bims-cagime Biomed News
on Cancer, aging and metabolism
Issue of 2021‒04‒04
101 papers selected by
Kıvanç Görgülü
Technical University of Munich

  1. Br J Cancer. 2021 Mar 30.
      BACKGROUND: Limited accessibility of the tumour precludes longitudinal characterisation for therapy guidance in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC).METHODS: We utilised dielectrophoresis-field flow fractionation (DEP-FFF) to isolate circulating tumour cells (CTCs) in 272 blood draws from 74 PDAC patients (41 localised, 33 metastatic) to non-invasively monitor disease progression.
    RESULTS: Analysis using multiplex imaging flow cytometry revealed four distinct sub-populations of CTCs: epithelial (E-CTC), mesenchymal (M-CTC), partial epithelial-mesenchymal transition (pEMT-CTC) and stem cell-like (SC-CTC). Overall, CTC detection rate was 76.8% (209/272 draws) and total CTC counts did not correlate with any clinicopathological variables. However, the proportion of pEMT-CTCs (prop-pEMT) was correlated with advanced disease, worse progression-free and overall survival in all patients, and earlier recurrence after resection.
    CONCLUSION: Our results underscore the importance of immunophenotyping and quantifying specific CTC sub-populations in PDAC.
  2. EMBO Rep. 2021 Mar 29. e51573
      Fibroblasts are a major component of the microenvironment of most solid tumours. Recent research elucidated a large heterogeneity and plasticity of activated fibroblasts, indicating that their role in cancer initiation, growth and metastasis is complex and context-dependent. Here, we performed genome-wide expression analysis comparing fibroblasts in normal, inflammatory and tumour-associated skin. Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) exhibit a fibrotic gene signature in wound-induced tumours, demonstrating persistent extracellular matrix (ECM) remodelling within these tumours. A top upregulated gene in mouse CAFs encodes for PRSS35, a protease capable of collagen remodelling. In human skin, we observed PRSS35 expression uniquely in the stroma of high-grade squamous cell carcinomas. Ablation of PRSS35 in mouse models of wound- or chemically-induced tumorigenesis resulted in aberrant collagen composition in the ECM and increased tumour incidence. Our results indicate that fibrotic enzymes expressed by CAFs can regulate squamous tumour initiation by remodelling the ECM.
    Keywords:  PRSS35; cancer-associated fibroblasts; fibrosis; skin cancer; wound healing
  3. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2021 Mar 29.
      Mitochondria are organelles central to myriad cellular processes. To maintain mitochondrial health, various processes co-operate at both the molecular and organelle level. At the molecular level, mitochondria can sense imbalances in their homeostasis and adapt to these by signaling to the nucleus. This mito-nuclear communication leads to the expression of nuclear stress response genes. Upon external stimuli, mitochondria can also alter their morphology accordingly, by inducing fission or fusion. In an extreme situation, mitochondria are degraded by mitophagy. Adequate function and regulation of these mitochondrial quality control pathways are crucial for cellular homeostasis. As we discuss, alterations in these processes have been linked to several pathologies including neurodegenerative diseases and cancer.
    Keywords:  ISR; Mitochondrial diseases; Mitochondrial dysfunction; Mitochondrial fission; Mitochondrial fusion; Mitophagy; PINK1; Parkin; UPRmt
  4. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Mar 23. pii: e2007194118. [Epub ahead of print]118(12):
      The c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) signaling pathway mediates adaptation to stress signals and has been associated with cell death, cell proliferation, and malignant transformation in the liver. However, up to now, its function was experimentally studied mainly in young mice. By generating mice with combined conditional ablation of Jnk1 and Jnk2 in liver parenchymal cells (LPCs) (JNK1/2LPC-KO mice; KO, knockout), we unraveled a function of the JNK pathway in the regulation of liver homeostasis during aging. Aging JNK1/2LPC-KO mice spontaneously developed large biliary cysts that originated from the biliary cell compartment. Mechanistically, we could show that cyst formation in livers of JNK1/2LPC-KO mice was dependent on receptor-interacting protein kinase 1 (RIPK1), a known regulator of cell survival, apoptosis, and necroptosis. In line with this, we showed that RIPK1 was overexpressed in the human cyst epithelium of a subset of patients with polycystic liver disease. Collectively, these data reveal a functional interaction between JNK signaling and RIPK1 in age-related progressive cyst development. Thus, they provide a functional linkage between stress adaptation and programmed cell death (PCD) in the maintenance of liver homeostasis during aging.
    Keywords:  MK2; cholangiocytes; liver; liver cysts; programmed cell death
  5. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Mar 31. pii: 1612. [Epub ahead of print]13(7):
      Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) presents many challenges in the clinic and there are many areas for improvement in diagnostics and patient management. The five-year survival rate is around 7.2% as the majority of patients present with advanced disease at diagnosis that is treatment resistant. Approximately 10-15% of PDAC cases have a hereditary basis or Familial Pancreatic Cancer (FPC). Here we demonstrate the use of circulating free DNA (cfDNA) in plasma as a prognostic biomarker in PDAC. The levels of cfDNA correlated with disease status, disease stage, and overall survival. Furthermore, we show for the first time via BEAMing that the majority of hereditary or familial PDAC cases (around 84%) are negative for a KRAS somatic mutation. In addition, KRAS mutation negative cases harbor somatic mutations in potentially druggable genes such as KIT, PDGFR, MET, BRAF, and PIK3CA that could be exploited in the clinic. Finally, familial or hereditary cases have a longer overall survival compared to sporadic cases (10.2 vs. 21.7 months, respectively). Currently, all patients are treated the same in the clinic with cytotoxic agents, although here we demonstrate that there are different subtypes of tumors at the genetic level that could pave the way to personalized treatment.
    Keywords:  cfDNA; hereditary and familial pancreatic cancer; liquid biopsy; potentially druggable genes; somatic mutation profiling
  6. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2021 Apr 01. pii: djab064. [Epub ahead of print]
      Cellular senescence is an essential tumor suppressive mechanism that prevents the propagation of oncogenically activated, genetically unstable, and/or damaged cells. Induction of tumor cell senescence is also one of the underlying mechanisms by which cancer therapies exert antitumor activity. However, an increasing body of evidence from preclinical studies demonstrates that radiation and chemotherapy cause accumulation of senescent cells (SnCs) both in tumor and normal tissue. SnCs in tumors can, paradoxically, promote tumor relapse, metastasis, and resistance to therapy, in part, through expression of the senescence-associated secretory phenotype. In addition, SnCs in normal tissue can contribute to certain radiation- and chemotherapy-induced side effects. Because of its multiple roles, cellular senescence could serve as an important target in the fight against cancer. This commentary provides a summary of the discussion at the National Cancer Institute Workshop on Radiation, Senescence, and Cancer (August 10-11, 2020, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD) regarding the current status of senescence research, heterogeneity of therapy-induced senescence, current status of senotherapeutics and molecular biomarkers, a concept of "one-two punch" cancer therapy (consisting of therapeutics to induce tumor cell senescence followed by selective clearance of SnCs), and its integration with personalized adaptive tumor therapy. It also identifies key knowledge gaps and outlines future directions in this emerging field to improve treatment outcomes for cancer patients.
    Keywords:  "One-Two Punch" Cancer Therapy; Aging; Cancer; Cancer Therapy; Radiation; Radiation Therapy; Senescence; Senolytics; Senomorphics; Senotherapeutics; Therapy-Induced Senescence
  7. Int J Clin Oncol. 2021 Mar 31.
      BACKGROUND: Elderly pancreatic cancer (PC) patients are often considered vulnerable to treatment and standard treatment strategy for this subpopulation is uncertain. Cachexia and sarcopenia are reported to be associated with reduced physical performance, reduced anti-tumor response, increased chemotherapy toxicity, and poor prognosis in several malignancies. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of cachexia and sarcopenia on the clinical course of elderly PC patients receiving chemotherapy.METHODS: We retrospectively investigated consecutive elderly metastatic PC patients (≥ 75 years) treated with chemotherapy at our institution between January 2015 and April 2020. Skeletal muscle index was calculated at the third lumbar vertebra using pretreatment computed tomography. We evaluated time to treatment failure (TTF), progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival (OS), early treatment discontinuation, relative dose intensity (RDI), and severe adverse events (AEs).
    RESULTS: Among 80 patients included (gemcitabine plus nab-paclitaxel [GnP] 52; gemcitabine 21; S1 6; modified FOLFIRINOX 1), cachexia and sarcopenia were present in 48 (60%) and 61 (76%) patients, respectively. Cachexia was associated with older age, worse performance status, higher level of neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio, worse nutritional status, and shorter TTF and PFS. Furthermore, it was also associated with early treatment discontinuation, reduced RDI of nab-paclitaxel, and increased incidence of grade 4 neutropenia in patients receiving GnP. On the other hand, sarcopenia had less impact on the clinical course of elderly PC patients.
    CONCLUSIONS: In our experience, cachexia was considered an effective tool in the management of elderly PC patients receiving palliative chemotherapy.
    Keywords:  Cachexia; Elderly patients; Palliative chemotherapy; Pancreatic cancer; Sarcopenia
  8. Nat Commun. 2021 03 29. 12(1): 1940
      Metabolic enzymes and metabolites display non-metabolic functions in immune cell signalling that modulate immune attack ability. However, whether and how a tumour's metabolic remodelling contributes to its immune resistance remain to be clarified. Here we perform a functional screen of metabolic genes that rescue tumour cells from effector T cell cytotoxicity, and identify the embryo- and tumour-specific folate cycle enzyme methylenetetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase 2 (MTHFD2). Mechanistically, MTHFD2 promotes basal and IFN-γ-stimulated PD-L1 expression, which is necessary for tumourigenesis in vivo. Moreover, IFN-γ stimulates MTHFD2 through the AKT-mTORC1 pathway. Meanwhile, MTHFD2 drives the folate cycle to sustain sufficient uridine-related metabolites including UDP-GlcNAc, which promotes the global O-GlcNAcylation of proteins including cMYC, resulting in increased cMYC stability and PD-L1 transcription. Consistently, the O-GlcNAcylation level positively correlates with MTHFD2 and PD-L1 in pancreatic cancer patients. These findings uncover a non-metabolic role for MTHFD2 in cell signalling and cancer biology.
  9. J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle. 2021 Mar 30.
      Cancer cachexia is a complex multi-organ catabolic syndrome that reduces mobility, increases fatigue, decreases the efficiency of therapeutic strategies, diminishes the quality of life, and increases the mortality of cancer patients. This review provides an exhaustive and comprehensive analysis of cancer cachexia-related phenotypic changes in skeletal muscle at both the cellular and subcellular levels in human cancer patients, as well as in animal models of cancer cachexia. Cancer cachexia is characterized by a major decrease in skeletal muscle mass in human and animals that depends on the severity of the disease/model and the localization of the tumour. It affects both type 1 and type 2 muscle fibres, even if some animal studies suggest that type 2 muscle fibres would be more prone to atrophy. Animal studies indicate an impairment in mitochondrial oxidative metabolism resulting from a decrease in mitochondrial content, an alteration in mitochondria morphology, and a reduction in mitochondrial metabolic fluxes. Immuno-histological analyses in human and animal models also suggest that a faulty mechanism of skeletal muscle repair would contribute to muscle mass loss. An increase in collagen deposit, an accumulation of fat depot outside and inside the muscle fibre, and a disrupted contractile machinery structure are also phenotypic features that have been consistently reported in cachectic skeletal muscle. Muscle function is also profoundly altered during cancer cachexia with a strong reduction in skeletal muscle force. Even though the loss of skeletal muscle mass largely contributes to the loss of muscle function, other factors such as muscle-nerve interaction and calcium handling are probably involved in the decrease in muscle force. Longitudinal analyses of skeletal muscle mass by imaging technics and skeletal muscle force in cancer patients, but also in animal models of cancer cachexia, are necessary to determine the respective kinetics and functional involvements of these factors. Our analysis also emphasizes that measuring skeletal muscle force through standardized tests could provide a simple and robust mean to early diagnose cachexia in cancer patients. That would be of great benefit to cancer patient's quality of life and health care systems.
    Keywords:  Cancer cachexia; Fibre type; Fibrosis; Force; Metabolism; Regeneration; Skeletal muscle
  10. J Cell Biol. 2021 Jun 07. pii: e202005216. [Epub ahead of print]220(6):
      EPH/EPHRIN signaling is essential to many aspects of tissue self-organization and morphogenesis, but little is known about how EPH/EPHRIN signaling regulates cell mechanics during these processes. Here, we use a series of approaches to examine how EPH/EPHRIN signaling drives cellular self-organization. Contact angle measurements reveal that EPH/EPHRIN signaling decreases the stability of heterotypic cell:cell contacts through increased cortical actomyosin contractility. We find that EPH/EPHRIN-driven cell segregation depends on actomyosin contractility but occurs independently of directed cell migration and without changes in cell adhesion. Atomic force microscopy and live cell imaging of myosin localization support that EPH/EPHRIN signaling results in increased cortical tension. Interestingly, actomyosin contractility also nonautonomously drives increased EPHB2:EPHB2 homotypic contacts. Finally, we demonstrate that changes in tissue organization are driven by minimization of heterotypic contacts through actomyosin contractility in cell aggregates and by mouse genetics experiments. These data elucidate the biomechanical mechanisms driving EPH/EPHRIN-based cell segregation wherein differences in interfacial tension, regulated by actomyosin contractility, govern cellular self-organization.
  11. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2021 ;9 626316
      Interpreting connections between the multiple networks of cell metabolism is indispensable for understanding how cells maintain homeostasis or transform into the decontrolled proliferation phenotype of cancer. Situated at a critical metabolic intersection, citrate, derived via glycolysis, serves as either a combustible fuel for aerobic mitochondrial bioenergetics or as a continuously replenished cytosolic carbon source for lipid biosynthesis, an essentially anaerobic process. Therein lies the paradox: under what conditions do cells control the metabolic route by which they process citrate? The Warburg effect exposes essentially the same dilemma-why do cancer cells, despite an abundance of oxygen needed for energy-generating mitochondrial respiration with citrate as fuel, avoid catabolizing mitochondrial citrate and instead rely upon accelerated glycolysis to support their energy requirements? This review details the genesis and consequences of the metabolic paradigm of a "truncated" Krebs/TCA cycle. Abundant data are presented for substrate utilization and membrane cholesterol enrichment in tumors that are consistent with criteria of the Warburg effect. From healthy cellular homeostasis to the uncontrolled proliferation of tumors, metabolic alterations center upon the loss of regulation of the cholesterol biosynthetic pathway. Deregulated tumor cholesterogenesis at the HMGR locus, generating enhanced carbon flux through the cholesterol synthesis pathway, is an absolute prerequisite for DNA synthesis and cell division. Therefore, expedited citrate efflux from cholesterol-enriched tumor mitochondria via the CTP/SLC25A1 citrate transporter is fundamental for sustaining the constant demand for cytosolic citrate that fuels the elevated flow of carbons from acetyl-CoA through the deregulated pathway of cholesterol biosynthesis.
    Keywords:  Warburg effect; mitochondrial citrate export; truncated Krebs/TCA cycle; tumor cholesterogenesis; tumor membrane cholesterol
  12. Mol Cancer Res. 2021 Apr 02. pii: molcanres.0860.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA), a leading cause of cancer-related death in the US, has a high metastatic rate and is associated with persistent immune suppression. AXL, a member of the TAM (TYRO3, AXL, MERTK) receptor tyrosine kinase family, is a driver of metastasis and immune suppression in multiple cancer types. Here we use single cell RNA sequencing to reveal that AXL is expressed highly in tumor cells that have a mesenchymal-like phenotype and that AXL expression correlates with classic markers of epithelial to mesenchymal transition. We demonstrate that AXL-deficiency extends survival, reduces primary and metastatic burden and enhances sensitivity to gemcitabine in an autochthonous model of PDA. PDA in AXL-deficient mice displayed a more differentiated histology, higher nucleoside transporter expression and a more active immune microenvironment compared to PDA in wild-type mice. Finally, we demonstrate that AXL-positive poorly differentiated tumor cells are critical for PDA progression and metastasis, emphasizing the potential of AXL as a therapeutic target in PDA. Implications: These studies implicate AXL as a marker of undifferentiated PDA cells and a target for therapy.
  13. Nat Genet. 2021 Apr 01.
      Single-nucleus assay for transposase-accessible chromatin using sequencing (snATAC-seq) creates new opportunities to dissect cell type-specific mechanisms of complex diseases. Since pancreatic islets are central to type 2 diabetes (T2D), we profiled 15,298 islet cells by using combinatorial barcoding snATAC-seq and identified 12 clusters, including multiple alpha, beta and delta cell states. We cataloged 228,873 accessible chromatin sites and identified transcription factors underlying lineage- and state-specific regulation. We observed state-specific enrichment of fasting glucose and T2D genome-wide association studies for beta cells and enrichment for other endocrine cell types. At T2D signals localized to islet-accessible chromatin, we prioritized variants with predicted regulatory function and co-accessibility with target genes. A causal T2D variant rs231361 at the KCNQ1 locus had predicted effects on a beta cell enhancer co-accessible with INS and genome editing in embryonic stem cell-derived beta cells affected INS levels. Together our findings demonstrate the power of single-cell epigenomics for interpreting complex disease genetics.
  14. Cancer Discov. 2021 Apr;11(4): 960-970
      Human tumors are composed of diverse malignant and nonmalignant cells, generating a complex ecosystem that governs tumor biology and response to treatments. Recent technological advances have enabled the characterization of tumors at single-cell resolution, providing a compelling strategy to dissect their intricate biology. Here we describe recent developments in single-cell expression profiling and the studies applying them in clinical settings. We highlight some of the powerful insights gleaned from these studies for tumor classification, stem cell programs, tumor microenvironment, metastasis, and response to targeted and immune therapies. SIGNIFICANCE: Intratumor heterogeneity (ITH) has been a major barrier to our understanding of cancer. Single-cell genomics is leading a revolution in our ability to systematically dissect ITH. In this review, we focus on single-cell expression profiling and lessons learned in key aspects of human tumor biology.
  15. Life Sci Alliance. 2021 Jun;pii: e202000935. [Epub ahead of print]4(6):
      Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) is accompanied by reprogramming of the local microenvironment, but changes at distal sites are poorly understood. We implanted biomaterial scaffolds, which act as an artificial premetastatic niche, into immunocompetent tumor-bearing and control mice, and identified a unique tumor-specific gene expression signature that includes high expression of C1qa, C1qb, Trem2, and Chil3 Single-cell RNA sequencing mapped these genes to two distinct macrophage populations in the scaffolds, one marked by elevated C1qa, C1qb, and Trem2, the other with high Chil3, Ly6c2 and Plac8 In mice, expression of these genes in the corresponding populations was elevated in tumor-associated macrophages compared with macrophages in the normal pancreas. We then analyzed single-cell RNA sequencing from patient samples, and determined expression of C1QA, C1QB, and TREM2 is elevated in human macrophages in primary tumors and liver metastases. Single-cell sequencing analysis of patient blood revealed a substantial enrichment of the same gene signature in monocytes. Taken together, our study identifies two distinct tumor-associated macrophage and monocyte populations that reflects systemic immune changes in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma patients.
  16. Clin Transl Med. 2021 Mar;11(3): e337
      BACKGROUND: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) exhibits the poorest prognosis of all solid tumors with a 5-year survival rate of less than 10% and a median survival of 6 months after diagnosis. Numerous targeted agents have been developed and evaluated to improve the survival benefit in patients with PDAC. Unfortunately, most agents have been proven futile mainly owing to the dense stroma and the sophisticated signaling pathways of PDAC. Here, we show the potent effectiveness of Aptamer-SH2 superbinder-(Arg)9 conjugate on the treatment of PDAC. In this conjugate, DNA aptamer selected against PDAC cell line confers the function of specifically recognizing and binding to the PDAC cells and activated pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs) in stroma; cell penetrating peptide (Arg)9 facilitates the intracellular delivery of fused proteins; SH2 superbinder conducts the drastic blockade of multiple phosphotyrosines (pY)-based signaling pathways in tumor cells.METHODS: PDAC-associated pY were reanalyzed by bioinformatics screen. XQ-2d and SH2 superbinder-(Arg)9 were crosslinked with BMH to form XQ-2d-SH2 CM-(Arg)9 conjugate. Immunofluorescence was utilized to assess the potency of the conjugate entering cells. MTT and wound healing assays were performed to evaluate the proliferation or migration of PANC-1 and BxPC-3 cells, respectively. Western blot and Pulldown assays revealed that conjugate influenced several pY-based signaling pathways. Tumor-bearing mice were used to validate XQ-2d-SH2 CM-(Arg)9, which restrained the growth and metastasis of cancer cells.
    RESULTS: XQ-2d-His-SH2 CM-(Arg)9 conjugate restrained proliferation, invasion, and metastasis of PDAC cells with potent efficacy via blocking the activity of several pY-related signaling cascades. XQ-2d-His-SH2 CM-(Arg)9 could eliminate the dense stroma of PDAC and then arrive at tumor tissues.
    CONCLUSIONS: XQ-2d-SH2 CM-(Arg)9 conjugate may efficiently destroy the pancreatic stroma and show potent antitumor efficacy with minimal toxic effect by regulating tumor cell proliferation and metastasis in vitro and in vivo, which makes it to be a promising targeted therapy of PDAC.
    Keywords:  SH2 superbinder; aptamer; cell penetrating peptide; pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma; phosphotyrosine; targeted therapy
  17. Cancer Discov. 2021 Apr 01.
      Immune oncology approaches of adoptive cell therapy and immune checkpoint blockade aim to activate T cells to eliminate tumors. Normal stimulation of resting T cells induces metabolic reprogramming from catabolic and oxidative metabolism to aerobic glycolysis in effector T cells, and back to oxidative metabolism in long-lived memory cells. These metabolic reprogramming events are now appreciated to be essential aspects of T-cell function and fate. Here, we review these transitions, how they are disrupted by T-cell interactions with tumors and the tumor microenvironment, and how they can inform immune oncology to enhance T-cell function against tumors. SIGNIFICANCE: T-cell metabolism plays a central role in T-cell fate yet is altered in cancer in ways that can suppress antitumor immunity. Here, we discuss challenges and opportunities to stimulate effector T-cell metabolism and improve cancer immunotherapy.
  18. Autophagy. 2021 Mar 30.
      Selective recognition and elimination of misfolded polypeptides are crucial for protein homeostasis. When the ubiquitin-proteasome system is impaired, misfolded polypeptides tend to form small cytosolic aggregates and are transported to the aggresome and eventually eliminated by the autophagy pathway. Despite the importance of this process, the regulation of aggresome formation remains poorly understood. Here, we identify TRIM28/TIF1β/KAP1 (tripartite motif containing 28) as a negative regulator of aggresome formation. Direct interaction between TRIM28 and CTIF (cap binding complex dependent translation initiation factor) leads to inefficient aggresomal targeting of misfolded polypeptides. We also find that either treatment of cells with poly I:C or infection of the cells by influenza A viruses triggers the phosphorylation of TRIM28 at S473 in a way that depends on double-stranded RNA-activated protein kinase. The phosphorylation promotes association of TRIM28 with CTIF, inhibits aggresome formation, and consequently suppresses viral proliferation. Collectively, our data provide compelling evidence that TRIM28 is a negative regulator of aggresome formation.
    Keywords:  CTIF; DCTN1; EEF1A1; EIF2AK2; aggrephagy; influenza A virus
  19. Nat Cell Biol. 2021 Apr 01.
      Methyltransferase-like 3 (METTL3) and 14 (METTL14) are core subunits of the methyltransferase complex that catalyses messenger RNA N6-methyladenosine (m6A) modification. Despite the expanding list of m6A-dependent functions of the methyltransferase complex, the m6A-independent function of the METTL3 and METTL14 complex remains poorly understood. Here we show that genome-wide redistribution of METTL3 and METTL14 transcriptionally drives the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) in an m6A-independent manner. METTL14 is redistributed to the enhancers, whereas METTL3 is localized to the pre-existing NF-κB sites within the promoters of SASP genes during senescence. METTL3 and METTL14 are necessary for SASP. However, SASP is not regulated by m6A mRNA modification. METTL3 and METTL14 are required for both the tumour-promoting and immune-surveillance functions of senescent cells, which are mediated by SASP in vivo in mouse models. In summary, our results report an m6A-independent function of the METTL3 and METTL14 complex in transcriptionally promoting SASP during senescence.
  20. Semin Oncol. 2021 Mar 11. pii: S0093-7754(21)00011-7. [Epub ahead of print]
      Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is projected to be the second leading cause of cancer death in the US by 2030. There are multiple germline pathogenic variants and cancer syndromes associated with an increased risk of PDAC. Precision treatment, informed by germline genetic testing and molecular tumor analysis, can optimize therapeutic regimens and outcomes for those diagnosed with PDAC. As a result, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network currently recommends genetic testing for all newly diagnosed PDAC patients given the clinical implications for treatment but also for the identification of at-risk family members who can benefit from pancreatic cancer screening and other cancer prevention strategies. This article reviews inherited risk factors for the development of PDAC and current screening strategies for the early detection of PDAC in high-risk populations.
    Keywords:  Familial pancreatic cancer; Genetic risk assessment; Genetic testing; Inherited Cancer Syndromes; Pancreatic cancer; Screening and early detection
  21. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2021 Apr 03.
      OBJECTIVE: Identifying predictors of weight loss and clinical outcomes may increase understanding of individual variability in weight loss response. We hypothesized that baseline multiomic features, including DNA methylation (DNAme), metabolomics, and gut microbiome, would be predictive of short-term changes in body weight and other clinical outcomes within a comprehensive weight loss intervention.METHODS: Healthy adults with overweight or obesity (n = 62, age 18-55 years, BMI 27-45 kg/m2 , 75.8% female) participated in a 1-year behavioral weight loss intervention. To identify baseline omic predictors of changes in clinical outcomes at 3 and 6 months, whole-blood DNAme, plasma metabolites, and gut microbial genera were analyzed.
    RESULTS: A network of multiomic relationships informed predictive models for 10 clinical outcomes (body weight, waist circumference, fat mass, hemoglobin A1c , homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance, total cholesterol, triglycerides, C-reactive protein, leptin, and ghrelin) that changed significantly (P < 0.05). For eight of these, adjusted R2 ranged from 0.34 to 0.78. Our models identified specific DNAme sites, gut microbes, and metabolites that were predictive of variability in weight loss, waist circumference, and circulating triglycerides and that are biologically relevant to obesity and metabolic pathways.
    CONCLUSIONS: These data support the feasibility of using baseline multiomic features to provide insight for precision nutrition-based weight loss interventions.
  22. J Clin Invest. 2021 Apr 01. pii: 143729. [Epub ahead of print]131(7):
      Adoptive T cell therapies (ACTs) hold great promise in cancer treatment, but low overall response rates in patients with solid tumors underscore remaining challenges in realizing the potential of this cellular immunotherapy approach. Promoting CD8+ T cell adaptation to tissue residency represents an underutilized but promising strategy to improve tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) function. Here, we report that deletion of the HIF negative regulator von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) in CD8+ T cells induced HIF-1α/HIF-2α-dependent differentiation of tissue-resident memory-like (Trm-like) TILs in mouse models of malignancy. VHL-deficient TILs accumulated in tumors and exhibited a core Trm signature despite an exhaustion-associated phenotype, which led to retained polyfunctionality and response to αPD-1 immunotherapy, resulting in tumor eradication and protective tissue-resident memory. VHL deficiency similarly facilitated enhanced accumulation of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells with a Trm-like phenotype in tumors. Thus, HIF activity in CD8+ TILs promotes accumulation and antitumor activity, providing a new strategy to enhance the efficacy of ACTs.
    Keywords:  Adaptive immunity; Immunology; Immunotherapy; T cells; Therapeutics
  23. Sci Transl Med. 2021 Mar 31. pii: eaaz6314. [Epub ahead of print]13(587):
      The functional state of T cells is a key determinant for effective antitumor immunity and immunotherapy. Cellular metabolism, including lipid metabolism, controls T cell differentiation, survival, and effector functions. Here, we report that development of T cell senescence driven by both malignant tumor cells and regulatory T cells is a general feature in cancers. Senescent T cells have active glucose metabolism but exhibit unbalanced lipid metabolism. This unbalanced lipid metabolism results in changes of expression of lipid metabolic enzymes, which, in turn, alters lipid species and accumulation of lipid droplets in T cells. Tumor cells and Treg cells drove elevated expression of group IVA phospholipase A2, which, in turn, was responsible for the altered lipid metabolism and senescence induction observed in T cells. Mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling and signal transducer and activator of transcription signaling coordinately control lipid metabolism and group IVA phospholipase A2 activity in responder T cells during T cell senescence. Inhibition of group IVA phospholipase A2 reprogrammed effector T cell lipid metabolism, prevented T cell senescence in vitro, and enhanced antitumor immunity and immunotherapy efficacy in mouse models of melanoma and breast cancer in vivo. Together, these findings identify mechanistic links between T cell senescence and regulation of lipid metabolism in the tumor microenvironment and provide a new target for tumor immunotherapy.
  24. Molecules. 2021 Mar 15. pii: 1642. [Epub ahead of print]26(6):
      Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) is one of the most lethal forms of human cancer, characterized by unrestrained progression, invasiveness and treatment resistance. To date, there are limited curative options, with surgical resection as the only effective strategy, hence the urgent need to discover novel therapies. A platform of onco-immunology targets is represented by molecules that play a role in the reprogrammed cellular metabolism as one hallmark of cancer. Due to the hypoxic tumor microenvironment (TME), PDA cells display an altered glucose metabolism-resulting in its increased uptake-and a higher glycolytic rate, which leads to lactate accumulation and them acting as fuel for cancer cells. The consequent acidification of the TME results in immunosuppression, which impairs the antitumor immunity. This review analyzes the genetic background and the emerging glycolytic enzymes that are involved in tumor progression, development and metastasis, and how this represents feasible therapeutic targets to counteract PDA. In particular, as the overexpressed or mutated glycolytic enzymes stimulate both humoral and cellular immune responses, we will discuss their possible exploitation as immunological targets in anti-PDA therapeutic strategies.
    Keywords:  glycolysis; immunotherapies; pancreatic cancer
  25. Semin Cancer Biol. 2021 Mar 27. pii: S1044-579X(21)00060-2. [Epub ahead of print]
      Although the classic activities of p53 including induction of cell-cycle arrest, senescence, and apoptosis are well accepted as critical barriers to cancer development, accumulating evidence suggests that loss of these classic activities is not sufficient to abrogate the tumor suppression activity of p53. Numerous studies suggest that metabolic regulation contributes to tumor suppression, but the mechanisms by which it does so are not completely understood. Cancer cells rewire cellular metabolism to meet the energetic and substrate demands of tumor development. It is well established that p53 suppresses glycolysis and promotes mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation through a number of downstream targets against the Warburg effect. The role of p53-mediated metabolic regulation in tumor suppression is complexed by its function to promote both cell survival and cell death under different physiological settings. Indeed, p53 can regulate both pro-oxidant and antioxidant target genes for complete opposite effects. In this review, we will summarize the roles of p53 in the regulation of glucose, lipid, amino acid, nucleotide, iron metabolism, and ROS production. We will highlight the mechanisms underlying p53-mediated ferroptosis, AKT/mTOR signaling as well as autophagy and discuss the complexity of p53-metabolic regulation in tumor development.
    Keywords:  ferroptosis; metabolism; p53; transcriptional activation; tumor suppression
  26. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Mar 21. pii: 1434. [Epub ahead of print]13(6):
      In our previous study, we showed that a cystine transporter (xCT) plays a pivotal role in ferroptosis of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) cells in vitro. However, in vivo xCTKO cells grew normally indicating that a mechanism exists to drastically suppress the ferroptotic phenotype. We hypothesized that plasma and neighboring cells within the tumor mass provide a source of cysteine to confer full ferroptosis resistance to xCTKO PDAC cells. To evaluate this hypothesis, we (co-) cultured xCTKO PDAC cells with different xCT-proficient cells or with their conditioned media. Our data unequivocally showed that the presence of a cysteine/cystine shuttle between neighboring cells is the mechanism that provides redox and nutrient balance, and thus ferroptotic resistance in xCTKO cells. Interestingly, although a glutathione shuttle between cells represents a good alternative hypothesis as a "rescue-mechanism", our data clearly demonstrated that the xCTKO phenotype is suppressed even with conditioned media from cells lacking the glutathione biosynthesis enzyme. Furthermore, we demonstrated that prevention of lipid hydroperoxide accumulation in vivo is mediated by import of cysteine into xCTKO cells via several genetically and pharmacologically identified transporters (ASCT1, ASCT2, LAT1, SNATs). Collectively, these data highlight the importance of the tumor environment in the ferroptosis sensitivity of cancer cells.
    Keywords:  cysteine transporters; cysteine-cystine shuttle; ferroptosis; resistance; tumor environment
  27. Curr Stem Cell Rep. 2020 Dec;6(4): 119-125
      Purpose of Review: Diet has profound impacts on health and longevity. Evidence is emerging to suggest that diet impinges upon the metabolic pathways in tissue-specific stem cells to influence health and disease. Here, we review the similarities and differences in the metabolism of stem cells from several tissues, and highlight the mitochondrial metabolic checkpoint in stem cell maintenance and aging. We discuss how diet engages the nutrient sensing metabolic pathways and impacts stem cell maintenance. Finally, we explore the therapeutic implications of dietary and metabolic regulation of stem cells.Recent findings: Stem Cell transition from quiescence to proliferation is associated with a metabolic switch from glycolysis to mitochondrial OXPHOS and the mitochondrial metabolic checkpoint is critically controlled by the nutrient sensors SIRT2, SIRT3, and SIRT7 in hematopoietic stem cells. Intestine stem cell homeostasis during aging and in response to diet is critically dependent on fatty acid metabolism and ketone bodies and is influenced by the niche mediated by the nutrient sensor mTOR.
    Summary: Nutrient sensing metabolic pathways critically regulate stem cell maintenance during aging and in response to diet. Elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying dietary and metabolic regulation of stem cells provides novel insights for stem cell biology and may be targeted therapeutically to reverse stem cell aging and tissue degeneration.
    Keywords:  SIRT2; SIRT3; SIRT7; calorie restriction; mTOR; stem cell metabolism
  28. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Mar 04. pii: 1090. [Epub ahead of print]13(5):
      Tumor budding is associated with epithelial-mesenchymal transition and diminished survival in a number of cancer types including pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). In this study, we dissect the immune landscapes of patients with high grade versus low grade tumor budding to determine the features associated with immune escape and disease progression in pancreatic cancer. We performed immunohistochemistry-based quantification of tumor-infiltrating leukocytes and tumor bud assessment in a cohort of n = 111 PDAC patients in a tissue microarray (TMA) format. Patients were divided based on the ITBCC categories of tumor budding as Low Grade (LG: categories 1 and 2) and High Grade (HG: category 3). Tumor budding numbers and tumor budding grade demonstrated a significant association with diminished overall survival (OS). HG cases exhibit notably reduced densities of stromal (S) and intratumoral (IT) T cells. HG cases also display lower M1 macrophages (S) and increased M2 macrophages (IT). These findings were validated using gene expression data from TCGA. A published tumor budding gene signature demonstrated a significant association with diminished survival in PDAC patients in TCGA. Immune-related gene expression revealed an immunosuppressive TME in PDAC cases with high expression of the budding signature. Our findings highlight a number of immune features that permit an improved understanding of disease progression and EMT in pancreatic cancer.
    Keywords:  M1/M2 macrophages; T cell-enriched; T lymphocytes; gene signature; pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC); tumor budding
  29. Science. 2021 Apr 02. pii: eaba1786. [Epub ahead of print]372(6537):
      T cell exhaustion limits immune responses against cancer and is a major cause of resistance to chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapeutics. Using murine xenograft models and an in vitro model wherein tonic CAR signaling induces hallmark features of exhaustion, we tested the effect of transient cessation of receptor signaling, or rest, on the development and maintenance of exhaustion. Induction of rest through enforced down-regulation of the CAR protein using a drug-regulatable system or treatment with the multikinase inhibitor dasatinib resulted in the acquisition of a memory-like phenotype, global transcriptional and epigenetic reprogramming, and restored antitumor functionality in exhausted CAR-T cells. This work demonstrates that rest can enhance CAR-T cell efficacy by preventing or reversing exhaustion, and it challenges the notion that exhaustion is an epigenetically fixed state.
  30. Cells Tissues Organs. 2021 Mar 29. 1-16
      A variety of in vivo experimental models have been established for the studies of human cancer using both cancer cell lines and patient-derived xenografts (PDXs). In order to meet the aspiration of precision medicine, the in vivomurine models have been widely adopted. However, common constraints such as high cost, long duration of experiments, and low engraftment efficiency remained to be resolved. The chick embryo chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) is an alternative model to overcome some of these limitations. Here, we provide an overview of the applications of the chick CAM model in the study of oncology. The CAM model has shown significant retention of tumor heterogeneity alongside increased xenograft take rates in several PDX studies. Various imaging techniques and data analysis have been applied to study tumor metastasis, angiogenesis, and therapeutic response to novel agents. Lastly, to practically illustrate the feasibility of utilizing the CAM model, we summarize the general protocol used in a case study utilizing an ovarian cancer PDX.
    Keywords:  Cancer; Chorioallantoic membrane; Patient-derived xenograft; Tumor
  31. Cancer Discov. 2021 Apr;11(4): 971-994
      Metastasis is initiated and sustained through therapy by cancer cells with stem-like and immune-evasive properties, termed metastasis-initiating cells (MIC). Recent progress suggests that MICs result from the adoption of a normal regenerative progenitor phenotype by malignant cells, a phenotype with intrinsic programs to survive the stresses of the metastatic process, undergo epithelial-mesenchymal transitions, enter slow-cycling states for dormancy, evade immune surveillance, establish supportive interactions with organ-specific niches, and co-opt systemic factors for growth and recurrence after therapy. Mechanistic understanding of the molecular mediators of MIC phenotypes and host tissue ecosystems could yield cancer therapeutics to improve patient outcomes. SIGNIFICANCE: Understanding the origins, traits, and vulnerabilities of progenitor cancer cells with the capacity to initiate metastasis in distant organs, and the host microenvironments that support the ability of these cells to evade immune surveillance and regenerate the tumor, is critical for developing strategies to improve the prevention and treatment of advanced cancer. Leveraging recent progress in our understanding of the metastatic process, here we review the nature of MICs and their ecosystems and offer a perspective on how this knowledge is informing innovative treatments of metastatic cancers.
  32. FEBS J. 2021 Mar 31.
      Reciprocal interactions between cancer cells and stromal cells in the tumor microenvironment (TME) are essential for full-blown tumor development. Carcinoma-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are a key component of the TME together with a wide variety of stromal cell types including vascular, inflammatory and immune cells in the extracellular matrix. CAFs not only promote tumor growth, invasion and metastasis, but also dampen the efficacy of various therapies including immune checkpoint inhibitors. CAFs are composed of distinct fibroblast populations presumably with diverse activated fibroblastic states and tumor-promoting phenotypes in a tumor, indicating intra-tumor heterogeneity in these fibroblasts. Given that CAFs have been implicated in both disease progression and therapeutic responses, elucidating the functional roles of each fibroblast population in CAFs and the molecular mechanisms mediating their phenotypic stability and plasticity in the TME would be crucial for understanding tumor biology. We herein discuss how distinct fibroblast populations comprising CAFs establish their cell identities, in terms of cells-of-origin, stimuli from the TME and the phenotypes characteristic of activated states.
    Keywords:  Carcinoma-associated fibroblasts; activated fibroblastic phenotypes; plasticity; stability; tumor microenvironment
  33. Cell Mol Immunol. 2021 Mar 30.
      The function of lymphocytes is dependent on their plasticity, particularly their adaptation to energy availability and environmental stress, and their protein synthesis machinery. Lymphocytes are constantly under metabolic stress, and macroautophagy/autophagy is the primary metabolic pathway that helps cells overcome stressors. The intrinsic role of autophagy in regulating the metabolism of adaptive immune cells has recently gained increasing attention. In this review, we summarize and discuss the versatile roles of autophagy in regulating cellular metabolism and the implications of autophagy for immune cell function and fate, especially for T and B lymphocytes.
    Keywords:  Immunology; Lysosome; Macroautophagy; Stress
  34. Anticancer Res. 2021 Mar;41(3): 1629-1639
      BACKGROUND/AIM: An association between the pathological response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) and the efficacy of adjuvant chemotherapy (AC) in patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) remains unknown.PATIENTS AND METHODS: A total of 121 patients with PDAC who underwent a pancreatectomy between January 2013 and March 2020 were divided into two groups: an upfront surgery (UFS) group (n=42), and an NAC (gemcitabine plus S-1) group (n=79). In the NAC group, the pathological response was evaluated using the Evans classification.
    RESULTS: The overall survival was significantly higher in patients with an AC relative dose intensity (RDI) ≥80% than in patients with an AC RDI <80% in the UFS, NAC-Evans IIa, and NAC-Evans IIb+III groups. However, this difference was not observed in the NAC-Evans I group.
    CONCLUSION: AC is preferable for patients with NAC-Evans IIa or IIb+III, but more effective AC regimens may be needed for NAC-Evans I patients.
    Keywords:  Pancreatic cancer; S-1; chemotherapy; gemcitabine; relative dose intensity
  35. Clin Transl Med. 2021 Mar;11(3): e356
      Pancreatic cancer is a gastrointestinal tumor with a high mortality rate, and advances in surgical procedures have only resulted in limited improvements in the prognosis of patients. Solute carriers (SLCs), which rank second among membrane transport proteins in terms of abundance, regulate cellular functions, including tumor biology. An increasing number of studies focusing on the role of SLCs in tumor biology have indicated their relationship with pancreatic cancer. The mechanism of SLC transporters in tumorigenesis has been explored to identify more effective therapies and improve survival outcomes. These transporters are significant biomarkers for pancreatic cancer, the functions of which include mainly proliferative signaling, cell death, angiogenesis, tumor invasion and metastasis, energy metabolism, chemotherapy sensitivity and other functions in tumor biology. In this review, we summarize the different roles of SLCs and explain their potential applications in pancreatic cancer treatment.
    Keywords:  pancreatic cancer; solute carrier; tumor biology
  36. Cells. 2021 Mar 21. pii: 694. [Epub ahead of print]10(3):
      Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved degradation process maintaining cell homeostasis. Induction of autophagy is triggered as a response to a broad range of cellular stress conditions, such as nutrient deprivation, protein aggregation, organelle damage and pathogen invasion. Macroautophagy involves the sequestration of cytoplasmic contents in a double-membrane organelle referred to as the autophagosome with subsequent degradation of its contents upon delivery to lysosomes. Autophagy plays critical roles in development, maintenance and survival of distinct cell populations including neurons. Consequently, age-dependent decline in autophagy predisposes animals for age-related diseases including neurodegeneration and compromises healthspan and longevity. In this review, we summarize recent advances in our understanding of the role of neuronal autophagy in ageing, focusing on studies in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans.
    Keywords:  Caenorhabditis elegans; ageing; autophagy; macroautophagy; neurodegeneration; neuronal autophagy
  37. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2021 ;9 630712
      Gain-of-function mutation of SHP2 is a central regulator in tumorigenesis and cancer progression through cell-autonomous mechanisms. Activating mutation of SHP2 in microenvironment was identified to promote cancerous transformation of hematopoietic stem cell in non-autonomous mechanisms. It is interesting to see whether therapies directed against SHP2 in tumor or microenvironmental cells augment antitumor efficacy. In this review, we summarized different types of gain-of-function SHP2 mutations from a human disease. In general, gain-of-function mutations destroy the auto-inhibition state from wild-type SHP2, leading to consistency activation of SHP2. We illustrated how somatic or germline mutation of SHP2 plays an oncogenic role in tumorigenesis, stemness maintenance, invasion, etc. Moreover, the small-molecule SHP2 inhibitors are considered as a potential strategy for enhancing the efficacy of antitumor immunotherapy and chemotherapy. We also discussed the interconnection between phase separation and activating mutation of SHP2 in drug resistance of antitumor therapy.
    Keywords:  SHP2 inhibition; SHP2 mutation; cell-autonomous/non-cell autonomous mechanisms; tumor; tumor microenvironment
  38. Biochem J. 2021 Mar 29. pii: BCJ20210126. [Epub ahead of print]
      Cells within solid tumours can become deprived of nutrients; in order to survive, they need to invoke mechanisms to conserve these resources. Using cancer cells in culture in the absence of key nutrients, we have explored the roles of two potential survival mechanisms, autophagy and elongation factor 2 kinase (eEF2K), which, when activated, inhibits the resource-intensive elongation stage of protein synthesis. Both processes are regulated through the nutrient-sensitive AMP-activated protein kinase and mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 signalling pathways. We find that disabling both autophagy and eEF2K strongly compromises the survival of nutrient-deprived lung and breast cancer cells, whereas, for example, knocking out eEF2K alone has little effect. Contrary to some earlier reports, we find no evidence that eEF2K regulates autophagy. Unexpectedly, eEF2K does not facilitate survival of prostate cancer PC3 cells. Thus, eEF2K and autophagy enable survival of certain cell-types in a mutually complementary manner. To explore this further, we generated, by selection, cells which were able to survive nutrient starvation even when autophagy and eEF2K were disabled. Proteome profiling using mass spectrometry revealed that these 'resistant' cells showed lower levels of diverse proteins which are required for energy-consuming processes such as protein and fatty acid synthesis, although different clones of 'resistant cells' appear to adapt in dissimilar ways. Our data provide further information of the ways that human cells cope with nutrient limitation and to understanding of the utility of eEF2K as a potential target in oncology.
    Keywords:  alpha kinase; apoptosis; cancer therapy; protein synthesis; translation
  39. Autophagy. 2021 Mar 28.
      Selective autophagy receptors have been implicated in the degradation of cellular constituents of various size and rigidity. However, the identity of protein cargo have largely remained elusive. In our recent study, we combined limited proteolysis-enhanced proximity biotinylation and organelle enrichment with quantitative proteomics to map the inventory of autophagosomes in a manner dependent on six different selective autophagy receptors, namely SQSTM1/p62, NBR1, CALCOCO2/NDP52, OPTN, TAX1BP1 and TOLLIP. Conducting this approach under basal and proteostasis-challenged conditions in mammalian cells led to the identification of various new autophagy substrates of which some were degraded through endosomal microautophagy rather than canonical autophagy dependent on the receptors TOLLIP and SQSTM1, respectively.
    Keywords:  (5-6): Selective autophagy receptors; APEX2; TOLLIP; endosomal microautophagy; proteostasis challenges; proximity proteomics
  40. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Mar 10. pii: 1210. [Epub ahead of print]13(6):
      Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is an aggressive cancer with a highly inflammatory microenvironment and liquid biopsy has emerged as a promising tool for the noninvasive analysis of this tumor. In this study, plasma was obtained from 58 metastatic PDAC patients, and neutrophil-lymphocyte ratio (NLR), platelet-lymphocyte ratio (PLR), circulating cell-free DNA (cfDNA) concentration, and circulating RAS mutation were determined. We found that NLR was significantly associated with both overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival. Remarkably, NLR was an independent risk factor for poor OS. Moreover, NLR and PLR positively correlated, and combination of both inflammatory markers significantly improved the prognostic stratification of metastatic PDAC patients. NLR also showed a positive correlation with cfDNA levels and RAS mutant allelic fraction (MAF). Besides, we found that neutrophil activation contributed to cfDNA content in the plasma of metastatic PDAC patients. Finally, a multi-parameter prognosis model was designed by combining NLR, PLR, cfDNA levels, RAS mutation, RAS MAF, and CA19-9, which performs as a promising tool to predict the prognosis of metastatic PDAC patients. In conclusion, our study supports the idea that the use of systemic inflammatory markers along with circulating tumor-specific markers may constitute a valuable tool for the clinical management of metastatic PDAC patients.
    Keywords:  NLR; PLR; RAS mutation; circulating tumor DNA; neutrophil elastase; pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma
  41. Anticancer Res. 2021 Mar;41(3): 1401-1406
      BACKGROUND/AIM: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma is one of the deadliest forms of human cancer. Since only a vast panel of cell lines can fully recapitulate disease heterogeneity, our aim was to establish a new pancreatic cancer cell line.MATERIALS AND METHODS: Newly established pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma cell line Capan-26 was characterized by assessing growth rate, tumor and stem cell marker expression, colony forming efficiency, mutations of KRAS and TP53 genes, karyotype and sensitivity to drug treatment.
    RESULTS: Cell doubling time was 74 h. We detected CA19-9, CEACAM6, CD44, OCT4 and ZEB1 expression in Capan-26 cell line. Cells formed colonies in soft agar, have a deletion of KRAS exon 3 and a point mutation V172F in TP53 exon 5. They are a mixed aneuploid/polyploid population with high sensitivity to gemcitabine.
    CONCLUSION: Capan-26 is a unique cell line that may be used to study the mechanism of pancreatic cancer.
    Keywords:  Pancreatic cancer; cell line establishment; chemotherapy
  42. Autophagy. 2021 Mar 28. 1-18
      Macroautophagy/autophagy and necroptosis represent two opposing cellular s tress responses. Whereas autophagy primarily fulfills a cyto-protective function, necroptosis is a form of regulated cell death induced via death receptors. Here, we aimed at investigating the molecular crosstalk between these two pathways. We observed that RIPK3 directly associates with AMPK and phosphorylates its catalytic subunit PRKAA1/2 at T183/T172. Activated AMPK then phosphorylates the autophagy-regulating proteins ULK1 and BECN1. However, the lysosomal degradation of autophagosomes is blocked by TNF-induced necroptosis. Specifically, we observed dysregulated SNARE complexes upon TNF treatment; e.g., reduced levels of full-length STX17. In summary, we identified RIPK3 as an AMPK-activating kinase and thus a direct link between autophagy- and necroptosis-regulating kinases.Abbreviations ACACA/ACC: acetyl-CoA carboxylase alpha; AMPK: AMP-activated protein kinase; ATG: autophagy-related; BECN1: beclin 1; GFP: green fluorescent protein; EBSS: Earle's balanced salt solution; Hs: Homo sapiens; KO: knockout; MAP1LC3/LC3: microtubule associated protein 1 light chain 3; MEF: mouse embryonic fibroblast; MLKL: mixed lineage kinase domain like pseudokinase; Mm: Mus musculus; MTOR: mechanistic target of rapamycin kinase; MVB: multivesicular body; PIK3C3/VPS34: phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase catalytic subunit type 3; PIK3R4/VPS15: phosphoinositide-3-kinase regulatory subunit 4; PLA: proximity ligation assay; PRKAA1: protein kinase AMP-activated catalytic subunit alpha 1; PRKAA2: protein kinase AMP-activated catalytic subunit alpha 2; PRKAB2: protein kinase AMP-activated non-catalytic subunit beta 2; PRKAG1: protein kinase AMP-activated non-catalytic subunit gamma 1; PtdIns3K: phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase; PtdIns3P: phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate; RIPK1: receptor interacting serine/threonine kinase 1; RIPK3: receptor interacting serine/threonine kinase 3; SNAP29: synaptosome associated protein 29; SNARE: soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptor; SQSTM1/p62: sequestosome 1; STK11/LKB1: serine/threonine kinase 11; STX7: syntaxin 7; STX17: syntaxin 17; TAX1BP1: Tax1 binding protein 1; TNF: tumor necrosis factor; ULK1: unc-51 like autophagy activating kinase 1; VAMP8: vesicle associated membrane protein 8; WT: wild-type.
    Keywords:  AMPK; RIPK3; STX17; autophagy; necroptosis
  43. J Biol Chem. 2021 Mar 28. pii: S0021-9258(21)00384-7. [Epub ahead of print] 100604
      The membrane phospholipids phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) are synthesized de novo by the CDP-choline and CDP-ethanolamine (Kennedy) pathway, in which the extracellular substrates choline and ethanolamine are transported into the cell, phosphorylated, and coupled with diacylglycerol to form the final phospholipid product. While multiple transport systems have been established for choline, ethanolamine transport is poorly characterized, and there is no single protein assigned a transport function for ethanolamine. The Solute Carriers 44A (SLC44A) known as Choline Transporter-Like proteins-1 and -2 (CTL1 and CTL2) are choline transporter at the plasma membrane and mitochondria. We report a novel function of CTL1 and CTL2 in ethanolamine transport. Using the lack or the gain of gene function in combination with specific antibodies and transport inhibitors we established two distinct ethanolamine transport systems of a high affinity, mediated by CTL1, and of a low affinity, mediated by CTL2. Both transporters are Na+-independent ethanolamine/H+ antiporters. Primary human fibroblasts with separate frameshift mutations in the CTL1 gene (M1= SLC44A1ΔAsp517 and M2= SLC44A1ΔSer126) are devoid of CTL1 ethanolamine transport but maintain unaffected CTL2 transport. The lack of CTL1 in M2 cells reduced the ethanolamine transport, the flux through the CDP-ethanolamine Kennedy pathway, and PE synthesis. In contrast, overexpression of CTL1 in M2 cells improved ethanolamine transport and PE synthesis. These data firmly establish that CTL1 and CTL2 are the first identified ethanolamine transporters in whole cells and mitochondria, with intrinsic roles in de novo PE synthesis by the Kennedy pathway and intracellular redistribution of ethanolamine.
    Keywords:  CTL1; CTL2; ethanolamine transport; membranes; phospholipids
  44. Cell Metab. 2021 Mar 24. pii: S1550-4131(21)00122-4. [Epub ahead of print]
      The molecular circadian clock and symbiotic host-microbe relationships both evolved as mechanisms that enhance metabolic responses to environmental challenges. The gut microbiome benefits the host by breaking down diet-derived nutrients indigestible by the host and generating microbiota-derived metabolites that support host metabolism. Similarly, cellular circadian clocks optimize organismal physiology to the environment by influencing the timing and coordination of metabolic processes. Host-microbe interactions are influenced by dietary quality and timing, as well as daily light/dark cycles that entrain circadian rhythms in the host. Together, the gut microbiome and the molecular circadian clock play a coordinated role in neural processing, metabolism, adipogenesis, inflammation, and disease initiation and progression. This review examines the bidirectional interactions between the circadian clock, gut microbiota, and host metabolic systems and their effects on obesity and energy homeostasis. Directions for future research and the development of therapies that leverage these systems to address metabolic disease are highlighted.
    Keywords:  diet; energy balance; microbiota; rhythmicity
  45. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Mar 12. pii: 2890. [Epub ahead of print]22(6):
      During its evolution, cancer induces changes in patients' energy metabolism that strongly affect the overall clinical state and are responsible for cancer-related cachexia syndrome. To better understand the mechanisms underlying cachexia and its metabolic derangements, research efforts should focus on the events that are driven by the immune system activation during the evolution of neoplastic disease and on the phenomena of "resistance" and "tolerance" typically involved in the human body response against stress, pathogens, or cancer. Indeed, in the case where resistance is not able to eliminate the cancer, tolerance mechanisms can utilize the symptoms of cachexia (anemia, anorexia, and fatigue) to counteract unregulated cancer growth. These notions are also sustained by the evidence that cancer cachexia may be reversible if the resistance and tolerance phases are supported by appropriate antineoplastic treatments. Accordingly, there is no doubt that anticachectic therapies have an irreplaceable role in cases of reversible cancer cachexia where, if harmoniously associated with effective antineoplastic therapies, they can contribute to preserve the quality of life and improve prognosis. Such anticachectic treatments should be based on targeting the complex immunological, inflammatory, and metabolic pathways involved in the complex pathogenesis of cachexia. Meanwhile, the role of the anticachectic therapies is very different in the stage of irreversible cachexia when the available antineoplastic treatments are not able to control the disease and the resistance mechanisms fail with the prevalence of the tolerance phenomena. At this stage, they can be useful only to improve the quality of life, allowing the patient and their family to get a better awareness of the final phases of life, thereby opening to the best spiritual remodulation of the final event, death.
    Keywords:  cancer cachexia; inflammation; interleukin-6; muscle wasting; resistance; tolerance
  46. Mol Cell. 2021 Mar 25. pii: S1097-2765(21)00169-6. [Epub ahead of print]
      The sequestration of damaged mitochondria within double-membrane structures termed autophagosomes is a key step of PINK1/Parkin mitophagy. The ATG4 family of proteases are thought to regulate autophagosome formation exclusively by processing the ubiquitin-like ATG8 family (LC3/GABARAPs). We discover that human ATG4s promote autophagosome formation independently of their protease activity and of ATG8 family processing. ATG4 proximity networks reveal a role for ATG4s and their proximity partners, including the immune-disease protein LRBA, in ATG9A vesicle trafficking to mitochondria. Artificial intelligence-directed 3D electron microscopy of phagophores shows that ATG4s promote phagophore-ER contacts during the lipid-transfer phase of autophagosome formation. We also show that ATG8 removal during autophagosome maturation does not depend on ATG4 activity. Instead, ATG4s can disassemble ATG8-protein conjugates, revealing a role for ATG4s as deubiquitinating-like enzymes. These findings establish non-canonical roles of the ATG4 family beyond the ATG8 lipidation axis and provide an AI-driven framework for rapid 3D electron microscopy.
    Keywords:  ATG4; ATG9a; FIB-SEM; LRBA; PINK1; Parkin; autophagosome; autophagy; mitochondria; mitophagy
  47. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2021 ;9 656201
      Human life expectancy continues to grow globally, and so does the prevalence of age-related chronic diseases, causing a huge medical and economic burden on society. Effective therapeutic options for these disorders are scarce, and even if available, are typically limited to a single comorbidity in a multifaceted dysfunction that inevitably affects all organ systems. Thus, novel therapies that target fundamental processes of aging itself are desperately needed. In this article, we summarize current strategies that successfully delay aging and related diseases by targeting mitochondria and protein homeostasis. In particular, we focus on autophagy, as a fundamental proteostatic process that is intimately linked to mitochondrial quality control. We present genetic and pharmacological interventions that effectively extend health- and life-span by acting on specific mitochondrial and pro-autophagic molecular targets. In the end, we delve into the crosstalk between autophagy and mitochondria, in what we refer to as the mitochondria-proteostasis axis, and explore the prospect of targeting this crosstalk to harness maximal therapeutic potential of anti-aging interventions.
    Keywords:  aging; anti-aging targets; autophagy; mitochondria; proteostasis
  48. Nat Genet. 2021 Mar 29.
      Spleen tyrosine kinase (SYK) is a critical immune signaling molecule and therapeutic target. We identified damaging monoallelic SYK variants in six patients with immune deficiency, multi-organ inflammatory disease such as colitis, arthritis and dermatitis, and diffuse large B cell lymphomas. The SYK variants increased phosphorylation and enhanced downstream signaling, indicating gain of function. A knock-in (SYK-Ser544Tyr) mouse model of a patient variant (p.Ser550Tyr) recapitulated aspects of the human disease that could be partially treated with a SYK inhibitor or transplantation of bone marrow from wild-type mice. Our studies demonstrate that SYK gain-of-function variants result in a potentially treatable form of inflammatory disease.
  49. Aging Cell. 2021 Apr 02. e13349
      Cattle are an attractive animal model of fertility in women due to their high degree of similarity relative to follicle selection, embryo cleavage, blastocyst formation, and gestation length. To facilitate future studies of the epigenetic underpinnings of aging effects in the female reproductive axis, several DNA methylation-based biomarkers of aging (epigenetic clocks) for bovine oocytes are presented. One such clock was germane to only oocytes, while a dual-tissue clock was highly predictive of age in both oocytes and blood. Dual species clocks that apply to both humans and cattle were also developed and evaluated. These epigenetic clocks can be used to accurately estimate the biological age of oocytes. Both epigenetic clock studies and epigenome-wide association studies revealed that blood and oocytes differ substantially with respect to aging and the underlying epigenetic signatures that potentially influence the aging process. The rate of epigenetic aging was found to be slower in oocytes compared to blood; however, oocytes appeared to begin at an older epigenetic age. The epigenetic clocks for oocytes are expected to address questions in the field of reproductive aging, including the central question: how to slow aging of oocytes.
    Keywords:  DNA methylation; epigenetic clock; epigenome-wide association study; oocytes; reproductive aging
  50. Nat Cell Biol. 2021 Apr 01.
      Direct targeting of the downstream mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway to suppress extracellular-regulated kinase (ERK) activation in KRAS and BRAF mutant colorectal cancer (CRC) has proven clinically unsuccessful, but promising results have been obtained with combination therapies including epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibition. To elucidate the interplay between EGF signalling and ERK activation in tumours, we used patient-derived organoids (PDOs) from KRAS and BRAF mutant CRCs. PDOs resemble in vivo tumours, model treatment response and are compatible with live-cell microscopy. We established real-time, quantitative drug response assessment in PDOs with single-cell resolution, using our improved fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based ERK biosensor EKAREN5. We show that oncogene-driven signalling is strikingly limited without EGFR activity and insufficient to sustain full proliferative potential. In PDOs and in vivo, upstream EGFR activity rigorously amplifies signal transduction efficiency in KRAS or BRAF mutant MAPK pathways. Our data provide a mechanistic understanding of the effectivity of EGFR inhibitors within combination therapies against KRAS and BRAF mutant CRC.
  51. Cancer Discov. 2021 Apr;11(4): 838-857
      Immune checkpoint therapy (ICT) can provide durable clinical responses and improve overall survival. However, only subsets of patients with specific tumor types respond to ICT. Thus, significant challenges remain, including understanding pathways of resistance, optimizing patient selection, improving management of immune-related adverse events, and identifying rational therapeutic combinations. These challenges will need a focused approach encompassing both clinical and basic research, with the integration of reverse translational studies. This integrated approach will lead to identification of potential targets for subsequent clinical trials, which will guide decisions as we develop novel combination strategies to maximize efficacy and minimize toxicities for patients. SIGNIFICANCE: ICTs induce durable antitumor responses for subsets of patients with cancer. Recent evidence suggests that rational combinatorial strategies can improve response by overcoming primary and adaptive resistance mechanisms, although these may carry an increased risk of immune-mediated toxicities. This review surveys the current understanding of mechanisms of response and resistance to ICTs and active areas of investigation, and proposes a path forward to improving efficacy and minimizing toxicities through better patient selection and rational combinations.
  52. Br J Cancer. 2021 Mar 29.
      Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide and, despite new targeted therapies and immunotherapies, many patients with advanced-stage- or high-risk cancers still die, owing to metastatic disease. Adoptive T-cell therapy, involving the autologous or allogeneic transplant of tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes or genetically modified T cells expressing novel T-cell receptors or chimeric antigen receptors, has shown promise in the treatment of cancer patients, leading to durable responses and, in some cases, cure. Technological advances in genomics, computational biology, immunology and cell manufacturing have brought the aspiration of individualised therapies for cancer patients closer to reality. This new era of cell-based individualised therapeutics challenges the traditional standards of therapeutic interventions and provides opportunities for a paradigm shift in our approach to cancer therapy. Invited speakers at a 2020 symposium discussed three areas-cancer genomics, cancer immunology and cell-therapy manufacturing-that are essential to the effective translation of T-cell therapies in the treatment of solid malignancies. Key advances have been made in understanding genetic intratumour heterogeneity, and strategies to accurately identify neoantigens, overcome T-cell exhaustion and circumvent tumour immunosuppression after cell-therapy infusion are being developed. Advances are being made in cell-manufacturing approaches that have the potential to establish cell-therapies as credible therapeutic options. T-cell therapies face many challenges but hold great promise for improving clinical outcomes for patients with solid tumours.
  53. EMBO J. 2021 Apr 01. e106163
      Transcytosis is a form of specialized transport through which an extracellular cargo is endocytosed, shuttled across the cytoplasm in membrane-bound vesicles, and secreted at a different plasma membrane surface. This important process allows membrane-impermeable macromolecules to pass through a cell and become accessible to adjacent cells and tissue compartments. Transcytosis also promotes redistribution of plasma membrane proteins and lipids to different regions of the cell surface. Here we review transcytosis and highlight in vivo studies showing how developing epithelial cells use it to change shape, to migrate, and to relocalize signaling molecules.
    Keywords:  development; morphogenesis; transcytosis; vesicular transport
  54. Nat Aging. 2021 Jan;1(1): 73-86
      Protein restricted (PR) diets promote health and longevity in many species. While the precise components of a PR diet that mediate the beneficial effects to longevity have not been defined, we recently showed that many metabolic effects of PR can be attributed to reduced dietary levels of the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Here, we demonstrate that restricting dietary BCAAs increases the survival of two different progeroid mouse models, delays frailty and promotes the metabolic health of wild-type C57BL/6J mice when started in midlife, and leads to a 30% increase in lifespan and a reduction in frailty in male, but not female, wild-type mice when fed lifelong. Our results demonstrate that restricting dietary BCAAs can increase healthspan and longevity in mice, and suggest that reducing dietary BCAAs may hold potential as a translatable intervention to promote healthy aging.
    Keywords:  branched-chain amino acids; healthspan; lifespan; mTOR; mTORC1; progeria; protein restriction; rapamycin
  55. JAMA Surg. 2021 Mar 31.
      Importance: Adjuvant chemotherapy is the standard of care for resected pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) based on level 1 evidence, but some studies suggest that a neoadjuvant approach (which is standard for borderline resectable PDAC) may be preferable for upfront resectable PDAC. An in-depth review was conducted of all randomized clinical trials that investigated neoadjuvant and adjuvant treatment of patients with resectable or resected PDAC, focusing on trial design, characteristics of enrolled population, and long-term outcomes.Observations: The existing resectable PDAC trials have good internal validity but variable applicability because of their restrictive eligibility criteria. In these trials, overall survival is the criterion standard end point, but disease-free survival is more feasible, proximate, and specific to the assigned intervention (at the cost of subjective outcome assessment) and thus an acceptable end point in certain contexts. The prolonged survival in the PRODIGE 24 trial highlights both the success of mFOLFIRINOX (modified fluorouracil, leucovorin, irinotecan, and oxaliplatin) and the importance of patient selection. Neoadjuvant and perioperative trials have shown promising preliminary results; however, the number of patients who are not subsequently eligible for surgery reflects the limitations of this approach. Head-to-head comparisons of neoadjuvant and adjuvant treatments are limited to date in Western countries. Precision oncology with genomic and somatic testing for actionable mutations has promising preliminary results and may refine the management of PDAC, although the implications for early-stage disease and neoadjuvant therapy are unknown.
    Conclusions and Relevance: This review found that adjuvant chemotherapy with mFOLFIRINOX is currently the standard of care in fit patients with resected PDAC; however, the role of neoadjuvant treatment is expanding. Precision oncology may help individualize the treatment regimen and sequence and improve outcomes. Enrollment of patients with resectable PDAC in clinical trials is strongly encouraged.
  56. SLAS Discov. 2021 Mar 30. 24725552211000679
      Macroautophagy is a catabolic process wherein cytosolic cargo is engulfed in an autophagosome that fuses with a lysosome to degrade the cargo for recycling. Autophagy maintains cellular homeostasis and is involved in a myriad of illnesses ranging from cancer to neurodegenerative diseases, but its therapeutic potential remains elusive due to a lack of potent and specific autophagy modulators. To identify specific inhibitors of early autophagy, a target-based, compound-multiplexed, fluorescence polarization, high-throughput screen that targets the ATG5-ATG16L1 protein-protein interaction was developed. This interaction is critical for the formation of LC3-II, which is involved in phagophore maturation, and its disruption should inhibit autophagy. This assay is based on the polarization of light emitted by a fluorescent rhodamine tag conjugated to a peptide corresponding to the N-terminal region of ATG16L1 (ATG16L1-N). It was confirmed that this peptide binds specifically to ATG5, and the assay was validated by rapidly screening 4800 molecules through compound multiplexing. Through these initial screening efforts, a molecule was identified that disrupts the ATG5-ATG16L1 protein-protein interaction with micromolar potency, and this molecule will serve as a starting point for chemical optimization as an autophagy inhibitor.
    Keywords:  ATG5–ATG16L1 protein–protein interaction; assay development; autophagy; fluorescence polarization; inhibition
  57. Diabetes Metab J. 2021 Mar 29.
      The relative insufficiency of insulin secretion and/or insulin action causes diabetes. However, obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus can be associated with an absolute increase in circulating insulin, a state known as hyperinsulinemia. Studies are beginning to elucidate the cause-effect relationships between hyperinsulinemia and numerous consequences of metabolic dysfunctions. Here, we review recent evidence demonstrating that hyperinsulinemia may play a role in inflammation, aging and development of cancers. In this review, we will focus on the consequences and mechanisms of excess insulin production and action, placing recent findings that have challenged dogma in the context of the existing body of literature. Where relevant, we elaborate on the role of specific signal transduction components in the actions of insulin and consequences of chronic hyperinsulinemia. By discussing the involvement of hyperinsulinemia in various metabolic and other chronic diseases, we may identify more effective therapeutics or lifestyle interventions for preventing or treating obesity, diabetes and cancer. We also seek to identify pertinent questions that are ripe for future investigation.
    Keywords:  Breast neoplasms; Diabetes mellitus, type 2; Insulin; Longevity; Metabolic syndrome; Pancreatic neoplasms
  58. Sci Adv. 2021 Mar;pii: eabf4148. [Epub ahead of print]7(14):
      Cancer cell-intrinsic programmed cell death protein-1 (PD-1) has emerged as a tumor regulator in an immunity-independent manner, but its precise role in modulating tumor behaviors is complex, and how PD-1 is regulated in cancer cells is largely unknown. Here, we identified PD-1 as a direct target of tumor suppressor p53. Notably, p53 acetylation at K120/164 played a critical role in p53-mediated PD-1 transcription. Acetylated p53 preferentially recruited acetyltransferase cofactors onto PD-1 promoter, selectively facilitating PD-1 transcription by enhancing local chromatin acetylation. Reexpression of PD-1 in cancer cells inhibited tumor growth, whereas depletion of cancer cell-intrinsic PD-1 compromised p53-dependent tumor suppression. Moreover, histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi) activated PD-1 in an acetylated p53-dependent manner, supporting a synergistic effect by HDACi and p53 on tumor suppression via stimulating cancer cell-intrinsic PD-1. Our study reveals a mechanism for activating cancer cell-intrinsic PD-1 and indicates that p53-mediated PD-1 activation is critically involved in tumor suppression in an immunity-independent manner.
  59. PLoS One. 2021 ;16(4): e0249388
      Oncogene addiction is a cellular property by which cancer cells become highly dependent on the expression of oncogenes for their survival. Oncogene addiction can be exploited to design molecularly targeted drugs that kill only cancer cells by inhibiting the specific oncogenes. Genes and cell lines exhibiting oncogene addiction, as well as the mechanisms by which cell death is induced when addicted oncogenes are suppressed, have been extensively studied. However, it is still not fully understood how oncogene addiction is acquired in cancer cells. Here, we take a synthetic biology approach to investigate whether oncogenic mutation or oncogene expression suffices to confer the property of oncogene addiction to cancer cells. We employed human mammary epithelium-derived MCF-10A cells expressing the oncogenic KRAS or BRAF. MCF-10A cells harboring an oncogenic mutation in a single-allele of KRAS or BRAF showed weak transformation activity, but no characteristics of oncogene addiction. MCF-10A cells overexpressing oncogenic KRAS demonstrated the transformation activity, but MCF-10A cells overexpressing oncogenic BRAF did not. Neither cell line exhibited any oncogene addiction properties. These results indicate that the introduction of oncogenic mutation or the overexpression of oncogenes is not sufficient for cells to acquire oncogene addiction, and that oncogene addiction is not associated with transformation activity.
  60. Elife. 2021 Mar 30. pii: e62483. [Epub ahead of print]10
      Methionine restriction (MR) dramatically extends the healthspan of several organisms. Methionine-restricted rodents have less age-related pathology and increased longevity as compared with controls, and recent studies suggest that humans might benefit similarly. Mechanistically, it is likely that the decreased IGF-1 signaling that results from MR underlies the benefits of this regimen. Thus, we hypothesized that interventions that decrease IGF-1 signaling would also produce MR-like healthspan benefits. Selenium supplementation inhibits IGF-1 signaling in rats and has been studied for its putative healthspan benefits. Indeed, we show that feeding mice a diet supplemented with sodium selenite results in an MR-like phenotype, marked by protection against diet-induced obesity, as well as altered plasma levels of IGF-1, FGF-21, adiponectin, and leptin. Selenomethionine supplementation results in a similar, albeit less robust response, and also extends budding yeast lifespan. Our results indicate that selenium supplementation is sufficient to produce MR-like healthspan benefits for yeast and mammals.
    Keywords:  S. cerevisiae; aging; biochemistry; chemical biology; genetics; genomics; histone deacetylase; lifespan; metabolism; mitophagy; mouse; selenomethionine
  61. Cancer Cell. 2021 Mar 30. pii: S1535-6108(21)00162-8. [Epub ahead of print]
      Metastasis is facilitated by the formation of a "premetastatic niche," which is fostered by primary tumor-derived factors. Colorectal cancer (CRC) metastasizes mainly to the liver. We show that the premetastatic niche in the liver is induced by bacteria dissemination from primary CRC. We report that tumor-resident bacteria Escherichia coli disrupt the gut vascular barrier (GVB), an anatomical structure controlling bacterial dissemination along the gut-liver axis, depending on the virulence regulator VirF. Upon GVB impairment, bacteria disseminate to the liver, boost the formation of a premetastatic niche, and favor the recruitment of metastatic cells. In training and validation cohorts of CRC patients, we find that the increased levels of PV-1, a marker of impaired GVB, is associated with liver bacteria dissemination and metachronous distant metastases. Thus, PV-1 is a prognostic marker for CRC distant recurrence and vascular impairment, leading to liver metastases.
    Keywords:  Escherichia coli; bacteria; colorectal cancer; gut vascular barrier; inflammatory monocytes; macrophages; metastases; neutrophils; premetastatic niche; vasculature
  62. Nutrients. 2021 Mar 27. pii: 1102. [Epub ahead of print]13(4):
      Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a normal liver metabolite in most animals, with humans being a notable exception due to random genetic mutations that have occurred during our evolution [...].
  63. Cancer Discov. 2021 Apr;11(4): 858-873
      Over the past 10 years, circulating tumor cells (CTC) and circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) have received enormous attention as new biomarkers and subjects of translational research. Although both biomarkers are already used in numerous clinical trials, their clinical utility is still under investigation with promising first results. Clinical applications include early cancer detection, improved cancer staging, early detection of relapse, real-time monitoring of therapeutic efficacy, and detection of therapeutic targets and resistance mechanisms. Here, we propose a conceptual framework of CTC and ctDNA assays and point out current challenges of CTC and ctDNA research, which might structure this dynamic field of translational cancer research. SIGNIFICANCE: The analysis of blood for CTCs or cell-free nucleic acids called "liquid biopsy" has opened new avenues for cancer diagnostics, including early detection of tumors, improved risk assessment and staging, as well as early detection of relapse and monitoring of tumor evolution in the context of cancer therapies.
  64. Cancer Discov. 2021 Apr;11(4): 810-814
      The upcoming decade of precision medicine for cancer is moving from the translation of specific genetic findings into clinically relevant improvement to the qualitative analyses of the genomic and immune tumor microenvironment, for an integrated treatment strategy in both metastatic and early disease.
  65. Cells. 2021 Mar 19. pii: 678. [Epub ahead of print]10(3):
      Hypoxia, a common feature of solid tumors, greatly hinders the efficacy of conventional cancer treatments such as chemo-, radio-, and immunotherapy. The depletion of oxygen in proliferating and advanced tumors causes an array of genetic, transcriptional, and metabolic adaptations that promote survival, metastasis, and a clinically malignant phenotype. At the nexus of these interconnected pathways are hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) which orchestrate transcriptional responses under hypoxia. The following review summarizes current literature regarding effects of hypoxia on DNA repair, metastasis, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, the cancer stem cell phenotype, and therapy resistance. We also discuss mechanisms and pathways, such as HIF signaling, mitochondrial dynamics, exosomes, and the unfolded protein response, that contribute to hypoxia-induced phenotypic changes. Finally, novel therapeutics that target the hypoxic tumor microenvironment or interfere with hypoxia-induced pathways are reviewed.
    Keywords:  chemoresistance; hypoxia; hypoxia-inducible factors; metastasis
  66. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Apr 06. pii: e2020215118. [Epub ahead of print]118(14):
      Autophagy is a catabolic pathway that provides self-nourishment and maintenance of cellular homeostasis. Autophagy is a fundamental cell protection pathway through metabolic recycling of various intracellular cargos and supplying the breakdown products. Here, we report an autophagy function in governing cell protection during cellular response to energy crisis through cell metabolic rewiring. We observe a role of selective type of autophagy in direct activation of cyclic AMP protein kinase A (PKA) and rejuvenation of mitochondrial function. Mechanistically, autophagy selectively degrades the inhibitory subunit RI of PKA holoenzyme through A-kinase-anchoring protein (AKAP) 11. AKAP11 acts as an autophagy receptor that recruits RI to autophagosomes via LC3. Glucose starvation induces AKAP11-dependent degradation of RI, resulting in PKA activation that potentiates PKA-cAMP response element-binding signaling, mitochondria respiration, and ATP production in accordance with mitochondrial elongation. AKAP11 deficiency inhibits PKA activation and impairs cell survival upon glucose starvation. Our results thus expand the view of autophagy cytoprotection mechanism by demonstrating selective autophagy in RI degradation and PKA activation that fuels the mitochondrial metabolism and confers cell resistance to glucose deprivation implicated in tumor growth.
    Keywords:  AKAP11; PKA; autophagy; cell survival; mitochondrial metabolism
  67. Sci Adv. 2021 Apr;pii: eabd6991. [Epub ahead of print]7(14):
      Complex diseases are mediated via transcriptional dysregulation in multiple tissues. Thus, knowing an individual's tissue-specific gene expression can provide critical information about her health. Unfortunately, for most tissues, the transcriptome cannot be obtained without invasive procedures. Could we, however, infer an individual's tissue-specific expression from her whole blood transcriptome? Here, we rigorously address this question. We find that an individual's whole blood transcriptome can significantly predict tissue-specific expression levels for ~60% of the genes on average across 32 tissues, with up to 81% of the genes in skeletal muscle. The tissue-specific expression inferred from the blood transcriptome is almost as good as the actual measured tissue expression in predicting disease state for six different complex disorders, including hypertension and type 2 diabetes, substantially surpassing the blood transcriptome. The code for tissue-specific gene expression prediction, TEEBoT, is provided, enabling others to study its potential translational value in other indications.
  68. Nat Commun. 2021 Mar 30. 12(1): 1971
      Most cells constitutively secrete mitochondrial DNA and proteins in extracellular vesicles (EVs). While EVs are small vesicles that transfer material between cells, Mitochondria-Derived Vesicles (MDVs) carry material specifically between mitochondria and other organelles. Mitochondrial content can enhance inflammation under pro-inflammatory conditions, though its role in the absence of inflammation remains elusive. Here, we demonstrate that cells actively prevent the packaging of pro-inflammatory, oxidized mitochondrial proteins that would act as damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) into EVs. Importantly, we find that the distinction between material to be included into EVs and damaged mitochondrial content to be excluded is dependent on selective targeting to one of two distinct MDV pathways. We show that Optic Atrophy 1 (OPA1) and sorting nexin 9 (Snx9)-dependent MDVs are required to target mitochondrial proteins to EVs, while the Parkinson's disease-related protein Parkin blocks this process by directing damaged mitochondrial content to lysosomes. Our results provide insight into the interplay between mitochondrial quality control mechanisms and mitochondria-driven immune responses.
  69. J Hepatobiliary Pancreat Sci. 2021 Apr 02.
      BACKGROUND: Although we previously proposed a nomogram to predict malignancy in intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMN) and validated it in an external cohort, its application is challenging without data on tumor markers. Moreover, existing nomograms have not been compared. This study aimed to develop a nomogram based on radiologic findings and to compare its performance with previously proposed American and Korean/Japanese nomograms.METHODS: We recruited 3708 patients who underwent surgical resection at 31 tertiary institutions in eight countries, and patients with main pancreatic duct > 10 mm were excluded. To construct the nomogram, 2606 patients were randomly allocated 1:1 into training and internal validation sets, and area under the receiver operating characteristics curve (AUC) was calculated using 10-fold cross validation by exhaustive search. This nomogram was then validated and compared to the American and Korean/Japanese nomograms using 1102 patients.
    RESULTS: Among the 2606 patients, 90 had main-duct type, 900 had branch-duct type, and 1616 had mixed-type IPMN. Pathologic results revealed 1628 low-grade dysplasia, 476 high-grade dysplasia, and 502 invasive carcinoma. Location, cyst size, duct dilatation, and mural nodule were selected to construct the nomogram. AUC of this nomogram was higher than the American nomogram (0.691 vs. 0.664, p = 0.014) and comparable with the Korean/Japanese nomogram (0.659 vs 0.653, p = 0.255).
    CONCLUSIONS: A novel nomogram based on radiologic findings of IPMN is competitive for predicting risk of malignancy. This nomogram would be clinically helpful in circumstances where tumor markers are not available. The nomogram is freely available at
    Keywords:  Cancer; Intraductal Papillary Mucinous Neoplasms of the Pancreas; Malignancy prediction; Nomogram; Radiology
  70. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Mar 12. pii: 1258. [Epub ahead of print]13(6):
      The role of genetic variation in autophagy-related genes in modulating autophagy and cancer is poorly understood. Here, we comprehensively investigated the association of autophagy-related variants with colorectal cancer (CRC) risk and provide new insights about the molecular mechanisms underlying the associations. After meta-analysis of the genome-wide association study (GWAS) data from four independent European cohorts (8006 CRC cases and 7070 controls), two loci, DAPK2 (p = 2.19 × 10-5) and ATG5 (p = 6.28 × 10-4) were associated with the risk of CRC. Mechanistically, the DAPK2rs11631973G allele was associated with IL1 β levels after the stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) with Staphylococcus aureus (p = 0.002), CD24 + CD38 + CD27 + IgM + B cell levels in blood (p = 0.0038) and serum levels of en-RAGE (p = 0.0068). ATG5rs546456T allele was associated with TNF α and IL1 β levels after the stimulation of PBMCs with LPS (p = 0.0088 and p = 0.0076, respectively), CD14+CD16- cell levels in blood (p = 0.0068) and serum levels of CCL19 and cortisol (p = 0.0052 and p = 0.0074, respectively). Interestingly, no association with autophagy flux was observed. These results suggested an effect of the DAPK2 and ATG5 loci in the pathogenesis of CRC, likely through the modulation of host immune responses.
    Keywords:  autophagy; colorectal cancer; genetic variants; susceptibility
  71. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Apr 06. pii: e2011140118. [Epub ahead of print]118(14):
      Mutations in the melanocortin 4 receptor (MC4R) result in hyperphagia and obesity and are the most common cause of monogenic obesity in humans. Preclinical rodent studies have determined that the critical role of the MC4R in controlling feeding can be mapped in part to its expression in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (paraventricular nucleus [PVN]), where it regulates the activity of anorexic neural circuits. Despite the critical role of PVN MC4R neurons in regulating feeding, the in vivo neuronal activity of these cells remains largely unstudied, and the network activity of PVN MC4R neurons has not been determined. Here, we utilize in vivo single-cell endomicroscopic and mathematical approaches to determine the activity and network dynamics of PVN MC4R neurons in response to changes in energy state and pharmacological manipulation of central melanocortin receptors. We determine that PVN MC4R neurons exhibit both quantitative and qualitative changes in response to fasting and refeeding. Pharmacological stimulation of MC4R with the therapeutic MC4R agonist setmelanotide rapidly increases basal PVN MC4R activity, while stimulation of melanocortin 3 receptor (MC3R) inhibits PVN MC4R activity. Finally, we find that distinct PVN MC4R neuronal ensembles encode energy deficit and energy surfeit and that energy surfeit is associated with enhanced network connections within PVN MC4R neurons. These findings provide valuable insight into the neural dynamics underlying hunger and energy surfeit.
    Keywords:  feeding; melanocortin circuitry; neural networks; paraventricular hypothalamus
  72. J Nanobiotechnology. 2021 Apr 01. 19(1): 97
      The patch-clamp technique is one of the best approaches to investigate neural excitability. Impressive improvements towards the automation of the patch-clamp technique have been made, but obvious limitations and hurdles still exist, such as parallelization, volume displacement in vivo, and long-term recording. Nanotechnologies have provided opportunities to overcome these hurdles by applying electrical devices on the nanoscale. Electrodes based on nanowires, nanotubes, and nanoscale field-effect transistors (FETs) are confirmed to be robust and less invasive tools for intracellular electrophysiological recording. Research on the interface between the nanoelectrode and cell membrane aims to reduce the seal conductance and further improve the recording quality. Many novel recording approaches advance the parallelization, and precision with reduced invasiveness, thus improving the overall intracellular recording system. The combination of nanotechnology and the present intracellular recording framework is a revolutionary and promising orientation, potentially becoming the next generation electrophysiological recording technique and replacing the conventional patch-clamp technique. Here, this paper reviews the recent advances in intracellular electrophysiological recording techniques using nanotechnology, focusing on the design of noninvasive and greatly parallelized recording systems based on nanoelectronics.
    Keywords:  Electrophysiology; Field‐effect transistors (FETs); Intracellular recording; Nanoelectrode; Neuronal activity
  73. STAR Protoc. 2021 Jun 18. 2(2): 100391
      Two-dimensional (2D) culture of tumor cells fails to recapitulate some important aspects of cellular organization seen in in vivo experiments. In addition, cell cultures traditionally use non-physiological concentration of nutrients. Here, we describe a protocol for a facile three-dimensional (3D) culture format for cancer cells. This 3D platform helps overcome the 2D culture limitations. In addition, it allows for longitudinal modeling of responses to cancer therapeutics. For complete details on the use and execution of this protocol, please refer to Lhuissier et al. (2017), Lehmann et al. (2016), Liu et al. (2016), and Duval et al. (2011).
    Keywords:  Cancer; Cell culture; Cell-based assays; High-throughput screening
  74. Nat Nanotechnol. 2021 Mar 29.
      We developed a bioelectronic communication system that is enabled by a redox signal transduction modality to exchange information between a living cell-embedded bioelectronics interface and an engineered microbial network. A naturally communicating three-member microbial network is 'plugged into' an external electronic system that interrogates and controls biological function in real time. First, electrode-generated redox molecules are programmed to activate gene expression in an engineered population of electrode-attached bacterial cells, effectively creating a living transducer electrode. These cells interpret and translate electronic signals and then transmit this information biologically by producing quorum sensing molecules that are, in turn, interpreted by a planktonic coculture. The propagated molecular communication drives expression and secretion of a therapeutic peptide from one strain and simultaneously enables direct electronic feedback from the second strain, thus enabling real-time electronic verification of biological signal propagation. Overall, we show how this multifunctional bioelectronic platform, termed a BioLAN, reliably facilitates on-demand bioelectronic communication and concurrently performs programmed tasks.
  75. Biochim Biophys Acta Rev Cancer. 2021 Mar 29. pii: S0304-419X(21)00032-9. [Epub ahead of print] 188534
      Mitochondria, well recognized as the "powerhouse" of cells, are maternally inherited organelles with bacterial ancestry that play essential roles in a myriad of cellular functions. It has become profoundly evident that mitochondria regulate a wide array of cellular and metabolic functions, including biosynthetic metabolism, cell signaling, redox homeostasis, and cell survival. Correspondingly, defects in normal mitochondrial functioning have been implicated in various human malignancies. Cancer development involves the activation of oncogenes, inactivation of tumor suppressor genes, and impairment of apoptotic programs in cells. Mitochondria have been recognized as the site of key metabolic switches for normal cells to acquire malignant phenotypes. This review outlines the role of mitochondria in human malignancies and highlights potential aspects of mitochondrial metabolism that could be targeted for therapeutic development.
    Keywords:  BCL-2 family; Cancer; Intrinsic apoptosis; Metabolic reprogramming; Mitochondria
  76. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Mar 03. pii: 1067. [Epub ahead of print]13(5):
      Metastasis is the cause of most cancer deaths and continues to be the biggest challenge in clinical practice and laboratory investigation. The challenge is largely due to the intrinsic heterogeneity of primary and metastatic tumor populations and the complex interactions among cancer cells and cells in the tumor microenvironment. Therefore, it is important to determine the genotype and phenotype of individual cells so that the metastasis-driving events can be precisely identified, understood, and targeted in future therapies. Single-cell sequencing techniques have allowed the direct comparison of the genomic and transcriptomic changes among different stages of metastatic samples. Single-cell imaging approaches have enabled the live visualization of the heterogeneous behaviors of malignant and non-malignant cells in the tumor microenvironment. By applying these technologies, we are achieving a spatiotemporal precision understanding of cancer metastases and clinical therapeutic translations.
    Keywords:  cancer metastasis; single-cell imaging; single-cell sequencing
  77. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Mar 04. pii: 1093. [Epub ahead of print]13(5):
      Hypoxia in the tumor microenvironment is a negative prognostic factor associated with tumor progression and metastasis, and therefore represents an attractive therapeutic target for anti-tumor therapy. To test the effectiveness of novel hypoxia-targeting drugs, appropriate preclinical models that recreate tumor hypoxia are essential. The chicken ChorioAllantoic Membrane (CAM) assay is increasingly used as a rapid cost-effective in vivo drug-testing platform that recapitulates many aspects of human cancers. However, it remains to be determined whether this model recreates the hypoxic microenvironment of solid tumors. To detect hypoxia in the CAM model, the hypoxic marker pimonidazole was injected into the vasculature of tumor-bearing CAM, and hypoxia-dependent gene expression was analyzed. We observed that the CAM model effectively supports the development of hypoxic zones in a variety of human tumor cell line-derived and patient's tumor fragment-derived xenografts. The treatment of both patient and cell line-derived CAM xenografts with modulators of angiogenesis significantly altered the formation of hypoxic zones within the xenografts. Furthermore, the changes in hypoxia translated into modulated levels of chick liver metastasis as measured by Alu-based assay. These findings demonstrate that the CAM xenograft model is a valuable in vivo platform for studying hypoxia that could facilitate the identification and testing of drugs targeting this tumor microenvironment.
    Keywords:  ChorioAllantoic Membrane; chick embryo; hypoxia; metastasis; tumor progression
  78. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Mar 18. pii: 3110. [Epub ahead of print]22(6):
      Cachexia is a multifactorial syndrome characterized by muscle loss that cannot be reversed by conventional nutritional support. To uncover the molecular basis underlying the onset of cancer cachectic muscle wasting and establish an effective intervention against muscle loss, we used a cancer cachectic mouse model and examined the effects of aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise successfully suppressed muscle atrophy and activated adiponectin signaling. Next, a cellular model for cancer cachectic muscle atrophy using C2C12 myotubes was prepared by treating myotubes with a conditioned medium from a culture of colon-26 cancer cells. Treatment of the atrophic myotubes with recombinant adiponectin was protective against the thinning of cells through the increased production of p-mTOR and suppression of LC3-II. Altogether, these findings suggest that the activation of adiponectin signaling could be part of the molecular mechanisms by which aerobic exercise ameliorates cancer cachexia-induced muscle wasting.
    Keywords:  adiponectin; aerobic exercise; cancer cachexia; muscle atrophy
  79. Cancer Discov. 2021 Apr 02.
      Harnessing the immune system to treat cancer through inhibitors of CTLA4 and PD-L1 has revolutionized the landscape of cancer. Rational combination strategies aim to enhance the antitumor effects of immunotherapies, but require a deep understanding of the mechanistic underpinnings of the immune system and robust preclinical and clinical drug development strategies. We review the current approved immunotherapy combinations, before discussing promising combinatorial approaches in clinical trials and detailing innovative preclinical model systems being used to develop rational combinations. We also discuss the promise of high-order immunotherapy combinations, as well as novel biomarker and combinatorial trial strategies. SIGNIFICANCE: Although immune-checkpoint inhibitors are approved as dual checkpoint strategies, and in combination with cytotoxic chemotherapy and angiogenesis inhibitors for multiple cancers, patient benefit remains limited. Innovative approaches are required to guide the development of novel immunotherapy combinations, ranging from improvements in preclinical tumor model systems to biomarker-driven trial strategies.
  80. Autophagy. 2021 Mar 30. 1-15
      MOAP1 (modulator of apoptosis 1) is a BAX-binding protein tightly regulated by the ubiquitin-proteasome system. Apoptotic stimuli stabilize MOAP1 protein and facilitate its interaction with BAX to promote apoptosis. Here we show that in contrast to being resistant to apoptotic stimuli, MOAP1-deficient cells are hypersensitive to cell death mediated by starvation rendered by EBSS treatment. MOAP1-deficient cells exhibited impairment in macroautophagy/autophagy signaling induced by EBSS. Mechanistic analysis revealed that MOAP1-deficient cells had no notable defect in the recruitment of the pre-autophagosomal phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate (PtdIns3P)-binding proteins, ZFYVE1/DFCP1 and WIPI2, nor in the LC3 lipidation mechanism regulated by the ATG12-ATG5-ATG16L1 complex upon EBSS treatment. Interestingly, MOAP1 is required for facilitating efficient closure of phagophore in the EBSS-treated cells. Analysis of LC3-positive membrane structures using Halo-tagged LC3 autophagosome completion assay showed that predominantly unclosed phagophore rather than closed autophagosome was present in the EBSS-treated MOAP1-deficient cells. The autophagy substrate SQSTM1/p62, which is normally contained within the enclosed autophagosome under EBSS condition, was also highly sensitive to degradation by proteinase K in the absence of MOAP1. MOAP1 binds LC3 and the binding is critically dependent on a LC3-interacting region (LIR) motif detected at its N-terminal region. Re-expression of MOAP1, but not its LC3-binding defective mutant, MOAP1-LIR, in the MOAP1-deficient cells, restored EBSS-induced autophagy. Together, these observations suggest that MOAP1 serves a distinct role in facilitating autophagy through interacting with LC3 to promote efficient phagophore closure during starvation.Abbreviations CQ: Chloroquine; EBSS: Earle's Balanced Salt Solution; GABARAP: Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid Receptor Associated Protein; IF: Immunofluorescence; IP: Immunoprecipitation; LAMP1: Lysosomal-Associated Membrane Protein 1; LIR: LC3-Interacting Region; MAP1LC3/LC3: Microtubule Associated Protein 1 Light Chain 3; MEF: Mouse Embryonic Fibroblast; MOAP1: Modulator of Apoptosis 1; PE: Phosphatidylethanolamine; PtdIns3K: class III PtdIns3K complex I; PtdIns3P: Phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate; STX17: Syntaxin 17; ULK1: unc-51 like autophagy activating kinase 1.
    Keywords:  Autophagosome formation; LC3-binding protein; LIR motif; autophagy; cell death; nutrient deprivation
  81. J Hepatobiliary Pancreat Sci. 2021 Mar 31.
      BACKGROUND/PURPOSE: The role of endoscopic preoperative biliary drainage for pancreatic head cancer is controversial, because of the high incidence of stent occlusion before surgery. We sought to validate a suitable stent for biliary drainage in patients with pancreatic cancer undergoing neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC)/neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (NAC-RT).METHODS: We evaluated patients who received preoperative neoadjuvant therapy for pancreatic head cancer between January 2013 and December 2019. A covered metal (CMS) or plastic stent (PS) was inserted in symptomatic patients for biliary drainage. Recurrent biliary obstruction (RBO), success rate of endoscopic drainage, adverse events, and surgical outcomes were compared between the CMS and PS groups.
    RESULTS: Occurrence rate of RBO was significantly higher with PS (97%) versus CMS (15%, p<0.001), and time to RBO was significantly longer with CMS versus PS (not reached vs 40.5 days, p <0.001). Delayed schedule associated with RBO for neoadjuvant chemotherapy was significantly lower in CMS versus PS (14% vs 50%, p <0.05). There was no difference in postoperative bleeding, operation time, complications, and rate of a microscopically margin-negative resection between groups.
    CONCLUSIONS: Use of CMS during NAC/NAC-RT allows for safe chemotherapy without causing cholangitis or biliary obstruction and for surgery to be performed.
    Keywords:  Biliary drainage; Covered metal stent; Neoadjuvant chemo-radiation therapy; Pancreatic cancer
  82. Cancer Discov. 2021 Apr 01.
      Synthetic lethality (SL) provides a conceptual framework for tackling targets that are not classically "druggable," including loss-of-function mutations in tumor suppressor genes required for carcinogenesis. Recent technological advances have led to an inflection point in our understanding of genetic interaction networks and ability to identify a wide array of novel SL drug targets. Here, we review concepts and lessons emerging from first-generation trials aimed at testing SL drugs, discuss how the nature of the targeted lesion can influence therapeutic outcomes, and highlight the need to develop clinical biomarkers distinct from those based on the paradigms developed to target activated oncogenes. SIGNIFICANCE: SL offers an approach for the targeting of loss of function of tumor suppressor and DNA repair genes, as well as of amplification and/or overexpression of genes that cannot be targeted directly. A next generation of tumor-specific alterations targetable through SL has emerged from high-throughput CRISPR technology, heralding not only new opportunities for drug development, but also important challenges in the development of optimal predictive biomarkers.
  83. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Mar 22. pii: 1441. [Epub ahead of print]13(6):
      Tissue functionality and integrity demand continuous changes in distribution of major components in the extracellular matrices (ECMs) under normal conditions aiming tissue homeostasis. Major matrix degrading proteolytic enzymes are matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), plasminogen activators, atypical proteases such as intracellular cathepsins and glycolytic enzymes including heparanase and hyaluronidases. Matrix proteases evoke epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and regulate ECM turnover under normal procedures as well as cancer cell phenotype, motility, invasion, autophagy, angiogenesis and exosome formation through vital signaling cascades. ECM remodeling is also achieved by glycolytic enzymes that are essential for cancer cell survival, proliferation and tumor progression. In this article, the types of major matrix remodeling enzymes, their effects in cancer initiation, propagation and progression as well as their pharmacological targeting and ongoing clinical trials are presented and critically discussed.
    Keywords:  cancer; cathepsins; extracellular matrix; heparanase; hyaluronidases; matrix metalloproteinases; plasminogen activators
  84. EMBO Rep. 2021 Mar 28. e51078
      Transcription is an elaborate process that is required to establish and maintain the identity of the more than two hundred cell types of a metazoan organism. Strict regulation of gene expression is therefore vital for tissue formation and homeostasis. An accumulating body of work found that ubiquitylation of histones, transcription factors, or RNA polymerase II is crucial for ensuring that transcription occurs at the right time and place during development. Here, we will review principles of ubiquitin-dependent control of gene expression and discuss how breakdown of these regulatory circuits leads to a wide array of human diseases.
    Keywords:  RNA polymerase II; histone modification; transcription; ubiquitin
  85. Aging (Albany NY). 2021 Mar 26. 13
      Human Mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) are multi-potential cells which are widely used in cell therapy. However, the frequently emerged senescence and decrease of differentiation capabilities limited the broad applications of MSC. Several strategies such as small molecules treatment have been widely studied and used to improve the stem characteristics bypassing the senescence but the exact mechanisms for them to reduce senescence have not been fully studied. In this study, hMSCs were treated by rapamycin, oltipraz, metformin, and vitamin C for the indicated time and these cells were subjected to senescence evaluation and trilineage differentiation. Furthermore, transcriptomics and lipidomics datasets of hMSCs after drug treatment were analyzed to interpret biological pathways responsible for their anti-senescence effects. Although four drugs exhibited significant activities in promoting MSC osteogenic differentiation, metformin is the optimal drug to promote trilineage differentiation. GO terms illustrated that the anti-aging effects of drugs were mainly associated with cellular senescence, mitotic and meiosis process. Biosynthesis of phosphatidylcholines (PC) and phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) were inhibited whereas production of phosphatidylinositols (PIs) and saturated fatty acids (SFA)/ mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) conversion was activated. Medium free fatty acids (FFA) was increased in hMSCs with different anti-aging phenotypes. Therefore, we established a comprehensive method in assessing drug intervention based on the results of transcriptomics and lipidomics. The method can be used to study different biological phenotypes upon drug intervention in MSC which will extend the clinical application of hMSCs.
    Keywords:  aging; drugs; hMSCs; lipidomics; transcriptomics
  86. Nat Commun. 2021 03 29. 12(1): 1946
      Numerous substrates have been identified for Type I and II arginine methyltransferases (PRMTs). However, the full substrate spectrum of the only type III PRMT, PRMT7, and its connection to type I and II PRMT substrates remains unknown. Here, we use mass spectrometry to reveal features of PRMT7-regulated methylation. We find that PRMT7 predominantly methylates a glycine and arginine motif; multiple PRMT7-regulated arginine methylation sites are close to phosphorylations sites; methylation sites and proximal sequences are vulnerable to cancer mutations; and methylation is enriched in proteins associated with spliceosome and RNA-related pathways. We show that PRMT4/5/7-mediated arginine methylation regulates hnRNPA1 binding to RNA and several alternative splicing events. In breast, colorectal and prostate cancer cells, PRMT4/5/7 are upregulated and associated with high levels of hnRNPA1 arginine methylation and aberrant alternative splicing. Pharmacological inhibition of PRMT4/5/7 suppresses cancer cell growth and their co-inhibition shows synergistic effects, suggesting them as targets for cancer therapy.
  87. J Cell Sci. 2021 Mar 30. pii: jcs254144. [Epub ahead of print]134(6):
      Recent technological advances have made microscopy indispensable in life science research. Its ubiquitous use, in turn, underscores the importance of ensuring that microscopy-based experiments are replicable and that the resulting data comparable. While there has been a wealth of review articles, practical guides and conferences devoted to the topic of maintaining standard instrument operating conditions, the paucity of attention dedicated to properly documenting microscopy experiments is undeniable. This lack of emphasis on accurate reporting extends beyond life science researchers themselves, to the review panels and editorial boards of many journals. Such oversight at the final step of communicating a scientific discovery can unfortunately negate the many valiant efforts made to ensure experimental quality control in the name of scientific reproducibility. This Review aims to enumerate the various parameters that should be reported in an imaging experiment by illustrating how their inconsistent application can lead to irreconcilable results.
    Keywords:  Accurate reporting; Data reproducibility; Imaging parameters; Microscopy
  88. Oncoimmunology. 2021 Mar 17. 10(1): 1900635
      Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) has traditionally been thought of as an immunologically quiescent tumor type presumably because of a relatively low tumor mutational burden (TMB) and poor responses to checkpoint blockade therapy. However, many PDAC tumors exhibit T cell inflamed phenotypes. The presence of tertiary lymphoid structures (TLS) has recently been shown to be predictive of checkpoint blockade response in melanomas and sarcomas, and are prognostic for survival in PDAC. In order to more comprehensively understand tumor immunity in PDAC patients with TLS, we performed RNA-seq, single and multiplex IHC, flow cytometry and predictive genomic analysis on treatment naïve, PDAC surgical specimens. Forty-six percent of tumors contained distinct T and B cell aggregates reflective of "early-stage TLS" (ES-TLS), which correlated with longer overall and progression-free survival. These tumors had greater CD8+ T cell infiltration but were not defined by previously published TLS gene-expression signatures. ES-TLS+ tumors were enriched for IgG1 class-switched memory B cells and memory CD4+ T cells, suggesting durable immunological memory persisted in these patients. We also observed the presence of active germinal centers (mature-TLS) in 31% of tumors with lymphocyte clusters, whose patients had long-term survival (median 56 months). M-TLS-positive tumors had equivalent overall T cell infiltration to ES-TLS, but were enriched for activated CD4+ memory cells, naive B cells and NK cells. Finally, using a TCGA-PDAC dataset, ES-TLS+ tumors harbored a decreased TMB, but M-TLS with germinal centers expressed significantly more MHCI-restricted neoantigens as determined by an in silico neoantigen prediction method. Interestingly, M-TLS+ tumors also had evidence of increased rates of B cell somatic hypermutation, suggesting that germinal centers form in the presence of high-quality tumor neoantigens leading to increased humoral immunity that confers improved survival for PDAC patients. AbbreviationsTLS: tertiary lymphoid structures; GC: germinal center(s); PDAC: pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma; RNA-seq: RNA sequencing; BCRseq: B cell receptor sequencing; HEV: high endothelial venule; PNAd: peripheral node addressin; TMB: tumor mutational burden; TCGA: the cancer genome atlas; PAAD: pancreatic adenocarcinoma; FFPE: formalin fixed paraffin embedded; TIME: tumor immune microenvironment.
    Keywords:  TLS; b cells; immunotherapy; neoantigens; pancreatic cancer; t cells
  89. Cancer Discov. 2021 Apr;11(4): 933-959
      Strategies to therapeutically target the tumor microenvironment (TME) have emerged as a promising approach for cancer treatment in recent years due to the critical roles of the TME in regulating tumor progression and modulating response to standard-of-care therapies. Here, we summarize the current knowledge regarding the most advanced TME-directed therapies, which have either been clinically approved or are currently being evaluated in trials, including immunotherapies, antiangiogenic drugs, and treatments directed against cancer-associated fibroblasts and the extracellular matrix. We also discuss some of the challenges associated with TME therapies, and future perspectives in this evolving field. SIGNIFICANCE: This review provides a comprehensive analysis of the current therapies targeting the TME, combining a discussion of the underlying basic biology with clinical evaluation of different therapeutic approaches, and highlighting the challenges and future perspectives.
  90. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Mar 03. pii: 1071. [Epub ahead of print]13(5):
      Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the most common pancreatic malignancy and is associated with aggressive tumor behavior and poor prognosis. Most patients with PDAC present with an advanced disease stage and treatment-resistant tumors. The lack of noninvasive tests for PDAC diagnosis and survival prediction mandates the identification of novel biomarkers. The early identification of high-risk patients and patients with PDAC is of utmost importance. In addition, the identification of molecules that are associated with tumor biology, aggressiveness, and metastatic potential is crucial to predict survival and to provide patients with personalized treatment regimens. In this review, we summarize the current literature and focus on newer biomarkers, which are continuously added to the armamentarium of PDAC screening, predictive tools, and prognostic tools.
    Keywords:  biomarkers; pancreatic cancer; pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma; predictive markers; prognostic markers
  91. Molecules. 2021 Mar 05. pii: 1417. [Epub ahead of print]26(5):
      Cancer is one of the most fatal diseases with an increasing incidence and mortality all over the world. Thus, there is an urgent need for novel therapies targeting major cancer-related pathways. Nuclear factor-erythroid 2-related factor 2 (NRF2) and its major negative modulator Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (KEAP1) are main players of the cellular defense mechanisms against internal and external cell stressors. However, NRF2/KEAP1 signaling pathway is dysregulated in various cancers, thus promoting tumor cell survival and metastasis. In the present review, we discuss the mechanisms of normal and deregulated NRF2 signaling pathway focusing on its cancer-related functions. We further explore activators and inhibitors of this pathway as cancer targeting drug candidates in order to provide an extensive background on the subject.
    Keywords:  Keap1; Nrf2; cancer; oxidative stress
  92. FASEB J. 2021 May;35(5): e21473
      Pancreatic diseases including diabetes and exocrine insufficiency would benefit from therapies that reverse cellular loss and/or restore cellular mass. The identification of molecular pathways that influence cellular growth is therefore critical for future therapeutic generation. Deoxyhypusine synthase (DHPS) is an enzyme that post-translationally modifies and activates the mRNA translation factor eukaryotic initiation factor 5A (eIF5A). Previous work demonstrated that the inhibition of DHPS impairs zebrafish exocrine pancreas development; however, the link between DHPS, eIF5A, and regulation of pancreatic organogenesis remains unknown. Herein we identified that the conditional deletion of either Dhps or Eif5a in the murine pancreas results in the absence of acinar cells. Because DHPS catalyzes the activation of eIF5A, we evaluated and uncovered a defect in mRNA translation concomitant with defective production of proteins that influence cellular development. Our studies reveal a heretofore unappreciated role for DHPS and eIF5A in the synthesis of proteins required for cellular development and function.
    Keywords:  DHPS; acinar cells; eIF5A; exocrine pancreas; hypusine biosynthesis; mRNA translation; translational regulation
  93. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Mar 05. pii: 2635. [Epub ahead of print]22(5):
      Although physical exercise-induced autophagy activation has been considered a therapeutic target to enhance tissue health and extend lifespan, the effects of different exercise models on autophagy in specific metabolic tissues are not completely understood. This descriptive investigation compared the acute effects of endurance (END), exhaustive (ET), strength (ST), and concurrent (CC) physical exercise protocols on markers of autophagy, genes, and proteins in the gastrocnemius muscle, heart, and liver of mice. The animals were euthanized immediately (0 h) and six hours (6 h) after the acute exercise for the measurement of glycogen levels, mRNA expression of Prkaa1, Ppargc1a, Mtor, Ulk1, Becn1, Atg5, Map1lc3b, Sqstm1, and protein levels of Beclin 1 and ATG5. The markers of autophagy were measured by quantifying the protein levels of LC3II and Sqstm1/p62 in response to three consecutive days of intraperitoneal injections of colchicine. In summary, for gastrocnemius muscle samples, the main alterations in mRNA expressions were observed after 6 h and for the ST group, and the markers of autophagy for the CC group were increased (i.e., LC3II and Sqstm1/p62). In the heart, the Beclin 1 and ATG5 levels were downregulated for the ET group. Regarding the markers of autophagy, the Sqstm1/p62 in the heart tissue was upregulated for the END and ST groups, highlighting the beneficial effects of these exercise models. The liver protein levels of ATG5 were downregulated for the ET group. After the colchicine treatment, the liver protein levels of Sqstm1/p62 were decreased for the END and ET groups compared to the CT, ST, and CC groups. These results could be related to diabetes and obesity development or liver dysfunction improvement, demanding further investigations.
    Keywords:  autophagic flux; colchicine; gastrocnemius; heart; liver; time course
  94. Nat Commun. 2021 Apr 01. 12(1): 2014
      Age-associated changes in gene expression in skeletal muscle of healthy individuals reflect accumulation of damage and compensatory adaptations to preserve tissue integrity. To characterize these changes, RNA was extracted and sequenced from muscle biopsies collected from 53 healthy individuals (22-83 years old) of the GESTALT study of the National Institute on Aging-NIH. Expression levels of 57,205 protein-coding and non-coding RNAs were studied as a function of aging by linear and negative binomial regression models. From both models, 1134 RNAs changed significantly with age. The most differentially abundant mRNAs encoded proteins implicated in several age-related processes, including cellular senescence, insulin signaling, and myogenesis. Specific mRNA isoforms that changed significantly with age in skeletal muscle were enriched for proteins involved in oxidative phosphorylation and adipogenesis. Our study establishes a detailed framework of the global transcriptome and mRNA isoforms that govern muscle damage and homeostasis with age.
  95. J Cell Sci. 2021 Mar 30. pii: jcs254151. [Epub ahead of print]134(6):
      Considerable attention has been recently paid to improving replicability and reproducibility in life science research. This has resulted in commendable efforts to standardize a variety of reagents, assays, cell lines and other resources. However, given that microscopy is a dominant tool for biologists, comparatively little discussion has been offered regarding how the proper reporting and documentation of microscopy relevant details should be handled. Image processing is a critical step of almost any microscopy-based experiment; however, improper, or incomplete reporting of its use in the literature is pervasive. The chosen details of an image processing workflow can dramatically determine the outcome of subsequent analyses, and indeed, the overall conclusions of a study. This Review aims to illustrate how proper reporting of image processing methodology improves scientific reproducibility and strengthens the biological conclusions derived from the results.
    Keywords:  Accurate reporting; Data reproducibility; Image analysis; Image processing; Microscopy
  96. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Mar 15. pii: 1299. [Epub ahead of print]13(6):
      Ca2+ is pivotal intracellular messenger that coordinates multiple cell functions such as fertilization, growth, differentiation, and viability. Intracellular Ca2+ signaling is regulated by both extracellular Ca2+ entry and Ca2+ release from intracellular stores. Apart from working as the cellular recycling center, the lysosome has been increasingly recognized as a significant intracellular Ca2+ store that provides Ca2+ to regulate many cellular processes. The lysosome also talks to other organelles by releasing and taking up Ca2+. In lysosomal Ca2+-dependent processes, autophagy is particularly important, because it has been implicated in many human diseases including cancer. This review will discuss the major components of lysosomal Ca2+ stores and their roles in autophagy and human cancer progression.
    Keywords:  autophagy; calcium; cancer; ion channel; lysosome
  97. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Mar 30. pii: 3593. [Epub ahead of print]22(7):
      Chronic pancreatitis (CP) is an inflammatory disease of the pancreas characterized by ductal obstructions, tissue fibrosis, atrophy and exocrine and endocrine pancreatic insufficiency. However, our understanding is very limited concerning the disease's progression from a single acute inflammation, via recurrent acute pancreatitis (AP) and early CP, to the late stage CP. Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase 1 (PARP1) is a DNA damage sensor enzyme activated mostly by oxidative DNA damage. As a co-activator of inflammatory transcription factors, PARP1 is a central mediator of the inflammatory response and it has also been implicated in acute pancreatitis. Here, we set out to investigate whether PARP1 contributed to the pathogenesis of CP. We found that the clinically used PARP inhibitor olaparib (OLA) had protective effects in a murine model of CP induced by multiple cerulein injections. OLA reduced pancreas atrophy and expression of the inflammatory mediators TNFα and interleukin-6 (IL-6), both in the pancreas and in the lungs. Moreover, there was significantly less fibrosis (Masson's trichrome staining) in the pancreatic sections of OLA-treated mice compared to the cerulein-only group. mRNA expression of the fibrosis markers TGFβ, smooth muscle actin (SMA), and collagen-1 were markedly reduced by OLA. CP was also induced in PARP1 knockout (KO) mice and their wild-type (WT) counterparts. Inflammation and fibrosis markers showed lower expression in the KO compared to the WT mice. Moreover, reduced granulocyte infiltration (tissue myeloperoxidase activity) and a lower elevation of serum amylase and lipase activity could also be detected in the KO mice. Furthermore, primary acinar cells isolated from KO mice were also protected from cerulein-induced toxicity compared to WT cells. In summary, our data suggest that PARP inhibitors may be promising candidates for repurposing to treat not only acute but chronic pancreatitis as well.
    Keywords:  cell death; chronic pancreatitis; fibrosis; inflammation; poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase 1
  98. Cell. 2021 Apr 01. pii: S0092-8674(21)00364-0. [Epub ahead of print]184(7): 1929-1939
  99. Cancer Discov. 2021 Apr;11(4): 801-804
      Cancer models have helped solve many mysteries of cancer research, and are poised to bring our understanding to the next level as we dissect the relevance of cancer-associated alleles and heterocellular interactions. However, the ability of cancer models to correctly identify new therapeutic methods has been less fruitful, and a reconsideration of model designs and model applications should help develop more effective approaches for patients.