October 5, 2015

Potential target for lung cancer therapy

The glutamine transporter protein appears to contribute to the survival of lung cancer cells, suggesting it may be a useful diagnostic biomarker and target for therapies.


A protein that transports the amino acid glutamine is a potential biomarker and therapeutic target for non-small cell lung cancer, Vanderbilt researchers reported in the Oct. 1 International Journal of Cancer.

Pierre Massion, M.D., and colleagues previously demonstrated that the protein SLC1A5 is the primary transporter of glutamine – a modulator of cell growth and oxidative stress – in non-small cell lung cancer.

In the current study, they examined the effects of targeting SLC1A5 in a panel of lung cancer and human bronchial cell lines. They demonstrated that inactivating SLC1A5 genetically or pharmacologically decreased glutamine consumption, inhibited cell growth and induced cell death in cell lines that overexpressed the transporter.

Targeting SLC1A5 function also decreased lung cancer tumor growth in an animal model. The investigators found that in patients with non-small cell lung cancer, SLC1A5 expression was associated with poor overall survival.

The findings suggest that SLC1A5 may be a useful diagnostic biomarker and potential target for certain subtypes of non-small cell lung cancer.

This research was supported by the Lung Cancer Research Foundation and the National Cancer Institute (grants CA102353, CA152662, CA090949).

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