skip to main content

Title: Fatty acid synthase plays a role in cancer metabolism beyond providing fatty acids for phospholipid synthesis or sustaining elevations in glycolytic activity

Fatty acid synthase is over-expressed in many cancers and its activity is required for cancer cell survival, but the role of endogenously synthesized fatty acids in cancer is unknown. It has been suggested that endogenous fatty acid synthesis is either needed to support the growth of rapidly dividing cells, or to maintain elevated glycolysis (the Warburg effect) that is characteristic of cancer cells. Here, we investigate both hypotheses. First, we compared utilization of fatty acids synthesized endogenously from {sup 14}C-labeled acetate to those supplied exogenously as {sup 14}C-labeled palmitate in the culture medium in human breast cancer (MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231) and untransformed breast epithelial cells (MCF-10A). We found that cancer cells do not produce fatty acids that are different from those derived from exogenous palmitate, that these fatty acids are esterified to the same lipid and phospholipid classes in the same proportions, and that their distribution within neutral lipids is not different from untransformed cells. These results suggest that endogenously synthesized fatty acids do not fulfill a specific function in cancer cells. Furthermore, we observed that cancer cells excrete endogenously synthesized fatty acids, suggesting that they are produced in excess of requirements. We next investigated whether lipogenic activity is involvedmore » in the maintenance of high glycolytic activity by culturing both cancer and non-transformed cells under anoxic conditions. Although anoxia increased glycolysis 2–3 fold, we observed no concomitant increase in lipogenesis. Our results indicate that breast cancer cells do not have a specific qualitative or quantitative requirement for endogenously synthesized fatty acids and that increased de novo lipogenesis is not required to sustain elevations in glycolytic activity induced by anoxia in these cells. - Highlights: • Fatty acid synthase (FASN) is over-expressed in cancer but its function is unknown. • We compare utilization of fatty acids produced by FASN to those derived exogenously. • Cancer cells do not have a specific requirement for fatty acids produced by FASN. • Fatty acids produced by FASN are in excess of cell requirements and are excreted. • Increased FASN activity is not required to sustain elevations in glycolysis.« less
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [2]
  1. Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada M5S 3E2 (Canada)
  2. (Canada)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Experimental Cell Research; Journal Volume: 320; Journal Issue: 2; Other Information: Copyright (c) 2013 Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam, The Netherlands, All rights reserved.; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States