Nutrient sensing and metabolic reprogramming are crucial for metazoan cell aging and tumor growth. Here, we identify metabolic and regulatory parallels between a layered, multicellular yeast colony and a tumor-affected organism. During development, a yeast colony stratifies into U and L cells occupying the upper and lower colony regions, respectively. U cells activate a unique metabolism controlled by the glutamine-induced TOR pathway, amino acid-sensing systems (SPS and Gcn4p) and signaling from mitochondria with lowered respiration. These systems jointly modulate U cell physiology, which adapts to nutrient limitations and utilize the nutrients released from L cells. Stress-resistant U cells share metabolic pathways and other similar characteristics with tumor cells, including the ability to proliferate. L cells behave similarly to stressed and starving cells, which activate degradative mechanisms to provide nutrients to U cells. Our data suggest a nutrient flow between both cell types, resembling the Cori cycle and glutamine-NH(4)(+) shuttle between tumor and healthy metazoan cells.
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