For women, breast cancer is the most diagnosed cancer, with metastasis being the primary cause of most breast cancer-related deaths. During metastasis, cells detach from the extracellular matrix (ECM) to move to a secondary site. Unlike normal cells, metastatic cells are resistant to cell death upon ECM detachment. The amino acid glutamine is used as an energy source during metastatic progression via replenishing the TCA cycle. Breast cancer cells have decreased viability in the absence of glutamine, but the effect of glutamine in ECM detached conditions in metastatic cells is not known. We hypothesize that metastatic and non-metastatic cells have a decreased viability in ECM detachment in glutamine deprived conditions. In this study, metastatic MCF10CA1a cells and non-metastatic Harvey-ras oncogene transfected MCF10A-ras cells were employed. As expected, in ECM detached conditions, the MCF10A-ras cells had a greater decrease in viability (58.4%) in comparison to the MCF10CA1a cells (32.7%). However, in glutamine deprived conditions, the MCF10CA1a cells decrease in viability was 15.2% greater compared to the MCF10A-ras cells. mRNA expression of the major glutamine transporter, SLC1A5, was decreased in detached conditions in both cell lines, but to a greater extent in the MCF10A-ras cells (70.04%) compared to the MCF10CA1a cells (20.15%). Additionally, mRNA expression in detached conditions of glutamate dehydrogenase, the enzyme that metabolizes the downstream glutamine metabolite glutamate to α-ketoglutarate (αKG), was decreased by 77% in the non-metastatic cells, but increased by 23% in the metastatic cells. Additionally, mRNA expression of GOT1, a gene which encodes for the transaminase enzyme which synthesizes αKG and aspartate from glutamate and oxaloacetate, decreased 73% in detached conditions in the non-metastatic cells but was unchanged in the metastatic cells. Moreover, following detachment the glutamine synthesizing enzyme, glutamine synthetase mRNA expression was increased by 81.92% in the non-metastatic cells and 88.43% in the metastatic cells. In summary, the greater effect of glutamine depletion on viability, and the maintained expression of glutamine metabolizing enzymes in the metastatic cells suggest greater dependence on glutamine metabolism in ECM detached conditions compared to non-metastatic cells. Comparison of metastatic and non-metastatic breast cancer cells will provide insights to direct the development of new targets for the prevention of breast cancer metastasis.

Citation Format: Kanika K. Garg, Madeline Sheeley, Dorothy Teegarden. Comparison of metastatic and nonmetastatic breast cancer cell survival in glutamine depleted extracellular matrix detached conditions [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2021; 2021 Apr 10-15 and May 17-21. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2021;81(13_Suppl):Abstract nr 2873.