A major metabolic aberration associated with cancer is a change in glucose metabolism. Isoform selection of the glycolytic enzyme pyruvate kinase has been implicated in the metabolic phenotype of cancer cells, and specific pyruvate kinase isoforms have been suggested to support divergent energetic and biosynthetic requirements of cells in tumors and normal tissues. PKM2 isoform expression has been closely linked to embryogenesis, tissue repair, and cancer. In contrast, forced expression of the PKM1 isoform has been associated with reduced tumor cell proliferation. Here, we discuss the role that PKM2 plays in cells and provide a historical perspective for how the study of PKM2 has contributed to understanding cancer metabolism. We also review recent studies that raise important questions with regard to the role of PKM2 in both normal and cancer cell metabolism.
EMBO Reports (2016) 17: 1721–1730
- Received September 3, 2016.
- Revision received October 10, 2016.
- Accepted October 17, 2016.
- © 2016 The Authors