Serine and one-carbon metabolism in cancer

Nat Rev Cancer. 2016 Oct;16(10):650-62. doi: 10.1038/nrc.2016.81. Epub 2016 Sep 16.


The non-essential amino acid serine supports several metabolic processes that are crucial for the growth and survival of proliferating cells, including protein, amino acid and glutathione synthesis. As an important one-carbon donor to the folate cycle, serine contributes to nucleotide synthesis, methylation reactions and the generation of NADPH for antioxidant defence. Many cancer cells are highly dependent on serine, a trait that provides several novel therapeutic opportunities, either through the inhibition of de novo serine synthesis or by limiting the availability or uptake of exogenous serine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Proliferation
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Serine / metabolism*


  • Serine