Pharmacological Activation of Pyruvate Kinase M2 Inhibits CD4+ T Cell Pathogenicity and Suppresses Autoimmunity

Cell Metab. 2020 Feb 4;31(2):391-405.e8. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2019.10.015. Epub 2019 Nov 21.


Pyruvate kinase (PK) catalyzes the conversion of phosphoenolpyruvate to pyruvate during glycolysis. The PK isoform PKM2 has additional roles in regulation of gene transcription and protein phosphorylation. PKM2 has been shown to control macrophage metabolic remodeling in inflammation, but its role in T cell biology is poorly understood. Here, we report PKM2 upregulation, phosphorylation, and nuclear accumulation in murine and human CD4+ T cells following activation in vitro. Treatment of T cells with TEPP-46, an allosteric activator that induces PKM2 tetramerization and blocks its nuclear translocation, strongly reduces their activation, proliferation, and cytokine production by inhibiting essential signaling pathways and thus preventing the engagement of glycolysis. TEPP-46 limits the development of both T helper 17 (Th17) and Th1 cells in vitro and ameliorates experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in vivo. Overall, our results suggest that pharmacological targeting of PKM2 may represent a valuable therapeutic approach in T cell-mediated inflammation and autoimmunity.

Keywords: PKM2; Th1; Th17; autoimmunity; immunometabolism; inflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmunity / drug effects
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Enzyme Activators / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Pyridazines / pharmacology*
  • Pyrroles / pharmacology*
  • Th1 Cells* / cytology
  • Th1 Cells* / drug effects
  • Th1 Cells* / immunology
  • Thyroid Hormones / metabolism*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Enzyme Activators
  • ML-265
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Pyridazines
  • Pyrroles
  • Thyroid Hormones
  • thyroid hormone-binding proteins