Purine nucleotides are necessary for various biological processes related to cell proliferation. Despite their importance in DNA and RNA synthesis, cellular signaling, and energy-dependent reactions, the impact of changes in cellular purine levels on cell physiology remains poorly understood. Here, we find that purine depletion stimulates cell migration, despite effective reduction in cell proliferation. Blocking purine synthesis triggers a shunt of glycolytic carbon into the serine synthesis pathway, which is required for the induction of cell migration upon purine depletion. The stimulation of cell migration upon a reduction in intracellular purines required one-carbon metabolism downstream of de novo serine synthesis. Decreased purine abundance and the subsequent increase in serine synthesis triggers an epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and, in cancer models, promotes metastatic colonization. Thus, reducing the available pool of intracellular purines re-routes metabolic flux from glycolysis into de novo serine synthesis, a metabolic change that stimulates a program of cell migration.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)