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Is Lactate an Oncometabolite? Evidence Supporting a Role for Lactate in the Regulation of Transcriptional Activity of Cancer-Related Genes in MCF7 Breast Cancer Cells.

  • Author(s): San-Millán, Iñigo
  • Julian, Colleen G
  • Matarazzo, Christopher
  • Martinez, Janel
  • Brooks, George A
  • et al.

Lactate is a ubiquitous molecule in cancer. In this exploratory study, our aim was to test the hypothesis that lactate could function as an oncometabolite by evaluating whether lactate exposure modifies the expression of oncogenes, or genes encoding transcription factors, cell division, and cell proliferation in MCF7 cells, a human breast cancer cell line. Gene transcription was compared between MCF7 cells incubated in (a) glucose/glutamine-free media (control), (b) glucose-containing media to stimulate endogenous lactate production (replicating some of the original Warburg studies), and (c) glucose-containing media supplemented with L-lactate (10 and 20 mM). We found that both endogenous, glucose-derived lactate and exogenous, lactate supplementation significantly affected the transcription of key oncogenes (MYC, RAS, and PI3KCA), transcription factors (HIF1A and E2F1), tumor suppressors (BRCA1, BRCA2) as well as cell cycle and proliferation genes involved in breast cancer (AKT1, ATM, CCND1, CDK4, CDKN1A, CDK2B) (0.001 < p < 0.05 for all genes). Our findings support the hypothesis that lactate acts as an oncometabolite in MCF7 cells. Further research is necessary on other cell lines and biopsy cultures to show generality of the findings and reveal the mechanisms by which dysregulated lactate metabolism could act as an oncometabolite in carcinogenesis.

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