The fate of pyruvate is a defining feature in many cell types. One major fate is mitochondrial entry via the mitochondrial pyruvate carrier (MPC). We found that diffuse large B cell lymphomas (DLBCLs) consume mitochondrial pyruvate via glutamate-pyruvate transaminase 2 to enable α-ketoglutarate production as part of glutaminolysis. This led us to discover that glutamine exceeds pyruvate as a carbon source for the tricarboxylic acid cycle in DLBCLs. As a result, MPC inhibition led to decreased glutaminolysis in DLBCLs, opposite to previous observations in other cell types. We also found that MPC inhibition or genetic depletion decreased DLBCL proliferation in an extracellular matrix (ECM)–like environment and xenografts, but not in a suspension environment. Moreover, the metabolic profile of DLBCL cells in ECM is markedly different from cells in a suspension environment. Thus, we conclude that the synergistic consumption and assimilation of glutamine and pyruvate enables DLBCL proliferation in an extracellular environment-dependent manner.
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