The Metabolic Importance of the Glutaminase II Pathway in Normal and Cancerous Cells
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
In rapidly dividing cells, including many cancer cells, l-glutamine is a major energy source. Utilization of glutamine is usually depicted as: l-glutamine → l-glutamate (catalyzed by glutaminase isozymes; GLS1 and GLS2), followed by l-glutamate → α-ketoglutarate [catalyzed by glutamate-linked aminotransferases or by glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH)]. α-Ketoglutarate is a major anaplerotic component of the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle. However, the glutaminase II pathway also converts l-glutamine to α-ketoglutarate. This pathway consists of a glutamine transaminase coupled to ω-amidase [Net reaction: l-Glutamine + α-keto acid + HO → α-ketoglutarate + l-amino acid + NH]. This review focuses on the biological importance of the glutaminase II pathway, especially in relation to metabolism of cancer cells. Our studies suggest a component enzyme of the glutaminase II pathway, ω-amidase, is utilized by tumor cells to provide anaplerotic carbon. Inhibitors of GLS1 are currently in clinical trials as anti-cancer agents. However, this treatment will not prevent the glutaminase II pathway from providing anaplerotic carbon derived from glutamine. Specific inhibitors of ω-amidase, perhaps in combination with a GLS1 inhibitor, may provide greater therapeutic efficacy.
Dorai, T., Pinto, J. T., Denton, T. T., Krasnikov, B. F., & Cooper, A. J. (2022). The Metabolic Importance of the Glutaminase II Pathway in Normal and Cancerous Cells. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ab.2020.114083