Glycine decarboxylase activity drives non-small cell lung cancer tumor-initiating cells and tumorigenesis

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Identification of the factors critical to the tumor-initiating cell (TIC) state may open new avenues in cancer therapy. Here we show that the metabolic enzyme glycine decarboxylase (GLDC) is critical for TICs in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). TICs from primary NSCLC tumors express high levels of the oncogenic stem cell factor LIN28B and GLDC, which are both required for TIC growth and tumorigenesis. Overexpression of GLDC and other glycine/serine enzymes, but not catalytically inactive GLDC, promotes cellular transformation and tumorigenesis. We found that GLDC induces dramatic changes in glycolysis and glycine/serine metabolism, leading to changes in pyrimidine metabolism to regulate cancer cell proliferation. In the clinic, aberrant activation of GLDC correlates with poorer survival in lung cancer patients, and aberrant GLDC expression is observed in multiple cancer types. This link between glycine metabolism and tumorigenesis may provide novel targets for advancing anticancer therapy.


  • Wen Cai Zhang
  • Shyh Chang Ng
  • He Yang
  • Amit Rai
  • Shivshankar Umashankar
  • Siming Ma
  • Boon Seng Soh
  • Li Li Sun
  • Bee Choo Tai
  • Min En Nga
  • Kishore Kumar Bhakoo
  • Senthil Raja Jayapal
  • Massimo Nichane
  • Qiang Yu
  • Dokeu A. Ahmed
  • Christie Tan
  • Wong Poo Sing
  • John Tam
  • Agasthian Thirugananam
  • Monireh Soroush Noghabi
  • Yin Huei Pang
  • Haw Siang Ang
  • Paul Robson
  • Ross Andrew Soo
  • Sanjay Swarup
  • Elaine Hsuen Lim
  • Bing Lim
Externa organisationer
  • National University of Singapore
  • A*Star Singapore Bio-Imaging Consortium (SBIC)
  • Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology
  • National University Hospital
  • National Cancer Centre Singapore
  • Harvard Medical School
  • Genome Institute of Singapore
  • Tan Tock Seng Hospital
Sidor (från-till)259-272
Utgåva nummer1-2
StatusPublished - 2012 jan 20
Peer review utfördJa
Externt publiceradJa