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Understanding the Warburg effect: the metabolic requirements of cell proliferation.

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      Abstract

      In contrast to normal differentiated cells, which rely primarily on mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation to generate the energy needed for cellular processes, most cancer cells instead rely on aerobic glycolysis, a phenomenon termed "the Warburg effect." Aerobic glycolysis is an inefficient way to generate adenosine 5'-triphosphate (ATP), however, and the advantage it confers to cancer cells has been unclear. Here we propose that the metabolism of cancer cells, and indeed all proliferating cells, is adapted to facilitate the uptake and incorporation of nutrients into the biomass (e.g., nucleotides, amino acids, and lipids) needed to produce a new cell. Supporting this idea are recent studies showing that (i) several signaling pathways implicated in cell proliferation also regulate metabolic pathways that incorporate nutrients into biomass; and that (ii) certain cancer-associated mutations enable cancer cells to acquire and metabolize nutrients in a manner conducive to proliferation rather than efficient ATP production. A better understanding of the mechanistic links between cellular metabolism and growth control may ultimately lead to better treatments for human cancer.

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      Most cited references 38

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      On the origin of cancer cells.

       O WARBURG (1956)
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        An integrated genomic analysis of human glioblastoma multiforme.

        Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common and lethal type of brain cancer. To identify the genetic alterations in GBMs, we sequenced 20,661 protein coding genes, determined the presence of amplifications and deletions using high-density oligonucleotide arrays, and performed gene expression analyses using next-generation sequencing technologies in 22 human tumor samples. This comprehensive analysis led to the discovery of a variety of genes that were not known to be altered in GBMs. Most notably, we found recurrent mutations in the active site of isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (IDH1) in 12% of GBM patients. Mutations in IDH1 occurred in a large fraction of young patients and in most patients with secondary GBMs and were associated with an increase in overall survival. These studies demonstrate the value of unbiased genomic analyses in the characterization of human brain cancer and identify a potentially useful genetic alteration for the classification and targeted therapy of GBMs.
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          IDH1 and IDH2 mutations in gliomas.

          A recent genomewide mutational analysis of glioblastomas (World Health Organization [WHO] grade IV glioma) revealed somatic mutations of the isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 gene (IDH1) in a fraction of such tumors, most frequently in tumors that were known to have evolved from lower-grade gliomas (secondary glioblastomas). We determined the sequence of the IDH1 gene and the related IDH2 gene in 445 central nervous system (CNS) tumors and 494 non-CNS tumors. The enzymatic activity of the proteins that were produced from normal and mutant IDH1 and IDH2 genes was determined in cultured glioma cells that were transfected with these genes. We identified mutations that affected amino acid 132 of IDH1 in more than 70% of WHO grade II and III astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas and in glioblastomas that developed from these lower-grade lesions. Tumors without mutations in IDH1 often had mutations affecting the analogous amino acid (R172) of the IDH2 gene. Tumors with IDH1 or IDH2 mutations had distinctive genetic and clinical characteristics, and patients with such tumors had a better outcome than those with wild-type IDH genes. Each of four tested IDH1 and IDH2 mutations reduced the enzymatic activity of the encoded protein. Mutations of NADP(+)-dependent isocitrate dehydrogenases encoded by IDH1 and IDH2 occur in a majority of several types of malignant gliomas. 2009 Massachusetts Medical Society
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ] Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
            Journal
            Science
            Science (New York, N.Y.)
            American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
            1095-9203
            0036-8075
            May 22 2009
            : 324
            : 5930
            19460998
            324/5930/1029
            10.1126/science.1160809
            2849637
            NIHMS165713

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