Structural aspects of the glucose and monocarboxylate transporters involved in the Warburg effect

IUBMB Life. 2022 Sep 9. doi: 10.1002/iub.2668. Online ahead of print.


Cancer cells shift their glucose catabolism from aerobic respiration to lactic fermentation even in the presence of oxygen, and this is known as the "Warburg effect". To accommodate the high glucose demands and to avoid lactate accumulation, the expression levels of human glucose transporters (GLUTs) and human monocarboxylate transporters (MCTs) are elevated to maintain metabolic homeostasis. Therefore, inhibition of GLUTs and/or MCTs provides potential therapeutic strategies for cancer treatment. Here, we summarize recent advances in the structural characterization of GLUTs and MCTs, providing a comprehensive understanding of their transport and inhibition mechanisms to facilitate further development of anticancer therapies.

Keywords: Warburg effect; alternating access; glucose transporters; lactate shuttling; monocarboxylate transporters.