Liberti MV, Dai Z, Wardell SE, Baccile JA, Liu X, Gao X, Baldi R, Mehrmohamadi M, Johnson MO, Madhukar NS, Shestov AA, Chio IIC, Elemento O, Rathmell JC, Schroeder FC, McDonnell DP, Locasale JW. A Predictive Model for Selective Targeting of the Warburg Effect through GAPDH Inhibition with a Natural Product. Cell metabolism. 2017 Oct 3;26(26). 648-659.e8. PMID: 28918937 [PubMed] PMCID: PMC5629112 NIHMSID: NIHMS905247.
Targeted cancer therapies that use genetics are successful, but principles for selectively targeting tumor metabolism that is also dependent on the environment remain unknown. We now show that differences in rate-controlling enzymes during the Warburg effect (WE), the most prominent hallmark of cancer cell metabolism, can be used to predict a response to targeting glucose metabolism. We establish a natural product, koningic acid (KA), to be a selective inhibitor of GAPDH, an enzyme we characterize to have differential control properties over metabolism during the WE. With machine learning and integrated pharmacogenomics and metabolomics, we demonstrate that KA efficacy is not determined by the status of individual genes, but by the quantitative extent of the WE, leading to a therapeutic window in vivo. Thus, the basis of targeting the WE can be encoded by molecular principles that extend beyond the status of individual genes.