Dr. Yibin Deng leads team with paper now published in ‘Cell Reports’

Yibin Deng - Hormel Institute

Section Leader
Yibin Deng, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professo

Men suffering from highly aggressive, lethal forms of prostate cancer potentially could benefit from new findings made in a project led by scientists at The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota.

   Dr. Yibin Deng, leader of the “Cell Death & Cancer Genetics” research section at The Hormel Institute, and his team had their work on prostate cancer recently published in “Cell Reports” journal. Their studies identified hexokinase 2 (HK2) – an enzyme that catalyzes the first committed step in glucose metabolism – as a potential therapeutic target for prostate cancer patients who carry Pten and p53 gene mutations.

HK2 is upregulated in prostate cancer cells that have Pten/p53 gene mutations, and it is required for Pten/p53-deficiency driven prostate tumor growth, Deng said.

“In prostate cancer cells, the combined deficiency of Pten and p53 synergistically leads to the elevated HK2 expression to fuel the aggressive prostate cancer growth,” Deng said. “HK2 is almost exclusively expressed in prostate cancer tissue in comparison with normal prostate tissue.”

Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men after lung cancer in the United States.

Growing evidence suggests that co-deletion of the tumor-suppressor genes – Pten and p53 – plays a crucial role in the development of castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC), which is incurable, lethal prostate cancer. Currently, the effective therapeutic strategy is limited by the scarcity of identified crucial targets required for Pten/p53-deficiency driven CRPC.

Although increased HK2 expression has been observed in certain types of cancer cells and tumor tissues, the molecular mechanisms that increase HK2 expression have remained incompletely understood.

Deng’s study provides significant, new insights into the underlying molecular mechanisms for HK2 upregulation in prostate cancer cells carrying Pten/p53 aberrations.

The Hormel Institute team collaborated on the project with researchers from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Pharmacy in Amarillo, Texas; The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas; Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y.; and Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester.