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CTP synthase is compartmentalized within a subcellular structure, termed the cytoophidium, in a range of organisms including bacteria, yeast, fruit fly and rat. Here we show that CTP synthase is also compartmentalized into cytoophidia in human cells. Surprisingly, the occurrence of cytoophidia in human cells increases upon treatment with a glutamine analog 6-diazo-5-oxo-l-norleucine (DON), an inhibitor of glutamine-dependent enzymes including CTP synthase. Experiments in flies confirmed that DON globally promotes cytoophidium assembly. Clonal analysis via CTP synthase RNA interference in somatic cells indicates that CTP synthase expression level is critical for the formation of cytoophidia. Moreover, DON facilitates cytoophidium assembly even when CTP synthase level is low. A second glutamine analog azaserine also promotes cytoophidum formation. Our data demonstrate that glutamine analogs serve as useful tools in the study of cytoophidia.

Original publication




Journal article


J Genet Genomics

Publication Date





391 - 402


Animals, Apoptosis, Azaserine, Carbon-Nitrogen Ligases, Cell Compartmentation, Cell Cycle, Diazooxonorleucine, Drosophila melanogaster, Enzyme Inhibitors, Female, Glutamine, HeLa Cells, Humans, Intracellular Space, Male, Oogenesis, RNA Interference