Isomer-resolved lipidomics for analysis of human prostate tumours and cancer cell lines
Fatty acid (FA) modifications, such as enzymatic desaturation and elongation, have long been thought to involve sequential and highly specific enzyme-substrate interactions, which result in canonical products that are well-defined in their chain lengths, degree of unsaturation and double bond positions. These products act as a supply of building blocks for the synthesis of complex lipids supporting a symphony of lipid signals and membrane macrostructure.
Recently, it was brought to light that differences in substrate availability due to enzyme inhibition can activate alternative pathways in a range of cancers, potentially altering the total species repertoire of FA metabolism. We have used isomer-resolved lipidomics to analyse human prostate tumours and cancer cell lines and that reveal, for the first-time, the full extent of metabolic plasticity in cancer.
Assigning the double bond position(s) in simple and complex lipids allows mapping of fatty acid desaturation and elongation via hitherto apocryphal metabolic pathways that generate FAs with unusual sites of unsaturation. Downstream utilisation of these FAs is demonstrated by their incorporation into complex structural lipids. The unsaturation profiles of different phospholipids reveal substantive structural variation between classes that will, necessarily, modulate lipid-centred biological processes in cancer cells including membrane fluidity and signal transduction.
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