Impact of One-Carbon Metabolism-Driving Epitranscriptome as a Therapeutic Target for Gastrointestinal Cancer

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jul 6;22(14):7278. doi: 10.3390/ijms22147278.


One-carbon (1C) metabolism plays a key role in biological functions linked to the folate cycle. These include nucleotide synthesis; the methylation of DNA, RNA, and proteins in the methionine cycle; and transsulfuration to maintain the redox condition of cancer stem cells in the tumor microenvironment. Recent studies have indicated that small therapeutic compounds affect the mitochondrial folate cycle, epitranscriptome (RNA methylation), and reactive oxygen species reactions in cancer cells. The epitranscriptome controls cellular biochemical reactions, but is also a platform for cell-to-cell interaction and cell transformation. We present an update of recent advances in the study of 1C metabolism related to cancer and demonstrate the areas where further research is needed. We also discuss approaches to therapeutic drug discovery using animal models and propose further steps toward developing precision cancer medicine.

Keywords: amino acids; epitranscriptome; microenvironment; one-carbon metabolism; tumor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carbon / metabolism*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / metabolism
  • Folic Acid / metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Methylation
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • RNA / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • RNA
  • Carbon
  • Folic Acid