Funded by Hooters of America, LLC
Cells within a tumor must acquire nutrients from their environment and convert these nutrients into the cellular components necessary to support continued growth. This set of processes is broadly referred to as tumor metabolism. We are interested in understanding how tumor metabolism is distinct from the metabolism of normal tissues with the hope of identifying those genes or pathways upon which cancer cells are particularly dependent for survival. Recently, we have become fascinated by how tumors utilize one key metabolite, the amino acid serine. We found that the production of serine is activated in several cancer types, including breast cancer of the basal type, a particularly difficult to treat form of breast cancer. Cancer cells use this serine for various purposes, including the production of DNA. In this proposal we will evaluate the anti-cancer effect of inhibiting utilization of serine in a mouse model of basal breast cancer that recapitulates many aspects of the human disease. Furthermore, we will use a novel technology permitting editing of the cancer genome to determine whether perturbing serine utilization uncovers additional dependencies which can be the target of future anti-cancer therapies.