Phospholipase D-mTOR requirement for the Warburg effect in human cancer cells.

Research paper by Alfredo A Toschi, Evan E Lee, Sebastian S Thompson, Noga N Gadir, Paige P Yellen, C Michael CM Drain, Michael M Ohh, David A DA Foster

Indexed on: 02 Sep '10Published on: 02 Sep '10Published in: Cancer Letters


A characteristic of cancer cells is the generation of lactate from glucose in spite of adequate oxygen for oxidative phosphorylation. This property - known as the "Warburg effect" or aerobic glycolysis - contrasts with anaerobic glycolysis, which is triggered in hypoxic normal cells. The Warburg effect is thought to provide a means for cancer cells to survive under conditions where oxygen is limited and to generate metabolites necessary for cell growth. The shift from oxidative phosphorylation to glycolysis in response to hypoxia is mediated by the production of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) - a transcription factor family that stimulates the expression of proteins involved in glucose uptake and glycolysis. We reported previously that elevated phospholipase D (PLD) activity in renal and breast cancer cells is required for the expression of the α subunits of HIF1 and HIF2. We report here that the aerobic glycolysis observed in human breast and renal cancer cells is dependent on the elevated PLD activity. Intriguingly, the effect of PLD on the Warburg phenotype was dependent on the mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) in the breast cancer cells and on mTORC2 in the renal cancer cells. These data indicate that elevated PLD-mTOR signaling, which is common in human cancer cells, is critical for the metabolic shift to aerobic glycolysis.