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Clin Cancer Res. 2009 Nov 1;15(21):6479-83. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-09-0889. Epub 2009 Oct 27.

MYC-induced cancer cell energy metabolism and therapeutic opportunities.

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  • 1Division of Hematology, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.


Although cancers have altered glucose metabolism, termed the Warburg effect, which describes the increased uptake and conversion of glucose to lactate by cancer cells under adequate oxygen tension, changes in the metabolism of glutamine and fatty acid have also been documented. The MYC oncogene, which contributes to the genesis of many human cancers, encodes a transcription factor c-Myc, which links altered cellular metabolism to tumorigenesis. c-Myc regulates genes involved in the biogenesis of ribosomes and mitochondria, and regulation of glucose and glutamine metabolism. With E2F1, c-Myc induces genes involved in nucleotide metabolism and DNA replication, and microRNAs that homeostatically attenuate E2F1 expression. With the hypoxia inducible transcription factor HIF-1, ectopic c-Myc cooperatively induces a transcriptional program for hypoxic adaptation. Myc regulates gene expression either directly, such as glycolytic genes including lactate dehydrogenase A (LDHA), or indirectly, such as repression of microRNAs miR-23a/b to increase glutaminase (GLS) protein expression and glutamine metabolism. Ectopic MYC expression in cancers, therefore, could concurrently drive aerobic glycolysis and/or oxidative phosphorylation to provide sufficient energy and anabolic substrates for cell growth and proliferation in the context of the tumor microenvironment. Collectively, these studies indicate that Myc-mediated altered cancer cell energy metabolism could be translated for the development of new anticancer therapies.

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