bims-almceb Biomed News
on Acute Leukemia Metabolism and Cell Biology
Issue of 2021‒05‒09
eleven papers selected by
Camila Kehl Dias
Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul

  1. Dev Cell. 2021 May 03. pii: S1534-5807(21)00322-1. [Epub ahead of print]
      Tumors undergo metabolic transformations to sustain uncontrolled proliferation, avoid cell death, and seed in secondary organs. An increased focus on cancer lipid metabolism has unveiled a number of mechanisms that promote tumor growth and survival, many of which are independent of classical cellular bioenergetics. These mechanisms include modulation of ferroptotic-mediated cell death, support during tumor metastasis, and interactions with the cells of the tumor microenvironment. As such, targeting lipid metabolism for anti-cancer therapies is attractive, with recent work on small-molecule inhibitors identifying compounds to target lipid metabolism. Here, we discuss these topics and identify open questions.
    Keywords:  cancer; immunometabolism; lipids; metabolism; metastasis; tumor microenvironment
  2. Cell Rep. 2021 May 04. pii: S2211-1247(21)00407-1. [Epub ahead of print]35(5): 109076
      We lack a mechanistic understanding of aging-mediated changes in mitochondrial bioenergetics and lipid metabolism that affect T cell function. The bioactive sphingolipid ceramide, induced by aging stress, mediates mitophagy and cell death; however, the aging-related roles of ceramide metabolism in regulating T cell function remain unknown. Here, we show that activated T cells isolated from aging mice have elevated C14/C16 ceramide accumulation in mitochondria, generated by ceramide synthase 6, leading to mitophagy/mitochondrial dysfunction. Mechanistically, aging-dependent mitochondrial ceramide inhibits protein kinase A, leading to mitophagy in activated T cells. This aging/ceramide-dependent mitophagy attenuates the antitumor functions of T cells in vitro and in vivo. Also, inhibition of ceramide metabolism or PKA activation by genetic and pharmacologic means prevents mitophagy and restores the central memory phenotype in aging T cells. Thus, these studies help explain the mechanisms behind aging-related dysregulation of T cells' antitumor activity, which can be restored by inhibiting ceramide-dependent mitophagy.
    Keywords:  CerS6; PKA; SS SphK2; T cell; aging; immunotherapy; lipid signaling; melanoma; mitophagy; sphingolipids and ceramide
  3. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Apr 30. pii: 4770. [Epub ahead of print]22(9):
      Mitochondria are key regulators of cell survival and are involved in a plethora of mechanisms, such as metabolism, Ca2+ signaling, reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, mitophagy and mitochondrial transfer, fusion, and fission (known as mitochondrial dynamics). The tuning of these processes in pathophysiological conditions is fundamental to the balance between cell death and survival. Indeed, ROS overproduction and mitochondrial Ca2+ overload are linked to the induction of apoptosis, while the impairment of mitochondrial dynamics and metabolism can have a double-faceted role in the decision between cell survival and death. Tumorigenesis involves an intricate series of cellular impairments not yet completely clarified, and a further level of complexity is added by the onset of apoptosis resistance mechanisms in cancer cells. In the majority of cases, cancer relapse or lack of responsiveness is related to the emergence of chemoresistance, which may be due to the cooperation of several cellular protection mechanisms, often mitochondria-related. With this review, we aim to critically report the current evidence on the relationship between mitochondria and cancer chemoresistance with a particular focus on the involvement of mitochondrial dynamics, mitochondrial Ca2+ signaling, oxidative stress, and metabolism to possibly identify new approaches or targets for overcoming cancer resistance.
    Keywords:  cancer; drug resistance; metabolic plasticity; mitochondrial Ca2+ homeostasis; mitochondrial dynamics
  4. Front Oncol. 2021 ;11 671252
    Keywords:  acute myeloid leukemia; cell biology; immune escape; immunoediting of cancer; immunotherapy
  5. Biomed Pharmacother. 2021 May 01. pii: S0753-3322(21)00426-1. [Epub ahead of print]139 111643
      Tumor angiogenesis plays a vital role in tumor growth and metastasis. It is proven that in tumor vasculature, endothelial cells (ECs) originate from a small population of cancer cells introduced as cancer stem cells (CSCs). Autophagy has a vital role in ECs differentiation from CSCs and tumor angiogenesis. High levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) increased autophagy by inhibition of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) and inactivation of the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP). Previously, we suggested that cancer cells initially increase the glycolysis rate when encountering ROS, then the metabolic balance is changed from glycolysis to PPP, following the continuation of oxidative stress. In this study, we investigate the possible role of persistent oxidative stress in the differentiation of CSCs into tumor ECs by relying on the relationship between the ROS, PPP and autophagy. Because tumor angiogenesis plays an important role in the growth and development of cancer, understanding the mechanisms involved in differentiating ECs from CSCs can help find promising treatments for cancer.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Cancer stem cell; Endothelial cell; Pentose phosphate pathway; ROS; Tumor angiogenesis
  6. Immunotherapy. 2021 May 06.
      Antitumor function of the immune system has been harnessed to eradicate tumor cells as cancer therapy. Therapeutic cancer vaccines aim to help immune cells recognize tumor cells, which are difficult to target owing to immune escape. Many attempts at vaccine designs have been conducted throughout the last decades. In addition, as the advanced understanding of immunosuppressive mechanisms mediated by tumor cells, combining cancer vaccines with other immune therapies seems to be more efficient for cancer treatment. Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is the most common acute leukemia in adults with poor prognosis. Evidence has shown T-cell-mediated immune responses in AML, which encourages the utility of immune therapies in AML. This review discusses cancer vaccines in AML from vaccine design as well as recent progress in vaccination combination with other immune therapies.
    Keywords:  acute myeloid leukemia; cancer vaccine; combined immunotherapies; immunotherapy
  7. Cells. 2021 Apr 29. pii: 1056. [Epub ahead of print]10(5):
      Cancer cells alter metabolic processes to sustain their characteristic uncontrolled growth and proliferation. These metabolic alterations include (1) a shift from oxidative phosphorylation to aerobic glycolysis to support the increased need for ATP, (2) increased glutaminolysis for NADPH regeneration, (3) altered flux through the pentose phosphate pathway and the tricarboxylic acid cycle for macromolecule generation, (4) increased lipid uptake, lipogenesis, and cholesterol synthesis, (5) upregulation of one-carbon metabolism for the production of ATP, NADH/NADPH, nucleotides, and glutathione, (6) altered amino acid metabolism, (7) metabolism-based regulation of apoptosis, and (8) the utilization of alternative substrates, such as lactate and acetate. Altered metabolic flux in cancer is controlled by tumor-host cell interactions, key oncogenes, tumor suppressors, and other regulatory molecules, including non-coding RNAs. Changes to metabolic pathways in cancer are dynamic, exhibit plasticity, and are often dependent on the type of tumor and the tumor microenvironment, leading in a shift of thought from the Warburg Effect and the "reverse Warburg Effect" to metabolic plasticity. Understanding the complex nature of altered flux through these multiple pathways in cancer cells can support the development of new therapies.
    Keywords:  Warburg Effect; aerobic glycolysis; cancer; one-carbon metabolism; oxidative phosphorylation; pentose phosphate pathway
  8. EMBO Rep. 2021 May 05. e52122
      Metabolic regulation is critical for the maintenance of pluripotency and the survival of embryonic stem cells (ESCs). The transcription factor Tfcp2l1 has emerged as a key factor for the naïve pluripotency of ESCs. Here, we report an unexpected role of Tfcp2l1 in metabolic regulation in ESCs-promoting the survival of ESCs through regulating fatty acid oxidation (FAO) under metabolic stress. Tfcp2l1 directly activates many metabolic genes in ESCs. Deletion of Tfcp2l1 leads to an FAO defect associated with upregulation of glucose uptake, the TCA cycle, and glutamine catabolism. Mechanistically, Tfcp2l1 activates FAO by inducing Cpt1a, a rate-limiting enzyme transporting free fatty acids into the mitochondria. ESCs with defective FAO are sensitive to cell death induced by glycolysis inhibition and glutamine deprivation. Moreover, the Tfcp2l1-Cpt1a-FAO axis promotes the survival of quiescent ESCs and diapause-like blastocysts induced by mTOR inhibition. Thus, our results reveal how ESCs orchestrate pluripotent and metabolic programs to ensure their survival in response to metabolic stress.
    Keywords:  Tfcp2l1; diapause; embryonic stem cell; fatty acid oxidation; metabolism
  9. Cells. 2021 Apr 30. pii: 1067. [Epub ahead of print]10(5):
      Multiple lines of evidence suggest that metformin, an antidiabetic drug, exerts anti-tumorigenic effects in different types of cancer. Metformin has been reported to affect cancer cells' metabolism and proliferation mainly through the activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). Here, we show that metformin inhibits, indeed, endometrial cancer cells' growth and induces apoptosis. More importantly, we report that metformin affects two important pro-survival pathways, such as the Unfolded Protein Response (UPR), following endoplasmic reticulum stress, and the WNT/β-catenin pathway. GRP78, a key protein in the pro-survival arm of the UPR, was indeed downregulated, while GADD153/CHOP, a transcription factor that mediates the pro-apoptotic response of the UPR, was upregulated at both the mRNA and protein level. Furthermore, metformin dramatically inhibited β-catenin mRNA and protein expression. This was paralleled by a reduction in β-catenin transcriptional activity, since metformin inhibited the activity of a TCF/LEF-luciferase promoter. Intriguingly, compound C, a well-known inhibitor of AMPK, was unable to prevent all these effects, suggesting that metformin might inhibit endometrial cancer cells' growth and survival through the modulation of specific branches of the UPR and the inhibition of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway in an AMPK-independent manner. Our findings may provide new insights on the mechanisms of action of metformin and refine the use of this drug in the treatment of endometrial cancer.
    Keywords:  AMPK; UPR; Wnt/β-catenin; endometrial cancer; metformin
  10. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Apr 29. pii: 4716. [Epub ahead of print]22(9):
      Hexokinases are a family of ubiquitous exose-phosphorylating enzymes that prime glucose for intracellular utilization. Hexokinase 2 (HK2) is the most active isozyme of the family, mainly expressed in insulin-sensitive tissues. HK2 induction in most neoplastic cells contributes to their metabolic rewiring towards aerobic glycolysis, and its genetic ablation inhibits malignant growth in mouse models. HK2 can dock to mitochondria, where it performs additional functions in autophagy regulation and cell death inhibition that are independent of its enzymatic activity. The recent definition of HK2 localization to contact points between mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum called Mitochondria Associated Membranes (MAMs) has unveiled a novel HK2 role in regulating intracellular Ca2+ fluxes. Here, we propose that HK2 localization in MAMs of tumor cells is key in sustaining neoplastic progression, as it acts as an intersection node between metabolic and survival pathways. Disrupting these functions by targeting HK2 subcellular localization can constitute a promising anti-tumor strategy.
    Keywords:  Ca2+; MAMs; apoptosis; cell-penetrating peptides; chemotherapeutics; hexokinase 2; mitochondria; tumor metabolism
  11. Clin Transl Oncol. 2021 May 04.
      The relapse rate for children with acute myeloid leukemia is nearly 40% despite aggressive chemotherapy and often stem cell transplant. We sought to understand how environment-induced signaling responses are associated with clinical response to treatment. We previously reported that patients whose AML cells showed low G-CSF-induced STAT3 activation had inferior event-free survival compared to patients with stronger STAT3 responses. Here, we expanded the paradigm to evaluate multiple signaling parameters induced by a more physiological stimulus. We measured STAT3, STAT5 and ERK1/2 responses to G-CSF and to stromal cell-conditioned medium for 113 patients enrolled on COG trials AAML03P1 and AAML0531. Low inducible STAT3 activity was independently associated with inferior event-free survival in multivariate analyses. For inducible STAT5 activity, those with the lowest and highest responses had inferior event-free survival, compared to patients with intermediate STAT5 responses. Using existing RNA-sequencing data, we compared gene expression profiles for patients with low inducible STAT3/5 activation with those for patients with higher inducible STAT3/5 signaling. Genes encoding hematopoietic factors and mitochondrial respiratory chain subunits were overexpressed in the low STAT3/5 response groups, implicating inflammatory and metabolic pathways as potential mechanisms of chemotherapy resistance. We validated the prognostic relevance of individual genes from the low STAT3/5 response signature in a large independent cohort of pediatric AML patients. These findings provide novel insights into interactions between AML cells and the microenvironment that are associated with treatment failure and could be targeted for therapeutic interventions.
    Keywords:  Bone marrow stroma; Inflammation; Microenvironment; Pediatric AML; STAT3; STAT5