Folate and Pterin Metabolism by Cancer Cells in Culture

Baldassarre Stea, Peter S. Backlund, Phillip B. Berkey, Arthur K. Cho, Barbara C. Halpern, M. Richard, H. Halpern, Roberts A. Smith

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59 Scopus citations


Malignant calls grown in culture excrete into their growth medium a folate catabolite that can be seen as a blue-fluorescent region on paper chromatograms of such media. This folate catabolite has now been identified by paper chromatography, thin-layer chromatography, and combined gas chromatography-mass spectrometry as 6-hydroxymethylpterin and not as pterin-6-carboxaldehyde as previously reported. Moreover, when pterin-6-carboxaldehyde was added to the growth medium of logarithmically growing malignant cells, it was primarily reduced to 6-hydroxymethylpterin. In contrast pterin-6-carboxylate was the principal product formed from added pterin-6-carboxaldehyde by normal established cell lines in culture. These results have been interpreted as indicative of a possible mechanism of folate catabolism in malignant cells. Folic acid or another folate derivative is oxidatively cleaved at the C-9-N-10 bond to yield pterin-6-carboxaldehyde as one of the products. This derivative is subsequently reduced to 6-hydroxymethylpterin, which is excreted into the growth medium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2378-2384
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1978

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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