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Enzyme that flips switch on cells' sugar cravings could be anti-cancer target
Date:12/22/2011

Cancer cells tend to take up more glucose than healthy cells, and researchers are increasingly interested in exploiting this tendency with drugs that target cancer cells' altered metabolism.

Cancer cells' sugar cravings arise partly because they turn off their mitochondria, power sources that burn glucose efficiently, in favor of a more inefficient mode of using glucose. They benefit because the byproducts can be used as building blocks for fast-growing cells.

Scientists at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University have shown that many types of cancer cells flip a switch that diverts glucose away from mitochondria. Their findings suggest that tyrosine kinases, enzymes that drive the growth of several types of cancer, play a greater role in mitochondria than previously recognized.

The results also highlight the enzyme PDHK (pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase) as an important point of control for cancer cell metabolism.

The results were published online Thursday by the journal Molecular Cell. http://www.cell.com/molecular-cell/

Video available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1hUSiXISYs

"We and others have shown that PDHK is upregulated in several types of human cancer, and our findings demonstrate a new way that PDHK activity is enhanced in cancer cells," says Jing Chen, PhD, associate professor of hematology and medical oncology at Emory University School of Medicine and Winship Cancer Institute. "PDHK is a very attractive target for anticancer therapy because of its role in regulating cancer metabolism."

Chen and Sumin Kang, PhD, assistant professor of hematology and medical oncology at Emory University School of Medicine, are co-corresponding authors. Postdoctoral fellows Taro Hitosugi, Jun Fan and Tae-Wook Chung are co-first authors of the paper. Co-authors at Emory include Georgia Ch
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Contact: Lynne Anderson
virginia.l.anderson@emory.edu
404-778-5452
Emory University
Source:Eurekalert  

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