Use of 13C315N1-Serine or 13C515N1-Methionine for Studying Methylation Dynamics in Cancer Cell Metabolism and Epigenetics

  • Alice C. Newman
  • Christiaan F. Labuschagne
  • Karen H. Vousden
  • Oliver D. K. MaddocksEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1928)


Tracing the fate of carbon-13 (13C) labeled metabolites within cells by liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LCMS) is a powerful analytical technique used for many years in the study of cell metabolism. Conventional experiments using LCMS and labeled nutrients tend to track the incorporation of 13C from exogenous nutrients (such as amino acids) into other, relatively proximal, cellular metabolites. Several labs have extended this technique to track transfer of 13C from the metabolite pool onto macromolecules, such as DNA, where methylation acts as an important functional modification. Here we describe a complete method that integrates previously established techniques to simultaneously track the use of 13C-serine or 13C-methionine into metabolite pools of the methionine cycle and into methylation of DNA and RNA. Given the ability to track methyl-transfer in a time-dependent way, this technique can provide temporal information about active methyl-transfer as well as quantification of total DNA/RNA methylation levels.

Key words

Methylation Methyl-transfer DNA RNA Flux Carbon-13 One-carbon metabolism Methionine Serine Liquid chromatography mass spectrometry 



ODKM and TZ are funded by Cancer Research UK Career Development Fellowship C53309/A19702. KHV and CFL are funded by CRUK Grant C596/A10419.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alice C. Newman
    • 1
  • Christiaan F. Labuschagne
    • 2
  • Karen H. Vousden
    • 2
  • Oliver D. K. Maddocks
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Wolfson Wohl Cancer Research CentreInstitute of Cancer Sciences, University of GlasgowGlasgowUK
  2. 2.The Francis Crick InstituteLondonUK

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