5-Formyltetrahydrofolate regulates homocysteine remethylation in human neuroblastoma. Academic Article uri icon


  • The metabolic role of 5-formyltetrahydrofolate is not known; however, it is an inhibitor of several folate-dependent enzymes including serine hydroxymethyltransferase. Methenyltetrahydrofolate synthetase (MTHFS) is the only enzyme known to metabolize 5-formyltetrahydrofolate and catalyzes the conversion of 5-formyltetrahydrofolate to 5,10-methenyltetrahydrofolate. In order to address the function of 5-formyltetrahydrofolate in mammalian cells, intracellular 5-formyltetrahydrofolate levels were depleted in human 5Y neuroblastoma by overexpressing the human cDNA encoding MTHFS (5YMTHFS cells). When cultured with 2 mM exogenous glycine, the intracellular serine and glycine concentrations in 5YMTHFS cells are elevated approximately 3-fold relative to 5Y cells; 5YMTHFS cells do not contain measurable levels of free methionine and display a 30-40% decrease in cell proliferation rates compared with 5Y cells. Medium supplemented with pharmacological levels of exogenous folinate or methionine ameliorated the glycine induced growth inhibition. Analysis of the folate derivatives demonstrated that 5-methyltetrahydrofolate accounts for 30% of total cellular folate in 5Y cells when cultured with 5 mM exogenous glycine. 5YMTHFS cells do not contain detectable levels of 5-methyltetrahydrofolate under the same culture conditions. These results suggest that 5-formyltetrahydrofolate inhibits serine hydroxymethyltransferase activity in vivo and that serine synthesis and homocysteine remethylation compete for one-carbon units in the cytoplasm.

published proceedings

  • J Biol Chem

citation count

  • 95

complete list of authors

  • Girgis, S||Suh, JR||Jolivet, J||Stover, PJ

publication date

  • February 1997