PFKFB3 regulates cancer stemness through the hippo pathway in small cell lung carcinoma

Prabhu Thirusangu, Upasana Ray, Sayantani Sarkar Bhattacharya, Derek B. Oien, Ling Jin, Julie Staub, Nagarajan Kannan, Julian R. Molina, Viji Shridhar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PFKFB3 (6-phosphofructo-2-kinase) is the rate-limiting enzyme of glycolysis and is overexpressed in several human cancers that are associated with poor prognosis. High PFKFB3 expression in cancer stem cells promotes glycolysis and survival in the tumor microenvironment. Inhibition of PFKFB3 by the glycolytic inhibitor PFK158 and by shRNA stable knockdown in small cell lung carcinoma (SCLC) cell lines inhibited glycolysis, proliferation, spheroid formation, and the expression of cancer stem cell markers CD133, Aldh1, CD44, Sox2, and ABCG2. These factors are also associated with chemotherapy resistance. We found that PFK158 treatment and PFKFB3 knockdown enhanced the ABCG2-interacting drugs doxorubicin, etoposide, and 5-fluorouracil in reducing cell viability under conditions of enriched cancer stem cells (CSC). Additionally, PFKFB3 inhibition attenuated the invasion/migration of SCLC cells by downregulating YAP/TAZ signaling while increasing pLATS1 via activation of pMST1 and NF2 and by reducing the mesenchymal protein expression. PFKFB3 knockdown and PFK158 treatment in a H1048 SCLC cancer stem cell-enriched mouse xenograft model showed significant reduction in tumor growth and weight with reduced expression of cancer stem cell markers, ABCG2, and YAP/TAZ. Our findings identify that PFKFB3 is a novel target to regulate cancer stem cells and its associated therapeutic resistance markers YAP/TAZ and ABCG2 in SCLC models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4003-4017
Number of pages15
Issue number33
StatePublished - Aug 12 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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