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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 Feb 17;95(4):1511-6.

A unique glucose-dependent apoptotic pathway induced by c-Myc.

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Department of Medicine, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


The lactate dehydrogenase A (LDH-A) gene, whose product participates in normal anaerobic glycolysis and is frequently increased in human cancers, has been identified as a c-Myc-responsive gene. It was of interest, therefore, to compare the effect of glucose deprivation in c-Myc-transformed and nontransformed cells. We observed that glucose deprivation or treatment with the glucose antimetabolite 2-deoxyglucose caused nontransformed cells to arrest in the G0/G1 phase of the cell cycle. In contrast, c-Myc-transformed fibroblasts, lymphoblastoid, or lung carcinoma cells underwent extensive apoptosis. Ectopic expression of LDH-A alone in Rat1a fibroblasts was sufficient to induce apoptosis with glucose deprivation but not with serum withdrawal, suggesting that LDH-A mediates the unique apoptotic effect of c-Myc when glycolysis is blocked. The apoptosis caused by glucose deprivation was blocked by Bcl-2 expression but appeared to be independent of wild-type p53 activity. These studies provide insights on the coupling of glucose metabolism and the cell cycle in c-Myc-transformed cells and may in the future be exploited for cancer therapeutics.

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