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International Journal of Cell Biology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 273947, 12 pages
Review Article

The Role of Mitochondrial NADPH-Dependent Isocitrate Dehydrogenase in Cancer Cells

Department of Membrane Transport Biophysics (No. 75), Institute of Physiology v.v.i., Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Vídeňská 1083, CZ-14220 Prague, Czech Republic

Received 16 January 2012; Accepted 19 March 2012

Academic Editor: Juan P. Bolaños

Copyright © 2012 Katarína Smolková and Petr Ježek. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Isocitrate dehydrogenase 2 (IDH2) is located in the mitochondrial matrix. IDH2 acts in the forward Krebs cycle as an NADP+-consuming enzyme, providing NADPH for maintenance of the reduced glutathione and peroxiredoxin systems and for self-maintenance by reactivation of cystine-inactivated IDH2 by glutaredoxin 2. In highly respiring cells, the resulting NAD+ accumulation then induces sirtuin-3-mediated activating IDH2 deacetylation, thus increasing its protective function. Reductive carboxylation of 2-oxoglutarate by IDH2 (in the reverse Krebs cycle direction), which consumes NADPH, may follow glutaminolysis of glutamine to 2-oxoglutarate in cancer cells. When the reverse aconitase reaction and citrate efflux are added, this overall “anoxic” glutaminolysis mode may help highly malignant tumors survive aglycemia during hypoxia. Intermittent glycolysis would hypothetically be required to provide ATP. When oxidative phosphorylation is dormant, this mode causes substantial oxidative stress. Arg172 mutants of human IDH2—frequently found with similar mutants of cytosolic IDH1 in grade 2 and 3 gliomas, secondary glioblastomas, and acute myeloid leukemia—catalyze reductive carboxylation of 2-oxoglutarate and reduction to D-2-hydroxyglutarate, which strengthens the neoplastic phenotype by competitive inhibition of histone demethylation and 5-methylcytosine hydroxylation, leading to genome-wide histone and DNA methylation alternations. D-2-hydroxyglutarate also interferes with proline hydroxylation and thus may stabilize hypoxia-induced factor .