Pyruvate kinase type M2: a crossroad in the tumor metabolome

Br J Nutr. 2002 Jan;87 Suppl 1:S23-9.


Cell proliferation is a process that consumes large amounts of energy. A reduction in the nutrient supply can lead to cell death by ATP depletion, if cell proliferation is not limited. A key sensor for this regulation is the glycolytic enzyme pyruvate kinase, which determines whether glucose carbons are channelled to synthetic processes or used for glycolytic energy production. In unicellular organisms pyruvate kinase is regulated by ATP, ADP and AMP, by ribose 5-P, the precursor of the nucleic acid synthesis, and by the glycolytic intermediate fructose 1,6-P2 (FBP), thereby adapting cell proliferation to nutrient supply. The mammalian pyruvate kinase isoenzyme type M2 (M2-PK) displays the same kinetic properties as the pyruvate kinase enzyme from unicellular organisms. The mammalian M2-PK isoenzyme can switch between a less active dimeric form and a highly active tetrameric form which regulates the channeling of glucose carbons either to synthetic processes (dimeric form) or to glycolytic energy production (tetrameric form). Tumor cells are usually characterized by a high amount of the dimeric form leading to a strong accumulation of all glycolytic phosphometabolites above pyruvate kinase. The tetramer-dimer ratio is regulated by ATP, FBP and serine and by direct interactions with different oncoproteins (pp60v-src, HPV-16 E7). In solid tumors with sufficient oxygen supply pyruvate is supplied by glutaminolysis. Pyruvate produced in glycolysis and glutaminolysis is used for the synthesis of lactate, glutamate and fatty acids thereby releasing the hydrogen produced in the glycolytic glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase reaction.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen / metabolism
  • Neoplasm Proteins / physiology*
  • Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Pyruvate Kinase / physiology*


  • Fatty Acids
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Hydrogen
  • Pyruvate Kinase