Mechanisms Behind Metabolic Switches in Cells Discovered

Identifying cancer cells’ metabolic states could improve treatments.

In a recent study, researchers uncovered the mechanisms behind the metabolic switch observed in irregular cells.

A change in cellular energy metabolism can cause normal cells to change into cells with an abnormal metabolic state, according to a study published by Nature Scientific Reports. Cancer cells switch from creating energy through aerobic respiration to glycolysis, which is the same metabolic switch seen in yeast cells.

In the study, researchers looked at how yeast cells create energy to analyze different metabolic oscillations behind the switch.

“Due to the thermodynamic openness of a living cell, the inability to instantaneously match fluctuating supply and demand in energy metabolism results in nonautonomous time-varying oscillatory dynamics,” said researcher Aneta Stefanovska, PhD.

Researchers were able to show changes in metabolic state were due to alterations in the ability of the oscillator to resist external perturbations, they wrote.

The researchers believe that their findings could be used to identify metabolic switching in cells, in particular cancer cells.

“Focusing on the transitions between metabolic states could facilitate the development of new therapeutic strategies,” concluded researcher Gemma Lancaster, PhD.