PKM2 phosphorylates histone H3 and promotes gene transcription and tumorigenesis

Cell. 2012 Aug 17;150(4):685-96. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2012.07.018.


Tumor-specific pyruvate kinase M2 (PKM2) is essential for the Warburg effect. In addition to its well-established role in aerobic glycolysis, PKM2 directly regulates gene transcription. However, the mechanism underlying this nonmetabolic function of PKM2 remains elusive. We show here that PKM2 directly binds to histone H3 and phosphorylates histone H3 at T11 upon EGF receptor activation. This phosphorylation is required for the dissociation of HDAC3 from the CCND1 and MYC promoter regions and subsequent acetylation of histone H3 at K9. PKM2-dependent histone H3 modifications are instrumental in EGF-induced expression of cyclin D1 and c-Myc, tumor cell proliferation, cell-cycle progression, and brain tumorigenesis. In addition, levels of histone H3 T11 phosphorylation correlate with nuclear PKM2 expression levels, glioma malignancy grades, and prognosis. These findings highlight the role of PKM2 as a protein kinase in its nonmetabolic functions of histone modification, which is essential for its epigenetic regulation of gene expression and tumorigenesis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytoma / genetics
  • Astrocytoma / metabolism*
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic*
  • Cyclin D1 / genetics
  • Cyclin D1 / metabolism
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / metabolism
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Glioblastoma / genetics
  • Glioblastoma / metabolism*
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / genetics
  • Thyroid Hormones / metabolism*
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Transplantation, Heterologous


  • CCND1 protein, human
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Histones
  • MYC protein, human
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc
  • Thyroid Hormones
  • thyroid hormone-binding proteins
  • Cyclin D1
  • Epidermal Growth Factor