Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

PLoS One


Pyruvate kinase M2 (PKM2) is an alternatively spliced variant, which mediates the conversion of glucose to lactate in cancer cells under normoxic conditions, known as the Warburg effect. Previously, we demonstrated that PKM2 is one of 97 genes that are overexpressed in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines. Herein, we demonstrate a novel role of subcellular PKM2 expression as a biomarker of therapeutic response after targeting this gene by shRNA or small molecule inhibitor (SMI) of PKM2 enzyme activity in vitro and in vivo. We examined two established lung cancer cell lines, nine patients derived NSCLC and three normal lung fibroblast cell lines for PKM2 mRNA, protein and enzyme activity by RT-qPCR, immunocytochemistry (ICC), and Western blot analysis. All eleven NSCLC cell lines showed upregulated PKM2 enzymatic activity and protein expression mainly in their cytoplasm. Targeting PKM2 by shRNA or SMI, NSCLC cells showed significantly reduced mRNA, enzyme activity, cell viability, and colony formation, which also downregulated cytosolic PKM2 and upregulated nuclear enzyme activities. Normal lung fibroblast cell lines did not express PKM2, which served as negative controls. PKM2 targeting by SMI slowed tumor growth while gene-silencing significantly reduced growth of human NSCLC xenografts. Tumor sections from responding mice showed >70% reduction in cytoplasmic PKM2 with low or undetectable nuclear staining by immunohistochemistry (IHC). In sharp contrast, non-responding tumors showed a >38% increase in PKM2 nuclear staining with low or undetectable cytoplasmic staining. In conclusion, these results confirmed PKM2 as a target for cancer therapy and an unique function of subcellular PKM2, which may characterize therapeutic response to anti-PKM2 therapy in NSCLC.

Clinical Institute



Earle A. Chiles Research Institute




Pulmonary Medicine