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UGCG influences glutamine metabolism of breast cancer cells

: Schömel, N.; Hancock, S.E.; Gruber, L.; Olzomer, E.M.; Byrne, F.L.; Shah, D.; Hoehn, K.L.; Turner, N.; Grösch, S.; Geisslinger, G.; Wegner, M.-S.

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Scientific Reports 9 (2019), Art. 15665, 13 pp.
ISSN: 2045-2322
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer IME ()

UDP-glucose ceramide glucosyltransferase (UGCG) is the key enzyme in glycosphingolipid (GSL) metabolism by being the only enzyme that generates glucosylceramide (GlcCer) de novo. Increased UGCG synthesis is associated with pro-cancerous processes such as increased proliferation and multidrug resistance in several cancer types. We investigated the influence of UGCG overexpression on glutamine metabolism in breast cancer cells. We observed adapted glucose and glutamine uptake in a limited energy supply environment following UGCG overexpression. Glutamine is used for reinforced oxidative stress response shown by increased mRNA expression of glutamine metabolizing proteins such as glutathione-disulfide reductase (GSR) resulting in increased reduced glutathione (GSH) level. Augmented glutamine uptake is also used for fueling the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle to maintain the proliferative advantage of UGCG overexpressing cells. Our data reveal a link between GSL and glutamine metabolism in breast cancer cells, which is to our knowledge a novel correlation in the field of sphingolipid research.