The potential for isocitrate dehydrogenase mutations to produce 2-hydroxyglutarate depends on allele specificity and subcellular compartmentalization

J Biol Chem. 2013 Feb 8;288(6):3804-15. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.435495. Epub 2012 Dec 21.


Monoallelic point mutations in cytosolic isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (IDH1) and its mitochondrial homolog IDH2 can lead to elevated levels of 2-hydroxyglutarate (2HG) in multiple cancers. Here we report that cellular 2HG production from cytosolic IDH1 mutation is dependent on the activity of a retained wild-type IDH1 allele. In contrast, expression of mitochondrial IDH2 mutations led to robust 2HG production in a manner independent of wild-type mitochondrial IDH function. Among the recurrent IDH2 mutations at Arg-172 and Arg-140, IDH2 Arg-172 mutations consistently led to greater 2HG accumulation than IDH2 Arg-140 mutations, and the degree of 2HG accumulation correlated with the ability of these mutations to block cellular differentiation. Cytosolic IDH1 Arg-132 mutations, although structurally analogous to mutations at mitochondrial IDH2 Arg-172, were only able to elevate intracellular 2HG to comparable levels when an equivalent level of wild-type IDH1 was co-expressed. Consistent with 2HG production from cytosolic IDH1 being limited by substrate production from wild-type IDH1, we observed 2HG levels to increase in cancer cells harboring an endogenous monoallelic IDH1 mutation when mitochondrial IDH flux was diverted to the cytosol. Finally, expression of an IDH1 construct engineered to localize to the mitochondria rather than the cytosol resulted in greater 2HG accumulation. These data demonstrate that allelic and subcellular compartment differences can regulate the potential for IDH mutations to produce 2HG in cells. The consequences of 2HG elevation are dose-dependent, and the non-equivalent 2HG accumulation resulting from IDH1 and IDH2 mutations may underlie their differential prognosis and prevalence in various cancers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • 3T3-L1 Cells
  • Alleles*
  • Amino Acid Substitution
  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Glutarates / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Isocitrate Dehydrogenase / genetics
  • Isocitrate Dehydrogenase / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / genetics
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mutation, Missense
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / pathology


  • Glutarates
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • alpha-hydroxyglutarate
  • IDH2 protein, human
  • Isocitrate Dehydrogenase
  • IDH1 protein, human