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Glycine -methyltransferase (GNMT) is the most abundant liver methyltransferase regulating the availability of the biological methyl donor, -adenosylmethionine (SAM). Moreover, GNMT has been identified to be down-regulated in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Despite its role in regulating SAM levels and association of its down-regulation with liver tumorigenesis, the impact of reduced GNMT on metabolic reprogramming before the manifestation of HCC has not been investigated in detail. Herein, we used H/C metabolic flux analysis in conscious, unrestrained mice to test the hypothesis that the absence of GNMT causes metabolic reprogramming. GNMT-null (KO) mice displayed a reduction in blood glucose that was associated with a decline in both hepatic glycogenolysis and gluconeogenesis. The reduced gluconeogenesis was due to a decrease in liver gluconeogenic precursors, citric acid cycle fluxes, and anaplerosis and cataplerosis. A concurrent elevation in both hepatic SAM and metabolites of SAM utilization pathways was observed in the KO mice. Specifically, the increase in metabolites of SAM utilization pathways indicated that hepatic polyamine synthesis and catabolism, transsulfuration, and lipogenesis pathways were increased in the KO mice. Of note, these pathways utilize substrates that could otherwise be used for gluconeogenesis. Also, this metabolic reprogramming occurs before the well-documented appearance of HCC in GNMT-null mice. Together, these results indicate that GNMT deletion promotes a metabolic shift whereby nutrients are channeled away from glucose formation toward pathways that utilize the elevated SAM.
© 2018 Hughey et al.