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 Original Article

Systematic analyses of glutamine and glutamate metabolisms across different cancer types
Yuan Tian, Wei Du, Sha Cao, Yue Wu, Ning Dong, Yan Wang and Ying Xu
College of Computer Science and Technology, Jilin University

Glutamine and glutamate are known to play important roles in cancer biology. However, no detailed information is available in terms of their levels of involvement in various biological processes across different cancer types, whereas such knowledge could be critical for understanding the distinct characteristics of different cancer types. Our computational study aimed to examine the functional roles of glutamine and glutamate across different cancer types.
We conducted a comparative analysis of gene expression data of cancer tissues versus normal control tissues of 11 cancer types to understand glutamine and glutamate metabolisms in cancer. Specifically, we developed a linear regression model to assess differential contributions by glutamine and/or glutamate to each of seven biological processes in cancer versus control tissues.
While our computational predictions were consistent with some of the previous observations, multiple novel predictions were made: (1) glutamine is generally not involved in purine synthesis in cancer except for breast cancer, and is similarly not involved in pyridine synthesis except for kidney cancer; (2) glutamine is generally not involved in ATP production in cancer; (3) glutamine’s contribution to nucleotide synthesis is minimal if any in cancer; (4) glutamine is not involved in asparagine synthesis in cancer except for bladder and lung cancers; and (5) glutamate does not contribute to serine synthesis except for bladder cancer.
We comprehensively predicted the roles of glutamine and glutamate metabolisms in selected metabolic pathways in cancer tissues versus control tissues, which may lead to novel approaches to therapeutic development targeted at glutamine and/or glutamate metabolism. However, our predictions need further functional validation.
Chinese Journal of Cancer 2017, Volume: 36, Issue 12
doi: 10.1186/s40880-017-0255-y
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