ATF3 promotes the serine synthesis pathway and tumor growth under dietary serine restriction

Academic Article


  • The serine synthesis pathway (SSP) involving metabolic enzymes phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase (PHGDH), phosphoserine aminotransferase 1 (PSAT1), and phosphoserine phosphatase (PSPH) drives intracellular serine biosynthesis and is indispensable for cancer cells to grow in serine-limiting environments. However, how SSP is regulated is not well understood. Here, we report that activating transcription factor 3 (ATF3) is crucial for transcriptional activation of SSP upon serine deprivation. ATF3 is rapidly induced by serine deprivation via a mechanism dependent on ATF4, which in turn binds to ATF4 and increases the stability of this master regulator of SSP. ATF3 also binds to the enhancers/promoters of PHGDH, PSAT1, and PSPH and recruits p300 to promote expression of these SSP genes. As a result, loss of ATF3 expression impairs serine biosynthesis and the growth of cancer cells in the serine-deprived medium or in mice fed with a serine/glycine-free diet. Interestingly, ATF3 expression positively correlates with PHGDH expression in a subset of TCGA cancer samples.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Cell Reports  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Li X; Gracilla D; Cai L; Zhang M; Yu X; Chen X; Zhang J; Long X; Ding HF; Yan C
  • Volume

  • 36
  • Issue

  • 12