myrAkt requires this sugar to sustain its antiapoptotic effects.

Researchers at the Duke School of Medicine discovered that some cancer cells rely on glucose to circumvent apoptosis that is induced by the loss of growth factors. 

The investigators introduced a cancer-causing form of Akt, myrAkt, into cells that depend on growth factors to survive. The mutant form of Akt allowed cells to maintain glucose usage and survive even when no growth factors were present. Once glucose was withdrawn from the environment, however, the cells died. This is because Akt was no longer able to maintain regulation of the key targeted proteins Mcl-1 and Puma.

Akt’s dependence on glucose to provide an antiapoptosis signal could be a sign of metabolic addiction to glucose in cancer cells, explains Jeffrey Rathmells, assistant professor in the department of pharmacology and cancer biology.

The researchers presented these results at the “2008 Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.”

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