Int J Biol Sci 2019; 15(4):882-894. doi:10.7150/ijbs.30290

Research Paper

Glycolytic Enzyme PKM2 Mediates Autophagic Activation to Promote Cell Survival in NPM1-Mutated Leukemia

Lu Wang1*, Liyuan Yang1*, Zailin Yang2, Yuting Tang1, Yao Tao1, Qian Zhan3, Li Lei1, Yipei Jing1, Xueke Jiang1, Hongjun Jin1, Qin Zou1, Jingrong Xian1, Ling Zhang1✉

1. Key Laboratory of Laboratory Medical Diagnostics Designated by the Ministry of Education, School of Laboratory Medicine, Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing, China.
2. Center for Hematology, Southwest Hospital, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, China.
3. The Center for Clinical Molecular Medical detection, The First Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing, China.
*Lu Wang and Liyuan Yang contributed equally to this work.


Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with mutated nucleophosmin (NPM1) has been defined as a distinct leukemia entity in the 2016 updated WHO classification of myeloid neoplasm. Our previous report showed that autophagic activity was elevated in NPM1-mutated AML, but the underlying molecular mechanisms remain elusive. Mount of study provides evidence that glycometabolic enzymes are implicated in the autophagic process. Pyruvate kinase isoenzyme M2 (PKM2), a key glycolytic enzyme, has been recently reported as a tumor supporter in leukemia. However, little is known about the roles of PKM2 in autophagic activity in NPM1-mutated AML. In this study, PKM2 highly expressed in NPM1-mutated AML, and partially, high levels of PKM2 were upregulated by PTBP1. Further experiments demonstrated that PKM2 mediated autophagic activation and increased the phosphorylation of key autophagy protein Beclin-1. Importantly, functional experiments demonstrated that PKM2 contributed to cell survival via autophagic activation. Ultimately, high PKM2 expression was associated with short overall and event-free survival time in NPM1-mutated AML patients. Our findings indicate for the first time that glycolytic enzyme PKM2 mediates autophagic activation and further contributes to cell survival in NPM1-mutated AML, suggesting that PKM2 may serve as a promising target for treatment of NPM1-mutated AML.

Keywords: PKM2, Autophagy, PTBP1, Cell survival, Nucleophosmin, Acute myeloid leukemia

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How to cite this article:
Wang L, Yang L, Yang Z, Tang Y, Tao Y, Zhan Q, Lei L, Jing Y, Jiang X, Jin H, Zou Q, Xian J, Zhang L. Glycolytic Enzyme PKM2 Mediates Autophagic Activation to Promote Cell Survival in NPM1-Mutated Leukemia. Int J Biol Sci 2019; 15(4):882-894. doi:10.7150/ijbs.30290. Available from