, Volume 110, Issue 2, pp 297-307,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Central carbon metabolism in the progression of mammary carcinoma


There is a growing belief that the metabolic program of breast tumor cells could be a therapeutic target. Yet, without detailed information on central carbon metabolism in breast tumors it is impossible to know which metabolic pathways to target, and how their inhibition might influence different stages of breast tumor progression. Here we perform the first comprehensive profiling of central metabolism in the MCF10 model of mammary carcinoma, where the steps of breast tumor progression (transformation, tumorigenicity and metastasis) can all be examined in the context of the same genetic background. The metabolism of [U-13C]-glucose by a series of progressively more aggressive MCF10 cell lines was tracked by 2D NMR and mass spectrometry. From this analysis the flux of carbon through distinct metabolic reactions was quantified by isotopomer modeling. The results indicate widespread changes to central metabolism upon cellular transformation including increased carbon flux through the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP), the TCA cycle, as well as increased synthesis of glutamate, glutathione and fatty acids (including elongation and desaturation). The de novo synthesis of glycine increased upon transformation as well as at each subsequent step of breast tumor cell progression. Interestingly, the major metabolic shift in metastatic cells is a large increase in the de novo synthesis of proline. This work provides the first comprehensive view of changes to central metabolism as a result of breast tumor progression.

Adam D. Richardson and Chen Yang contributed equally to this work.