In cells derived from several types of cancer, a transcriptional program drives high consumption of glutamine (Gln), which is used for anaplerosis, leading to a metabolic addiction for the amino acid. Low or absent expression of Glutamine Synthetase (GS), the only enzyme that catalyzes de novo Gln synthesis, has been considered a marker of Gln-addicted cancers. In this study, two human cell lines derived from brain tumors with oligodendroglioma features, HOG and Hs683, have been shown to be GS-negative. Viability of both lines depends from extracellular Gln with EC50 of 0.175 +/- 0.056 mM (Hs683) and 0.086 +/- 0.043 mM (HOG), thus suggesting that small amounts of extracellular Gln are sufficient for OD cell growth. Gln starvation does not significantly affect the cell content of anaplerotic substrates, which, consistently, are not able to rescue cell growth, but causes hindrance of the Wnt/-catenin pathway and protein synthesis attenuation, which is mitigated by transient GS expression. Gln transport inhibitors cause partial depletion of intracellular Gln and cell growth inhibition, but do not lower cell viability. Therefore, GS-negative human oligodendroglioma cells are Gln-auxotrophic but do not use the amino acid for anaplerosis and, hence, are not Gln addicted, exhibiting only limited Gln requirements for survival and growth.
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