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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1994 Jul 5;91(14):6379-83.

Fatty acid synthesis: a potential selective target for antineoplastic therapy.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, MD 21205.


OA-519 is a prognostic molecule found in tumor cells from breast cancer patients with markedly worsened prognosis. We purified OA-519 from human breast carcinoma cells, obtained its peptide sequence, and unambiguously identified it as fatty acid synthase through sequence homology and enzymology. Tumor fatty acid synthase is an approximately 270-kDa polypeptide which specifically abolished immunostaining of human breast cancers by anti-OA-519 antibodies. Tumor fatty acid synthase oxidized NADPH in a malonyl-CoA-dependent fashion and synthesized fatty acids composed of 80% palmitate, 10% myristate, and 10% stearate from acetyl-CoA, malonyl-CoA, and NADPH with a specific activity of 624 nmol of NADPH oxidized per min per mg. Tumor cell lines with elevated fatty acid synthase showed commensurate increases in incorporation of [U-14C]acetate into acylglycerols demonstrating that fatty acid synthase increases occur in the context of overall increases in endogenous fatty acid synthesis. Cerulenin inhibited acylglycerol synthesis in tumor cells and fibroblast controls in a dose-dependent fashion and also caused a growth inhibition which generally paralleled the level of endogenous fatty acid synthesis. Supraphysiologic levels of palmitate, 14 microM in dimethyl sulfoxide, significantly reversed the growth inhibition caused by cerulenin at concentrations of up to 5 micrograms/ml, indicating that cerulenin-mediated growth inhibition was due to fatty acid synthase inhibition.

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