A study led by Jacinta Serpa, head of the Cancer Metabolism and Microenvironment lab at CEDOC, was just published in a Frontiers journal suggesting a possible therapeutical targeting of the cysteine metabolism for the treatment of ovarian cancer.
The researchers report that the metabolic regulation of the cysteine, a non-essential amino acid, may be one of the keys to fighting ovarian cancer. A cysteine transporter, xCT (in the picture above), and two cysteine-inhibiting enzymes, CBS and CSE, were characterised in this study, with the latter found to have a different activity when cancer cells are under hypoxic conditions, thus helping the cancer to progress. Jacinta said this was the "first time we systematically proved that cysteine is a valuable carbon source, whose metabolic circuitries may be used as therapeutical targets".
This research was first authored by Sofia Nunes, supervised by Jacinta Serpa, and performed in collaboration with other CEDOC research groups, the Translation Pharmacology and Tumor Morphology and Microenvironment labs, including Sofia Pereira and Ana Félix. Other institutions, such as IPO Lisboa and ITQB NOVA also participated in this collaborative article, titled "Cysteine Boosts Fitness Under Hypoxia-Mimicked Conditions in Ovarian Cancer by Metabolic Reprogramming", which can now be found at Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology.
Image legend - xCT symporter (green) is pivotal in cysteine metabolic circuitries, being a vital mediator of cyst(e)ine import into cancer cells and also into mitochondria