Targeted metabolomics reveals dynamic portrayal of amino acids and derivatives in triple-negative breast cancer cells and culture media†
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is well-known for its metastatic aggressiveness and poor survival prognosis, accounting for nearly a quarter of cases in breast cancer. We performed intra- and extra-cellular profiling of 40 amino acids and derivatives on three cell lines and their culture media, including TNBC, non-TNBC and normal breast epithelial cells, using HILIC-MS/MS. Characteristic metabolic alteration of amino acids and derivatives was observed in TNBC cells, compared to non-TNBC cells, especially in correlated intra- and extra-cellular metabolic pathways. Intra-cellularly, quantified glutamic acid, β-alanine, aspartic acid, glutathione, N-acetyl-serine and N-acetyl-methionine were most significantly increased (>2-fold, p < 0.01 and VIP > 1) in TNBC cells. Extra-cellularly, significantly increased uptake of glutamine, serine, β-alanine, and lysine and elevated excretion of glutamic acid and L-cysteine-glutathione (p < 0.01 and VIP > 1) were observed by TNBC cells from or to their cell culture media. This study depicted a novel dynamic portrayal of metabolic dysregulation between TNBC and non-TNBC cells, correlated in both intra- and extra-cellular amino acid profiles. Quantification of these distinctive metabolites of TNBC cells might offer advanced understanding and new treatment targets for TNBC.