The gut microbial metabolite formate exacerbates colorectal cancer progression


Different gut bacteria have been shown to promote colorectal cancer (CRC) progression. The authors identify formate as an oncometabolite derived from Fusobacterium nucleatum, which promotes CRC formation by increasing cancer stemness. The gut microbiome is a key player in the immunomodulatory and protumorigenic microenvironment during colorectal cancer (CRC), as different gut-derived bacteria can induce tumour growth. However, the crosstalk between the gut microbiome and the host in relation to tumour cell metabolism remains largely unexplored. Here we show that formate, a metabolite produced by the CRC-associated bacterium Fusobacterium nucleatum, promotes CRC development. We describe molecular signatures linking CRC phenotypes with Fusobacterium abundance. Cocultures of F. nucleatum with patient-derived CRC cells display protumorigenic effects, along with a metabolic shift towards increased formate secretion and cancer glutamine metabolism. We further show that microbiome-derived formate drives CRC tumour invasion by triggering AhR signalling, while increasing cancer stemness. Finally, F. nucleatum or formate treatment in mice leads to increased tumour incidence or size, and Th17 cell expansion, which can favour proinflammatory profiles. Moving beyond observational studies, we identify formate as a gut-derived oncometabolite that is relevant for CRC progression.



epithelial-mesenchymal transition, fusobacterium-nucleatum, stem-cells, fap2, metastasis, binding, tumors