5-Fluorouracil (5-FU) is a key component of chemotherapy for colorectal cancer (CRC). 5-FU efficacy is established by intracellular levels of folate cofactors and DNA damage repair strategies. However, drug resistance still represents a major challenge. Here, we report that alterations in serine metabolism affect 5-FU sensitivity in in vitro and in vivo CRC models. In particular, 5-FU-resistant CRC cells display a strong serine dependency achieved either by upregulating endogenous serine synthesis or increasing exogenous serine uptake. Importantly, regardless of the serine feeder strategy, serine hydroxymethyltransferase-2 (SHMT2)-driven compartmentalization of one-carbon metabolism inside the mitochondria represents a specific adaptation of resistant cells to support purine biosynthesis and potentiate DNA damage response. Interfering with serine availability or affecting its mitochondrial metabolism revert 5-FU resistance. These data disclose a relevant mechanism of mitochondrial serine use supporting 5-FU resistance in CRC and provide perspectives for therapeutic approaches.
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