Translational Research Institute, Henan Provincial People's Hospital, Academy of Medical Science, Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou 450003, China; Key Laboratory of Stem Cell Differentiation & Modification, School of Clinical Medicine, Henan University, Zhengzhou 450003, China; Department of Immunology, Anhui Medical University, Hefei 230027, China. Electronic address: [Email]
We report that circACC1, a circular RNA derived from human ACC1, plays a critical role in cellular responses to metabolic stress. CircACC1 is preferentially produced over ACC1 in response to serum deprivation by the transcription factor c-Jun. It functions to stabilize and promote the enzymatic activity of the AMPK holoenzyme by forming a ternary complex with the regulatory β and γ subunits. The cellular levels of circACC1 modulate both fatty acid β-oxidation and glycolysis, resulting in profound changes in cellular lipid storage. In a tumor xenograft model, silencing or enforced expression of circACC1 resulted in growth inhibition and enhancement, respectively. Moreover, increased AMPK activation in colorectal cancer tissues was frequently associated with elevated circACC1 expression. We conclude that circACC1 serves as an economic means to elicit AMPK activation and moreover propose that cancer cells exploit circACC1 during metabolic reprogramming.