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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Intracellular metabolism of 5-formyl tetrahydrofolate in human breast and colon cell lines.

This report describes the intracellular metabolism of 5-formyltetrahydrofolate into the various one-carbon substituted folate and polyglutamate pools in a human breast (MCF-7) and colon (HCT 116) carcinoma cell line. Metabolism into the one-carbon substituted pools was found to be time and dose dependent over a concentration range up to 50 microM. A 3-fold increase in total intracellular folate was noted over a 50-fold concentration range (1-50 microM) of 5-formyltetrahydrofolate tested in the colon cell line, while in the breast line, a 6-fold increase was detected over a 500-fold concentration range (0.1-50 microM). The level of 5, 10-methylenetetrahydrofolate, which was detectable only in the breast cell line, was found to increase by a factor of 10 (1.8 pmol/mg to 17.9 pmol/mg) over the concentration range studied. The majority of metabolism was into the 10-formyltetrahydrofolate and tetrahydrofolate pools in the breast cells and into the 5-methyltetrahydrofolate pool in the colon cells. Polyglutamation was also time and dose dependent, with a significant proportion of the total pool represented by the higher polyglutamate forms (Glu3-Glu5) after 24 h of continuous exposure to 5-formyl tetrahydrofolate. Pentaglutamate was the highest level noted in both cell lines. The intracellular half-life of the polyglutamate forms was inversely related to the length of the polyglutamate tail with half-lives of 71, 131, 143, 441, and 1167 min for the mono- through pentaglutamate, respectively. Finally, up to a 20:1 ratio of the biologically inactive (6R) isomer to active (6S) isomer of 5-formyltetrahydrofolate resulted in no effect on metabolism into the one-carbon substituted folate pools and only minimal decreases in metabolism to the polyglutamate forms. These studies suggest that prolonged exposure to even relatively low doses of 5-formyltetrahydrofolate may be optimal for intracellular metabolism to the most biologically relevant forms for ternary complex formation with thymidylate synthase and fluorodeoxyuradylate, since longer exposures result in a greater accumulation of the higher polyglutamates.[1]


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