• Authors: Roci I. et al.
  • Year: 2020
  • Journal: Metabolomics 16 125
  • Applications: in vitro / siRNA / INTERFERin
  • Cell types:
    1. Name: HCT 116
      Description: Human colon carcinoma cells
      Known as: HCT116
    2. Name: HeLa
      Description: Human cervix epitheloid carcinoma cells
    3. Name: MCF7
      Description: Human breast adenocarcinoma cells
      Known as: MCF-7, MCF 7


Introduction: Choline is an essential human nutrient that is particular important for proliferating cells, and altered choline metabolism has been associated with cancer transformation. Yet, the various metabolic fates of choline in proliferating cells have not been investigated systematically. Objectives: This study aims to map the metabolic products of choline in normal and cancerous proliferating cells. Methods: We performed 13C-choline tracing followed by liquid chromatography-high resolution mass spectrometry (LC-HRMS) analysis of metabolic products in normal and in vitro-transformed (tumor-forming) epithelial cells, and also in tumor-derived cancer cell lines. Selected metabolites were quantified by internal standards. Results: Untargeted analysis revealed 121 LCMS peaks that were 13C-labeled from choline, including various phospholipid species, but also previously unknown products such as monomethyl- and dimethyl-ethanolamines. Interestingly, we observed formation of betaine from choline specifically in tumor-derived cells. Expression of choline dehydrogenase (CHDH), which catalyzes the first step of betaine synthesis, correlated with betaine synthesis across the cell lines studied. RNAi silencing of CHDH did not affect cell proliferation, although we observed an increased fraction of G2M phase cells with some RNAi sequences, suggesting that CHDH and its product betaine may play a role in cell cycle progression. Betaine cell concentration was around 10 µM, arguing against an osmotic function, and was not used as a methyl donor. The function of betaine in these tumor-derived cells is presently unknown. Conclusion: This study identifies novel metabolites of choline in cancer and normal cell lines, and reveals altered choline metabolism in cancer cells.