bims-almceb Biomed News
on Acute Leukemia Metabolism and Cell Biology
Issue of 2021‒05‒23
eleven papers selected by
Camila Kehl Dias
Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul

  1. Front Oncol. 2021 ;11 659253
      Standard induction chemotherapy, consisting of an anthracycline and cytarabine, has been the first-line therapy for many years to treat acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Although this treatment induces complete remissions in the majority of patients, many face a relapse (adaptive resistance) or have refractory disease (primary resistance). Moreover, older patients are often unfit for cytotoxic-based treatment. AML relapse is due to the survival of therapy-resistant leukemia cells (minimal residual disease, MRD). Leukemia cells with stem cell features, named leukemic stem cells (LSCs), residing within MRD are thought to be at the origin of relapse initiation. It is increasingly recognized that leukemia "persisters" are caused by intra-leukemic heterogeneity and non-genetic factors leading to plasticity in therapy response. The BCL2 inhibitor venetoclax, combined with hypomethylating agents or low dose cytarabine, represents an important new therapy especially for older AML patients. However, often there is also a small population of AML cells refractory to venetoclax treatment. As AML MRD reflects the sum of therapy resistance mechanisms, the different faces of treatment "persisters" and LSCs might be exploited to reach an optimal therapy response and prevent the initiation of relapse. Here, we describe the different epigenetic, transcriptional, and metabolic states of therapy sensitive and resistant AML (stem) cell populations and LSCs, how these cell states are influenced by the microenvironment and affect treatment outcome of AML. Moreover, we discuss potential strategies to target dynamic treatment resistance and LSCs.
    Keywords:  acute myeloid leukemia; leukemic stem cells; minimal residual disease; plasticity; therapy resistance
  2. Blood Cancer J. 2021 May 17. 11(5): 93
      Mitochondrial metabolism is the key source for abundant ROS in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells. Here, we detected significantly lower superoxide anion (O2-) levels with increased accumulation of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) in CLL cells vs. normal B-cells. Further analysis indicated that mitochondrial superoxide dismutase (SOD)2, which converts O2- into H2O2 remained deacetylated in CLL cells due to SIRT3 overexpression resulting its constitutive activation. In addition, catalase expression was also reduced in CLL cells suggesting impairment of H2O2-conversion into water and O2 which may cause H2O2-accumulation. Importantly, we identified two CpG-islands in the catalase promoter and discovered that while the distal CpG-island (-3619 to -3765) remained methylated in both normal B-cells and CLL cells, variable degrees of methylation were discernible in the proximal CpG-island (-174 to -332) only in CLL cells. Finally, treatment of CLL cells with a demethylating agent increased catalase mRNA levels. Functionally, ROS accumulation in CLL cells activated the AXL survival axis while upregulated SIRT3, suggesting that CLL cells rapidly remove highly reactive O2- to avoid its cytotoxic effect but maintain increased H2O2-level to promote cell survival. Therefore, abrogation of aberrantly activated cell survival pathways using antioxidants can be an effective intervention in CLL therapy in combination with conventional agents.
  3. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2021 ;1311 161-172
      Cancer stem cells (CSCs), also known as tumorinitiating cells (TICs), are a group of cells found within cancer cells. Like normal stem cells, CSCs can proliferate, engage in self-renewal, and are often implicated in the recurrence of tumors after therapy [1, 2]. The existence of CSCs in various types of cancer has been proven, such as in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) [3], breast [4], pancreatic [5], and lung cancers [6], to name a few. There are two theories regarding the origin of CSCs. First, CSCs may have arisen from normal stem/progenitor cells that experienced changes in their environment or genetic mutations. On the other hand, CSCs may also have originated from differentiated cells that underwent genetic and/or heterotypic modifications [7]. Either way, CSCs reprogram their metabolism in order to support tumorigenesis.
    Keywords:  Cancer stem cell; Glucose metabolism; Glutamine metabolism; Lipid metabolism; Metabolic plasticity; Mitochondrial metabolism
  4. Front Oncol. 2021 ;11 663406
      Background: Immune-checkpoint (IC) inhibitors have revolutionized the treatment of multiple solid tumors and defined lymphomas, but they are largely ineffective in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The reason why especially PD1/PD-L1 blocking agents are not efficacious is not well-understood but it may be due to the contribution of different IC ligand/receptor interactions that determine the function of T cells in AML.Methods: To analyze the interactions of IC ligands and receptors in AML, we performed a comprehensive transcriptomic analysis of FACS-purified leukemia stem/progenitor cells and paired bone marrow (BM)-infiltrating CD4+ and CD8+ T cells from 30 patients with AML. The gene expression profiles of activating and inhibiting IC ligands and receptors were correlated with the clinical data. Epigenetic mechanisms were studied by inhibiting the histone deacetylase with valproic acid or by gene silencing of PAC1.
    Results: We observed that IC ligands and receptors were mainly upregulated in leukemia stem cells. The gene expression of activating IC ligands and receptors correlated with improved prognosis and vice versa. In contrast, the majority of IC receptor genes were downregulated in BM-infiltrating CD8+ T cells and partially in CD4+ T cells, due to pathological chromatin remodeling via histone deacetylation. Therefore, treatment with histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi) or silencing of PAC1, as a T cell-specific epigenetic modulator, significantly increased the expression of IC receptors and defined effector molecules in CD8+ T cells.
    Conclusions: Our results suggest that CD8+ T cells in AML are dysfunctional mainly due to pathological epigenetic silencing of activating IC receptors rather than due to signaling by immune inhibitory IC receptors, which may explain the limited efficacy of antibodies that block immune-inhibitory ICs in AML.
    Keywords:  CD4+ T cell; CD8+ T cell; acute myeloid leukemia; epigenetics (chromatin remodelling); histone (de)acetylation; immune-checkpoints; immunotherapy; leukemia stem cell (LSC)
  5. Leukemia. 2021 May 18.
      (Patho-)physiological activation of the IL7-receptor (IL7R) signaling contributes to steroid resistance in pediatric T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). Here, we show that activating IL7R pathway mutations and physiological IL7R signaling activate MAPK-ERK signaling, which provokes steroid resistance by phosphorylation of BIM. By mass spectrometry, we demonstrate that phosphorylated BIM is impaired in binding to BCL2, BCLXL and MCL1, shifting the apoptotic balance toward survival. Treatment with MEK inhibitors abolishes this inactivating phosphorylation of BIM and restores its interaction with anti-apoptotic BCL2-protein family members. Importantly, the MEK inhibitor selumetinib synergizes with steroids in both IL7-dependent and IL7-independent steroid resistant pediatric T-ALL PDX samples. Despite the anti-MAPK-ERK activity of ruxolitinib in IL7-induced signaling and JAK1 mutant cells, ruxolitinib only synergizes with steroid treatment in IL7-dependent steroid resistant PDX samples but not in IL7-independent steroid resistant PDX samples. Our study highlights the central role for MAPK-ERK signaling in steroid resistance in T-ALL patients, and demonstrates the broader application of MEK inhibitors over ruxolitinib to resensitize steroid-resistant T-ALL cells. These findings strongly support the enrollment of T-ALL patients in the current phase I/II SeluDex trial (NCT03705507) and contributes to the optimization and stratification of newly designed T-ALL treatment regimens.
  6. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2021 ;1311 39-56
      The study of cancer cell metabolism has traditionally focused on glycolysis and glutaminolysis. However, lipidomic technologies have matured considerably over the last decade and broadened our understanding of how lipid metabolism is relevant to cancer biology [1-3]. Studies now suggest that the reprogramming of cellular lipid metabolism contributes directly to malignant transformation and progression [4, 5]. For example, de novo lipid synthesis can supply proliferating tumor cells with phospholipid components that comprise the plasma and organelle membranes of new daughter cells [6, 7]. Moreover, the upregulation of mitochondrial β-oxidation can support tumor cell energetics and redox homeostasis [8], while lipid-derived messengers can regulate major signaling pathways or coordinate immunosuppressive mechanisms [9-11]. Lipid metabolism has, therefore, become implicated in a variety of oncogenic processes, including metastatic colonization, drug resistance, and cell differentiation [10, 12-16]. However, whether we can safely and effectively modulate the underlying mechanisms of lipid metabolism for cancer therapy is still an open question.
    Keywords:  Cancer metabolism; Fatty acid oxidation; Fatty acid uptake; Lipid synthesis; Lipidomics; Metastasis; Tumor heterogeneity
  7. J Cancer. 2021 ;12(12): 3566-3574
      PKM2 is the enzyme that regulates the final rate-limiting step of glycolysis. PKM2 expression can reinforce the utilization of oxygen and synthesis of growth substances in cancer cells by enhancing OXPHOS and the Warburg effect. In cancer immunity, PKM2 can modulate the expression of PD-L1 in M2 macrophage and decrease the amount and activity of CD8+ T cells. This affects cancer cell killing and immune escape sequentially. How PKM2 regulates PD-L1 expression through immunometabolism is summarized. PKM2 builds a bridge between energy metabolism and cancer immunity. The activator and inhibitor of PKM2 both promote the anti-cancer immune response and inhibit cancer growth and metastasis by regulating the metabolism of cancer cells and immune cells in the tumor microenvironment through HIF-1α/PKM2 pathway. This review focuses on the precise role of PKM2 modulating immunometabolism, providing valuable suggestions for further study in this field.
    Keywords:  PD-L1; PKM-2; cancer immunity; metabolism
  8. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2021 ;1311 17-38
      Metabolism is a fundamental process for all cellular functions. For decades, there has been growing evidence of a relationship between metabolism and malignant cell proliferation. Unlike normal differentiated cells, cancer cells have reprogrammed metabolism in order to fulfill their energy requirements. These cells display crucial modifications in many metabolic pathways, such as glycolysis and glutaminolysis, which include the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, the electron transport chain (ETC), and the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) [1]. Since the discovery of the Warburg effect, it has been shown that the metabolism of cancer cells plays a critical role in cancer survival and growth. More recent research suggests that the involvement of glutamine in cancer metabolism is more significant than previously thought. Glutamine, a nonessential amino acid with both amine and amide functional groups, is the most abundant amino acid circulating in the bloodstream [2]. This chapter discusses the characteristic features of glutamine metabolism in cancers and the therapeutic options to target glutamine metabolism for cancer treatment.
    Keywords:  Glutamine addiction; Glutamine metabolism; Targeting amino acid synthesis; Targeting glutamine metabolism; Transaminase upregulation
  9. Semin Immunol. 2021 May 15. pii: S1044-5323(21)00011-7. [Epub ahead of print] 101480
      The PD-1 pathway is a cornerstone in immune regulation. While the PD-1 pathway has received considerable attention for its role in contributing to the maintenance of T cell exhaustion in chronic infection and cancer, the PD-1 pathway plays diverse roles in regulating host immunity beyond T cell exhaustion. Here, we discuss emerging concepts in the PD-1 pathway, including (1) the impact of PD-1 inhibitors on diverse T cell differentiation states including effector and memory T cell development during acute infection, as well as T cell exhaustion during chronic infection and cancer, (2) the role of PD-1 in regulating Treg cells, NK cells, and ILCs, and (3) the functions of PD-L1/B7-1 and PD-L2/RGMb/neogenin interactions. We then discuss the emerging use of neoadjuvant PD-1 blockade in the treatment of early-stage cancers and how the timing of PD-1 blockade may improve clinical outcomes. The diverse binding partners of PD-1 and its associated ligands, broad expression patterns of the receptors and ligands, differential impact of PD-1 modulation on cells depending on location and state of differentiation, and timing of PD-1 blockade add additional layers of complexity to the PD-1 pathway, and are important considerations for improving the efficacy and safety of PD-1 pathway therapeutics.
    Keywords:  Cancer immunotherapy; Immune regulation; Neoadjuvant; PD-1 pathway; T cell exhaustion
  10. Mol Cell. 2021 May 08. pii: S1097-2765(21)00269-0. [Epub ahead of print]
      Glutaminase regulates glutaminolysis to promote cancer cell proliferation. However, the mechanism underlying glutaminase activity regulation is largely unknown. Here, we demonstrate that kidney-type glutaminase (GLS) is highly expressed in human pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) specimens with correspondingly upregulated glutamine dependence for PDAC cell proliferation. Upon oxidative stress, the succinyl-coenzyme A (CoA) synthetase ADP-forming subunit β (SUCLA2) phosphorylated by p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) at S79 dissociates from GLS, resulting in enhanced GLS K311 succinylation, oligomerization, and activity. Activated GLS increases glutaminolysis and the production of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) and glutathione, thereby counteracting oxidative stress and promoting tumor cell survival and tumor growth in mice. In addition, the levels of SUCLA2 pS79 and GLS K311 succinylation, which were mutually correlated, were positively associated with advanced stages of PDAC and poor prognosis for patients. Our findings reveal critical regulation of GLS by SUCLA2-coupled GLS succinylation regulation and underscore the regulatory role of metabolites in glutaminolysis and PDAC development.
    Keywords:  GLS; GSH; NADPH; SUCLA2; glutaminolysis; p38; phosphorylation; succinyl-CoA; succinylation; tumorigenesis
  11. Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2021 May 18. pii: S1043-2760(21)00113-2. [Epub ahead of print]
      We propose that fructose-1,6-bisphosphate (F-1,6-BP) promotes a feedback loop between phosphofructokinase-1 (PFK1), phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase/protein kinase B (PI3K/Akt), and PFK2/PFKFB3, which enhances aerobic glycolysis and sustains effector T (Teff) cell activation, while oxidative metabolism is concomitantly downregulated. This regulation, promoted by low citrate and mitochondrial ATP synthesis, also sustains the Warburg effect in cancer cells.
    Keywords:  T cell; Warburg effect; cancer cell; citrate; fructose-1,6-bisphosphate; metabolism