Cancer cells predominantly metabolize glucose by glycolysis to produce energy in order to meet their metabolic requirement, a phenomenon known as Warburg effect. Although Warburg effect is considered a peculiarity critical for survival and proliferation of cancer cells, the regulatory mechanisms behind this phenomenon remain incompletely understood. We report here that eukaryotic elongation factor-2 kinase (eEF-2K), a negative regulator of protein synthesis, has a critical role in promoting glycolysis in cancer cells. We showed that deficiency in eEF-2K significantly reduced the uptake of glucose and decreased the productions of lactate and adenosine triphosphate in tumor cells and in the Ras-transformed mouse embryonic fibroblasts. We further demonstrated that the promotive effect of eEF-2K on glycolysis resulted from the kinase-mediated restriction of synthesis of the protein phosphatase 2A-A (PP2A-A), a key factor that facilitates the ubiquitin-proteasomal degradation of c-Myc protein, as knockdown of eEF-2K expression led to a significant increase in PP2A-A protein synthesis and remarkable downregulation of c-Myc and pyruvate kinase M2 isoform, the key glycolytic enzyme transcriptionally activated by c-Myc. In addition, depletion of eEF-2K reduced the ability of the transformed cells to proliferate and enhanced the sensitivity of tumor cells to chemotherapy both in vitro and in vivo. These results, which uncover a role of the eEF-2K-mediated control of PP2A-A in tumor cell glycolysis, provide new insights into the regulation of the Warburg effect.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cancer Research