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As the most abundant free amino acid in the plasma, glutamine participates in a variety of biochemical processes, such as protein and lipid synthesis, cellular energy production, and nitrogen and carbon donation.
Glutamine metabolism occurs in proliferating cells, particularly cancer cells. The process begins with glutamine entering the cell through the amino acid transporter ASCT2/SLC1A5. In the mitochondria, glutamine undergoes glutaminolysis, which includes reaction steps from the citrate cycle and the malate-aspartate shuttle.
Through glutamine metabolism, glutamine serves as a significant energy source for cancer cells and stimulates tumor growth. As a result, scientists have been investigating how the pathway can be targeted to treat cancer.
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