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PTEN is a tumor suppressor that is often inactivated in cancer and possesses both lipid and protein phosphatase activities. We report the metabolic regulator PDHK1 (pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase1) is a synthetic-essential gene in PTEN-deficient cancer and normal cells. The predominant mechanism of PDHK1 regulation and dependency is the PTEN protein phosphatase dephosphorylates NFκB activating protein (NKAP) and limits NFκB activation to suppress expression of PDHK1, a NFκB target gene. Loss of the PTEN protein phosphatase upregulates PDHK1 to drive aerobic glycolysis and induce PDHK1 cellular dependence. PTEN-deficient human tumors harbor increased PDHK1, which is a biomarker of decreased patient survival, establishing clinical relevance. This study uncovers a PTEN-regulated signaling pathway and reveals PDHK1 as a potential target in PTEN-deficient cancers.

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