The serine, glycine, one-carbon (SGOC) metabolic network is implicated in cancer pathogenesis, but its general functions are unknown. We carried out a computational reconstruction of the SGOC network and then characterized its expression across thousands of cancer tissues. Pathways including methylation and redox metabolism exhibited heterogeneous expression indicating a strong context dependency of their usage in tumors. From an analysis of coexpression, simultaneous up- or downregulation of nucleotide synthesis, NADPH, and glutathione synthesis was found to be a common occurrence in all cancers. Finally, we developed a method to trace the metabolic fate of serine using stable isotopes, high-resolution mass spectrometry, and a mathematical model. Although the expression of single genes didn't appear indicative of flux, the collective expression of several genes in a given pathway allowed for successful flux prediction. Altogether, these findings identify expansive and heterogeneous functions for the SGOC metabolic network in human cancer.
Copyright © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.