Regulation of glucose metabolism by 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase/fructose-2,6-bisphosphatases in cancer

Exp Mol Pathol. 2009 Jun;86(3):174-9. doi: 10.1016/j.yexmp.2009.01.003. Epub 2009 Jan 14.


A high rate of glycolytic flux, even in the presence of oxygen, is a central metabolic hallmark of neoplastic tumors. Cancer cells preferentially utilize glycolysis in order to satisfy their increased energetic and biosynthetic requirements. This metabolic phenotype has been confirmed in human studies using positron emission tomography (PET) with (18)F-2-fluoro-deoxy-glucose which have demonstrated that tumors take up 10-fold more glucose than adjacent normal tissues in vivo. The high glucose metabolism of cancer cells is caused by a combination of hypoxia-responsive transcription factors, activation of oncogenic proteins and the loss of tumor suppressor function. Over-expression of HIF-1alpha and myc, activation of ras and loss of p53 function each have been found to stimulate glycolysis in part by activating a family of regulatory bifunctional 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase/fructose-2,6-bisphosphatases (PFKFB). The PFKFB enzymes synthesize fructose-2,6-bisphosphate (F2,6BP) which allosterically activates 6-phosphofructo-1-kinase (PFK-1), a rate-limiting enzyme and essential control point in the glycolytic pathway. PFK-1 is inhibited by ATP when energy stores are abundant and F2,6BP can override this inhibition and enhance glucose uptake and glycolytic flux. It is therefore not surprising that F2,6BP synthesis is stimulated by several oncogenic alterations which simultaneously cause both enhanced consumption of glucose and growth. Importantly, these studies suggest that selective depletion of intracellular F2,6BP in cancer cells may suppress glycolytic flux and decrease their survival, growth and invasiveness. This review will summarize the requirement of the 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase/fructose-2,6-bisphosphatases for the regulation of glycolysis in tumor cells and their potential utility as targets for the development of antineoplastic agents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Genes, ras
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glycolysis
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Phosphofructokinase-2 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Phosphofructokinase-2 / metabolism*
  • Transformation, Genetic


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • PFKFB3 protein, human
  • Phosphofructokinase-2
  • Glucose