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Akt and c-Myc differentially activate cellular metabolic programs and prime cells to bioenergetic inhibition.

The Journal of biological chemistry (2009-12-19)
Yongjun Fan, Kathleen G Dickman, Wei-Xing Zong
ABSTRACT

The high glucose consumption of tumor cells even in an oxygen-rich environment, referred to as the Warburg effect, has been noted as a nearly universal biochemical characteristic of cancer cells. Targeting the glycolysis pathway has been explored as an anti-cancer therapeutic strategy to eradicate cancer based on this fundamental biochemical property of cancer cells. Oncoproteins such as Akt and c-Myc regulate cell metabolism. Accumulating studies have uncovered various molecular mechanisms by which oncoproteins affect cellular metabolism, raising a concern as to whether targeting glycolysis will be equally effective in treating cancers arising from different oncogenic activities. Here, we established a dual-regulatable FL5.12 pre-B cell line in which myristoylated Akt is expressed under the control of doxycycline, and c-Myc, fused to the hormone-binding domain of the human estrogen receptor, is activated by 4-hydroxytamoxifen. Using this system, we directly compared the effect of these oncoproteins on cell metabolism in an isogenic background. Activation of either Akt or c-Myc leads to the Warburg effect as indicated by increased cellular glucose uptake, glycolysis, and lactate generation. When cells are treated with glycolysis inhibitors, Akt sensitizes cells to apoptosis, whereas c-Myc does not. In contrast, c-Myc but not Akt sensitizes cells to the inhibition of mitochondrial function. This is correlated with enhanced mitochondrial activities in c-Myc cells. Hence, although both Akt and c-Myc promote aerobic glycolysis, they differentially affect mitochondrial functions and render cells susceptible to the perturbation of cellular metabolic programs.