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Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2009 Oct;41(10):2051-61. doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2009.03.003. Epub 2009 Mar 17.

Glutamine homeostasis and mitochondrial dynamics.

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Departamento de Biología Molecular y Bioquímica, Laboratorio de Química de Proteínas, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Málaga, 29071 Málaga, Spain.


Glutamine is a multifaceted amino acid that plays key roles in many metabolic pathways and also fulfils essential signaling functions. Although classified as non-essential, recent evidence suggests that glutamine is a conditionally essential amino acid in several physiological situations. Glutamine homeostasis must therefore be exquisitely regulated and mitochondria represent a major site of glutamine metabolism in numerous cell types. Glutaminolysis is mostly a mitochondrial process with repercussions in organelle structure and dynamics suggesting a tight and mutual control between mitochondrial form and cell bioenergetics. In this review we describe an updated account focused on the critical involvement of glutamine in oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction and tumour cell proliferation, with special emphasis in the initial steps of mitochondrial glutamine pathways: transport into the organelle and hydrolytic deamidation through glutaminase enzymes. Some controversial issues about glutamine catabolism within mitochondria are also reviewed.

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