout cells was suppressed by a glycolysis inhibitor but not by a mitochondrial inhibitor. Additionally, partial dependence on glutaminolysis was observed in the SDHB knockout cells. Compound screening revealed that a bromodomain and extra-terminal (BET) inhibitor, which downregulated c-Myc, suppressed the growth of the SDHB knockout cells more potently than that of control cells. These findings provide an understanding of the metabolic characteristics of SDHB-deficient cancer and its vulnerabilities, which may lead to new therapeutic options.
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