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Trends Cancer. 2017 Nov;3(11):761-767. doi: 10.1016/j.trecan.2017.09.007. Epub 2017 Nov 6.

The Glycogen Shunt Maintains Glycolytic Homeostasis and the Warburg Effect in Cancer.

Author information

1
Departments of Radiology and Biomedical Engineering, Magnetic Resonance Research Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.
2
Departments of Radiology and Biomedical Engineering, Magnetic Resonance Research Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA. Electronic address: douglas.rothman@yale.edu.

Abstract

Despite many decades of study there is a lack of a quantitative explanation for the Warburg effect in cancer. We propose that the glycogen shunt, a pathway recently shown to be critical for cancer cell survival, may explain the excess lactate generation under aerobic conditions characteristic of the Warburg effect. The proposal is based on research on yeast and mammalian muscle and brain that demonstrates that the glycogen shunt functions to maintain homeostasis of glycolytic intermediates and ATP during large shifts in glucose supply or demand. Loss of the glycogen shunt leads to cell death under substrate stress. Similarities between the glycogen shunt in yeast and cancer cells lead us here to propose a parallel explanation of the lactate produced by cancer cells in the Warburg effect. The model also explains the need for the active tetramer and inactive dimer forms of pyruvate kinase (PKM2) in cancer cells, similar to the two forms of Pyk2p in yeast, as critical for regulating the glycogen shunt flux. The novel role proposed for the glycogen shunt implicates the high activities of glycogen synthase and fructose bisphosphatase in tumors as potential targets for therapy.

PMID:
29120752
DOI:
10.1016/j.trecan.2017.09.007
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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