NYMC Faculty Publications

High Levels of Glutaminase II Pathway Enzymes in Normal and Cancerous Prostate Suggest a Role in 'Glutamine Addiction'

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Second Department

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


Abstract: Many tumors readily convert l-glutamine to α-ketoglutarate. This conversion is almost invariably described as involving deamidation of l-glutamine to l-glutamate followed by a transaminase (or dehydrogenase) reaction. However, mammalian tissues possess another pathway for conversion of l-glutamine to α-ketoglutarate, namely the glutaminase II pathway: l-Glutamine is transaminated to α-ketoglutaramate, which is then deamidated to α-ketoglutarate by ω-amidase. Here we show that glutamine transaminase and ω-amidase specific activities are high in normal rat prostate. Immunohistochemical analyses revealed that glutamine transaminase K (GTK) and ω-amidase are present in normal and cancerous human prostate and that expression of these enzymes increases in parallel with aggressiveness of the cancer cells. Our findings suggest that the glutaminase II pathway is important in providing anaplerotic carbon to the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, closing the methionine salvage pathway, and in the provision of citrate carbon in normal and cancerous prostate. Finally, our data also suggest that selective inhibitors of GTK and/or ω-amidase may be clinically important for treatment of prostate cancer. In conclusion, the demonstration of a prominent glutaminase II pathway in prostate cancer cells and increased expression of the pathway with increasing aggressiveness of tumor cells provides a new perspective on 'glutamine addiction' in cancers.