O-GlcNAcylation of PGK1 coordinates glycolysis and TCA cycle to promote tumor growth

Nat Commun. 2020 Jan 7;11(1):36. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-13601-8.


Many cancer cells display enhanced glycolysis and suppressed mitochondrial metabolism. This phenomenon, known as the Warburg effect, is critical for tumor development. However, how cancer cells coordinate glucose metabolism through glycolysis and the mitochondrial tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle is largely unknown. We demonstrate here that phosphoglycerate kinase 1 (PGK1), the first ATP-producing enzyme in glycolysis, is reversibly and dynamically modified with O-linked N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) at threonine 255 (T255). O-GlcNAcylation activates PGK1 activity to enhance lactate production, and simultaneously induces PGK1 translocation into mitochondria. Inside mitochondria, PGK1 acts as a kinase to inhibit pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) complex to reduce oxidative phosphorylation. Blocking T255 O-GlcNAcylation of PGK1 decreases colon cancer cell proliferation, suppresses glycolysis, enhances the TCA cycle, and inhibits tumor growth in xenograft models. Furthermore, PGK1 O-GlcNAcylation levels are elevated in human colon cancers. This study highlights O-GlcNAcylation as an important signal for coordinating glycolysis and the TCA cycle to promote tumorigenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylglucosamine / metabolism*
  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Citric Acid Cycle*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Colonic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Glycolysis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Phosphoglycerate Kinase / chemistry
  • Phosphoglycerate Kinase / genetics
  • Phosphoglycerate Kinase / metabolism*
  • Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Complex / metabolism


  • Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Complex
  • PGK1 protein, human
  • Phosphoglycerate Kinase
  • Acetylglucosamine