The pleiotropic effects of glutamine metabolism in cancer

Alex J. Bott, Sara Maimouni, Wei Xing Zong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Metabolic programs are known to be altered in cancers arising from various tissues. Malignant transformation can alter signaling pathways related to metabolism and increase the demand for both energy and biomass for the proliferating cancerous cells. This scenario is further complexed by the crosstalk between transformed cells and the microenvironment. One of the most common metabolic alterations, which occurs in many tissues and in the context of multiple oncogenic drivers, is the increased demand for the amino acid glutamine. Many studies have attributed this increased demand for glutamine to the carbon backbone and its role in the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle anaplerosis. However, an increasing number of studies are now emphasizing the importance of glutamine functioning as a proteogenic building block, a nitrogen donor and carrier, an exchanger for import of other amino acids, and a signaling molecule. Herein, we highlight the recent literature on glutamine’s versatile role in cancer, with a focus on nitrogen metabolism, and therapeutic implications of glutamine metabolism in cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number770
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


  • Cancer
  • Glutamate
  • Glutamate ammonia ligase (GLUL)
  • Glutaminase (GLS)
  • Glutamine
  • Glutamine synthetase (GS)
  • Glutaminolysis
  • Metabolism


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