Aberrant metabolism is a major hallmark of cancer. Abnormal cancer metabolism, such as aerobic glycolysis and increased anabolic pathways, has important roles in tumorigenesis, metastasis, drug resistance, and cancer stem cells. Well-known oncogenic signaling pathways, such as phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT, Myc, and Hippo pathway, mediate metabolic gene expression and increase metabolic enzyme activities. Vice versa, deregulated metabolic pathways contribute to defects in cellular signal transduction pathways, which in turn provide energy, building blocks, and redox potentials for unrestrained cancer cell proliferation. Studies and clinical trials are being performed that focus on the inhibition of metabolic enzymes by small molecules or dietary interventions (e.g., fasting, calorie restriction, and intermittent fasting). Similar to genetic heterogeneity, the metabolic phenotypes of cancers are highly heterogeneous. This heterogeneity results from diverse cues in the tumor microenvironment and genetic mutations. Hence, overcoming metabolic plasticity is an important goal of modern cancer therapeutics. This review highlights recent findings on the metabolic phenotypes of cancer and elucidates the interactions between signal transduction pathways and metabolic pathways. We also provide novel rationales for designing the next-generation cancer metabolism drugs.
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