University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

The BCAT1 CXXC Motif Provides Protection Against ROS in Acute Myeloid Leukaemia Cells

Hillier, James, Allcott, Gemma, Guest, Laura, Heaselgrave, Wayne, Tonks, Alex, Conway, Myra, Cherry, Amy ORCID: and Coles, Steven ORCID: (2022) The BCAT1 CXXC Motif Provides Protection Against ROS in Acute Myeloid Leukaemia Cells. Antioxidants, 11 (4). p. 683. ISSN 2076-3921

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The cytosolic branched-chain aminotransferase (BCAT1) has received attention for its role in myeloid leukaemia development, where studies indicate metabolic adaptations due to BCAT1 up-regulation. BCAT1, like the mitochondria isoform (BCAT2), shares a conserved CXXC motif ~10 Å from the active site. This CXXC motif has been shown to act as a ‘redox-switch’ in the enzymatic regulation of the BCAT proteins, however the response to reactive oxygen species (ROS) differs between BCAT isoforms. Studies indicate that the BCAT1 CXXC motif is several orders of magnitude less sensitive to the effects of ROS compared with BCAT2. Moreover, estimation of the reduction mid-point potential of BCAT1, indicates that BCAT1 is more reductive in nature and may possess antioxidant properties. Therefore, the aim of this study was to further characterise the BCAT1 CXXC motif and evaluate its role in acute myeloid leukaemia. Our biochemical analyses show that purified wild-type (WT) BCAT1 protein could metabolise H2O2 in vitro, whereas CXXC motif mutant or WT BCAT2 could not, demonstrating for the first time a novel antioxidant role for the BCAT1 CXXC motif. Transformed U937 AML cells over-expressing WT BCAT1, showed lower levels of intracellular ROS compared with cells over-expressing the CXXC motif mutant (CXXS) or Vector Controls, indicating that the BCAT1 CXXC motif may buffer intracellular ROS, impacting on cell proliferation. U937 AML cells over-expressing WT BCAT1 displayed less cellular differentiation, as observed by a reduction of the myeloid markers; CD11b, CD14, CD68, and CD36. This finding suggests a role for the BCAT1 CXXC motif in cell development, which is an important pathological feature of myeloid leukaemia, a disease characterised by a block in myeloid differentiation. Furthermore, WT BCAT1 cells were more resistant to apoptosis compared with CXXS BCAT1 cells, an important observation given the role of ROS in apoptotic signalling and myeloid leukaemia development. Since CD36 has been shown to be Nrf2 regulated, we investigated the expression of the Nrf2 regulated gene, TrxRD1. Our data show that the expression of TrxRD1 was downregulated in transformed U937 AML cells overexpressing WT BCAT1, which taken with the reduction in CD36 implicates less Nrf2 activation. Therefore, this finding may implicate the BCAT1 CXXC motif in wider cellular redox-mediated processes. Altogether, this study provides the first evidence to suggest that the BCAT1 CXXC motif may contribute to the buffering of ROS levels inside AML cells, which may impact ROS-mediated processes in the development of myeloid leukaemia.

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This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: BCAT1, CXXC-motif, AML, myeloid, leukaemia, ROS, cysteine, antioxidant
Subjects: Q Science > QD Chemistry
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0254 Neoplasms. Tumors. Oncology (including Cancer)
Divisions: College of Health, Life and Environmental Sciences > School of Science and the Environment
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Copyright Info: © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
Depositing User: Steven Coles
Date Deposited: 01 Apr 2022 09:28
Last Modified: 24 Sep 2022 04:00

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