Targeting 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase (PFKFB3) as a therapeutic strategy against cancer

Brian F. Clem, Julie O'Neal, Gilles Tapolsky, Amy L. Clem, Yoannis Imbert-Fernandez, Daniel A. Kerr, Alden C. Klarer, Rebecca Redman, Donald M. Miller, John O. Trent, Sucheta Telang, Jason Chesney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

202 Scopus citations


In human cancers, loss of PTEN, stabilization of hypoxia inducible factor-1a, and activation of Ras and AKT converge to increase the activity of a key regulator of glycolysis, 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase (PFKFB3). This enzyme synthesizes fructose 2,6-bisphosphate (F26BP), which is an activator of 6-phosphofructo-1-kinase, a key step of glycolysis. Previously, a weak competitive inhibitor of PFKFB3, 3-(3-pyridinyl)-1-(4-pyridinyl)-2- propen-1-one (3PO), was found to reduce the glucose metabolism and proliferation of cancer cells. We have synthesized 73 derivatives of 3PO and screened each compound for activity against recombinant PFKFB3. One small molecule, 1-(4-pyridinyl)-3-(2- quinolinyl)-2-propen-1-one (PFK15), was selected for further preclinical evaluation of its pharmacokinetic, antimetabolic, and antineoplastic properties in vitro and in vivo. We found that PFK15 causes a rapid induction of apoptosis in transformed cells, has adequate pharmacokinetic properties, suppresses the glucose uptake and growth of Lewis lung carcinomas in syngeneic mice, and yields antitumor effects in three human xenograft models of cancer in athymic mice that are comparable to U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved chemotherapeutic agents. As a result of this study, a synthetic derivative and formulation of PFK15 has undergone investigational new drug (IND)-enabling toxicology and safety studies. A phase I clinical trial of its efficacy in advanced cancer patients will initiate in 2013 and we anticipate that this new class of antimetabolic agents will yield acceptable therapeutic indices and prove to be synergistic with agents that disrupt neoplastic signaling. Mol Cancer Ther; 12(8); 1461-70.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1461-1470
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Cancer Therapeutics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2013


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