Purpose of review: Neoplastic cells metabolize abundant glucose relative to normal cells in order to satisfy the increased energetic and anabolic needs of the transformed state. This review will summarize the requirement of 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase/fructose-2,6-bisphosphatases for the regulation of glycolysis in cancer cells and their potential utility as targets for the development of antineoplastic agents.
Recent findings: The steady-state concentration of fructose-2,6-bisphosphate controls the overall rate of glycolysis by allosterically activating a rate-limiting enzyme, 6-phosphofructo-1-kinase. The intracellular concentration of fructose-2,6-bisphosphate is controlled by a family of bifunctional 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase/fructose-2,6-bisphosphatases that are encoded by four independent genes (PFKFB1-4). The 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase/fructose-2,6-bisphosphatase encoded by the PFKFB3 gene has the highest kinase:phosphatase activity ratio of the four enzymes and thus contributes significantly to the synthesis of fructose-2,6-bisphosphate. PFKFB3 is activated by mitogenic, inflammatory and hypoxic stimuli, and was recently found to be constitutively expressed by several human leukemias and solid tumor cells. By setting the intracellular fructose-2,6-bisphosphate concentration, PFKFB3 controls glycolytic flux to lactate and the nonoxidative pentose shunt, and is selectively required for the tumorigenic growth of ras-transformed cells.
Summary: These findings demonstrate a key role for the 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase/fructose-2,6-bisphosphatases in neoplastic transformation and provide rationale for the development of agents that selectively inhibit the PFKFB3 enzyme as antineoplastic agents.