Reduced methylation of PFKFB3 in cancer cells shunts glucose towards the pentose phosphate pathway

Takehiro Yamamoto, Naoharu Takano, Kyoko Ishiwata, Mitsuyo Ohmura, Yoshiko Nagahata, Tomomi Matsuura, Aki Kamata, Kyoko Sakamoto, Tsuyoshi Nakanishi, Akiko Kubo, Takako Hishiki, Makoto Suematsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

190 Citations (Scopus)


Haem oxygenase (HO)-1/carbon monoxide (CO) protects cancer cells from oxidative stress, but the gas-responsive signalling mechanisms remain unknown. Here we show using metabolomics that CO-sensitive methylation of PFKFB3, an enzyme producing fructose 2,6-bisphosphate (F-2,6-BP), serves as a switch to activate phosphofructokinase-1, a rate-limiting glycolytic enzyme. In human leukaemia U937 cells, PFKFB3 is asymmetrically di-methylated at R131 and R134 through modification by protein arginine methyltransferase 1. HO-1 induction or CO results in reduced methylation of PFKFB3 in varied cancer cells to suppress F-2,6-BP, shifting glucose utilization from glycolysis toward the pentose phosphate pathway. Loss of PFKFB3 methylation depends on the inhibitory effects of CO on haem-containing cystathionine β-synthase (CBS). CBS modulates remethylation metabolism, and increases NADPH to supply reduced glutathione, protecting cells from oxidative stress and anti-cancer reagents. Once the methylation of PFKFB3 is reduced, the protein undergoes polyubiquitination and is degraded in the proteasome. These results suggest that the CO/CBS-dependent regulation of PFKFB3 methylation determines directional glucose utilization to ensure resistance against oxidative stress for cancer cell survival.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3480
JournalNature communications
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Mar 17

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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