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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Balancing glycolytic flux: the role of 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase/fructose 2,6-bisphosphatases in cancer metabolism

Susana Ros and Almut Schulze*

Author Affiliations

Gene Expression Analysis Laboratory, Cancer Research UK London Research Institute, 44 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3LY, UK

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Cancer & Metabolism 2013, 1:8  doi:10.1186/2049-3002-1-8

Published: 4 February 2013

Abstract

The increased glucose metabolism in cancer cells is required to fulfill their high energetic and biosynthetic demands. Changes in the metabolic activity of cancer cells are caused by the activation of oncogenes or loss of tumor suppressors. They can also be part of the metabolic adaptations to the conditions imposed by the tumor microenvironment, such as the hypoxia response. Among the metabolic enzymes that are modulated by these factors are the 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase/fructose 2,6-bisphosphatases (PFKFBs), a family of bifunctional enzymes that control the levels of fructose 2,6-bisphosphate (Fru-2,6-P2). This metabolite is important for the dynamic regulation of glycolytic flux by allosterically activating the rate-limiting enzyme of glycolysis phosphofructokinase-1 (PFK-1). Therapeutic strategies designed to alter the levels of this metabolite are likely to interfere with the metabolic balance of cancer cells, and could lead to a reduction in cancer cell proliferation, invasiveness and survival. This article will review our current understanding of the role of PFKFB proteins in the control of cancer metabolism and discuss the emerging interest in these enzymes as potential targets for the development of antineoplastic agents.

Keywords:
Cancer metabolism; Fructose 2,6-bisphosphate; PFK-2/FBPase-2