bims-cagime Biomed News
on Cancer, aging and metabolism
Issue of 2022‒04‒03
thirty-six papers selected by
Kıvanç Görgülü
Technical University of Munich

  1. Aging Cell. 2022 Apr 01. e13602
      Cellular senescence, which is a major cause of tissue dysfunction with aging and multiple other conditions, is known to be triggered by p16Ink4a or p21Cip1 , but the relative contributions of each pathway toward inducing senescence are unclear. Here, we directly addressed this issue by first developing and validating a p21-ATTAC mouse with the p21Cip1 promoter driving a "suicide" transgene encoding an inducible caspase-8 which, upon induction, selectively kills p21Cip1 -expressing senescent cells. Next, we used the p21-ATTAC mouse and the established p16-INK-ATTAC mouse to directly compare the contributions of p21Cip1 versus p16Ink4a in driving cellular senescence in a condition where a tissue phenotype (bone loss and increased marrow adiposity) is clearly driven by cellular senescence-specifically, radiation-induced osteoporosis. Using RNA in situ hybridization, we confirmed the reduction in radiation-induced p21Cip1 - or p16Ink4a -driven transcripts following senescent cell clearance in both models. However, only clearance of p21Cip1 +, but not p16Ink4a +, senescent cells prevented both radiation-induced osteoporosis and increased marrow adiposity. Reduction in senescent cells with dysfunctional telomeres following clearance of p21Cip1 +, but not p16Ink4a +, senescent cells also reduced several of the radiation-induced pro-inflammatory senescence-associated secretory phenotype factors. Thus, by directly comparing senescent cell clearance using two parallel genetic models, we demonstrate that radiation-induced osteoporosis is driven predominantly by p21Cip1 - rather than p16Ink4a -mediated cellular senescence. Further, this approach can be used to dissect the contributions of these pathways in other senescence-associated conditions, including aging across tissues.
    Keywords:  bone; radiation; senescence
  2. Nat Cancer. 2022 Mar;3(3): 272-286
      Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is an aggressive cancer that is most frequently detected at advanced stages, limiting treatment options to systemic chemotherapy with modest clinical responses. Here, we review recent advances in targeted therapy and immunotherapy for treating subtypes of PDAC with diverse molecular alterations. We focus on the current preclinical and clinical evidence supporting the potential of these approaches and the promise of combinatorial regimens to improve the lives of patients with PDAC.
  3. Nat Metab. 2022 Mar 31.
      The alteration of metabolic pathways is a critical strategy for cancer cells to attain the traits necessary for metastasis in disease progression. Here, we find that dysregulation of propionate metabolism produces a pro-aggressive signature in breast and lung cancer cells, increasing their metastatic potential. This occurs through the downregulation of methylmalonyl coenzyme A epimerase (MCEE), mediated by an extracellular signal-regulated kinase 2-driven transcription factor Sp1/early growth response protein 1 transcriptional switch driven by metastatic signalling at its promoter level. The loss of MCEE results in reduced propionate-driven anaplerotic flux and intracellular and intratumoral accumulation of methylmalonic acid, a by-product of propionate metabolism that promotes cancer cell invasiveness. Altogether, we present a previously uncharacterized dysregulation of propionate metabolism as an important contributor to cancer and a valuable potential target in the therapeutic treatment of metastatic carcinomas.
  4. Semin Cancer Biol. 2022 Mar 25. pii: S1044-579X(22)00077-3. [Epub ahead of print]
      Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) tumor microenvironment (TME) consists of multiple cell types interspersed by dense fibrous stroma. These cells communicate through low molecular weight signaling molecules called cytokines. The cytokines, through their receptors, facilitate PDAC initiation, progression, metastasis, and distant colonization of malignant cells. These signaling mediators secreted from tumor-associated macrophages, and cancer-associated fibroblasts in conjunction with oncogenic Kras mutation initiate acinar to ductal metaplasia (ADM), resulting in the appearance of early preneoplastic lesions. Further, M1- and M2-polarized macrophages provide proinflammatory conditions and promote deposition of extracellular matrix, whereas myofibroblasts and T-lymphocytes, such as Th17 and T-regulatory cells, create a fibroinflammatory and immunosuppressive environment with a significantly reduced cytotoxic T-cell population. During PDAC progression, cytokines regulate the expression of various oncogenic regulators such as NFκB, c-myc, growth factor receptors, and mucins resulting in the formation of high-grade PanIN lesions, epithelial to mesenchymal transition, invasion, and extravasation of malignant cells, and metastasis. During metastasis, PDAC cells colonize to the premetastatic niche created in the liver, and lung, an organotropic function primarily executed by cytokines in circulation or loaded in the exosomes from the primary tumor cells. The indispensable contribution of these cytokines at every stage of PDAC tumorigenesis makes them exciting candidates in combination with immune-, chemo- and targeted radiation therapy.
  5. Mol Metab. 2022 Mar 25. pii: S2212-8778(22)00050-3. [Epub ahead of print] 101481
      Spatial compartmentalization of metabolic pathways within membrane-separated organelles is key to the ability of eukaryotic cells to precisely regulate their biochemical functions. Membrane-bound organelles such as mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and lysosomes enable the concentration of metabolic precursors within optimized chemical environments, greatly accelerating the efficiency of both anabolic and catabolic reactions, enabling division of labor and optimal utilization of resources. However, metabolic compartmentalization also poses a challenge to cells because it creates spatial discontinuities that must be bridged for reaction cascades to be connected and completed. To do so, cells employ different methods to coordinate metabolic fluxes occurring in different organelles, such as membrane-localized transporters to facilitate regulated metabolite exchange between mitochondria and lysosomes, non-vesicular transport pathways via physical contact sites connecting the ER with both mitochondria and lysosomes, as well as localized regulatory signaling processes that coordinately regulate the activity of all these organelles. Effective communication among these systems is essential to cellular health and function, whereas disruption of inter-organelle communication is an emerging driver in a multitude of diseases, from cancer to neurodegeneration.
    Keywords:  Contact sites; Lysosome; Metabolism; Mitochondria; Transporters; mTORC1
  6. Cancer Res. 2022 Mar 29. pii: canres.3807.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      Despite substantial advances in the treatment of solid cancers, resistance to therapy remains a major obstacle to prolonged progression-free survival. Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the most aggressive cancers, with a high level of liver metastasis. Primary PDAC is highly hypoxic, and metastases are resistant to first-line treatment, including gemcitabine. Recent studies have indicated that endothelial cell (EC) focal adhesion kinase (FAK) regulates DNA damaging therapy-induced angiocrine factors and chemosensitivity in primary tumor models. Here, we show that inducible loss of EC-FAK in both orthotopic and spontaneous mouse models of PDAC is not sufficient to affect primary tumor growth but reduces liver and lung metastasis load and improves survival rates in gemcitabine-treated, but not untreated, mice. EC-FAK loss did not affect primary tumor angiogenesis, tumor blood vessel leakage, or early events in metastasis, including the numbers of circulating tumor cells, tumor cell homing or metastatic seeding. Phosphoproteomics analysis showed a downregulation of the MAPK, RAF, and PAK signaling pathways in gemcitabine-treated FAK-depleted ECs compared to gemcitabine-treated wild-type ECs. Moreover, low levels of EC-FAK correlated with increased survival and reduced relapse in gemcitabine-treated PDAC patients, supporting the clinical relevance of these findings. Altogether, we have identified a new role of EC-FAK in regulating PDAC metastasis upon gemcitabine treatment that impacts outcome.
  7. Nat Aging. 2022 ;2(2): 155-169
      Muscle stem cells (MuSCs) experience age-associated declines in number and function, accompanied by mitochondrial electron transport chain (ETC) dysfunction and increased reactive oxygen species (ROS). The source of these changes, and how MuSCs respond to mitochondrial dysfunction, is unknown. We report here that in response to mitochondrial ROS, murine MuSCs directly fuse with neighboring myofibers; this phenomenon removes ETC-dysfunctional MuSCs from the stem cell compartment. MuSC-myofiber fusion is dependent on the induction of Scinderin, which promotes formation of actin-dependent protrusions required for membrane fusion. During aging, we find that the declining MuSC population accumulates mutations in the mitochondrial genome, but selects against dysfunctional variants. In the absence of clearance by Scinderin, the decline in MuSC numbers during aging is repressed; however, ETC-dysfunctional MuSCs are retained and can regenerate dysfunctional myofibers. We propose a model in which ETC-dysfunctional MuSCs are removed from the stem cell compartment by fusing with differentiated tissue.
  8. Cancer Discov. 2022 Mar 29. pii: candisc.1484.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      The tumor microenvironment in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) involves a significant accumulation of fibroblasts as part of the host response to cancer. Employing single-cell RNA-sequencing, multiplex immunostaining, and several genetic mouse models, we identify carcinoma-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) with opposing functions in PDAC progression. Depletion of fibroblast activation protein (FAP)+ CAFs results in increased survival, in contrast to depletion of alpha smooth muscle actin (aSMA)+ CAFs that leads to decreased survival. Tumor-promoting FAP+ CAFs (TP-CAFs) and tumor-restraining aSMA+ CAFs (TR-CAFs) differentially regulate cancer-associated pathways and accumulation of Tregs. Improved efficacy of gemcitabine is observed when IL-6 is deleted from aSMA+ CAFs but not from FAP+ CAFs employing dual-recombinase genetic PDAC models. Improved gemcitabine efficacy due to lack of IL-6 synergizes with anti-PD1 immunotherapy to significantly improve survival of PDAC mice. Our study identifies functional heterogeneity of CAFs in PDAC progression and their different roles in therapy response.
  9. Autophagy. 2022 Apr 01.
      Macroautophagy/autophagy, a highly conserved catabolic pathway that maintains proper cellular homeostasis is stringently regulated by numerous autophagy-related (Atg) proteins. Many studies have investigated autophagy regulation at the transcriptional level; however, relatively little is known about translational control. Here, we report the upstream open reading frames (uORFs)-mediated translational control of multiple Atg proteins in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and in human cells. The translation of several essential autophagy regulators in yeast, including Atg13, is suppressed by canonical uORFs under nutrient-rich conditions, and is activated during nitrogen-starvation conditions. We also found that the predicted human ATG4B and ATG12 non-canonical uORFs suppress downstream coding sequence translation. These results demonstrate that uORF-mediated translational control is a widely used mechanism among ATG genes from yeast to human and suggest a model for how some ATG genes bypass the general translational suppression that occurs under stress conditions to maintain a proper level of autophagy.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; human; lysosome; stress; translational regulation; vacuole; yeast
  10. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2022 Apr 05. 119(14): e2121133119
      Significance Cardiovascular diseases remain the leading cause of death worldwide, with atherosclerosis being the most common source of clinical events. Metabolic changes with aging associate with concurrent increased risk of both type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, with the former further raising the risk of the latter. The activity of a selective type of autophagy, chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA), decreases with age or upon dietary excesses. Here we study whether reduced CMA activity increases risk of atherosclerosis in mouse models. We have identified that CMA is up-regulated early in response to proatherogenic challenges and demonstrate that reduced systemic CMA aggravates vascular pathology in these conditions. We also provide proof-of-concept support that CMA up-regulation is an effective intervention to reduce atherosclerosis severity and progression.
    Keywords:  atherosclerotic plaques; lipid challenge; lysosomes; proteolysis; vascular disease
  11. Dis Model Mech. 2022 Mar 01. pii: dmm049513. [Epub ahead of print]15(3):
      Cancer continues to be a leading cause of death worldwide, largely due to metastases and cachexia. It is a complex disease that is commonly associated with a variety of comorbidities. With global increases in ageing populations and obesity, multimorbidity is a rapidly growing clinical issue in the context of cancer. Cancer is also genetically heterogeneous, with a tumour's unique profile determining its incidence of metastasis, degree of cachexia and response to therapeutics. These complexities of human cancer are difficult to replicate in animal models and are, in part, responsible for the failures in translational cancer research. In this Perspective, we highlight the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as a powerful model organism to investigate multimorbidity and tumour diversity. We also highlight how harnessing these complexities in Drosophila can, potentially, enhance cancer research and advance therapeutic discoveries.
    Keywords:   Drosophila ; Ageing; Cachexia; Cancer; Metastasis; Multimorbidity; Obesity; Therapeutics; Tumour diversity
  12. Clin Exp Metastasis. 2022 Mar 26.
      The spread of tumor cells from the primary focus, metastasis, is the main cause of cancer mortality. Therefore, anticancer therapy should be focused on the prevention of metastatic disease. Key targets can be conditions in the primary tumor that are favorable for the appearance of metastatic cells and the first steps of the metastatic cascade. Here, we discuss different approaches for targeting metastasis causes (hypoxia, metabolism changes, and tumor microenvironment) and roots (angiogenesis, epithelial-mesenchymal transition, migration, and invasion). Also, we emphasize the challenges of the existing approaches for metastasis prevention and suggest opportunities to overcome them. In conclusion, we highlight the importance of clinical evaluation of the agents showing antimetastatic effects in vivo, especially in patients with early-stage cancers, the identification of metastatic seeds, and the development of therapeutics for their eradication.
    Keywords:  Cancer; Metastasis; Metastatic cascade; Prevention; Therapy
  13. Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Basis Dis. 2022 Mar 25. pii: S0925-4439(22)00070-9. [Epub ahead of print]1868(7): 166400
      Autophagy is an intracellular self-degradative mechanism which responds to cellular conditions like stress or starvation and plays a key role in regulating cell metabolism, energy homeostasis, starvation adaptation, development and cell death. Numerous studies have stipulated the participation of autophagy in cancer, but the role of autophagy either as tumor suppressor or tumor promoter is not clearly understood. However, mechanisms by which autophagy promotes cancer involves a diverse range of modifications of autophagy associated proteins such as ATGs, Beclin-1, mTOR, p53, KRAS etc. and autophagy pathways like mTOR, PI3K, MAPK, EGFR, HIF and NFκB. Furthermore, several researches have highlighted a context-dependent, cell type and stage-dependent regulation of autophagy in cancer. Alongside this, the interaction between tumor cells and their microenvironment including hypoxia has a great potential in modulating autophagy response in favour to substantiate cancer cell metabolism, self-proliferation and metastasis. In this review article, we highlight the mechanism of autophagy and their contribution to cancer cell proliferation and development. In addition, we discuss about tumor microenvironment interaction and their consequence on selective autophagy pathways and the involvement of autophagy in various tumor types and their therapeutic interventions concentrated on exploiting autophagy as a potential target to improve cancer therapy.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Cancer; Homeostasis; Hypoxia
  14. Nature. 2022 Mar 30.
      Oncogenic alterations to DNA are not transforming in all cellular contexts1,2. This may be due to pre-existing transcriptional programmes in the cell of origin. Here we define anatomic position as a major determinant of why cells respond to specific oncogenes. Cutaneous melanoma arises throughout the body, whereas the acral subtype arises on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet or under the nails3. We sequenced the DNA of cutaneous and acral melanomas from a large cohort of human patients and found a specific enrichment for BRAF mutations in cutaneous melanoma and enrichment for CRKL amplifications in acral melanoma. We modelled these changes in transgenic zebrafish models and found that CRKL-driven tumours formed predominantly in the fins of the fish. The fins are the evolutionary precursors to tetrapod limbs, indicating that melanocytes in these acral locations may be uniquely susceptible to CRKL. RNA profiling of these fin and limb melanocytes, when compared with body melanocytes, revealed a positional identity gene programme typified by posterior HOX13 genes. This positional gene programme synergized with CRKL to amplify insulin-like growth factor (IGF) signalling and drive tumours at acral sites. Abrogation of this CRKL-driven programme eliminated the anatomic specificity of acral melanoma. These data suggest that the anatomic position of the cell of origin endows it with a unique transcriptional state that makes it susceptible to only certain oncogenic insults.
  15. Nat Immunol. 2022 Mar 30.
      Internal organs heal injuries with new connective tissue, but the cellular and molecular events of this process remain obscure. By tagging extracellular matrix around the mesothelium lining in mouse peritoneum, liver and cecum, here we show that preexisting matrix was transferred across organs into wounds in various injury models. Using proteomics, genetic lineage-tracing and selective injury in juxtaposed organs, we found that the tissue of origin for the transferred matrix likely dictated the scarring or regeneration of the healing tissue. Single-cell RNA sequencing and genetic and chemical screens indicated that the preexisting matrix was transferred by neutrophils dependent on the HSF-integrin AM/B2-kindlin3 cascade. Pharmacologic inhibition of this axis prevented matrix transfer and the formation of peritoneal adhesions. Matrix transfer was thus an early event of wound repair and provides a therapeutic window to dampen scaring across a range of conditions.
  16. Inflamm Regen. 2022 Apr 02. 42(1): 11
      Cellular senescence is a state of irreversible cell cycle arrest that can be induced by a variety of potentially oncogenic stimuli, including DNA damage. Hence, senescence has long been considered to suppress tumorigenesis, acting as a guardian of homeostasis. However, recent studies have revealed that senescent cells exhibit the secretion of a series of inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, growth factors, and matrix remodeling factors that alter the local tissue environment and contribute to chronic inflammation and cancer. This senescence phenotype is termed as senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) and is observed not only in cultured cells in vitro but also in vivo. Recently, the physiological and pathological roles of SASP have been increasingly clarified. Notably, several studies have reported that the intrinsic mechanism of SASP factor production is predominantly mediated through the activation of the cGAS-STING (cyclic GMP-AMP synthase-stimulator of interferon genes) pathway by aberrantly accumulated DNA fragments from the nucleus of senescent cells. In contrast, various extrinsic triggers of SASP also exist in vivo, for example, the SASP induction in hepatic stellate cells in the tumor microenvironment of obesity-associated liver cancer by the translocated gut microbial metabolites. Recently, the strategy for the elimination of senescent cells (senolysis) has attracted increasing attention. Thus, the role of SASP and the effects and outcomes of senolysis in vivo will be also discussed in this review.
    Keywords:  Cellular senescence; Senescence-associated secretory phenotype; Senolysis; Toll-like receptor; Tumor microenvironment; cGAS-STING pathway
  17. Autophagy. 2022 Mar 28. 1-14
      The notion that macroautophagy/autophagy is a potentially attractive therapeutic target for a variety of diseases, including cancer, largely stems from pre-clinical mouse studies. Most of these examine the effects of irreversible and organ confined autophagy deletion using site specific Cre-loxP recombination of the essential autophagy regulating genes Atg7 or Atg5. Model systems with the ability to impair autophagy systemically and reversibly at all disease stages would allow a more realistic approach to evaluate the consequences of authophagy inhibition as a therapeutic concept and its potential side effects. Here, we present shRNA transgenic mice that via doxycycline (DOX) regulable expression of a highly efficient miR30-E-based shRNA enabled knockdown of Atg7 simultaneously in the majority of organs, with the brain and spleen being noteable exceptions. Induced animals deteriorated rapidly and experienced profound destruction of the exocrine pancreas, severe hypoglycemia and depletion of hepatic glycogen storages. Cessation of DOX application restored apparent health, glucose homeostasis and pancreatic integrity. In a similar Atg5 knockdown model we neither observed loss of pancreatic integrity nor diminished survival after DOX treatment, but identified histological changes consistent with steatohepatitis and hepatic fibrosis in the recovery period after termination of DOX. Regulable Atg7-shRNA mice are valuable tools that will enable further studies on the role of autophagy impairment at various disease stages and thereby help to evaluate the consequences of acute autophagy inhibition as a therapeutic concept.
    Keywords:  Atg5; Atg7; autophagy; liver; pancreas; shRNA transgenic mice
  18. Nature. 2022 Mar 30.
      Decades of work have elucidated cytokine signalling and transcriptional pathways that control T cell differentiation and have led the way to targeted biologic therapies that are effective in a range of autoimmune, allergic and inflammatory diseases. Recent evidence indicates that obesity and metabolic disease can also influence the immune system1-7, although the mechanisms and effects on immunotherapy outcomes remain largely unknown. Here, using two models of atopic dermatitis, we show that lean and obese mice mount markedly different immune responses. Obesity converted the classical type 2 T helper (TH2)-predominant disease associated with atopic dermatitis to a more severe disease with prominent TH17 inflammation. We also observed divergent responses to biologic therapies targeting TH2 cytokines, which robustly protected lean mice but exacerbated disease in obese mice. Single-cell RNA sequencing coupled with genome-wide binding analyses revealed decreased activity of nuclear receptor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPARγ) in TH2 cells from obese mice relative to lean mice. Conditional ablation of PPARγ in T cells revealed that PPARγ is required to focus the in vivo TH response towards a TH2-predominant state and prevent aberrant non-TH2 inflammation. Treatment of obese mice with a small-molecule PPARγ agonist limited development of TH17 pathology and unlocked therapeutic responsiveness to targeted anti-TH2 biologic therapies. These studies reveal the effects of obesity on immunological disease and suggest a precision medicine approach to target the immune dysregulation caused by obesity.
  19. Clin Cancer Res. 2022 Apr 01. pii: clincanres.4165.2021. [Epub ahead of print]
      RATIONALE: Patient-derived organoids (PDOs) are a promising technology to support precision medicine initiatives for patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). PDOs may improve clinical next-generation sequencing (NGS) and enable rapid ex vivo chemotherapeutic screening (pharmacotyping).METHODS: PDOs were derived from tissues obtained during surgical resection and endoscopic biopsies and studied with NGS and pharmacotyping. PDO-specific pharmacotype is assessed prospectively as a predictive biomarker of clinical therapeutic response by leveraging data from a randomized-controlled clinical trial.
    RESULTS: Clinical sequencing pipelines often fail to detect PDAC-associated somatic mutations in surgical specimens that demonstrate a good pathological response to previously administered chemotherapy. Sequencing the PDOs derived from these surgical specimens, after biomass expansion, improves the detection of somatic mutations and enables quantification of copy number variants. The detection of clinically relevant mutations and structural variants is improved following PDO biomass expansion. On clinical trial, PDOs were derived from biopsies of treatment naïve patients prior to treatment with FOLFIRINOX (FFX). Ex vivo PDO pharmacotyping with FFX components predicted clinical therapeutic response in these patients with borderline resectable or locally advanced PDAC treated in a neoadjuvant or induction paradigm. PDO pharmacotypes suggesting sensitivity to FFX components were associated with longitudinal declines of tumor marker, CA-19-9 and favorable RECIST imaging response.
    CONCLUSION: PDOs establishment from tissues obtained from patients previously receiving cytotoxic chemotherapies can be accomplished in a clinically-certified laboratory. Sequencing PDOs following biomass expansion improves clinical sequencing quality. High in-vitro sensitivity to standard-of-care chemotherapeutics predicts good clinical response to systemic chemotherapy in PDAC.
  20. J Cell Sci. 2022 Mar 28. pii: jcs.259114. [Epub ahead of print]
      Senescence is an irreversible proliferation withdrawal that can be initiated after DNA damage-induced cell cycle arrest in G2 phase to prevent genomic instability. Senescence onset in G2 requires p53 and RB family tumour suppressors, but how they are regulated to convert a temporary cell cycle arrest into a permanent one remains unknown. Here, we show that a previously unrecognised balance between the CDK inhibitor p21 and Chk1 controls D-type cyclin-CDK activity during G2 arrest. In non-transformed cells, p21 activates RB in G2 by inhibiting Cyclin D1-CDK2/CDK4. The resulting G2 exit, which precedes appearance of senescence markers, is associated with a mitotic bypass, Chk1 downregulation and DNA damage foci reduction. In p53/RB-proficient cancer cells, compromised G2 exit correlates with sustained Chk1 activity, delayed p21 induction, untimely Cyclin E1 re-expression and genome reduplication. Conversely, Chk1 depletion promotes senescence by inducing p21 binding to Cyclin D1 and Cyclin E1-CDK complexes and down-regulating CDK6, whereas Chk2 knockdown enables RB phosphorylation and delays G2 exit. In conclusion, p21 and Chk2 oppose Chk1 to maintain RB activity, thus promoting DNA damage-induced senescence onset in G2.
    Keywords:  CDK6; Chk1; DNA damage checkpoints; G2 arrest after DNA damage; Senescence; p21
  21. Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2022 Apr 02.
      Cancer, especially when it has metastasized to different locations in the body, is notoriously difficult to treat. Metastatic cancer accounts for most cancer deaths and thus remains an enormous challenge. During the metastasis process, cancer cells negotiate a series of steps termed the "metastatic cascadeˮ that offer potential for developing anti-metastatic therapy strategies. Currently available conventional treatment and diagnostic methods addressing metastasis come with their own pitfalls and roadblocks. In this contribution, we comprehensively discuss the potential improvements that nanotechnology-aided approaches are able to bring, either alone or in combination with the existing conventional techniques, to the identification and treatment of metastatic disease. We tie specific nanotechnology-aided strategies to the complex biology of the different steps of the metastatic cascade in order to open up new avenues for fine-tuned targeting and development of anti-metastatic agents designed specifically to prevent or mitigate the metastatic outgrowth of cancer. We also present a viewpoint on the progress of translation of nanotechnology into cancer metastasis patient care.
    Keywords:  Cancer; Metastasis; Nanoparticles; Nanotechnology; Translation
  22. Cell Cycle. 2022 Mar 31. 1-12
      A hallmark of cellular senescence is proliferation-like activity of growth-promoting pathways (such as mTOR and MAPK) in non-proliferating cells. When the cell cycle is arrested, these pathways convert arrest to senescence (geroconversion), rendering cells hypertrophic, beta-Gal-positive and hyperfunctional. The senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) is one of the numerous hyperfunctions. Figuratively, geroconversion is a continuation of growth in non-proliferating cells. Rapamycin, a reversible inhibitor of growth, slows down mTOR-driven geroconversion. Developed two decades ago, this model had accurately predicted that rapamycin must extend life span of animals. However, the notion that senescent cells directly cause organismal aging is oversimplified. Senescent cells contribute to organismal aging but are not strictly required. Cell senescence and organismal aging can be linked indirectly via the same underlying cause, namely hyperfunctional signaling pathways such as mTOR.
    Keywords:  Senescence; geroconversion; geroscience; gerostatics; healthspan; rapalogs; sirolimus
  23. Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 2022 Mar 30.
      In the past decade, substantial advances have been made in understanding the biology of tumour-associated macrophages (TAMs), and their clinical relevance is emerging. A particular aspect that is becoming increasingly clear is that the interaction of TAMs with cancer cells and stromal cells in the tumour microenvironment enables and sustains most of the hallmarks of cancer. Therefore, manipulation of TAMs could enable improved disease control in a substantial fraction of patients across a large number of cancer types. In this Review, we examine the diversity of TAMs in various cancer indications and how this heterogeneity is being revisited with the advent of single-cell technologies, and then explore the current knowledge on the functional roles of different TAM states and the prognostic and predictive value of TAM-related signatures. We also review agents targeting TAMs that are currently being or will soon be tested in clinical trials, and how manipulations of TAMs can improve existing anticancer treatments. Finally, we discuss how TAM-targeting approaches could be further integrated into routine clinical practice, considering a precision oncology approach and viewing TAMs as a dynamic population that can evolve under treatment pressure.
  24. Nat Metab. 2022 Mar;4(3): 389-403
      Neutrophils are cells at the frontline of innate immunity that can quickly activate effector functions to eliminate pathogens upon stimulation. However, little is known about the metabolic adaptations that power these functions. Here we show rapid metabolic alterations in neutrophils upon activation, particularly drastic reconfiguration around the pentose phosphate pathway, which is specifically and quantitatively coupled to an oxidative burst. During this oxidative burst, neutrophils switch from glycolysis-dominant metabolism to a unique metabolic mode termed 'pentose cycle', where all glucose-6-phosphate is diverted into oxidative pentose phosphate pathway and net flux through upper glycolysis is reversed to allow substantial recycling of pentose phosphates. This reconfiguration maximizes NADPH yield to fuel superoxide production via NADPH oxidase. Disruptions of pentose cycle greatly suppress oxidative burst, the release of neutrophil extracellular traps and pathogen killing by neutrophils. Together, these results demonstrate the remarkable metabolic flexibility of neutrophils, which is essential for their functions as the first responders in innate immunity.
  25. Nat Metab. 2022 Mar 31.
      Efferocytosis, the clearance of apoptotic cells (ACs) by macrophages, is critical for tissue resolution, with defects driving many diseases. Mechanisms of efferocytosis-mediated resolution are incompletely understood. Here, we show that AC-derived methionine regulates resolution through epigenetic repression of the extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) phosphatase Dusp4. We focus on two key efferocytosis-induced pro-resolving mediators, prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-β1), and show that efferocytosis induces prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase 2/cyclooxygenase 2 (Ptgs2/COX2), leading to PGE2 synthesis and PGE2-mediated induction of TGF-β1. ERK1/2 phosphorylation/activation by AC-activated CD36 is necessary for Ptgs2 induction, but this is insufficient owing to an ERK-DUSP4 negative feedback pathway that lowers phospho-ERK. However, subsequent AC engulfment and phagolysosomal degradation lead to Dusp4 repression, enabling enhanced p-ERK and induction of the Ptgs2-PGE2-TGF-β1 pathway. Mechanistically, AC-derived methionine is converted to S-adenosylmethionine, which is used by DNA methyltransferase-3A (DNMT3A) to methylate Dusp4. Bone-marrow DNMT3A deletion in mice blocks COX2/PGE2, TGF-β1, and resolution in sterile peritonitis, apoptosis-induced thymus injury and atherosclerosis. Knowledge of how macrophages use AC-cargo and epigenetics to induce resolution provides mechanistic insight and therapeutic options for diseases driven by impaired resolution.
  26. Science. 2022 Apr;376(6588): 44-53
    Sergey Nurk, Sergey Koren, Arang Rhie, Mikko Rautiainen, Andrey V Bzikadze, Alla Mikheenko, Mitchell R Vollger, Nicolas Altemose, Lev Uralsky, Ariel Gershman, Sergey Aganezov, Savannah J Hoyt, Mark Diekhans, Glennis A Logsdon, Michael Alonge, Stylianos E Antonarakis, Matthew Borchers, Gerard G Bouffard, Shelise Y Brooks, Gina V Caldas, Nae-Chyun Chen, Haoyu Cheng, Chen-Shan Chin, William Chow, Leonardo G de Lima, Philip C Dishuck, Richard Durbin, Tatiana Dvorkina, Ian T Fiddes, Giulio Formenti, Robert S Fulton, Arkarachai Fungtammasan, Erik Garrison, Patrick G S Grady, Tina A Graves-Lindsay, Ira M Hall, Nancy F Hansen, Gabrielle A Hartley, Marina Haukness, Kerstin Howe, Michael W Hunkapiller, Chirag Jain, Miten Jain, Erich D Jarvis, Peter Kerpedjiev, Melanie Kirsche, Mikhail Kolmogorov, Jonas Korlach, Milinn Kremitzki, Heng Li, Valerie V Maduro, Tobias Marschall, Ann M McCartney, Jennifer McDaniel, Danny E Miller, James C Mullikin, Eugene W Myers, Nathan D Olson, Benedict Paten, Paul Peluso, Pavel A Pevzner, David Porubsky, Tamara Potapova, Evgeny I Rogaev, Jeffrey A Rosenfeld, Steven L Salzberg, Valerie A Schneider, Fritz J Sedlazeck, Kishwar Shafin, Colin J Shew, Alaina Shumate, Ying Sims, Arian F A Smit, Daniela C Soto, Ivan Sović, Jessica M Storer, Aaron Streets, Beth A Sullivan, Françoise Thibaud-Nissen, James Torrance, Justin Wagner, Brian P Walenz, Aaron Wenger, Jonathan M D Wood, Chunlin Xiao, Stephanie M Yan, Alice C Young, Samantha Zarate, Urvashi Surti, Rajiv C McCoy, Megan Y Dennis, Ivan A Alexandrov, Jennifer L Gerton, Rachel J O'Neill, Winston Timp, Justin M Zook, Michael C Schatz, Evan E Eichler, Karen H Miga, Adam M Phillippy.
      Since its initial release in 2000, the human reference genome has covered only the euchromatic fraction of the genome, leaving important heterochromatic regions unfinished. Addressing the remaining 8% of the genome, the Telomere-to-Telomere (T2T) Consortium presents a complete 3.055 billion-base pair sequence of a human genome, T2T-CHM13, that includes gapless assemblies for all chromosomes except Y, corrects errors in the prior references, and introduces nearly 200 million base pairs of sequence containing 1956 gene predictions, 99 of which are predicted to be protein coding. The completed regions include all centromeric satellite arrays, recent segmental duplications, and the short arms of all five acrocentric chromosomes, unlocking these complex regions of the genome to variational and functional studies.
  27. Nat Rev Cancer. 2022 Mar 30.
      The immune system plays a critical role in shaping all facets of cancer, from the early initiation stage through to metastatic disease and resistance to therapy. Our understanding of the importance of the adaptive arm of the immune system in antitumour immunity has led to the implementation of immunotherapy with immune checkpoint inhibitors in numerous cancers, albeit with differing efficacy. By contrast, the clinical utility of innate immunity in cancer has not been exploited, despite dysregulated innate immunity being a feature of at least one-third of all cancers associated with tumour-promoting chronic inflammation. The past two decades have seen innate immune pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) emerge as critical regulators of the immune response to microbial infection and host tissue damage. More recently, it has become apparent that in many cancer types, PRRs play a central role in modulating a vast array of tumour-inhibiting and tumour-promoting cellular responses both in immune cells within the tumour microenvironment and directly in cancer cells. Herein, we provide a comprehensive overview of the fast-evolving field of PRRs in cancer, and discuss the potential to target PRRs for drug development and biomarker discovery in a wide range of oncology settings.
  28. Semin Cancer Biol. 2022 Mar 25. pii: S1044-579X(22)00078-5. [Epub ahead of print]
      Pancreatic cancer (PC) is exemplified by a complex immune-suppressive, fibrotic tumor microenvironment (TME), oncogenic molecular alterations, and aberrant expression of mucins. The constant crosstalk between cancer cells, cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), and the immune cells mediated by the soluble factors and inflammatory mediators including cytokines, chemokines, reactive oxygen species (ROS) promote the dynamic temporal switch towards an immune-escape phenotype in the neoplastic cells and its microenvironment that bolsters disease progression. Chemokines have been studied in PC pathogenesis, albeit poorly in the context of mucins, tumor glycocalyx, and TME heterogeneity (CAFs and immune cells). With correlative analysis from PC patients' transcriptome data, support from available literature, and scientific arguments-based speculative extrapolations in terms of disease pathogenesis, we have summarized in this review a comprehensive understanding of chemokine-mucinome interplay during stromal modulation and immune-suppression in PC. Future studies should focus on deciphering the complexities of chemokine-mediated control of glycocalyx maturation, immune infiltration, and CAF-associated immune suppression. Knowledge extracted from such studies will be beneficial to mechanistically correlate the mucin-chemokine abundance in serum versus pancreatic tumors of patients, which may aid in prognostication and stratification of PC patients for immunotherapy.
    Keywords:  Pancreatic cancer; chemokines; mucins; stroma; tumor-microenvironment
  29. Elife. 2022 Mar 31. pii: e72989. [Epub ahead of print]11
      Parent-of-origin effects are unexpectedly common in complex traits, including metabolic and neurological traits. Parent-of-origin effects can be modified by the environment, but the architecture of these gene-by-environmental effects on phenotypes remains to be unraveled. Previously, quantitative trait loci (QTL) showing context-specific parent-of-origin effects on metabolic traits were mapped in the F16 generation of an advanced intercross between LG/J and SM/J inbred mice. However, these QTL were not enriched for known imprinted genes, suggesting another mechanism is needed to explain these parent-of-origin effects phenomena. We propose that non-imprinted genes can generate complex parent-of-origin effects on metabolic traits through interactions with imprinted genes. Here, we employ data from mouse populations at different levels of intercrossing (F0, F1, F2, F16) of the LG/J and SM/J inbred mouse lines to test this hypothesis. Using multiple populations and incorporating genetic, genomic, and physiological data, we leverage orthogonal evidence to identify networks of genes through which parent-of-origin effects propagate. We identify a network comprised of 3 imprinted and 6 non-imprinted genes that show parent-of-origin effects. This epistatic network forms a nutritional responsive pathway and the genes comprising it jointly serve cellular functions associated with growth. We focus on 2 genes, Nnat and F2r, whose interaction associates with serum glucose levels across generations in high fat-fed females. Single-cell RNAseq reveals that Nnat expression increases and F2r expression decreases in pre-adipocytes along an adipogenic trajectory, a result that is consistent with our observations in bulk white adipose tissue.
    Keywords:  evolutionary biology; genetics; genomics; mouse
  30. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2022 ;10 849962
      Mitochondria are highly dynamic organelles which can change their shape, via processes termed fission and fusion, in order to adapt to different environmental and developmental contexts. Due to the importance of these processes in maintaining a physiologically healthy pool of mitochondria, aberrant cycles of fission/fusion are often seen in pathological contexts. In this review we will discuss how dysregulated fission and fusion promote tumor progression. We focus on the molecular mechanisms involved in fission and fusion, discussing how altered mitochondrial fission and fusion change tumor cell growth, metabolism, motility, and invasion and, finally how changes to these tumor-cell intrinsic phenotypes directly and indirectly impact tumor progression to metastasis. Although this is an emerging field of investigation, the current consensus is that mitochondrial fission positively influences metastatic potential in a broad variety of tumor types. As mitochondria are now being investigated as vulnerable targets in a variety of cancer types, we underscore the importance of their dynamic nature in potentiating tumor progression.
    Keywords:  cancer; fission; fusion; metastasis; mitochondria; mitochondrial dynamics
  31. Traffic. 2022 Mar 28.
      Since the discovery of lysosomes more than 70 years ago, much has been learned about the functions of these organelles. Lysosomes were regarded as exclusively degradative organelles, but more recent research has revealed that they play essential roles in several other cellular functions, such as nutrient sensing, intracellular signalling, and metabolism. Methodological advances played a key part in generating our current knowledge about the biology of this multifaceted organelle. In this review, we cover current methods used to analyse lysosome morphology, positioning, motility, and function. We highlight the principles behind these methods, the methodological strategies, and their advantages and limitations. To extract accurate information and avoid misinterpretations, we discuss the best strategies to identify lysosomes and assess their characteristics and functions. With this review, we aim to stimulate an increase in the quantity and quality of research on lysosomes and further ground-breaking discoveries on an organelle that continues to surprise and excite cell biologists.
    Keywords:  Endolysosomes; Lysosomal storage diseases; Lysosome biogenesis; Lysosome exocytosis; Lysosome-related organelles; Lysosomes; Membrane contact sites; TFEB; mTOR
  32. Trends Genet. 2022 Mar 25. pii: S0168-9525(22)00037-3. [Epub ahead of print]
      The tumor protein TP53 gene, encoding the cellular tumor antigen p53, is the single most frequently mutated gene in human cancers. p53 plays a central role in responding to DNA damage and determines the outcome of the DNA damage checkpoint response by regulating cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. As a consequence of this function, dysfunctional p53 results in cells that, despite a damaged genome, continue to proliferate thus fueling malignant transformation. New insights have recently been gained into the complexity of the p53 regulation of the DNA damage response (DDR) and how it impacts a wide variety of cellular processes. In addition to cell-autonomous signaling mechanisms, non-cell-autonomous regulatory inputs influence p53 activity, which in turn can have systemic consequences on the organism. New inroads have also been made toward therapeutic targeting of p53 that for a long time has been anticipated.
    Keywords:  DNA damage; aging; cancer; p53; tumor suppression
  33. BMC Cancer. 2022 Mar 30. 22(1): 347
      BACKGROUND: Accumulation of the signal adaptor protein p62 has been demonstrated in many forms of cancer, including pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Although data from experimental studies suggest that p62 accumulation accelerates the development of PDAC, the association between p62 protein expression and survival in PDAC patients is unclear.METHODS: Thirty-three tumor specimens from PDAC patients treated by primary surgery were obtained. Immunohistochemical expression of p62, microtubule-associated protein 1A/1B-light chain 3 (LC3), and nuclear factor-erythroid factor 2-related factor 2 (NRF2) in tumor tissue was examined for associations with clinicopathological characteristics and disease-specific survival (DSS).
    RESULTS: There was no association between p62 expression and any of the clinicopathological variables. However, high p62 protein expression in tumor cells was significantly associated with shorter DSS (7 months vs. 29 months, p = 0.017). The hazard ratio for death in patients with high p62 protein expression in tumor cells was 2.88 (95% confidence interval: 1.17-7.11, p = 0.022). In multivariable analysis, high p62 expression was an independent prognostic factor for shorter DSS (p = 0.020) when follow up time was more than 5 years. LC3 and NRF2 staining was not associated with survival or other clinicopathological parameters.
    CONCLUSION: Our results show that high p62 protein expression in tumor cells is associated with shorter survival following pancreatic tumor resection. This association supports a role for p62 as a prognostic marker in patients with PDAC treated by primary surgery.
    Keywords:  Pancreatic cancer; Survival; p62/SQSTM1
  34. Biophys J. 2022 Mar 29. pii: S0006-3495(22)00242-9. [Epub ahead of print]
      While it is now recognized that specific RNAs and protein families are critical for the biogenesis of ribonucleoprotein (RNP) condensates, how these molecular constituents determine condensate size and morphology is unknown. To circumvent the biochemical complexity of endogenous RNP condensates, the use of programmable tools to reconstitute condensate formation with minimal constituents can be instrumental. Here we report a methodology to form RNA-containing condensates in living cells programmed to specifically recruit a single RNA species. Our bioengineered condensates are made of ArtiGranule scaffolds composed of an orthogonal protein that can bind to a specific heterologously expressed RNA. These scaffolds undergo liquid-liquid phase separation in cells and can be chemically controlled to prevent condensation or to trigger condensate dissolution. We found that the targeted RNAs localize at the condensate surface, either as isolated RNA molecules or as a homogenous corona of RNA molecules around the condensate. The recruitment of RNA changes the material properties of condensates by hardening the condensate body. Moreover, the condensate size scales with RNA surface density; the higher the RNA density, the smaller and more frequent the condensates. These results suggest a mechanism based on physical constraints, provided by RNAs at the condensate surface, that limit condensate growth and coalescence.