Many cancer cells rely more on aerobic glycolysis (the Warburg effect) than mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation and catabolize glucose at a high rate. Such a metabolic switch is suggested to be due in part to functional attenuation of mitochondria in cancer cells. However, how oncogenic signals attenuate mitochondrial function and promote the switch to glycolysis remains unclear. We previously reported that tyrosine phosphorylation activates and inhibits mitochondrial pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK) and phosphatase (PDP), respectively, leading to enhanced inhibitory serine phosphorylation of pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) and consequently inhibition of pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDC) in cancer cells. In particular, Tyr-381 phosphorylation of PDP1 dissociates deacetylase SIRT3 and recruits acetyltransferase ACAT1 to PDC, resulting in increased inhibitory lysine acetylation of PDHA1 and PDP1. Here we report that phosphorylation at another tyrosine residue, Tyr-94, inhibits PDP1 by reducing the binding ability of PDP1 to lipoic acid, which is covalently attached to the L2 domain of dihydrolipoyl acetyltransferase (E2) to recruit PDP1 to PDC. We found that multiple oncogenic tyrosine kinases directly phosphorylated PDP1 at Tyr-94, and Tyr-94 phosphorylation of PDP1 was common in diverse human cancer cells and primary leukemia cells from patients. Moreover, expression of a phosphorylation-deficient PDP1 Y94F mutant in cancer cells resulted in increased oxidative phosphorylation, decreased cell proliferation under hypoxia, and reduced tumor growth in mice. Together, our findings suggest that phosphorylation at different tyrosine residues inhibits PDP1 through independent mechanisms, which act in concert to regulate PDC activity and promote the Warburg effect.
Keywords: Cell Proliferation; Phosphoprotein Phosphatase; Phosphotyrosine Signaling; Tumor Metabolism; Warburg Effect.
© 2014 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.