ReviewCANCER

Oil for the cancer engine: The cross-talk between oncogenic signaling and polyamine metabolism

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Science Advances  24 Jan 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 1, eaar2606
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aar2606

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Abstract

The study of metabolism has provided remarkable information about the biological basis and therapeutic weaknesses of cancer cells. Classic biochemistry established the importance of metabolic alterations in tumor biology and revealed the importance of various metabolite families to the tumorigenic process. We have evidence of the central role of polyamines, small polycatonic metabolites, in cell proliferation and cancer growth from these studies. However, how cancer cells activate this metabolic pathway and the molecular cues behind the oncogenic action of polyamines has remained largely obscure. In contrast to the view of metabolites as fuel (anabolic intermediates) for cancer cells, polyamines are better defined as the oil that lubricates the cancer engine because they affect the activity of biological processes. Modern research has brought back to the limelight this metabolic pathway, providing a strong link between genetic, metabolic, and signaling events in cancer. In this review, we enumerate and discuss current views of the regulation and activity of polyamine metabolism in tumor cell biology.

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