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Biochimie. 1992 Nov;74(11):959-74.

Deviant energetic metabolism of glycolytic cancer cells.

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LBTMSI, UMR 24 CNRS, Villeurbanne, France.


The central glycolytic and oxidative pathways and the ATP-producing mechanisms differ in sane and malignant cells by their regulation and dynamics. Fast-growing, poorly-differentiated cancer cells characteristically show high aerobic glycolysis. In the same way, cholesterol biosynthesis, which occurs by normal pathways in tumors, is deficient in feed-back regulation and in sterol-transport mechanisms. Other metabolic ways are deficient, as for example, intramitochondrial aldehyde catabolism, at the origin of a possible acetaldehyde toxicity, which can be circumvented by the synthesis of an unusual and neutral product for mammalian cells acetoin, through tumoral pyruvate dehydrogenase. If most of the glycolytic pyruvate is deviated to lactate production, little of the remaining carbons enter a truncated Krebs cycle where citrate is preferentially extruded to the cytosol where it feeds sterol synthesis. Glutamine is the major oxidizable substrate by tumor cells. Inside the mitochondrion, it is deaminated to glutamate through a phosphate-dependent glutaminase. Glutamate is then preferentially transaminated to alpha-ketoglutarate that enters the Krebs cycle. Glutamine may be completely oxidized through the abnormal Krebs cycle only if a way of forming acetyl CoA is present: cytosolic malate entering mitochondria is preferentially oxidized to pyruvate + CO2 through an intramitochondrial NAD(P)(+)-malic enzyme, whereas intramitochondrial malate is preferentially oxidized to oxaloacetate through malate dehydrogenase, thus providing a high level of intramitochondrial substrate compartmentation. These and other regulatory aberrations in tumor cells appear to be reflections of a complex set of non-random phenotypic changes, initiated by expression of oncogenes.

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