bims-almceb Biomed News
on Acute Leukemia Metabolism and Cell Biology
Issue of 2021‒04‒25
nineteen papers selected by
Camila Kehl Dias
Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul

  1. Nat Cancer. 2020 Dec;1(12): 1176-1187
      Venetoclax with azacitidine (ven/aza) has emerged as a promising regimen for acute myeloid leukemia (AML), with a high percentage of clinical remissions in newly diagnosed patients. However, approximately 30% of newly diagnosed and the majority of relapsed patients do not achieve remission with ven/aza. We previously reported that ven/aza efficacy is based on eradication of AML stem cells through a mechanism involving inhibition of amino acid metabolism, a process which is required in primitive AML cells to drive oxidative phosphorylation. Herein we demonstrate that resistance to ven/aza occurs via up-regulation of fatty acid oxidation (FAO), which occurs due to RAS pathway mutations, or as a compensatory adaptation in relapsed disease. Utilization of FAO obviates the need for amino acid metabolism, thereby rendering ven/aza ineffective. Pharmacological inhibition of FAO restores sensitivity to ven/aza in drug resistant AML cells. We propose inhibition of FAO as a therapeutic strategy to address ven/aza resistance.
  2. Cancer Metab. 2021 Apr 21. 9(1): 17
      Acute myeloid leukemias (AML) are a group of aggressive hematologic malignancies resulting from acquired genetic mutations in hematopoietic stem cells that affect patients of all ages. Despite decades of research, standard chemotherapy still remains ineffective for some AML subtypes and is often inappropriate for older patients or those with comorbidities. Recently, a number of studies have identified unique mitochondrial alterations that lead to metabolic vulnerabilities in AML cells that may present viable treatment targets. These include mtDNA, dependency on oxidative phosphorylation, mitochondrial metabolism, and pro-survival signaling, as well as reactive oxygen species generation and mitochondrial dynamics. Moreover, some mitochondria-targeting chemotherapeutics and their combinations with other compounds have been FDA-approved for AML treatment. Here, we review recent studies that illuminate the effects of drugs and synergistic drug combinations that target diverse biomolecules and metabolic pathways related to mitochondria and their promise in experimental studies, clinical trials, and existing chemotherapeutic regimens.
    Keywords:  Acute myeloid leukemia (AML); Drug combinations; Leukemia stem cells; Mitocans; Mitochondria; Mitochondrial abnormalities/alterations; Mitochondrial metabolism; Synergy
  3. JCI Insight. 2021 Apr 22. pii: 129429. [Epub ahead of print]6(8):
      It remains unresolved how retinal pigment epithelial cell metabolism is regulated following immune activation to maintain retinal homeostasis and retinal function. We exposed retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) to several stress signals, particularly Toll-like receptor stimulation, and uncovered an ability of RPE to adapt their metabolic preference on aerobic glycolysis or oxidative glucose metabolism in response to different immune stimuli. We have identified interleukin-33 (IL-33) as a key metabolic checkpoint that antagonizes the Warburg effect to ensure the functional stability of the RPE. The identification of IL-33 as a key regulator of mitochondrial metabolism suggests roles for the cytokine that go beyond its extracellular "alarmin" activities. IL-33 exerts control over mitochondrial respiration in RPE by facilitating oxidative pyruvate catabolism. We have also revealed that in the absence of IL-33, mitochondrial function declined and resultant bioenergetic switching was aligned with altered mitochondrial morphology. Our data not only shed new light on the molecular pathway of activation of mitochondrial respiration in RPE in response to immune stressors but also uncover a potentially novel role of nuclear intrinsic IL-33 as a metabolic checkpoint regulator.
    Keywords:  Glucose metabolism; Metabolism; Mitochondria; Ophthalmology; Retinopathy
  4. Blood Adv. 2021 Apr 27. 5(8): 2087-2100
      Leukemia stem cells (LSCs) and therapy-resistant acute myeloid leukemia (AML) blasts contribute to the reinitiation of leukemia after remission, necessitating therapeutic interventions that target these populations. Autophagy is a prosurvival process that allows for cells to adapt to a variety of stressors. Blocking autophagy pharmacologically by using mechanistically distinct inhibitors induced apoptosis and prevented colony formation in primary human AML cells. The most effective inhibitor, bafilomycin A1 (Baf A1), also prevented the in vivo maintenance of AML LSCs in NSG mice. To understand why Baf A1 exerted the most dramatic effects on LSC survival, we evaluated mitochondrial function. Baf A1 reduced mitochondrial respiration and stabilized PTEN-induced kinase-1 (PINK-1), which initiates autophagy of mitochondria (mitophagy). Interestingly, with the autophagy inhibitor chloroquine, levels of enhanced cell death and reduced mitochondrial respiration phenocopied the effects of Baf A1 only when cultured in hypoxic conditions that mimic the marrow microenvironment (1% O2). This indicates that increased efficacy of autophagy inhibitors in inducing AML cell death can be achieved by concurrently inducing mitochondrial damage and mitophagy (pharmacologically or by hypoxic induction) and blocking mitochondrial degradation. In addition, prolonged exposure of AML cells to hypoxia induced autophagic flux and reduced chemosensitivity to cytarabine (Ara-C), which was reversed by autophagy inhibition. The combination of Ara-C with Baf A1 also decreased tumor burden in vivo. These findings demonstrate that autophagy is critical for mitochondrial homeostasis and survival of AML cells in hypoxia and support the development of autophagy inhibitors as novel therapeutic agents for AML.
  5. Front Immunol. 2021 ;12 618710
      T cell immunoglobulin and mucin protein 3 (Tim-3) is an immune checkpoint and plays a vital role in immune responses during acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Targeting Tim-3 kills two birds with one stone by balancing the immune system and eliminating leukemia stem cells (LSCs) in AML. These functions make Tim-3 a potential target for curing AML. This review mainly discusses the roles of Tim-3 in the immune system in AML and as an AML LSC marker, which sheds new light on the role of Tim-3 in AML immunotherapy.
    Keywords:  AML; LSC; Tim-3; antibody; immunotherapy
  6. Front Oncol. 2021 ;11 663360
      B-cell acute lymphocytic leukemia (B-ALL) is a malignant blood cancer that develops in children and adults and leads to high mortality. THZ1, a covalent cyclin-dependent kinase 7 (CDK7) inhibitor, shows anti-tumor effects in various cancers by inhibiting cell proliferation and inducing apoptosis. However, whether THZ1 has an inhibitory effect on B-ALL cells and the underlying mechanism remains obscure. In this study, we showed that THZ1 arrested the cell cycle of B-ALL cells in vitro in a low concentration, while inducing the apoptosis of B-ALL cells in vitro in a high concentration by activating the apoptotic pathways. In addition, RNA-SEQ results revealed that THZ1 disrupted the cellular metabolic pathways of B-ALL cells. Moreover, THZ1 suppressed the cellular metabolism and blocked the production of cellular metabolic intermediates in B-ALL cells. Mechanistically, THZ1 inhibited the cellular metabolism of B-ALL by downregulating the expression of c-MYC-mediated metabolic enzymes. However, THZ1 treatment enhanced cell apoptosis in over-expressed c-MYC B-ALL cells, which was involved in the upregulation of p53 expression. Collectively, our data demonstrated that CDK7 inhibitor THZ1 induced the apoptosis of B-ALL cells by perturbing c-MYC-mediated cellular metabolism, thereby providing a novel treatment option for B-ALL.
    Keywords:  B-cell acute lymphocytic leukemia; CDK7 inhibitor; c-MYC; cell apoptosis; metabolism
  7. Front Oncol. 2021 ;11 649338
      Cancer stem cell (CSCs) are deemed as one of the main reasons of tumor relapse due to their resistance to standard therapies. Numerous intracellular signaling pathways along with extracellular features are crucial in regulating CSCs properties, such as heterogeneity, plasticity and differentiation. Aberrant glycosylation of these cellular signaling pathways and markers of CSCs have been directly correlated with maintaining survival, self-renewal and extravasation properties. In this review, we highlight the importance of glycosylation in promoting stemness character of CSCs, and present strategies for targeting abnormal glycosylation to eliminate the resistant CSC population.
    Keywords:  CSC markers; phenylboronic acid chemistry; sialic acid (N-acetyl neuraminic acid); sialyltransferase (ST); stemness signaling pathway
  8. Trends Immunol. 2021 Apr 15. pii: S1471-4906(21)00054-5. [Epub ahead of print]
      In the direct competition for metabolic resources between cancer cells and tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T cells, the latter are bound to lose out. These effector lymphocytes are therefore rendered exhausted or dysfunctional. Emerging insights into the mechanisms of T cell unresponsiveness in the tumor microenvironment (TME) point towards epigenetic mechanisms as crucial regulatory factors. In this review, we discuss the effects of characteristic components of the TME, i.e. glucose/amino acid dearth with elevated levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), on DNA methylation and histone modifications in CD8+ T cells. We then take a closer look at the translational potential of epigenetic interventions that aim to improve current immunotherapeutic strategies, including the adoptive transfer of T cell receptor (TCR) or chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) engineered T cells.
  9. BMC Cancer. 2021 Apr 17. 21(1): 427
      BACKGROUND: Associations between mitochondrial genetic abnormalities (variations and copy number, i.e. mtDNAcn, change) and elevated ROS have been reported in cancer compared to normal cells. Since excessive levels of ROS can trigger apoptosis, treating cancer cells with ROS-stimulating agents may enhance their death. This study aimed to investigate the link between baseline ROS levels and mitochondrial genetic abnormalities, and how mtDNA abnormalities might be used to predict cancer cells' response to ROS-stimulating therapy.METHODS: Intracellular and mitochondrial specific-ROS levels were measured using the DCFDA and MitoSOX probes, respectively, in four cancer and one non-cancerous cell lines. Cells were treated with ROS-stimulating agents (cisplatin and dequalinium) and the IC50s were determined using the MTS assay. Sanger sequencing and qPCR were conducted to screen the complete mitochondrial genome for variations and to relatively quantify mtDNAcn, respectively. Non-synonymous variations were subjected to 3-dimensional (3D) protein structural mapping and analysis.
    RESULTS: Our data revealed novel significant associations between the total number of variations in the mitochondrial respiratory chain (MRC) complex I and III genes, mtDNAcn, ROS levels, and ROS-associated drug response. Furthermore, functional variations in complexes I/III correlated significantly and positively with mtDNAcn, ROS levels and drug resistance, indicating they might mechanistically influence these parameters in cancer cells.
    CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that mtDNAcn and complexes I/III functional variations have the potential to be efficient biomarkers to predict ROS-stimulating therapy efficacy in the future.
    Keywords:  Cancer biomarker; Cisplatin; Dequalinium chloride hydrate; Mitochondrial DNA; MtDNA copy number; MtDNA variations; ROS-stimulating therapy; Reactive oxygen species
  10. Front Oncol. 2021 ;11 651494
      SET-CAN/NUP214 fusion is a recurrent event most commonly seen in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). It is related to resistance to glucocorticoids and chemotherapy; however, the reported prognosis of T-ALL with SET-CAN/NUP214 fusion is diverse, and the optimal treatment option remains undetermined. Here, we present the treatment process of an illuminating case of T-ALL with SET-CAN/NUP214 fusion. The patient showed early resistance to routine VICLP chemotherapy (at 15th day, 79.2% blasts), but the leukemia burden was significantly reduced after 28-day induction chemotherapy (18.85% blasts), even though she still didn't achieve complete remission (CR) after a second course of high-dose methotrexate (3 g/m2) and pegaspargase. Ex vivo drug sensitivity screening using a panel of 165 kinds of cytotoxic drugs, targeted therapy drugs, combination chemotherapy drugs, etc., was conducted on the refractory leukemia cells, which showed extensive resistance to various regimens. Surprisingly, AML-like scheme DAE scheme (daunorubicin + cytarabine + etoposide) and carfilzomib showed the highest ex vivo inhibition rate. The patient received DAE regimen chemotherapy, and finally achieved complete remission and received allogenic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT). According to our own findings and a literature survey, we found that T-ALL patients with SET-CAN/NUP214 fusion usually shows early resistance to chemotherapy, but they have a delayed response, and the CR rate is not compromised; thus, a chemotherapy regimen featuring a 28-day long course, such as that used in GRAALL 2003 or 2005, is recommended for induction therapy. For refractory patients, AML-like therapy such as DAE or CLAG in combination with asparaginase may be beneficial. In addition, carfilzomib may be a useful therapeutic drug and is worthy of further study. Allo-HSCT improves prognosis and we recommend HSCT if possible. Additional chromosomal or molecular events may affect the prognosis, and further investigation is needed. We believe that through proper treatment, the prognosis of patients with SET-CAN/NUP214 fusion can be greatly improved, at least not worse than that of other T-ALL patients.
    Keywords:  SET-CAN/NUP214 fusion; T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia; allogenic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; prognosis; treatment
  11. J Hematol Oncol. 2021 Apr 21. 14(1): 67
      Myeloid leukemia 1 (MCL-1) is an antiapoptotic protein of the BCL-2 family that prevents apoptosis by binding to the pro-apoptotic BCL-2 proteins. Overexpression of MCL-1 is frequently observed in many tumor types and is closely associated with tumorigenesis, poor prognosis and drug resistance. The central role of MCL-1 in regulating the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway makes it an attractive target for cancer therapy. Significant progress has been made with regard to MCL-1 inhibitors, some of which have entered clinical trials. Here, we discuss the mechanism by which MCL-1 regulates cancer cell apoptosis and review the progress related to MCL-1 small molecule inhibitors and their role in cancer therapy.
    Keywords:  Apoptosis; BCL-2 family; Cancer; Inhibitor; MCL-1
  12. Haematologica. 2021 Apr 22.
      The tumor microenvironment (TME) plays an essential role in the development, growth, and survival of the malignant B-cell clone in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Within the proliferation niches of lymph nodes, bone marrow, and secondary lymphoid organs, a variety of phenotypically and functionally altered cell types, including T cells, natural killer cells, monocytes/macrophages, endothelial and mesenchymal stroma cells, provide crucial survival signals, along with CLL-cellinduced suppression of antitumor immune responses. The B-cell receptor pathway plays a pivotal role in mediating the interaction between CLL cells and the TME. However, an increasing number of additional components of the multifactorial TME are being discovered. Although the majority of therapeutic strategies employed in CLL hitherto have focused on targeting the leukemic cells, emerging evidence implies that modulation of microenvironmental cells and CLL-TME interactions by novel therapeutic agents significantly affect their clinical efficacy. Thus, improving our understanding of CLL-TME interactions and how they are affected by current therapeutic agents may improve and guide treatment strategies. Identification of novel TME interactions may also pave the road for the development of novel therapeutic strategies targeting the TME. In this review, we summarize current evidence on the effects of therapeutic agents on cells and interactions within the TME. With a growing demand for improved and personalized treatment options in CLL, this review aims at inspiring future exploration of smart drug combination strategies, translational studies, and novel therapeutic targets in clinical trials.
  13. Stem Cells. 2021 Apr 21.
      Although intracellular Wnt signaling pathways need to be tightly regulated to promote hematopoietic stem cell self-renewal, the source and identity of important Wnt ligands in the bone marrow is still largely unknown. The noncanonical ligand Wnt4 is expressed in the bone marrow as well as in the stroma, and its overexpression in fetal liver cells facilitates thymic recovery; however, its impact on adult hematopoietic stem cell function remains unclear. Here, we report that the deletion of Wnt4 from hematopoietic cells in mice (Wnt4Δ/Δ ) resulted in decreased lymphopoiesis at steady state. This was likely at least in part due to the increased proinflammatory environment present in the bone marrow of Wnt4Δ/Δ mice. Wnt4Δ/Δ hematopoietic stem cells displayed reduced reconstitution capacity in serial transplants, thus demonstrating defective self-renewal, and they expanded poorly in response to lipopolysaccharide stimulation. This appeared to be the result of the absence of Wnt4 in stem/progenitor cells, as myeloid-restricted Wnt4 deletion had no notable effect. Finally, we observed that Wnt4Δ/Δ stem/progenitor cells were more quiescent, presenting enhanced levels of stress-associated JNK phosphorylation and p16INK4a expression, likely contributing to the reduced expansion observed in transplants. In conclusion, our results identify a new, largely autocrine role for Wnt4 in hematopoietic stem cell self-renewal, suggesting that regulation of Wnt signaling in hematopoiesis may not need Wnt secretion and could be independent of morphogen gradients. © AlphaMed Press 2021 SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: Blood cell production in the adult is ensured by a small number of stem cells residing in the bone marrow. These stem cells can be "turned on" and increase blood formation when needed by a combination of factors present in their environment together with others that are produced by the stem cells themselves. The authors' results identify the protein Wnt4 as a factor whose expression by the blood forming cells greatly favors their accumulation in a situation of intense blood cell production. The authors' data thus put forward Wnt4 as a candidate to promote blood cell production, for example, after chemotherapy.
    Keywords:  Wnt signaling; bone marrow transplant; hematopoietic recovery; hematopoietic stem cells; lipopolysaccharide
  14. Cancer Cell. 2021 Apr 16. pii: S1535-6108(21)00168-9. [Epub ahead of print]
      Abnormal activity of the core cell-cycle machinery is seen in essentially all tumor types and represents a driving force of tumorigenesis. Recent studies revealed that cell-cycle proteins regulate a wide range of cellular functions, in addition to promoting cell division. With the clinical success of CDK4/6 inhibitors, it is becoming increasingly clear that targeting individual cell-cycle components may represent an effective anti-cancer strategy. Here, we discuss the potential of inhibiting different cell-cycle proteins for cancer therapy.
  15. Front Oncol. 2021 ;11 635233
      Survivin as a member of the inhibitor of apoptosis proteins (IAPs) family is undetectable in normal cells, but highly expressed in cancer cells and cancer stem cells (CSCs) which makes it an attractive target in cancer therapy. Survivin dominant negative mutants have been reported as competitive inhibitors of endogenous survivin protein in cancer cells. However, there is a lack of systematic comparative studies on which mutants have stronger effect on promoting apoptosis in cancer cells, which will hinder the development of novel anti-cancer drugs. Here, based on the previous study of survivin and its analysis of the relationship between structure and function, we designed and constructed a series of different amino acid mutants from survivin (TmSm34, TmSm48, TmSm84, TmSm34/48, TmSm34/84, and TmSm34/48/84) fused cell-permeable peptide TATm at the N-terminus, and a dominant negative mutant TmSm34/84 with stronger pro-apoptotic activity was selected and evaluated systematically in vitro. The double-site mutant of survivin (TmSm34/84) showed more robust pro-apoptotic activity against A549 cells than others, and could reverse the resistance of A549 CSCs to adriamycin (ADM) (reversal index up to 7.01) by decreasing the expression levels of survivin, P-gp, and Bcl-2 while increasing cleaved caspase-3 in CSCs. This study indicated the selected survivin dominant negative mutant TmSm34/84 is promising to be an excellent candidate for recombinant anti-cancer protein by promoting apoptosis of cancer cells and their stem cells and sensitizing chemotherapeutic drugs.
    Keywords:  A549 cells and CSCs; discovering and characterizing; sensitizing chemotherapeutic drugs; stronger pro-apoptotic activity; survivin mutant (TmSm34/84)
  16. Brain. 2021 Apr 24. pii: awab012. [Epub ahead of print]
      Brain metastases are the most common type of brain tumours, harbouring an immune microenvironment that can in principle be targeted via immunotherapy. Elucidating some of the immunological intricacies of brain metastases has opened a therapeutic window to explore the potential of immune checkpoint inhibitors in this globally lethal disease. Multiple lines of evidence suggest that tumour cells hijack the immune regulatory mechanisms in the brain for the benefit of their own survival and progression. Nonetheless, the role of the immune checkpoint in the complex interplays between cancers cells and T cells and in conferring resistance to therapy remains under investigation. Meanwhile, early phase trials with immune checkpoint inhibitors have reported clinical benefit in patients with brain metastases from melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer. In this review, we explore the workings of the immune system in the brain, the immunology of brain metastases, and the current status of immune checkpoint inhibitors in the treatment of brain metastases.
    Keywords:  Brain metastasis; PD-1; PD-L1; immunotherapy; neuro-oncology
  17. Cell Cycle. 2021 Apr 20. 1-17
      The DNA damage response (DDR) consists of multiple specialized pathways that recognize different insults sustained by DNA and repairs them where possible to avoid the accumulation of mutations. While loss of activity of genes in the DDR has been extensively associated with cancer predisposition and progression, in recent years it has become evident that there is a relationship between the DDR and cellular metabolism. The activity of the metabolic pathways can influence the DDR by regulating the availability of substrates required for the repair process and the function of its players. Additionally, proteins of the DDR can regulate the metabolic flux through the major pathways such as glycolysis, tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA) and pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) and the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). This newly discovered connection bears great importance in the biology of cancer and represents a new therapeutic opportunity. Here we describe the nature of the relationship between DDR and metabolism and its potential application in the treatment of cancer. Keywords: DNA repair, metabolism, mitochondria.
    Keywords:  DNA repair; metabolism; mitochondria
  18. Blood. 2021 Apr 19. pii: blood.2020008955. [Epub ahead of print]
      T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) is an aggressive hematologic malignancy. Despite recent advances in treatments with intensified chemotherapy regimens, relapse rates and associated morbidities remain high. In this context, metabolic dependencies have emerged as a druggable opportunity for the treatment of leukemia. Here, we tested the antileukemic effects of MB1-47, a newly developed mitochondrial uncoupling compound. MB1-47 treatment in T-ALL cells robustly inhibited cell proliferation via both cytostatic and cytotoxic effects as a result of compromised mitochondrial energy and metabolite depletion, which severely impaired nucleotide biosynthesis. Mechanistically, acute treatment with MB1-47 in primary leukemias promoted AMPK activation and downregulation of mTOR signaling, stalling anabolic pathways that support leukemic cell survival. Indeed, MB1-47 treatment in mice harboring either murine NOTCH1-induced primary leukemias or human T-ALL PDXs led to potent antileukemic effects with a significant extension in survival without overlapping toxicities. Overall, our findings demonstrate a critical role for mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation in T-ALL and uncover MB1-47-driven mitochondrial uncoupling as a novel therapeutic strategy for the treatment of this disease.