Reduced availability of l-serine limits cell proliferation and leads to an adaptation to l-serine-deficient environment, the underlying molecular mechanism of which remain largely unexplored. Genetic ablation of 3-phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase (Phgdh), which catalyzes the first step of de novo l-serine synthesis, led to diminished cell proliferation and the activation of p38 MAPK and stress-activated protein kinase/Jun amino-terminal kinase in mouse embryonic fibroblasts under l-serine depletion. The resultant l-serine deficiency induced cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 1a (Cdkn1a; p21) expression, which was mediated by p38 MAPK. Survival of the Phgdh-deficient mouse embryonic fibroblasts was markedly reduced by p38 MAPK inhibition under l-serine depletion, whereas p38 MAPK could be activated by 1-deoxysphinganine, an atypical alanine-derived sphingoid base that was found to accumulate in l-serine-depleted mouse embryonic fibroblasts. These observations provide persuasive evidence that when the external l-serine supply is limited, l-serine synthesized de novo in proliferating cells serves as a metabolic gatekeeper to maintain cell survival and the functions necessary for executing cell cycle progression. Database: Gene Expression Omnibus, accession number GSE55687. Using 3-phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase (Phgdh)-deficient mouse embryonic fibroblasts, we explored l-serine deficiency. Cell proliferation was reduced, but Cdkn1a/p21 expression was induced, mediated by p38 MAPK. These observations suggest that when the external l-serine supply is limited, l-serine synthesized de novo in proliferating cells serves as a metabolic gatekeeper to maintain cell survival and the functions necessary for executing cell cycle progression.
!!!All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes