Disease Models & Mechanisms (Aug 2018)

Arginine and the metabolic regulation of nitric oxide synthesis in cancer

  • Rom Keshet,
  • Ayelet Erez

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 11, no. 8


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Nitric oxide (NO) is a signaling molecule that plays important roles in diverse biological processes and thus its dysregulation is involved in the pathogenesis of various disorders. In cancer, NO has broad and sometimes dichotomous roles; it is involved in cancer initiation and progression, but also restricts cancer proliferation and invasion, and contributes to the anti-tumor immune response. The importance of NO in a range of cellular processes is exemplified by its tight spatial and dosage control at multiple levels, including via its transcriptional, post-translational and metabolic regulation. In this Review, we focus on the regulation of NO via the synthesis and availability of its precursor, arginine, and discuss the implications of this metabolic regulation for cancer biology and therapy. Despite the established contribution of NO to cancer pathogenesis, the implementation of NO-related cancer therapeutics remains limited, likely due to the challenge of targeting and inducing its protective functions in a cell- and dosage-specific manner. A better understanding of how arginine regulates the production of NO in cancer might thus support the development of anti-cancer drugs that target this key metabolic pathway, and other metabolic pathways involved in NO production.