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    Effect of the cancer specific shorter form of human 6-phosphofructo-1-kinase on the metabolism of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
    BMC Biotechnol 2017 May 8;17(1):41. Epub 2017 May 8.
    Department of Synthetic Biology and Immunology, National Institute of Chemistry, Hjadrihova 19, Si-1000, Ljubljana, Slovenia.
    Background: At first glance, there appears to be a high degree of similarity between the metabolism of yeast (the Crabtree effect) and human cancer cells (the Warburg effect). At the root of both effects is accelerated metabolic flow through glycolysis which leads to overflows of ethanol and lactic acid, respectively. It has been proposed that enhanced glycolytic flow in cancer cells is triggered by the altered kinetic characteristics of the key glycolytic regulatory enzyme 6-phosphofructo-1-kinase (Pfk). Through a posttranslational modification, highly active shorter Pfk-M fragments, which are resistant to feedback inhibition, are formed after the proteolytic cleavage of the C-terminus of the native human Pfk-M. Alternatively, enhanced glycolysis is triggered by optimal growth conditions in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

    Results: To assess the deregulation of glycolysis in yeast cells, the sfPFKM gene encoding highly active human shorter Pfk-M fragments was introduced into pfk-null S. cerevisiae. No growth of the transformants with the sfPFKM gene was observed on glucose and fructose. Glucose even induced rapid deactivation of Pfk1 activities in such transformants. However, Pfk1 activities of the sfPFKM transformants were detected in maltose medium, but the growth in maltose was possible only after the addition of 10 mM of ethanol to the medium. Ethanol seemed to alleviate the severely unbalanced NADH/NADPH ratio in the sfPFKM cells. However, the transformants carrying modified Pfk-M enzymes grew faster than the transformants with the human native human Pfk-M enzyme in a narrow ecological niche with a low maltose concentration medium that was further improved by additional modifications. Interestingly, periodic extracellular accumulation of phenylacetaldehyde was detected during the growth of the strain with modified Pfk-M but not with the strain encoding the human native enzyme.

    Conclusions: Highly active cancer-specific shorter Pfk-M fragments appear to trigger several controlling mechanisms in the primary metabolism of yeast S. cerevisiae cells. These results suggest more complex metabolic regulation is present in S. cerevisiae as free living unicellular eukaryotic organisms in comparison to metazoan human cells. However, increased productivity under broader growth conditions may be achieved if more gene engineering is performed to reduce or omit several controlling mechanisms.

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