A PHGDH inhibitor reveals coordination of serine synthesis and one-carbon unit fate.

Therapeutic Approaches


Serine is both a proteinogenic amino acid and the source of one-carbon units essential for de novo purine and deoxythymidine synthesis. In the canonical pathway of glucose-derived serine synthesis, Homo sapiens phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase (PHGDH) catalyzes the first, rate-limiting step. Genetic loss of PHGDH is toxic toward PHGDH-overexpressing breast cancer cell lines even in the presence of exogenous serine. Here, we used a quantitative high-throughput screen to identify small-molecule PHGDH inhibitors. These compounds reduce the production of glucose-derived serine in cells and suppress the growth of PHGDH-dependent cancer cells in culture and in orthotopic xenograft tumors. Surprisingly, PHGDH inhibition reduced the incorporation into nucleotides of one-carbon units from glucose-derived and exogenous serine. We conclude that glycolytic serine synthesis coordinates the use of one-carbon units from endogenous and exogenous serine in nucleotide synthesis, and we suggest that one-carbon unit wasting thus may contribute to the efficacy of PHGDH inhibitors in vitro and in vivo.


Pacold, Michael E; Brimacombe, Kyle; Chan, Sze Ham; Rohde, Jason M; Lewis, Caroline A; Swier, Lotteke J Y M; Possemato, Richard; Chen, Walter W; Sullivan, Lucas B; Fiske, Brian P; Cho, Steve; Freinkman, Elizaveta; Birsoy, Kıvanç; Abu-Remaileh, Monther; Shaul, Yoav D; Liu, Chieh Min; Zhou, Minerva; Koh, Min Jung; Chung, Haeyoon; Davidson, Shawn M; Luengo, Alba; Wang, Amy; Xu, Xin; Yasgar, Adam; Liu, Li; Rai Bantukallu, Ganesha; Westover, Kenneth D; Vander Heiden, Matthew G; Shen, Min; Gray, Nathanael S; Boxer, Matthew B; Sabatini, David M;

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