Oncogenic IDH1 mutations promote enhanced proline synthesis through PYCR1 to support the maintenance of mitochondrial redox homeostasis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


External organisations

  • Fudan University
  • Technische Universität Braunschweig
  • University of Birmingham


Since the discovery of mutations in isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (IDH1) in gliomas and other tumors, significant efforts have been made to gain a deeper understanding of the consequences of this oncogenic mutation. One aspect of the neomorphic function of the IDH1 R132H enzyme that has received less attention is the perturbation of cellular redox homeostasis. Here, we describe a biosynthetic pathway exhibited by cells expressing mutant IDH1. By virtue of a change in cellular redox homeostasis, IDH1 mutated cells synthesise excess glutamine-derived proline through enhanced activity of pyrroline 5-carboxylate reductase 1 (PYCR1), coupled to NADH oxidation. Enhanced proline biosynthesis partially uncouples the electron transport chain from TCA cycle activity through the maintenance of a lower NADH/NAD+ ratio and subsequent reduction in oxygen consumption. Thus, we have uncovered a mechanism by which tumor cell survival may be promoted in conditions associated with perturbed redox homeostasis, as occurs in IDH1-mutated glioma.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3107–3114
Number of pages8
JournalCell Reports
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2018


  • glioma, IDH1, redox, metabolism, Proline