Glutamine synthetase regulates the immune micro-environment and cancer development through the inflammatory pathway

Do Thi Minh Xuan, Chung Che Wu, Wei Jan Wang, Hui Ping Hsu, Hoang Dang Khoa Ta, Gangga Anuraga, Chung Chieh Chiao, Chih Yang Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Although adjuvant tamoxifen therapy is beneficial to estrogen receptor-positive (ER +) breast cancer patients, a significant number of patients still develop metastasis or undergo recurrence. Therefore, identifying novel diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers for these patients is urgently needed. Predictive markers and therapeutic strategies for tamoxifen-resistant ER + breast cancer are not clear, and micro (mi)RNAs have recently become a focal research point in cancer studies owing to their regulation of gene expressions, metabolism, and many other physiological processes. Therefore, systematic investigation is required to understand the modulation of gene expression in tamoxifen-resistant patients. High-throughput technology uses a holistic approach to observe differences among expression profiles of thousands of genes, which provides a comprehensive level to extensively investigate functional genomics and biological processes. Through a bioinformatics analysis, we revealed that glutamine synthetase/glutamate-ammonia ligase ( GLUL) might play essential roles in the recurrence of tamoxifen-resistant ER + patients. GLUL increases intracellular glutamine usage via glutaminolysis, and further active metabolism-related downstream molecules in cancer cell. However, how GLUL regulates the tumor microenvironment for tamoxifen-resistant ER + breast cancer remains unexplored. Analysis of MetaCore pathway database demonstrated that GLUL is involved in the cell cycle, immune response, interleukin (IL)-4-induced regulators of cell growth, differentiation, and metabolism-related pathways. Experimental data also confirmed that the knockdown of GLUL in breast cancer cell lines decreased cell proliferation and influenced expressions of specific downstream molecules. Through a Connectivity Map (CMap) analysis, we revealed that certain drugs/molecules, including omeprazole, methacholine chloride, ioversol, fulvestrant, difenidol, cycloserine, and MK-801, may serve as potential treatments for tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer patients. These drugs may be tested in combination with current therapies in tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer patients. Collectively, our study demonstrated the crucial roles of GLUL, which provide new targets for the treatment of tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-49
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Breast Neoplasms/drug therapy
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm/genetics
  • Female
  • Fulvestrant/therapeutic use
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Glutamate-Ammonia Ligase/genetics
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs
  • Tamoxifen/pharmacology
  • Tumor Microenvironment/genetics


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