October 2011

Metabolism re-emerges, triumphant

Finally, Reuben Shaw (Salk Institute) will cover recent discoveries connecting energy metabolism to control of autophagy. Mechanistic coordination of metabolism with pro-growth signaling pathways through modulation of the AMPK pathway also will be discussed.

Cancer cell metabolism 

This component will focus on how metabolic pathways are reprogrammed in cancer cells. Over a century ago, Otto Warburg discovered that tumor cells switch from oxidative phosphorylation to aerobic glycolysis as their primary form of glucose metabolism, which is now known as the Warburg effect.

The first speaker, Gregg Semenza (Johns Hopkins University), will address recent efforts to understand how hypoxia-inducible factor transcription factors contribute to the metabolic reprogramming of cancer cells. In particular, HIF-1a has been shown to regulate the expression of many glycolytic enzymes and enzymes downregulating oxidative phosphorylation, which broadly contribute to the Warburg effect.

Eileen White (Rutgers University and the New Jersey Institute for Cancer Research) will discuss her lab’s latest research decoding how autophagy plays key roles in tumorigenesis. Autophagy has emerged as a critical pathway normal and cancer cells utilize to maintain metabolic homeostasis, and deregulation of autophagy can lead to cancer.

Heather Christofk (University of California, Los Angeles) will highlight newly identified cellular mechanisms that cancer cells use in adapting their glucose metabolism and how such pathways may be exploited therapeutically.




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