The Francis Crick Institute
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The impact of physiological metabolite levels on serine uptake, synthesis and utilization in cancer cells.

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-10-29, 11:48 authored by Marc Hennequart, Christiaan F Labuschagne, Mylène Tajan, Steven E Pilley, Eric C Cheung, Nathalie M Legrave, Paul C Driscoll, Karen H Vousden
Serine is a non-essential amino acid that is critical for tumour proliferation and depletion of circulating serine results in reduced tumour growth and increased survival in various cancer models. While many cancer cells cultured in a standard tissue culture medium depend on exogenous serine for optimal growth, here we report that these cells are less sensitive to serine/glycine depletion in medium containing physiological levels of metabolites. The lower requirement for exogenous serine under these culture conditions reflects both increased de novo serine synthesis and the use of hypoxanthine (not present in the standard medium) to support purine synthesis. Limiting serine availability leads to increased uptake of extracellular hypoxanthine, sparing available serine for other pathways such as glutathione synthesis. Taken together these results improve our understanding of serine metabolism in physiologically relevant nutrient conditions and allow us to predict interventions that may enhance the therapeutic response to dietary serine/glycine limitation.


Crick (Grant ID: 10557, Grant title: Vousden FC001557) Crick (Grant ID: 10012, Grant title: STP Metabolomics) Cancer Research UK (Grant ID: 26855, Grant title: CRUK C596/A26855) Crick (Grant ID: 10029, Grant title: Frenkiel FC001029)