Beyond the Warburg Effect: How Do Cancer Cells Regulate One-Carbon Metabolism?

Front Cell Dev Biol. 2018 Aug 15;6:90. doi: 10.3389/fcell.2018.00090. eCollection 2018.


Altered metabolism in cancer cells is critical for tumor growth. One of the most notable aspects of this metabolic reprogramming lies in one-carbon metabolism. Cells require one-carbon units for nucleotide synthesis, methylation reactions, and for the generation of reducing cofactors. Therefore, the ability to rewire and fine-tune one-carbon metabolism is essential for the maintenance of cellular homeostasis. In this review, we describe how the major nutrient, energy, and redox sensors of the cell play a significant role in the regulation of flux through one-carbon metabolism to enable cell fate decisions. We will also discuss how dysregulated oncogenic signaling hijacks these regulatory mechanisms to support and sustain high rates of proliferation and cell survival essential for tumor growth.

Keywords: cancer; folate cycle; metabolic regulation; metabolic reprogramming; methionine cycle; one carbon metabolism.

Publication types

  • Review