Therapeutic targeting of the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex/pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDC/PDK) axis in cancer.


Stacpoole, Peter W

Publication Year 1905
Journal Journal of the National Cancer Institute
Volume 109
Issue 11
PMID 29059435.0
DOI 10.1093/jnci/djx071

The mitochondrial pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDC) irreversibly decarboxylates pyruvate to acetyl coenzyme A, thereby linking glycolysis to the tricarboxylic acid cycle and defining a critical step in cellular bioenergetics. Inhibition of PDC activity by pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK)-mediated phosphorylation has been associated with the pathobiology of many disorders of metabolic integration, including cancer. Consequently, the PDC/PDK axis has long been a therapeutic target. The most common underlying mechanism accounting for PDC inhibition in these conditions is post-transcriptional upregulation of one or more PDK isoforms, leading to phosphorylation of the E1? subunit of PDC. Such perturbations of the PDC/PDK axis induce a "glycolytic shift," whereby affected cells favor adenosine triphosphate production by glycolysis over mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation and cellular proliferation over cellular quiescence. Dichloroacetate is the prototypic xenobiotic inhibitor of PDK, thereby maintaining PDC in its unphosphorylated, catalytically active form. However, recent interest in the therapeutic targeting of the PDC/PDK axis for the treatment of cancer has yielded a new generation of small molecule PDK inhibitors. Ongoing investigations of the central role of PDC in cellular energy metabolism and its regulation by pharmacological effectors of PDKs promise to open multiple exciting vistas into the biochemical understanding and treatment of cancer and other diseases. ? The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail: