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Genes Dev. 2013 Jan 15;27(2):182-96. doi: 10.1101/gad.206227.112. Epub 2013 Jan 15.

Loss of RBF1 changes glutamine catabolism.

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Laboratory of Molecular Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, Massachusetts 02129, USA.


Inactivation of the retinoblastoma tumor suppressor (pRB) alters the expression of a myriad of genes. To understand the altered cellular environment that these changes create, we took advantage of the Drosophila model system and used targeted liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) to profile the metabolic changes that occur when RBF1, the fly ortholog of pRB, is removed. We show that RBF1-depleted tissues and larvae are sensitive to fasting. Depletion of RBF1 causes major changes in nucleotide synthesis and glutathione metabolism. Under fasting conditions, these changes interconnect, and the increased replication demand of RBF1-depleted larvae is associated with the depletion of glutathione pools. In vivo (13)C isotopic tracer analysis shows that RBF1-depleted larvae increase the flux of glutamine toward glutathione synthesis, presumably to minimize oxidative stress. Concordantly, H(2)O(2) preferentially promoted apoptosis in RBF1-depleted tissues, and the sensitivity of RBF1-depleted animals to fasting was specifically suppressed by either a glutamine supplement or the antioxidant N-acetyl-cysteine. Effects of pRB activation/inactivation on glutamine catabolism were also detected in human cell lines. These results show that the inactivation of RB proteins causes metabolic reprogramming and that these consequences of RBF/RB function are present in both flies and human cell lines.

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