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Mol Cell. 2012 May 25;46(4):436-48. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2012.04.001. Epub 2012 May 3.

Cell differentiation within a yeast colony: metabolic and regulatory parallels with a tumor-affected organism.

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  • 1Department of Genetics and Microbiology, Faculty of Science, Charles University in Prague, Prague, Czech Republic.


Nutrient sensing and metabolic reprogramming are crucial for metazoan cell aging and tumor growth. Here, we identify metabolic and regulatory parallels between a layered, multicellular yeast colony and a tumor-affected organism. During development, a yeast colony stratifies into U and L cells occupying the upper and lower colony regions, respectively. U cells activate a unique metabolism controlled by the glutamine-induced TOR pathway, amino acid-sensing systems (SPS and Gcn4p) and signaling from mitochondria with lowered respiration. These systems jointly modulate U cell physiology, which adapts to nutrient limitations and utilize the nutrients released from L cells. Stress-resistant U cells share metabolic pathways and other similar characteristics with tumor cells, including the ability to proliferate. L cells behave similarly to stressed and starving cells, which activate degradative mechanisms to provide nutrients to U cells. Our data suggest a nutrient flow between both cell types, resembling the Cori cycle and glutamine-NH(4)(+) shuttle between tumor and healthy metazoan cells.

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