Altered metabolism helps sustain cancer cell proliferation and survival. Most cancers, including prostate cancers, express the M2 splice isoform of pyruvate kinase (PKM2), which can support anabolic metabolism to support cell proliferation. However, Pkm2 expression is dispensable for the formation and growth of many cancers in vivo. Expression of pyruvate kinase isoform M1 (Pkm1) is restricted to relatively few tissues and has been reported to promote growth of select tumors, but the role of PKM1 in cancer has been less studied than PKM2. To test how differential expression of pyruvate kinase isoforms affects cancer initiation and progression, we generated mice harboring a conditional allele of Pkm1 and crossed these mice, or those with a Pkm2 conditional allele, with a Pten loss-driven prostate cancer model. Pkm1 loss led to increased PKM2 expression and accelerated prostate cancer development, whereas Pkm2 deletion led to increased PKM1 expression and suppressed tumor progression. Metabolic profiling revealed altered nucleotide levels in tumors with high PKM1 expression, and failure of these tumors to progress was associated with DNA replication stress and senescence. Consistent with these data, a small molecule pyruvate kinase activator that mimics a high activity PKM1-like state suppressed progression of established prostate tumors. Analysis of human specimens showed PKM2 expression is retained in most human prostate cancers. Overall, this study uncovers a role for pyruvate kinase isoforms in prostate cancer initiation and progression, and argues that pharmacologic pyruvate kinase activation may be beneficial for treating prostate cancer. Significance: Differential expression of PKM1 and PKM2 impacts prostate tumorigenesis and suggests a potential therapeutic vulnerability in prostate cancer.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research