Phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase (PHGDH) catalyzes the first step in the synthesis of the amino acid serine, important for protein synthesis, one-carbon metabolism, lipid production, redox homeostasis, and other key processes of normal and cancer metabolism. While PHGDH is often overexpressed in cancer cells, how it is regulated has been unclear. In this issue of the JCI, Liu and colleagues describe a new aspect of PHGDH regulation, demonstrating that the Parkinson disease gene and tumor suppressor Parkin bound and ubiquitinated PHGDH. Parkin promoted PHGDH degradation, suppressed serine synthesis, and inhibited tumor growth in human cancer cell line xenografts. Conversely, inactivation of Parkin not only accelerated tumor growth, but also sensitized tumors to small molecule inhibitors of PHGDH. These results offer a new link between Parkin and the serine synthesis pathway, and they bear translational potential that warrants further study in Parkin-deficient human cancers.
W. Brian Dalton
Proposed mechanism for how Parkin suppresses serine synthesis and tumor growth.