Regulation of Folate-Mediated One-Carbon Metabolism by Glycine N-Methyltransferase (GNMT) and Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase (MTHFR).
Folate-mediated one-carbon metabolism is an important therapeutic target of human diseases. We extensively investigated how gene-nutrient interactions may modulate human cancer risk in 2 major folate metabolic genes, MTHFR and GNMT. The biochemical impacts of MTHFR and GNMT on methyl group supply, global DNA methylation, nucleotide biosynthesis, DNA damage, and partitioning of the folate dependent 1-carbon group were carefully studied. The distinct model systems used included: EB virus-transformed lymphoblasts expressing human MTHFR polymorphic genotypes; liver-derived GNMT-null cell-lines with and without GNMT overexpression; and HepG2 cells with stabilized inhibition of MTHFR using shRNA, GNMT wildtype, heterozygotous (GNMT(het)) and knockout (GNMT(nul)) mice. We discovered that the MTHFR TT genotype significantly reduces folate-dependent remethylation under folate restriction, but it assists purine synthesis when folate is adequate. The advantage of de novo purine synthesis found in the MTHFR TT genotype may account for the protective effect of MTHFR in human hematological malignancies. GNMT affects transmethylation kinetics and S-adenosylmethionine (adoMet) synthesis, and facilitates the conservation of methyl groups by limiting homocysteine remethylation fluxes. Restoring GNMT assists methylfolate-dependent reactions and ameliorates the consequences of folate depletion. GNMT expression in vivo improves folate retention and bioavailability in the liver. Loss of GNMT impairs nucleotide biosynthesis. Over-expression of GNMT enhances nucleotide biosynthesis and improves DNA integrity by reducing uracil misincorporation in DNA both in vitro and in vivo. The systematic series of studies gives new insights into the underlying mechanisms by which MTHFR and GNMT may participate in human tumor prevention.