Adaptive Evolution of the GDH2 Allosteric Domain Promotes Gliomagenesis by Resolving IDH1 R132H-Induced Metabolic Liabilities

Cancer Res. 2018 Jan 1;78(1):36-50. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-17-1352. Epub 2017 Nov 2.


Hotspot mutations in the isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (IDH1) gene occur in a number of human cancers and confer a neomorphic enzyme activity that catalyzes the conversion of α-ketoglutarate (αKG) to the oncometabolite D-(2)-hydroxyglutarate (D2HG). In malignant gliomas, IDH1R132H expression induces widespread metabolic reprogramming, possibly requiring compensatory mechanisms to sustain the normal biosynthetic requirements of actively proliferating tumor cells. We used genetically engineered mouse models of glioma and quantitative metabolomics to investigate IDH1R132H-dependent metabolic reprogramming and its potential to induce biosynthetic liabilities that can be exploited for glioma therapy. In gliomagenic neural progenitor cells, IDH1R132H expression increased the abundance of dipeptide metabolites, depleted key tricarboxylic acid cycle metabolites, and slowed progression of murine gliomas. Notably, expression of glutamate dehydrogenase GDH2, a hominoid-specific enzyme with relatively restricted expression to the brain, was critically involved in compensating for IDH1R132H-induced metabolic alterations and promoting IDH1R132H glioma growth. Indeed, we found that recently evolved amino acid substitutions in the GDH2 allosteric domain conferred its nonredundant, glioma-promoting properties in the presence of IDH1 mutation. Our results indicate that among the unique roles for GDH2 in the human forebrain is its ability to limit IDH1R132H-mediated metabolic liabilities, thus promoting glioma growth in this context. Results from this study raise the possibility that GDH2-specific inhibition may be a viable therapeutic strategy for gliomas with IDH mutations.Significance: These findings show that the homonid-specific brain enzyme GDH2 may be essential to mitigate metabolic liabilities created by IDH1 mutations in glioma, with possible implications to leverage its therapeutic management by IDH1 inhibitors. Cancer Res; 78(1); 36-50. ©2017 AACR.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Brain Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Brain Neoplasms / mortality
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Gene Knock-In Techniques
  • Glioma / genetics*
  • Glioma / metabolism
  • Glioma / mortality
  • Glioma / pathology
  • Glutamate Dehydrogenase / chemistry
  • Glutamate Dehydrogenase / genetics
  • Glutamate Dehydrogenase / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Isocitrate Dehydrogenase / genetics
  • Isocitrate Dehydrogenase / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Prosencephalon / embryology
  • Protein Domains
  • Transgenes


  • Isocitrate Dehydrogenase
  • isocitrate dehydrogenase 2, mouse
  • Idh1 protein, mouse
  • IDH1 protein, human
  • Glutamate Dehydrogenase