Biomolecules 2021 Nov 10; 11(11):1666
A better understanding of the metabolic constraints of a tumor may lead to more effective anticancer treatments. Evidence has emerged in recent years shedding light on a crucial aspartate dependency of many tumor types. As a precursor for nucleotide synthesis, aspartate is indispensable for cell proliferation. Moreover, the malate-aspartate shuttle plays a key role in redox balance, and a deficit in aspartate can lead to oxidative stress. It is now recognized that aspartate biosynthesis is largely governed by mitochondrial metabolism, including respiration and glutaminolysis in cancer cells. Therefore, under conditions that suppress mitochondrial metabolism, including mutations, hypoxia, or chemical inhibitors, aspartate can become a limiting factor for tumor growth and cancer cell survival. Notably, aspartate availability has been associated with sensitivity or resistance to various therapeutics that are presently in the clinic or in clinical trials, arguing for a critical need for more effective aspartate-targeting approaches. In this review, we present current knowledge of the metabolic roles of aspartate in cancer cells and describe how cancer cells maintain aspartate levels under different metabolic states. We also highlight several promising aspartate level-modulating agents that are currently under investigation.
Helenius, Iiro Taneli; Madala, Hanumantha Rao; and Yeh, Jing-Ruey Joanna, "An Asp to Strike Out Cancer? Therapeutic Possibilities Arising from Aspartate's Emerging Roles in Cell Proliferation and Survival." (2021). Faculty Research 2021. 246.