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Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2009 Feb;19(1):32-7. doi: 10.1016/j.gde.2009.01.002. Epub 2009 Feb 5.

The molecular determinants of de novo nucleotide biosynthesis in cancer cells.

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  • 1Department of Cancer Biology, Abramson Cancer Center, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6160, USA.


Tumor cells increase the use of anabolic pathways to satisfy the metabolic requirements associated with a high growth rate. Transformed cells take up and metabolize nutrients such as glucose and glutamine at high levels that support anabolic growth. Oncogenic signaling through the PI3K/Akt and Myc pathways directly control glucose and glutamine uptake, respectively. In order to achieve elevated rates of nucleotide biosynthesis, neoplastic cells must divert carbon from PI3K/Akt-induced glycolytic flux into the nonoxidative branch of the pentose phosphate pathway to generate ribose-5-phosphate. This redirection of glucose catabolism appears to be regulated by cytoplasmic tyrosine kinases. Myc-induced glutamine metabolism also increases the abundance and activity of different rate-limiting enzymes that produce the molecular precursors required for de novo nucleotide synthesis. In this review, we will focus on recent progress in understanding how glucose and glutamine metabolism is redirected by oncogenes in order to support de novo nucleotide biosynthesis during proliferation and how metabolic reprogramming can be potentially exploited in the development of new cancer therapies.

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