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Nicotinamide N-Methyltransferase: An Emerging Protagonist in Cancer Macro(r)evolution

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Richard B. Parsons, Paul D. Facey

Original languageEnglish
Issue number10
Published28 Sep 2021

King's Authors


Nicotinamide N-methyltransferase (NNMT) has progressed from being considered merely a Phase II metabolic enzyme to one with a central role in cell function and energy metabolism. Over the last three decades, a significant body of evidence has accumulated which clearly demonstrates a central role for NNMT in cancer survival, metastasis, and drug resistance. In this review, we discuss the evidence supporting a role for NNMT in the progression of the cancer phenotype and how it achieves this by driving the activity of pro-oncogenic NAD+-consuming enzymes. We also describe how increased NNMT activity supports the Warburg effect and how it promotes oncogenic changes in gene expression. We discuss the regulation of NNMT activity in cancer cells by both post-translational modification of the enzyme and transcription factor binding to the NNMT gene, and describe for the first time three long non-coding RNAs which may play a role in the regulation of NNMT transcription. We complete the review by discussing the development of novel anti-cancer therapeutics which target NNMT and provide insight into how NNMT-based therapies may be best employed clinically.

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