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MCT1 Modulates Cancer Cell Pyruvate Export and Growth of Tumors that Co-express MCT1 and MCT4.


Monocarboxylate transporter 1 (MCT1) inhibition is thought to block tumor growth through disruption of lactate transport and glycolysis. Here, we show MCT1 inhibition impairs proliferation of glycolytic breast cancer cells co-expressing MCT1 and MCT4 via disruption of pyruvate rather than lactate export. MCT1 expression is elevated in glycolytic breast tumors, and high MCT1 expression predicts poor prognosis in breast and lung cancer patients. Acute MCT1 inhibition reduces pyruvate export but does not consistently alter lactate transport or glycolytic flux in breast cancer cells that co-express MCT1 and MCT4. Despite the lack of glycolysis impairment, MCT1 loss-of-function decreases breast cancer cell proliferation and blocks growth of mammary fat pad xenograft tumors. Our data suggest MCT1 expression is elevated in glycolytic cancers to promote pyruvate export that when inhibited, enhances oxidative metabolism and reduces proliferation. This study presents an alternative molecular consequence of MCT1 inhibitors, further supporting their use as anti-cancer therapeutics.

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