SCD1 Is a Novel Molecular Target in Renal Cell Carcinoma

Stearoyl-CoA desaturase (SCD1), a lipid metabolism enzyme, was observed in Dr. Copland's Cancer Biology and Translational Oncogenomics Lab to be abnormally expressed in clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) at high levels when compared with patient-matched normal tissue at both the transcriptional level and protein level.

This occurs as an early event seen in stage I patient samples, and expression remains elevated throughout the course of disease progression, while normal tissue expression is nominal if at all present.

SCD1 is an iron-containing enzyme belonging to a family of fatty acyl desaturases whose role is to catalyze the biosynthesis of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), oleic acid and palmitoleic acids, from the saturated fatty acids (SFAs), including stearic acid and palmitic acid.

MUFAs are involved in many biological processes, are a major constituent of biological structures such as membranes, and can also function as or modify signaling molecules.

Genetic and molecular targeting of SCD1 activity results in tumor-specific inhibition of cell growth and induction of apoptosis both in vitro and in vivo. SCD1 therefore is a novel molecular target for the treatment of clear cell renal cell carcinoma and may also serve as a predictive biomarker for therapy in patients with this disease.