The balance between metabolism and biomass is very important in biological systems; however, to date there has been no quantitative method to characterize the balance. In this methodological study, we propose to use the distribution of amino acids in different domains to investigate this balance. It is well known that endogenous or exogenous amino acids in a biological system are either metabolized or incorporated into free amino acids (FAAs) or proteome amino acids (PAAs). Using glycine (Gly) as an example, we demonstrate a novel method to accurately determine the amounts of amino acids in various domains using serum, urine, and cell samples. As expected, serum and urine had very different distributions of FAA- and PAA-Gly. Using Tet21N human neuroblastoma cells, we also found that Myc(oncogene)-induced metabolic reprogramming included a higher rate of metabolizing Gly, which provides additional evidence that the metabolism of proliferating cells is adapted to facilitate producing new cells. It is therefore anticipated that our method will be very valuable for further studies of the metabolism and biomass balance that will lead to a better understanding of human cancers.
- Warburg effect
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