Oncol Lett. 2020 Dec;20(6):312. doi: 10.3892/ol.2020.12175. Epub 2020 Sep 30.
M2 isomer of pyruvate kinase (PKM2), a key enzyme in aerobic glycolysis, is closely related to cancer development and progression. Suppression of PKM2 exhibits synergistic effects with docetaxel in lung cancer, but the therapeutic potential in colorectal cancer (CRC) is unclear. The aim of the present study was to explore the synergic effects and mechanism of knocking down PKM2 combined with oxaliplatin (a chemosensitizer) treatment in two CRC cell lines (HCT116 and DLD1). The PKM2 gene was
initially knocked down using small interfering (si)RNAs (si155 and si156). Subsequently, the effects of PKM2-siRNAs and oxaliplatin, on CRC cells were determined using MTS, cell cycle analysis and apoptosis assays. The mechanism of targeting PKM2 was explored by detecting glucose uptake, lactate secretion fluxes, and the levels of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) mRNA, glutathione (GSH) and reactive oxygen species (ROS). Cell viability in the experimental groups (PKM2-siRNAs, oxaliplatin, PKM2-siRNAs + oxaliplatin) was significantly reduced compared with the control group, and combination treatments (PKM2-siRNAs + oxaliplatin) were more effective than single treatments (PKM2-siRNAs and oxaliplatin only groups). Similar results were observed with the apoptosis assay. The combination groups showed synergistic effects compared with both single treatment groups. Furthermore, glucose uptake and lactate secretion and mRNA levels of G6PD and PKM2 were decreased after PKM2 knockdown in the PKM2-siRNAs and PKM2-siRNAs + oxaliplatin groups. The GSH levels in the PKM2-siRNAs group was significantly lower compared with the negative control group. The ROS levels in the PKM2-siRNAs groups were also significantly increased. The combination of PKM2-siRNAs and oxaliplatin had synergistic effects on CRC cells (HCT116 and DLD1). PKM2 silencing may alter energy metabolism in cancer cells and initiate ROS-induced apoptosis after downregulation of the pentose phosphate pathway by PKM2-siRNAs.