Research group Roland Nilsson

We study the metabolism of human cells using advanced measurement techniques and mathematical models.

Cellular metabolism

Metabolism is the process by which our body’s cells convert nutrients into energy and useful biological products. Much about cellular metabolism is still unknown, owing to the technical difficulties of directly measuring metabolic processes in living cells and tissues. Our research group tackles this problem using modern measurement techniques such as stable isotope tracing and high-resolution mass spectrometry, combined with mathematical models that help us make sense of the large amounts of data produced. Our work aims for a deeper and more quantitative understanding of how cells process nutrients, harvest energy and synthesize macromolecules; how metabolism differs between cell types; and how metabolism is altered in disease.

Biomedical focus areas include cancer metabolism, where metabolic enzymes activated specifically in cancer cells could be targeted by drugs to suppress cancer growth; and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a common disorder where metabolic changes in response to excessive liver fat may trigger inflammation and liver damage. We also perform collaborative studies together with expert groups in other metabolic disorders, where we provide technical expertise on metabolism measurements.

Team members

Roland Nilsson

Principal researcher/ Research group leader.

Selected Publications

Validation-based model selection for 13C metabolic flux analysis with uncertain measurement errors.
Sundqvist N, Grankvist N, Watrous J, Mohit J, Nilsson R, Cedersund G
PLoS Comput Biol 2022 Apr;18(4):e1009999

Mapping Metabolic Events in the Cancer Cell Cycle Reveals Arginine Catabolism in the Committed SG2M Phase.
Roci I, Watrous JD, Lagerborg KA, Lafranchi L, Lindqvist A, Jain M, Nilsson R
Cell Rep 2019 Feb;26(7):1691-1700.e5

Profiling the Metabolism of Human Cells by Deep 13C Labeling.
Grankvist N, Watrous JD, Lagerborg KA, Lyutvinskiy Y, Jain M, Nilsson R
Cell Chem Biol 2018 Nov;25(11):1419-1427.e4

Estimation of flux ratios without uptake or release data: Application to serine and methionine metabolism.
Nilsson R, Roci I, Watrous J, Jain M
Metab Eng 2017 Sep;43(Pt B):137-146

Metabolic enzyme expression highlights a key role for MTHFD2 and the mitochondrial folate pathway in cancer.
Nilsson R, Jain M, Madhusudhan N, Sheppard NG, Strittmatter L, Kampf C, Huang J, Asplund A, Mootha VK
Nat Commun 2014 ;5():3128

Metabolite profiling identifies a key role for glycine in rapid cancer cell proliferation.
Jain M, Nilsson R, Sharma S, Madhusudhan N, Kitami T, Souza AL, Kafri R, Kirschner MW, Clish CB, Mootha VK
Science 2012 May;336(6084):1040-4

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