For a long period lactate was considered as a dead-end product of glycolysis in many cells and its accumulation correlated with acidosis and cellular and tissue damage. At present, the role of lactate in several physiological processes has been investigated based on its properties as an energy source, a signalling molecule and as essential for tissue repair. It is noteworthy that lactate accumulation alters glycolytic flux independently from medium acidification, thereby this compound can regulate glucose metabolism within cells. PFK (6-phosphofructo-1-kinase) is the key regulatory glycolytic enzyme which is regulated by diverse molecules and signals. PFK activity is directly correlated with cellular glucose consumption. The present study shows the property of lactate to down-regulate PFK activity in a specific manner which is not dependent on acidification of the medium. Lactate reduces the affinity of the enzyme for its substrates, ATP and fructose 6-phosphate, as well as reducing the affinity for ATP at its allosteric inhibitory site at the enzyme. Moreover, we demonstrated that lactate inhibits PFK favouring the dissociation of enzyme active tetramers into less active dimers. This effect can be prevented by tetramer-stabilizing conditions such as the presence of fructose 2,6-bisphosphate, the binding of PFK to f-actin and phosphorylation of the enzyme by protein kinase A. In conclusion, our results support evidence that lactate regulates the glycolytic flux through modulating PFK due to its effects on the enzyme quaternary structure.

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