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A Critical Role of Glutamine and Asparagine γ-Nitrogen in Nucleotide Biosynthesis in Cancer Cells Hijacked by an Oncogenic Virus.

A Critical Role of Glutamine and Asparagine γ-Nitrogen in Nucleotide Biosynthesis in Cancer Cells Hijacked by an Oncogenic Virus.
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Zhu Y, Li T, Ramos da Silva S, Lee JJ, Lu C, Eoh H, Jung JU, Gao SJ,


Zhu Y, Li T, Ramos da Silva S, Lee JJ, Lu C, Eoh H, Jung JU, Gao SJ, (click to view)

Zhu Y, Li T, Ramos da Silva S, Lee JJ, Lu C, Eoh H, Jung JU, Gao SJ,

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mBio 2017 08 158(4) pii e01179-17
Abstract

While glutamine is a nonessential amino acid that can be synthesized from glucose, some cancer cells primarily depend on glutamine for their growth, proliferation, and survival. Numerous types of cancer also depend on asparagine for cell proliferation. The underlying mechanisms of the glutamine and asparagine requirement in cancer cells in different contexts remain unclear. In this study, we show that the oncogenic virus Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) accelerates the glutamine metabolism of glucose-independent proliferation of cancer cells by upregulating the expression of numerous critical enzymes, including glutaminase 2 (GLS2), glutamate dehydrogenase 1 (GLUD1), and glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase 2 (GOT2), to support cell proliferation. Surprisingly, cell crisis is rescued only completely by supplementation with asparagine but minimally by supplementation with α-ketoglutarate, aspartate, or glutamate upon glutamine deprivation, implying an essential role of γ-nitrogen in glutamine and asparagine for cell proliferation. Specifically, glutamine and asparagine provide the critical γ-nitrogen for purine and pyrimidine biosynthesis, as knockdown of four rate-limiting enzymes in the pathways, including carbamoylphosphate synthetase 2 (CAD), phosphoribosyl pyrophosphate amidotransferase (PPAT), and phosphoribosyl pyrophosphate synthetases 1 and 2 (PRPS1 and PRPS2, respectively), suppresses cell proliferation. These findings indicate that glutamine and asparagine are shunted to the biosynthesis of nucleotides and nonessential amino acids from the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle to support the anabolic proliferation of KSHV-transformed cells. Our results illustrate a novel mechanism by which an oncogenic virus hijacks a metabolic pathway for cell proliferation and imply potential therapeutic applications in specific types of cancer that depend on this pathway.IMPORTANCE We have previously found that Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) can efficiently infect and transform primary mesenchymal stem cells; however, the metabolic pathways supporting the anabolic proliferation of KSHV-transformed cells remain unknown. Glutamine and asparagine are essential for supporting the growth, proliferation, and survival of some cancer cells. In this study, we have found that KSHV accelerates glutamine metabolism by upregulating numerous critical metabolic enzymes. Unlike most cancer cells that primarily utilize glutamine and asparagine to replenish the TCA cycle, KSHV-transformed cells depend on glutamine and asparagine for providing γ-nitrogen for purine and pyrimidine biosynthesis. We identified four rate-limiting enzymes in this pathway that are essential for the proliferation of KSHV-transformed cells. Our results demonstrate a novel mechanism by which an oncogenic virus hijacks a metabolic pathway for cell proliferation and imply potential therapeutic applications in specific types of cancer that depend on this pathway.

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