An embryonic enzyme has been found to have important non-metabolic functions in cancer formation by researchers at the University of Texas.
Pyruyate kinase M2 (PKM2) has been found to regulate cell proliferation and is essential for epidermal growth factor receptor.
Professor Zhimin Lu, senior author of the study, stated: "Although PKM2 plays an important role in cancer metabolism, this enzyme also has an unexpected pivotal function – it regulates cell proliferation directly.
"PKM2 contributes directly to gene transcription for cell growth – a finding that was very surprising."
The embryonic enzyme promotes beta-catenin activitation, which leads to gene expression, cell growth and tumour formation.
A study previously examined the effects of the removal of PKM2 from genes known to be activated by HIF-1 in low oxygen removal.
It was found that PKM2 helps HIF-1 turn on genes and controls the activity of genes with HIF-1.
This showed that PKM2 played a greater and broader role in cancer progression than had previously been thought.
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