Signal transduction pathways and gene regulation determine a major reorganization of metabolic activities in order to support cell proliferation. Protein Kinase B (PKB), also known as Akt, participates in the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway, a master regulator of aerobic glycolysis and cellular biosynthesis, two activities shown by both normal and cancer proliferating cells. Not surprisingly considering its relevance for cellular metabolism, Akt/PKB is often found hyperactive in cancer cells. In the last decade, many efforts have been made to improve the understanding of the control of glucose metabolism and the identification of a therapeutic window between proliferating cancer cells and proliferating normal cells. In this context, we have modelled the link between the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway, glycolysis, lactic acid production and nucleotide biosynthesis. We used a computational model in order to compare two metabolic states generated by the specific variation of the metabolic fluxes regulated by the activity of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway. One of the two states represented the metabolism of a growing cancer cell characterised by aerobic glycolysis and cellular biosynthesis, while the other state represented the same metabolic network with a reduced glycolytic rate and a higher mitochondrial pyruvate metabolism, as reported in literature in relation to the activity of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR. Some steps that link glycolysis and pentose phosphate pathway revealed their importance for controlling the dynamics of cancer glucose metabolism.
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