Cytosolic 10-formyltetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase regulates glycine metabolism in mouse liver

Sci Rep. 2019 Oct 17;9(1):14937. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-51397-1.


ALDH1L1 (10-formyltetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase), an enzyme of folate metabolism highly expressed in liver, metabolizes 10-formyltetrahydrofolate to produce tetrahydrofolate (THF). This reaction might have a regulatory function towards reduced folate pools, de novo purine biosynthesis, and the flux of folate-bound methyl groups. To understand the role of the enzyme in cellular metabolism, Aldh1l1-/- mice were generated using an ES cell clone (C57BL/6N background) from KOMP repository. Though Aldh1l1-/- mice were viable and did not have an apparent phenotype, metabolomic analysis indicated that they had metabolic signs of folate deficiency. Specifically, the intermediate of the histidine degradation pathway and a marker of folate deficiency, formiminoglutamate, was increased more than 15-fold in livers of Aldh1l1-/- mice. At the same time, blood folate levels were not changed and the total folate pool in the liver was decreased by only 20%. A two-fold decrease in glycine and a strong drop in glycine conjugates, a likely result of glycine shortage, were also observed in Aldh1l1-/- mice. Our study indicates that in the absence of ALDH1L1 enzyme, 10-formyl-THF cannot be efficiently metabolized in the liver. This leads to the decrease in THF causing reduced generation of glycine from serine and impaired histidine degradation, two pathways strictly dependent on THF.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Formiminoglutamic Acid / analysis
  • Formiminoglutamic Acid / metabolism
  • Glycine / analysis
  • Glycine / metabolism*
  • Histidine / metabolism
  • Leucovorin / analogs & derivatives
  • Leucovorin / metabolism
  • Liver / chemistry
  • Liver / enzymology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Models, Animal
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-NH Group Donors / genetics
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-NH Group Donors / metabolism*
  • Serine / metabolism
  • Tetrahydrofolates / biosynthesis


  • Tetrahydrofolates
  • 10-formyltetrahydropteroylglutamic acid
  • 5,6,7,8-tetrahydrofolic acid
  • Serine
  • Histidine
  • Formiminoglutamic Acid
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-NH Group Donors
  • formyltetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase
  • Leucovorin
  • Glycine