Metabolic and transcriptional patterns accompanying glutamine depletion and repletion in mouse hepatoma cells: a model for physiological regulatory networks

Physiol Genomics. 2004 Jan 15;16(2):247-55. doi: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.00088.2003.


An important objective in postgenomic biology is to link gene expression to function by developing physiological networks that include data from the genomic and functional levels. Here, we develop a model for the analysis of time-dependent changes in metabolites, fluxes, and gene expression in a hepatic model system. The experimental framework chosen was modulation of extracellular glutamine in confluent cultures of mouse Hepa1-6 cells. The importance of glutamine has been demonstrated previously in mammalian cell culture by precipitating metabolic shifts with glutamine depletion and repletion. Our protocol removed glutamine from the medium for 24 h and returned it for a second 24 h. Flux assays of glycolysis, the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, and lipogenesis were used at specified intervals. All of these fluxes declined in the absence of glutamine and were restored when glutamine was repleted. Isotopomer spectral analysis identified glucose and glutamine as equal sources of lipogenic carbon. Metabolite measurements of organic acids and amino acids indicated that most metabolites changed in parallel with the fluxes. Experiments with actinomycin D indicated that de novo mRNA synthesis was required for observed flux changes during the depletion/repletion of glutamine. Analysis of gene expression data from DNA microarrays revealed that many more genes were anticorrelated with the glycolytic flux and glutamine level than were correlated with these indicators. In conclusion, this model may be useful as a prototype physiological regulatory network where gene expression profiles are analyzed in concert with changes in cell function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Citric Acid Cycle
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Glutamine / pharmacology*
  • Glutamine / physiology
  • Glycolysis
  • Kinetics
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / genetics
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological*
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • Glutamine