Pyruvate kinase M2 (PKM2) is upregulated in multiple cancer types and contributes to the Warburg effect by unclear mechanisms. Here we demonstrate that EGFR-activated ERK2 binds directly to PKM2 Ile 429/Leu 431 through the ERK2 docking groove and phosphorylates PKM2 at Ser 37, but does not phosphorylate PKM1. Phosphorylated PKM2 Ser 37 recruits PIN1 for cis–trans isomerization of PKM2, which promotes PKM2 binding to importin α5 and translocating to the nucleus. Nuclear PKM2 acts as a coactivator of β-catenin to induce c-Myc expression, resulting in the upregulation of GLUT1, LDHA and, in a positive feedback loop, PTB-dependent PKM2 expression. Replacement of wild-type PKM2 with a nuclear translocation-deficient mutant (S37A) blocks the EGFR-promoted Warburg effect and brain tumour development in mice. In addition, levels of PKM2 Ser 37 phosphorylation correlate with EGFR and ERK1/2 activity in human glioblastoma specimens. Our findings highlight the importance of nuclear functions of PKM2 in the Warburg effect and tumorigenesis.
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This work was supported by National Institute of Health grants 2R01CA109035 (Z.L.), R01GM068566 (X.C.), R01GM56302 (L.C.C.) and CA16672 (Cancer Center Support Grant) and a research grant (RP110252; Z.L.) from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Yang, W., Zheng, Y., Xia, Y. et al. ERK1/2-dependent phosphorylation and nuclear translocation of PKM2 promotes the Warburg effect. Nat Cell Biol 14, 1295–1304 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/ncb2629
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