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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author’s final published version in Journal of Biological Chemistry, Volume 291, Issue 10, March 2016, Pages 5157-5171.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M115.701862. Copyright © The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


A network model for the determination of tumor metabolic fluxes from (13)C NMR kinetic isotopomer data has been developed and validated with perfused human DB-1 melanoma cells carrying the BRAF V600E mutation, which promotes oxidative metabolism. The model generated in the bonded cumomer formalism describes key pathways of tumor intermediary metabolism and yields dynamic curves for positional isotopic enrichment and spin-spin multiplets. Cells attached to microcarrier beads were perfused with 26 mm [1,6-(13)C2]glucose under normoxic conditions at 37 °C and monitored by (13)C NMR spectroscopy. Excellent agreement between model-predicted and experimentally measured values of the rates of oxygen and glucose consumption, lactate production, and glutamate pool size validated the model. ATP production by glycolytic and oxidative metabolism were compared under hyperglycemic normoxic conditions; 51% of the energy came from oxidative phosphorylation and 49% came from glycolysis. Even though the rate of glutamine uptake was ∼50% of the tricarboxylic acid cycle flux, the rate of ATP production from glutamine was essentially zero (no glutaminolysis). De novo fatty acid production was ∼6% of the tricarboxylic acid cycle flux. The oxidative pentose phosphate pathway flux was 3.6% of glycolysis, and three non-oxidative pentose phosphate pathway exchange fluxes were calculated. Mass spectrometry was then used to compare fluxes through various pathways under hyperglycemic (26 mm) and euglycemic (5 mm) conditions. Under euglycemic conditions glutamine uptake doubled, but ATP production from glutamine did not significantly change. A new parameter measuring the Warburg effect (the ratio of lactate production flux to pyruvate influx through the mitochondrial pyruvate carrier) was calculated to be 21, close to upper limit of oxidative metabolism.