The eEF2 kinase-induced STAT3 inactivation inhibits lung cancer cell proliferation by phosphorylation of PKM2

Min Xiao, Jianling Xie, Yu Wu, Genzhu Wang, Xin Qi, Zailiang Liu, Yuying Wang, Xuemin Wang, Ashfaqul Hoque, Jon Oakhill, Christopher G. Proud, Jing Li

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21 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Eukaryotic elongation factor-2 kinase (eEF2K) is a Ca 2+ /calmodulin (CaM)-dependent protein kinase that inhibits protein synthesis. However, the role of eEF2K in cancer development was reported paradoxically and remains to be elucidated. Methods: Herein, A549 cells with eEF2K depletion or overexpression by stably transfected lentivirus plasmids were used in vitro and in vivo study. MTT and colony assays were used to detect cell proliferation and growth. Extracellular glucose and lactate concentration were measured using test kit. Immunoblot and co-immunoprecipitation assays were used to examine the molecular biology changes and molecular interaction in these cells. LC-MS/MS analysis and [γ- 32 P] ATP kinase assay were used to identify combining protein and phosphorylation site. Nude mice was utilized to study the correlation of eEF2K and tumor growth in vivo. Results: We demonstrated that eEF2K inhibited lung cancer cells proliferation and affected the inhibitory effects of EGFR inhibitor gefitinib. Mechanistically, we showed that eEF2K formed a complex with PKM2 and STAT3, thereby phosphorylated PKM2 at T129, leading to reduced dimerization of PKM2. Subsequently, PKM2 impeded STAT3 phosphorylation and STAT3-dependent c-Myc expression. eEF2K depletion promoted the nuclear translocation of PKM2 and increased aerobic glycolysis reflected by increased lactate secretion and glucose. Conclusions: Our findings define a novel mechanism underlying the regulation of cancer cell proliferation by eEF2K independent of its role in protein synthesis, disclosing the diverse roles of eEF2K in cell biology, which lays foundation for the development of new anticancer therapeutic strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number25
JournalCell Communication and Signaling
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 13 Feb 2020


  • Cancer metabolism
  • Dimerization
  • PKM2
  • Proliferation
  • eEF2K

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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