bims-camemi Biomed News
on Mitochondrial metabolism in cancer
Issue of 2021‒01‒24
sixty-five papers selected by
Christian Frezza
University of Cambridge, MRC Cancer Unit

  1. Nat Commun. 2021 Jan 22. 12(1): 521
      The endoplasmic reticulum-mitochondria encounter structure (ERMES) complex creates contact sites between the endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria, playing crucial roles in interorganelle communication, mitochondrial fission, mtDNA inheritance, lipid transfer, and autophagy. The mechanism regulating the number of ERMES foci within the cell remains unclear. Here, we demonstrate that the mitochondrial membrane protein Emr1 contributes to regulating the number of ERMES foci. We show that the absence of Emr1 significantly decreases the number of ERMES foci. Moreover, we find that Emr1 interacts with the ERMES core component Mdm12 and colocalizes with Mdm12 on mitochondria. Similar to ERMES mutant cells, cells lacking Emr1 display defective mitochondrial morphology and impaired mitochondrial segregation, which can be rescued by an artificial tether capable of linking the endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria. We further demonstrate that the cytoplasmic region of Emr1 is required for regulating the number of ERMES foci. This work thus reveals a crucial regulatory protein necessary for ERMES functions and provides mechanistic insights into understanding the dynamic regulation of endoplasmic reticulum-mitochondria communication.
  2. Nat Metab. 2021 Jan;3(1): 33-42
      Mitochondrial diseases (MDs) are a heterogeneous group of disorders resulting from mutations in nuclear or mitochondrial DNA genes encoding mitochondrial proteins1,2. MDs cause pathologies with severe tissue damage and ultimately death3,4. There are no cures for MDs and current treatments are only palliative5-7. Here we show that tetracyclines improve fitness of cultured MD cells and ameliorate disease in a mouse model of Leigh syndrome. To identify small molecules that prevent cellular damage and death under nutrient stress conditions, we conduct a chemical high-throughput screen with cells carrying human MD mutations and discover a series of antibiotics that maintain survival of various MD cells. We subsequently show that a sub-library of tetracycline analogues, including doxycycline, rescues cell death and inflammatory signatures in mutant cells through partial and selective inhibition of mitochondrial translation, resulting in an ATF4-independent mitohormetic response. Doxycycline treatment strongly promotes fitness and survival of Ndufs4-/- mice, a preclinical Leigh syndrome mouse model8. A proteomic analysis of brain tissue reveals that doxycycline treatment largely prevents neuronal death and the accumulation of neuroimmune and inflammatory proteins in Ndufs4-/- mice, indicating a potential causal role for these proteins in the brain pathology. Our findings suggest that tetracyclines deserve further evaluation as potential drugs for the treatment of MDs.
  3. J Biol Chem. 2020 Dec 25. pii: S0021-9258(17)50708-5. [Epub ahead of print]295(52): 18406-18425
      Mitochondria are specialized compartments that produce requisite ATP to fuel cellular functions and serve as centers of metabolite processing, cellular signaling, and apoptosis. To accomplish these roles, mitochondria rely on the genetic information in their small genome (mitochondrial DNA) and the nucleus. A growing appreciation for mitochondria's role in a myriad of human diseases, including inherited genetic disorders, degenerative diseases, inflammation, and cancer, has fueled the study of biochemical mechanisms that control mitochondrial function. The mitochondrial transcriptional machinery is different from nuclear machinery. The in vitro re-constituted transcriptional complexes of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (yeast) and humans, aided with high-resolution structures and biochemical characterizations, have provided a deeper understanding of the mechanism and regulation of mitochondrial DNA transcription. In this review, we will discuss recent advances in the structure and mechanism of mitochondrial transcription initiation. We will follow up with recent discoveries and formative findings regarding the regulatory events that control mitochondrial DNA transcription, focusing on those involved in cross-talk between the mitochondria and nucleus.
    Keywords:  DNA transcription; RNA polymerase; enzyme mechanism; enzyme structure; human mitochondrial RNA polymerase; mitochondria; mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA); mitochondrial DNA transcription; mitochondrial gene regulation; structure-function; transcription; transcription initiation factors; transcription regulation; yeast mitochondrial RNA polymerase
  4. J Biol Chem. 2021 Jan 19. pii: S0021-9258(21)00078-8. [Epub ahead of print] 100309
      Mitochondral DNA is located in organelle that house essential metablic reactions and contain high reactive oxygen species. Therefore, mitochondrial DNA suffers more oxidative damage than its nuclear counterpart. Formation of a repair enzyme complex is beneficial to DNA repair. Recent studies have shown that mitochondrial DNA polymerase (Pol γ) and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase 1 (PARP1) were found in the same complex along with other mitochondrial DNA repair enzymes and mitochondrial PARP1 level is correlated with mtDNA integrity. However, the molecular basis for the functional connection between Pol γ and PARP1 has not yet been elucidated because cellular functions of PARP1 in DNA repair are intertwined with metabolism via NAD+ (nicotinamide adenosine dinucleotide), the substrate of PARP1 and a metabolic cofactor. To dissect the direct effect of PARP1 on mtDNA from the secondary perturbation of metabolism, we report here biochemical studies that recapitulated Pol γ PARylation observed in cells and showed that PARP1 regulates Pol γ activity during DNA repair in a metabolic cofactor NAD+ (nicotinamide adenosine dinucleotide)-dependent manner. In the absence of NAD+, PARP1 completely inhibits Pol γ, while increasing NAD+ levels to a physiological concentration that enables Pol γ to resume maximum repair activity. Because cellular NAD+ levels are linked to metabolism and to ATP production via oxidative phosphorylation, our results suggest that mtDNA damage repair is coupled to cellular metabolic state and the integrity of the respiratory chain.
    Keywords:  ADP-ribosylation; DNA polymerase; DNA repair; DNA synthesis; post-translational modification (PTM); protein-DNA interaction; protein-protein interaction; western blot
  5. J Biol Chem. 2020 Dec 13. pii: S0021-9258(20)00163-5. [Epub ahead of print]296 100169
      The transcription factor nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) regulates the expression of genes involved in antioxidant defenses to modulate fundamental cellular processes such as mitochondrial function and GSH metabolism. Previous reports proposed that mitochondrial reactive oxygen species production and disruption of the GSH pool activate the Nrf2 pathway, suggesting that Nrf2 senses mitochondrial redox signals and/or oxidative damage and signals to the nucleus to respond appropriately. However, until now, it has not been possible to disentangle the overlapping effects of mitochondrial superoxide/hydrogen peroxide production as a redox signal from changes to mitochondrial thiol homeostasis on Nrf2. Recently, we developed mitochondria-targeted reagents that can independently induce mitochondrial superoxide and hydrogen peroxide production mitoParaquat (MitoPQ) or selectively disrupt mitochondrial thiol homeostasis MitoChlorodinitrobenzoic acid (MitoCDNB). Using these reagents, here we have determined how enhanced generation of mitochondrial superoxide and hydrogen peroxide or disruption of mitochondrial thiol homeostasis affects activation of the Nrf2 system in cells, which was assessed by the Nrf2 protein level, nuclear translocation, and expression of its target genes. We found that selective disruption of the mitochondrial GSH pool and inhibition of its thioredoxin system by MitoCDNB led to Nrf2 activation, whereas using MitoPQ to enhance the production of mitochondrial superoxide and hydrogen peroxide alone did not. We further showed that Nrf2 activation by MitoCDNB requires cysteine sensors of Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1). These findings provide important information on how disruption to mitochondrial redox homeostasis is sensed in the cytoplasm and signaled to the nucleus.
    Keywords:  MitoCDNB; MitoPQ; Nrf2; energy metabolism; reactive oxygen species (ROS); redox signaling; thiol oxidation
  6. J Biol Chem. 2020 Dec 18. pii: S0021-9258(17)50642-0. [Epub ahead of print]295(51): 17588-17601
      Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) encodes proteins and RNAs that support the functions of mitochondria and thereby numerous physiological processes. Mutations of mtDNA can cause mitochondrial diseases and are implicated in aging. The mtDNA within cells is organized into nucleoids within the mitochondrial matrix, but how mtDNA nucleoids are formed and regulated within cells remains incompletely resolved. Visualization of mtDNA within cells is a powerful means by which mechanistic insight can be gained. Manipulation of the amount and sequence of mtDNA within cells is important experimentally and for developing therapeutic interventions to treat mitochondrial disease. This review details recent developments and opportunities for improvements in the experimental tools and techniques that can be used to visualize, quantify, and manipulate the properties of mtDNA within cells.
    Keywords:  aging; gene editing; microscopy; mitochondria; mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA); mitochondrial disease; mitophagy
  7. J Biol Chem. 2020 Dec 18. pii: S0021-9258(17)50632-8. [Epub ahead of print]295(51): 17441-17459
      Cancer cachexia is characterized by reductions in peripheral lean muscle mass. Prior studies have primarily focused on increased protein breakdown as the driver of cancer-associated muscle wasting. Therapeutic interventions targeting catabolic pathways have, however, largely failed to preserve muscle mass in cachexia, suggesting that other mechanisms might be involved. In pursuit of novel pathways, we used untargeted metabolomics to search for metabolite signatures that may be linked with muscle atrophy. We injected 7-week-old C57/BL6 mice with LLC1 tumor cells or vehicle. After 21 days, tumor-bearing mice exhibited reduced body and muscle mass and impaired grip strength compared with controls, which was accompanied by lower synthesis rates of mixed muscle protein and the myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic muscle fractions. Reductions in protein synthesis were accompanied by mitochondrial enlargement and reduced coupling efficiency in tumor-bearing mice. To generate mechanistic insights into impaired protein synthesis, we performed untargeted metabolomic analyses of plasma and muscle and found increased concentrations of two methylarginines, asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA) and NG-monomethyl-l-arginine, in tumor-bearing mice compared with control mice. Compared with healthy controls, human cancer patients were also found to have higher levels of ADMA in the skeletal muscle. Treatment of C2C12 myotubes with ADMA impaired protein synthesis and reduced mitochondrial protein quality. These results suggest that increased levels of ADMA and mitochondrial changes may contribute to impaired muscle protein synthesis in cancer cachexia and could point to novel therapeutic targets by which to mitigate cancer cachexia.
    Keywords:  ADMA; cachexia; cancer; l-NMMA; metabolomics; methylarginines; mitochondria; protein synthesis; protein turnover; skeletal muscle
  8. Cell Metab. 2021 Jan 18. pii: S1550-4131(20)30728-2. [Epub ahead of print]
      Glycolysis plays a central role in organismal metabolism, but its quantitative inputs across mammalian tissues remain unclear. Here we use 13C-tracing in mice to quantify glycolytic intermediate sources: circulating glucose, intra-tissue glycogen, and circulating gluconeogenic precursors. Circulating glucose is the main source of circulating lactate, the primary end product of tissue glycolysis. Yet circulating glucose highly labels glycolytic intermediates in only a few tissues: blood, spleen, diaphragm, and soleus muscle. Most glycolytic intermediates in the bulk of body tissue, including liver and quadriceps muscle, come instead from glycogen. Gluconeogenesis contributes less but also broadly to glycolytic intermediates, and its flux persists with physiologic feeding (but not hyperinsulinemic clamp). Instead of suppressing gluconeogenesis, feeding activates oxidation of circulating glucose and lactate to maintain glucose homeostasis. Thus, the bulk of the body slowly breaks down internally stored glycogen while select tissues rapidly catabolize circulating glucose to lactate for oxidation throughout the body.
    Keywords:  compartmentalized metabolism; glucose homeostasis; glycogen; glycolysis; glycolytic intermediates; glycolytic specialist; isotope tracing; metabolic heterogeneity; red muscle
  9. J Cell Biochem. 2021 Jan 18.
      The eukaryotic translation initiation factor 5A (eIF5A) is the only known protein containing the amino acid residue hypusine, essential for its activity. Hypusine residue is produced by a posttranslational modification involving deoxyhypusine synthetase and deoxyhypusine hydroxylase. Herein, we aimed to describe the role of the alternative human isoform A on mitochondrial processes. Isoform A depletion modulates oxidative metabolism in association with the downregulation of mitochondrial biogenesis-related genes. Through positive feedback, it increases cell respiration leading to highly reactive oxygen species production, which impacts mitochondrial bioenergetics. These metabolic changes compromise mitochondrial morphology, increasing its electron density and fission, observed by transmission electron microscopy. This set of changes leads the cells to apoptosis, evidenced by increased DNA fragmentation and proapoptotic BAK protein content increase. Thus, we show that the alternative eIF5A isoform A is crucial for energy metabolism controlled by mitochondria and cellular survival.
    Keywords:  apoptosis; eIF5A isoform A; human; hypusine; mitochondria; oxidative metabolism
  10. Cell Syst. 2021 Jan 20. pii: S2405-4712(20)30502-0. [Epub ahead of print]12(1): 68-81.e11
      Redox cofactor production is integral toward antioxidant generation, clearance of reactive oxygen species, and overall tumor response to ionizing radiation treatment. To identify systems-level alterations in redox metabolism that confer resistance to radiation therapy, we developed a bioinformatics pipeline for integrating multi-omics data into personalized genome-scale flux balance analysis models of 716 radiation-sensitive and 199 radiation-resistant tumors. These models collectively predicted that radiation-resistant tumors reroute metabolic flux to increase mitochondrial NADPH stores and reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenging. Simulated genome-wide knockout screens agreed with experimental siRNA gene knockdowns in matched radiation-sensitive and radiation-resistant cancer cell lines, revealing gene targets involved in mitochondrial NADPH production, central carbon metabolism, and folate metabolism that allow for selective inhibition of glutathione production and H2O2 clearance in radiation-resistant cancers. This systems approach represents a significant advancement in developing quantitative genome-scale models of redox metabolism and identifying personalized metabolic targets for improving radiation sensitivity in individual cancer patients.
    Keywords:  NADPH; The Cancer Genome Atlas; flux balance analysis; genome-scale; glutathione; hydrogen peroxide; personalized models; radiation resistance; reactive oxygen species; redox metabolism
  11. J Biol Chem. 2020 Dec 25. pii: S0021-9258(17)50673-0. [Epub ahead of print]295(52): 17935-17949
      The tenovins are a frequently studied class of compounds capable of inhibiting sirtuin activity, which is thought to result in increased acetylation and protection of the tumor suppressor p53 from degradation. However, as we and other laboratories have shown previously, certain tenovins are also capable of inhibiting autophagic flux, demonstrating the ability of these compounds to engage with more than one target. In this study, we present two additional mechanisms by which tenovins are able to activate p53 and kill tumor cells in culture. These mechanisms are the inhibition of a key enzyme of the de novo pyrimidine synthesis pathway, dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH), and the blockage of uridine transport into cells. These findings hold a 3-fold significance: first, we demonstrate that tenovins, and perhaps other compounds that activate p53, may activate p53 by more than one mechanism; second, that work previously conducted with certain tenovins as SirT1 inhibitors should additionally be viewed through the lens of DHODH inhibition as this is a major contributor to the mechanism of action of the most widely used tenovins; and finally, that small changes in the structure of a small molecule can lead to a dramatic change in the target profile of the molecule even when the phenotypic readout remains static.
    Keywords:  cell death; mitochondria; molecular modeling; molecular pharmacology; nucleoside/nucleotide biosynthesis; nucleoside/nucleotide transport; p53; tumor cell biology
  12. Cell Rep. 2021 Jan 19. pii: S2211-1247(20)31649-1. [Epub ahead of print]34(3): 108660
      Aging is characterized by loss of proteostasis and mitochondrial homeostasis. Here, we provide bioinformatic evidence of dysregulation of mitochondrial and proteostasis pathways in muscle aging and diseases. Moreover, we show accumulation of amyloid-like deposits and mitochondrial dysfunction during natural aging in the body wall muscle of C. elegans, in human primary myotubes, and in mouse skeletal muscle, partially phenocopying inclusion body myositis (IBM). Importantly, NAD+ homeostasis is critical to control age-associated muscle amyloidosis. Treatment of either aged N2 worms, a nematode model of amyloid-beta muscle proteotoxicity, human aged myotubes, or old mice with the NAD+ boosters nicotinamide riboside (NR) and olaparib (AZD) increases mitochondrial function and muscle homeostasis while attenuating amyloid accumulation. Hence, our data reveal that age-related amyloidosis is a contributing factor to mitochondrial dysfunction and that both are features of the aging muscle that can be ameliorated by NAD+ metabolism-enhancing approaches, warranting further clinical studies.
    Keywords:  NAD(+); aging; amyloid-beta; amyloidosis; inclusion body myositis; mitochondria; nicotinamide riboside; olaparib; proteostasis; skeletal muscle
  13. Nat Cancer. 2020 Oct;1(10): 998-1009
      Metabolic reprogramming is a key hallmark of cancer, but less is known about metabolic plasticity of the same tumor at different sites. Here, we investigated the metabolic adaptation of leukemia in two different microenvironments, the bone marrow and the central nervous system (CNS). We identified a metabolic signature of fatty-acid synthesis in CNS leukemia, highlighting Stearoyl-CoA desaturase (SCD1) as a key player. In vivo SCD1 overexpression increases CNS disease, whilst genetic or pharmacological inhibition of SCD1 decreases CNS load. Overall, we demonstrated that leukemic cells dynamically rewire metabolic pathways to suit local conditions and that targeting these adaptations can be exploited therapeutically.
    Keywords:  SCD1; acute lymphoblastic leukemia; central nervous system; fatty acid synthesis; metabolic reprogramming
  14. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Jan 26. pii: e2022120118. [Epub ahead of print]118(4):
      In mammalian cells, nutrients and growth factors signal through an array of upstream proteins to regulate the mTORC1 growth control pathway. Because the full complement of these proteins has not been systematically identified, we developed a FACS-based CRISPR-Cas9 genetic screening strategy to pinpoint genes that regulate mTORC1 activity. Along with almost all known positive components of the mTORC1 pathway, we identified many genes that impact mTORC1 activity, including DCAF7, CSNK2B, SRSF2, IRS4, CCDC43, and HSD17B10 Using the genome-wide screening data, we generated a focused sublibrary containing single guide RNAs (sgRNAs) targeting hundreds of genes and carried out epistasis screens in cells lacking nutrient- and stress-responsive mTORC1 modulators, including GATOR1, AMPK, GCN2, and ATF4. From these data, we pinpointed mitochondrial function as a particularly important input into mTORC1 signaling. While it is well appreciated that mitochondria signal to mTORC1, the mechanisms are not completely clear. We find that the kinases AMPK and HRI signal, with varying kinetics, mitochondrial distress to mTORC1, and that HRI acts through the ATF4-dependent up-regulation of both Sestrin2 and Redd1. Loss of both AMPK and HRI is sufficient to render mTORC1 signaling largely resistant to mitochondrial dysfunction induced by the ATP synthase inhibitor oligomycin as well as the electron transport chain inhibitors piericidin and antimycin. Taken together, our data reveal a catalog of genes that impact the mTORC1 pathway and clarify the multifaceted ways in which mTORC1 senses mitochondrial dysfunction.
    Keywords:  CRISPR-Cas9 screen; mTORC1; mitochondria
  15. Nat Commun. 2021 01 20. 12(1): 479
      As organisms develop, individual cells generate mitochondria to fulfill physiological requirements. However, it remains unknown how mitochondrial network expansion is scaled to cell growth. The mitochondrial unfolded protein response (UPRmt) is a signaling pathway mediated by the transcription factor ATFS-1 which harbors a mitochondrial targeting sequence (MTS). Here, using the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans we demonstrate that ATFS-1 mediates an adaptable mitochondrial network expansion program that is active throughout normal development. Mitochondrial network expansion requires the relatively inefficient MTS in ATFS-1, which allows the transcription factor to be responsive to parameters that impact protein import capacity of the mitochondrial network. Increasing the strength of the ATFS-1 MTS impairs UPRmt activity by increasing accumulation within mitochondria. Manipulations of TORC1 activity increase or decrease ATFS-1 activity in a manner that correlates with protein synthesis. Lastly, expression of mitochondrial-targeted GFP is sufficient to expand the muscle cell mitochondrial network in an ATFS-1-dependent manner. We propose that mitochondrial network expansion during development is an emergent property of the synthesis of highly expressed mitochondrial proteins that exclude ATFS-1 from mitochondrial import, causing UPRmt activation.
  16. Nat Rev Cancer. 2021 Jan 18.
      Metastasis formation is the major cause of death in most patients with cancer. Despite extensive research, targeting metastatic seeding and colonization is still an unresolved challenge. Only recently, attention has been drawn to the fact that metastasizing cancer cells selectively and dynamically adapt their metabolism at every step during the metastatic cascade. Moreover, many metastases display different metabolic traits compared with the tumours from which they originate, enabling survival and growth in the new environment. Consequently, the stage-dependent metabolic traits may provide therapeutic windows for preventing or reducing metastasis, and targeting the new metabolic traits arising in established metastases may allow their eradication.
  17. Biochim Biophys Acta Gen Subj. 2021 Jan 18. pii: S0304-4165(21)00004-0. [Epub ahead of print] 129845
      BACKGROUND: Mitochondrial fission counterbalances fusion to maintain organelle morphology, but its role during development remains poorly characterized. Mammalian spermatogenesis is a complex developmental process involving several drastic changes to mitochondrial shape and organization. Mitochondria are generally small and spherical in spermatogonia, elongate during meiosis, and fragment in haploid round spermatids. Near the end of spermatid maturation, small mitochondrial spheres line the axoneme, elongate, and tightly wrap around the midpiece to form the mitochondrial sheath, which is critical for fueling flagellar movements. It remains unclear how these changes in mitochondrial morphology are regulated and how they affect sperm development.METHODS: We used genetic ablation of Mff (mitochondrial fission factor) in mice to investigate the role of mitochondrial fission during mammalian spermatogenesis.
    RESULTS: Our analysis indicates that Mff is required for mitochondrial fragmentation in haploid round spermatids and for organizing mitochondria in the midpiece in elongating spermatids. In Mff mutant mice, round spermatids have aberrantly elongated mitochondria that often show central constrictions, suggestive of failed fission events. In elongating spermatids and spermatozoa, mitochondrial sheaths are disjointed, containing swollen mitochondria with large gaps between organelles. These mitochondrial abnormalities in Mff mutant sperm are associated with reduced respiratory chain Complex IV activity, aberrant sperm morphology and motility, and reduced fertility.
    CONCLUSIONS: Mff is required for organization of the mitochondrial sheath in mouse sperm.
    GENERAL SIGNIFICANCE: Mitochondrial fission plays an important role in regulating mitochondrial organization during a complex developmental process.
    Keywords:  Mitochondrial fission; Mitochondrial sheath; Spermatogenesis
  18. Cell Death Differ. 2021 Jan 20.
      The mitochondrial pyruvate carrier (MPC) is the entry point for the glycolytic end-product pyruvate to the mitochondria. MPC activity, which is controlled by its abundance and post-translational regulation, determines whether pyruvate is oxidised in the mitochondria or metabolised in the cytosol. MPC serves as a crucial metabolic branch point that determines the fate of pyruvate in the cell, enabling metabolic adaptations during health, such as exercise, or as a result of disease. Decreased MPC expression in several cancers limits the mitochondrial oxidation of pyruvate and contributes to lactate accumulation in the cytosol, highlighting its role as a contributing, causal mediator of the Warburg effect. Pyruvate is handled similarly in the failing heart where a large proportion of it is reduced to lactate in the cytosol instead of being fully oxidised in the mitochondria. Several recent studies have found that the MPC abundance was also reduced in failing human and mouse hearts that were characterised by maladaptive hypertrophic growth, emulating the anabolic scenario observed in some cancer cells. In this review we discuss the evidence implicating the MPC as an important, perhaps causal, mediator of heart failure progression.
  19. Autophagy. 2021 Jan 17.
      Mitophagy formed the basis of the original description of autophagy by Christian de Duve when he demonstrated that GCG (glucagon) induced macroautophagic/autophagic turnover of mitochondria in the liver. However, the molecular basis of liver-specific activation of mitophagy by GCG, or its significance for metabolic stress responses in the liver is not understood. Here we show that BNIP3 is required for GCG-induced mitophagy in the liver through interaction with processed LC3B; an interaction that is also necessary to localize LC3B out of the nucleus to cytosolic mitophagosomes in response to nutrient deprivation. Loss of BNIP3-dependent mitophagy caused excess mitochondria to accumulate in the liver, disrupting metabolic zonation within the liver parenchyma, with expansion of zone 1 metabolism at the expense of zone 3 metabolism. These results identify BNIP3 as a regulator of metabolic homeostasis in the liver through its effect on mitophagy and mitochondrial mass distribution.
    Keywords:  BNIP3; LC3B; glucagon; hepatocyte; liver zonation; mitophagy; nutrient deprivation
  20. Acta Neuropathol Commun. 2021 Jan 19. 9(1): 16
      Cancer cells optimize nutrient utilization to supply energetic and biosynthetic pathways. This metabolic process also includes redox maintenance and epigenetic regulation through nucleic acid and protein methylation, which enhance tumorigenicity and clinical resistance. However, less is known about how cancer cells exhibit metabolic flexibility to sustain cell growth and survival from nutrient starvation. Here, we find that serine and glycine levels were higher in low-nutrient regions of tumors in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) patients than they were in other regions. Metabolic and functional studies in GBM cells demonstrated that serine availability and one-carbon metabolism support glioma cell survival following glutamine deprivation. Serine synthesis was mediated through autophagy rather than glycolysis. Gene expression analysis identified upregulation of methylenetetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase 2 (MTHFD2) to regulate one-carbon metabolism. In clinical samples, MTHFD2 expression was highest in the nutrient-poor areas around "pseudopalisading necrosis." Genetic suppression of MTHFD2 and autophagy inhibition caused tumor cell death and growth inhibition of glioma cells upon glutamine deprivation. These results highlight a critical role for serine-dependent one-carbon metabolism in surviving glutamine starvation and suggest new therapeutic targets for glioma cells adapting to a low-nutrient microenvironment.
    Keywords:  Glioblastoma multiforme; Glutamine starvation; One-carbon metabolism; Serine synthesis
  21. J Biol Chem. 2020 Dec 25. pii: S0021-9258(17)50699-7. [Epub ahead of print]295(52): 18284-18300
      Oxygen regulates hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) transcription factors to control cell metabolism, erythrogenesis, and angiogenesis. Whereas much has been elucidated about how oxygen regulates HIF, whether lipids affect HIF activity is un-known. Here, using cultured cells and two animal models, we demonstrate that lipoprotein-derived fatty acids are an independent regulator of HIF. Decreasing extracellular lipid supply inhibited HIF prolyl hydroxylation, leading to accumulation of the HIFα subunit of these heterodimeric transcription factors comparable with hypoxia with activation of downstream target genes. The addition of fatty acids to culture medium suppressed this signal, which required an intact mitochondrial respiratory chain. Mechanistically, fatty acids and oxygen are distinct signals integrated to control HIF activity. Finally, we observed lipid signaling to HIF and changes in target gene expression in developing zebrafish and adult mice, and this pathway operates in cancer cells from a range of tissues. This study identifies fatty acids as a physiological modulator of HIF, defining a mechanism for lipoprotein regulation that functions in parallel to oxygen.
    Keywords:  fatty acid; hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF); lipoprotein; low-density lipoprotein; low-density lipoprotein (LDL); lysosomal acid lipase; mitochondria
  22. J Clin Invest. 2021 01 19. pii: 136055. [Epub ahead of print]131(2):
      Mitochondrial disorders represent a large collection of rare syndromes that are difficult to manage both because we do not fully understand biochemical pathogenesis and because we currently lack facile markers of severity. The m.3243A>G variant is the most common heteroplasmic mitochondrial DNA mutation and underlies a spectrum of diseases, notably mitochondrial encephalomyopathy lactic acidosis and stroke-like episodes (MELAS). To identify robust circulating markers of m.3243A>G disease, we first performed discovery proteomics, targeted metabolomics, and untargeted metabolomics on plasma from a deeply phenotyped cohort (102 patients, 32 controls). In a validation phase, we measured concentrations of prioritized metabolites in an independent cohort using distinct methods. We validated 20 analytes (1 protein, 19 metabolites) that distinguish patients with MELAS from controls. The collection includes classic (lactate, alanine) and more recently identified (GDF-15, α-hydroxybutyrate) mitochondrial markers. By mining untargeted mass-spectra we uncovered 3 less well-studied metabolite families: N-lactoyl-amino acids, β-hydroxy acylcarnitines, and β-hydroxy fatty acids. Many of these 20 analytes correlate strongly with established measures of severity, including Karnofsky status, and mechanistically, nearly all markers are attributable to an elevated NADH/NAD+ ratio, or NADH-reductive stress. Our work defines a panel of organelle function tests related to NADH-reductive stress that should enable classification and monitoring of mitochondrial disease.
    Keywords:  Genetics; Intermediary metabolism; Metabolism; Mitochondria; Monogenic diseases; RET; HS6ST1; sE-selectin; integrated stress response; creatine; pyruvate; 2-hydroxybutyrate; alpha-hydroxybutyrate; lactoyl-amino acids; hydroxy-fatty acids; hydroxy-acylcarnitines
  23. J Biol Chem. 2020 Dec 25. pii: S0021-9258(17)50684-5. [Epub ahead of print]295(52): 18091-18104
      Akt3 regulates mitochondrial content in endothelial cells through the inhibition of PGC-1α nuclear localization and is also required for angiogenesis. However, whether there is a direct link between mitochondrial function and angiogenesis is unknown. Here we show that Akt3 depletion in primary endothelial cells results in decreased uncoupled oxygen consumption, increased fission, decreased membrane potential, and increased expression of the mitochondria-specific protein chaperones, HSP60 and HSP10, suggesting that Akt3 is required for mitochondrial homeostasis. Direct inhibition of mitochondrial homeostasis by the model oxidant paraquat results in decreased angiogenesis, showing a direct link between angiogenesis and mitochondrial function. Next, in exploring functional links to PGC-1α, the master regulator of mitochondrial biogenesis, we searched for compounds that induce this process. We found that, sildenafil, a phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitor, induced mitochondrial biogenesis as measured by increased uncoupled oxygen consumption, mitochondrial DNA content, and voltage-dependent anion channel protein expression. Sildenafil rescued the effects on mitochondria by Akt3 depletion or pharmacological inhibition and promoted angiogenesis, further supporting that mitochondrial homeostasis is required for angiogenesis. Sildenafil also induces the expression of PGC-1 family member PRC and can compensate for PGC-1α activity during mitochondrial stress by an Akt3-independent mechanism. The induction of PRC by sildenafil depends upon cAMP and the transcription factor CREB. Thus, PRC can functionally substitute during Akt3 depletion for absent PGC-1α activity to restore mitochondrial homeostasis and promote angiogenesis. These findings show that mitochondrial homeostasis as controlled by the PGC family of transcriptional activators is required for angiogenic responses.
    Keywords:  Akt PKB; Akt3; Akt3/PKBγ; PGC-1α; PPARGC1A; PRC; angiogenesis; endothelial cells; mitochondria; peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor γ coactivator-1 α; phosphodiesterases
  24. Mol Metab. 2021 Jan 13. pii: S2212-8778(21)00005-3. [Epub ahead of print] 101165
      BACKGROUND: The abundance of energy metabolites is intimately interconnected with the activity of chromatin modifying enzymes in order to guarantee the finely tuned modulation of gene expression in response to cellular energetic status. Metabolism-induced epigenetic gene regulation is a key molecular axis for the maintenance of cellular homeostasis and its deregulation is associated with several pathological conditions. Nicotinamide N-methyltransferase (NNMT) is a metabolic enzyme that catalyzes the methylation of nicotinamide (NAM) using the universal methyl donor S-adenosyl methionine (SAM), directly linking one-carbon metabolism with a cell's methylation balance and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) levels. NNMT expression and activity are regulated in a tissue-specific-manner and the protein can act either physiologically or pathologically depending on its distribution. While in the liver NNMT exerts a beneficial effect by regulating lipid parameters, in adipose tissue its expression correlates with obesity and insulin resistance. NNMT upregulation has been observed in a variety of cancers, and increased NNMT expression has been associated with tumor progression, metastasis and worse clinical outcomes. Accordingly, NNMT represents an appealing druggable target for metabolic disorders as well as oncological and other disease where the protein is improperly activated.SCOPE OF REVIEW: This review examines emerging findings concerning the complex NNMT regulatory network and the role of NNMT in both NAD metabolism and cell methylation balance. We extensively describe recent findings concerning the physiological and pathological regulation of NNMT with a specific focus on the function of NNMT in obesity, insulin resistance and other associated metabolic disorders along with its well-accepted role as a cancer-associated metabolic enzyme. Advances in strategies targeting NNMT pathways are also reported, together with current limitations of NNMT inhibitor drugs in clinical use.
    MAJOR CONCLUSIONS: NNMT is emerging as a key point of intersection between cellular metabolism and epigenetic gene regulation and growing evidence supports its central role in several pathologies. The use of molecules that target NNMT represents a current pharmaceutical challenge for the treatment of several metabolic-related disease as well as in cancer.
    Keywords:  Nicotinamide N-methyltransferase; cancer; epigenetics; metabolism; obesity
  25. Cancer Metab. 2021 Jan 22. 9(1): 6
      BACKGROUND: Sirtuin 6 (SIRT6) is a NAD+-dependent deacetylase with key roles in cell metabolism. High SIRT6 expression is associated with adverse prognosis in breast cancer (BC) patients. However, the mechanisms through which SIRT6 exerts its pro-oncogenic effects in BC remain unclear. Here, we sought to define the role of SIRT6 in BC cell metabolism and in mouse polyoma middle T antigen (PyMT)-driven mammary tumors.METHODS: We evaluated the effect of a heterozygous deletion of Sirt6 on tumor latency and survival of mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV)-PyMT mice. The effect of SIRT6 silencing on human BC cell growth was assessed in MDA-MB-231 xenografts. We also analyzed the effect of Sirt6 heterozygous deletion, of SIRT6 silencing, and of the overexpression of either wild-type (WT) or catalytically inactive (H133Y) SIRT6 on BC cell pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) expression and activity and oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS), including respiratory complex activity, ATP/AMP ratio, AMPK activation, and intracellular calcium concentration.
    RESULTS: The heterozygous Sirt6 deletion extended tumor latency and mouse survival in the MMTV-PyMT mouse BC model, while SIRT6 silencing slowed the growth of MDA-MB-231 BC cell xenografts. WT, but not catalytically inactive, SIRT6 enhanced PDH expression and activity, OXPHOS, and ATP/AMP ratio in MDA-MB-231 and MCF7 BC cells. Opposite effects were obtained by SIRT6 silencing, which also blunted the expression of genes encoding for respiratory chain proteins, such as UQCRFS1, COX5B, NDUFB8, and UQCRC2, and increased AMPK activation in BC cells. In addition, SIRT6 overexpression increased, while SIRT6 silencing reduced, intracellular calcium concentration in MDA-MB-231 cells. Consistent with these findings, the heterozygous Sirt6 deletion reduced the expression of OXPHOS-related genes, the activity of respiratory complexes, and the ATP/AMP ratio in tumors isolated from MMTV-PyMT mice.
    CONCLUSIONS: Via its enzymatic activity, SIRT6 enhances PDH expression and activity, OXPHOS, ATP/AMP ratio, and intracellular calcium concentration, while reducing AMPK activation, in BC cells. Thus, overall, SIRT6 inhibition appears as a viable strategy for preventing or treating BC.
    Keywords:  Breast cancer; Cancer metabolism; Mammary tumorigenesis; Oxidative phosphorylation; SIRT6
  26. Nat Commun. 2021 01 18. 12(1): 432
      Development of chemoresistance in breast cancer patients greatly increases mortality. Thus, understanding mechanisms underlying breast cancer resistance to chemotherapy is of paramount importance to overcome this clinical challenge. Although activated Notch receptors have been associated with chemoresistance in cancer, the specific Notch ligands and their molecular mechanisms leading to chemoresistance in breast cancer remain elusive. Using conditional knockout and reporter mouse models, we demonstrate that tumor cells expressing the Notch ligand Dll1 is important for tumor growth and metastasis and bear similarities to tumor-initiating cancer cells (TICs) in breast cancer. RNA-seq and ATAC-seq using reporter models and patient data demonstrated that NF-κB activation is downstream of Dll1 and is associated with a chemoresistant phenotype. Finally, pharmacological blocking of Dll1 or NF-κB pathway completely sensitizes Dll1+ tumors to chemotherapy, highlighting therapeutic avenues for chemotherapy resistant breast cancer patients in the near future.
  27. Oncogene. 2021 Jan 21.
      SIRT5 is a member of the sirtuin family of NAD+-dependent protein lysine deacylases implicated in a variety of physiological processes. SIRT5 removes negatively charged malonyl, succinyl, and glutaryl groups from lysine residues and thereby regulates multiple enzymes involved in cellular metabolism and other biological processes. SIRT5 is overexpressed in human breast cancers and other malignancies, but little is known about the therapeutic potential of SIRT5 inhibition for treating cancer. Here we report that genetic SIRT5 disruption in breast cancer cell lines and mouse models caused increased succinylation of IDH2 and other metabolic enzymes, increased oxidative stress, and impaired transformation and tumorigenesis. We, therefore, developed potent, selective, and cell-permeable small-molecule SIRT5 inhibitors. SIRT5 inhibition suppressed the transformed properties of cultured breast cancer cells and significantly reduced mammary tumor growth in vivo, in both genetically engineered and xenotransplant mouse models. Considering that Sirt5 knockout mice are generally normal, with only mild phenotypes observed, these data establish SIRT5 as a promising target for treating breast cancer. The new SIRT5 inhibitors provide useful probes for future investigations of SIRT5 and an avenue for targeting SIRT5 as a therapeutic strategy.
  28. Cancer Metab. 2021 Jan 21. 9(1): 4
      BACKGROUND: Many cancers silence the metabolic enzyme argininosuccinate synthetase 1 (ASS1), the rate-limiting enzyme for arginine biosynthesis within the urea cycle. Consequently, ASS1-negative cells are susceptible to depletion of extracellular arginine by PEGylated arginine deiminase (ADI-PEG20), an agent currently being developed in clinical trials. As the primary mechanism of resistance to arginine depletion is re-expression of ASS1, we sought a tool to understand the temporal emergence of the resistance phenotype at the single-cell level.METHODS: A real-time, single-cell florescence biosensor was developed to monitor arginine-dependent protein translation. The versatile, protein-based sensor provides temporal information about the metabolic adaptation of cells, as it is able to quantify and track individual cells over time.
    RESULTS: Every ASS1-deficient cell analyzed was found to respond to arginine deprivation by decreased expression of the sensor, indicating an absence of resistance in the naïve cell population. However, the temporal recovery and emergence of resistance varied widely amongst cells, suggesting a heterogeneous metabolic response. The sensor also enabled determination of a minimal arginine concentration required for its optimal translation.
    CONCLUSIONS: The translation-dependent sensor developed here is able to accurately track the development of resistance in ASS1-deficient cells treated with ADI-PEG20. Its ability to track single cells over time allowed the determination that resistance is not present in the naïve population, as well as elucidating the heterogeneity of the timing and extent of resistance. This tool represents a useful advance in the study of arginine deprivation, while its design has potential to be adapted to other amino acids.
    Keywords:  ASS1; Arginine; Arginine deiminase; Argininosuccinate synthetase 1; Biosensor; Sarcoma; Sensor; Tumor heterogeneity
  29. Autophagy. 2021 Jan 21. 1-2
      Mitophagy is a selective type of autophagy in which damaged or unnecessary mitochondria are sequestered by double-membranous structures called phagophores and delivered to vacuoles/lysosomes for degradation. The molecular mechanisms underlying mitophagy have been studied extensively in budding yeast and mammalian cells. To gain more diverse insights, our recent study identified Atg43 as a mitophagy receptor in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Atg43 is localized on the mitochondrial outer membrane through the Mim1-Mim2 complex and binds to Atg8, a ubiquitin-like protein conjugated to phagophore membranes. Artificial tethering of Atg8 to mitochondria can bypass the requirement of Atg43 for mitophagy, suggesting that the main role of Atg43 in mitophagy is to stabilize phagophore expansion on mitochondria by interacting with Atg8. Atg43 shares no sequence similarity with mitophagy receptors in other organisms and has a mitophagy-independent function, raising the possibility that Atg43 has acquired the mitophagic function by convergent evolution.
    Keywords:  Atg43; Atg8; MIM complex; autophagy; mitochondria; mitophagy; selective autophagy; yeast
  30. Autophagy. 2021 Jan 19. 1-17
      Genotoxic insult causes nuclear and mitochondrial DNA damages with macroautophagy/autophagy induction. The role of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) damage in the requirement of autophagy for nuclear DNA (nDNA) stability is unclear. Using site-specific DNA damage approaches, we show that specific nDNA damage alone does not require autophagy for repair unless in the presence of mtDNA damage. We provide evidence that after IR exposure-induced mtDNA and nDNA damages, autophagy suppression causes non-apoptotic mitochondrial permeability, by which mitochondrial ENDOG (endonuclease G) is released and translocated to nuclei to sustain nDNA damage in a TET (tet methylcytosine dioxygenase)-dependent manner. Furthermore, blocking lysosome function is sufficient to increase the amount of mtDNA leakage to the cytosol, accompanied by ENDOG-free mitochondrial puncta formation with concurrent ENDOG nuclear accumulation. We proposed that autophagy eliminates the mitochondria specified by mtDNA damage-driven mitochondrial permeability to prevent ENDOG-mediated genome instability. Finally, we showed that HBx, a hepatitis B viral protein capable of suppressing autophagy, also causes mitochondrial permeability-dependent ENDOG mis-localization in nuclei and is linked to hepatitis B virus (HBV)-mediated hepatocellular carcinoma development. Abbreviations: 3-MA: 3-methyladenine; 5-hmC: 5-hydroxymethylcytosine; ACTB: actin beta; ATG5: autophagy related 5; ATM: ATM serine/threonine kinase; DFFB/CAD: DNA fragmentation factor subunit beta; cmtDNA: cytosolic mitochondrial DNA; ConA: concanamycin A; CQ: chloroquine; CsA: cyclosporin A; Dox: doxycycline; DSB: double-strand break; ENDOG: endonuclease G; GFP: green fluorescent protein; Gy: gray; H2AX: H2A.X variant histone; HBV: hepatitis B virus; HBx: hepatitis B virus X protein; HCC: hepatocellular carcinoma; I-PpoI: intron-encoded endonuclease; IR: ionizing radiation; MAP1LC3/LC3: microtubule associated protein 1 light chain 3; MOMP: mitochondrial outer membrane permeability; mPTP: mitochondrial permeability transition pore; mtDNA: mitochondrial DNA; nDNA: nuclear DNA; 4-OHT: 4-hydroxytamoxifen; rDNA: ribosomal DNA; ROS: reactive oxygen species; SQSTM1/p62: sequestosome 1; TET: tet methylcytosine dioxygenase; TFAM: transcription factor A, mitochondrial; TOMM20: translocase of outer mitochondrial membrane 20; VDAC: voltage dependent anion channel.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; TET; endonuclease G; genome instability; mitochondrial DNA; mitochondrial permeability
  31. Nat Immunol. 2021 Jan 18.
      Metabolic programming controls immune cell lineages and functions, but little is known about γδ T cell metabolism. Here, we found that γδ T cell subsets making either interferon-γ (IFN-γ) or interleukin (IL)-17 have intrinsically distinct metabolic requirements. Whereas IFN-γ+ γδ T cells were almost exclusively dependent on glycolysis, IL-17+ γδ T cells strongly engaged oxidative metabolism, with increased mitochondrial mass and activity. These distinct metabolic signatures were surprisingly imprinted early during thymic development and were stably maintained in the periphery and within tumors. Moreover, pro-tumoral IL-17+ γδ T cells selectively showed high lipid uptake and intracellular lipid storage and were expanded in obesity and in tumors of obese mice. Conversely, glucose supplementation enhanced the antitumor functions of IFN-γ+ γδ T cells and reduced tumor growth upon adoptive transfer. These findings have important implications for the differentiation of effector γδ T cells and their manipulation in cancer immunotherapy.
  32. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2021 Jan 19.
      The mammalian system of energy balance regulation is intrinsically rhythmic with diurnal oscillations of behavioral and metabolic traits according to the 24 h day/night cycle, driven by cellular circadian clocks and synchronized by environmental or internal cues such as metabolites and hormones associated with feeding rhythms. Mitochondria are crucial organelles for cellular energy generation and their biology is largely under the control of the circadian system. Whether mitochondrial status might also feed-back on the circadian system, possibly via mitokines that are induced by mitochondrial stress as endocrine-acting molecules, remains poorly understood. Here, we describe our current understanding of the diurnal regulation of systemic energy balance, with focus on fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) and growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF15), two well-known endocrine-acting metabolic mediators. FGF21 shows a diurnal oscillation and directly affects the output of the brain master clock. Moreover, recent data demonstrated that mitochondrial stress-induced GDF15 promotes a day-time restricted anorexia and systemic metabolic remodeling as shown in UCP1-transgenic mice, where both FGF21 and GDF15 are induced as myomitokines. In this mouse model of slightly uncoupled skeletal muscle mitochondria GDF15 proved responsible for an increased metabolic flexibility and a number of beneficial metabolic adaptations. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying energy balance regulation by mitokines are just starting to emerge, and more data on diurnal patterns in mouse and man are required. This will open new perspectives into the diurnal nature of mitokines and action both in health and disease.
    Keywords:  Circadian rhythm; FGF21; GDF15; Hormones; Mitochondria; Nutrition
  33. Trends Biochem Sci. 2021 Jan 15. pii: S0968-0004(20)30322-4. [Epub ahead of print]
      The cyclic GMP-AMP synthase (cGAS)-stimulator of interferon genes (STING) pathway has been primarily characterized as an inflammatory mechanism in higher eukaryotes in response to cytosolic double-stranded DNA (dsDNA). Since its initial discovery, detailed mechanisms delineating the dynamic subcellular localization of its different components and downstream signaling have been uncovered, leading to attempts to harness its proinflammatory properties for therapeutic benefit in cancer. Emerging evidence, however, indicates that a crucial primordial function of STING is to promote autophagy, and that downstream interferon (IFN) signaling emerged recently in its evolutionary history. Furthermore, studies suggest that this pathway is a crucial regulator of cellular metabolism that potentially couples inflammation to nutrient availability. We focus on the evolutionarily conserved functions of STING, and we discuss how a broader understanding of this pathway can help us to better appreciate its potential role in cancer and harness it for therapeutic benefit.
    Keywords:  autophagy; inflammation; membrane trafficking; metabolism; metastasis; non-canonical NF-κB
  34. Nat Commun. 2021 01 20. 12(1): 470
      Healthy aging can be promoted by enhanced metabolic fitness and physical capacity. Mitochondria are chief metabolic organelles with strong implications in aging that also coordinate broad physiological functions, in part, using peptides that are encoded within their independent genome. However, mitochondrial-encoded factors that actively regulate aging are unknown. Here, we report that mitochondrial-encoded MOTS-c can significantly enhance physical performance in young (2 mo.), middle-age (12 mo.), and old (22 mo.) mice. MOTS-c can regulate (i) nuclear genes, including those related to metabolism and proteostasis, (ii) skeletal muscle metabolism, and (iii) myoblast adaptation to metabolic stress. We provide evidence that late-life (23.5 mo.) initiated intermittent MOTS-c treatment (3x/week) can increase physical capacity and healthspan in mice. In humans, exercise induces endogenous MOTS-c expression in skeletal muscle and in circulation. Our data indicate that aging is regulated by genes encoded in both of our co-evolved mitochondrial and nuclear genomes.
  35. Mitochondrion. 2021 Jan 18. pii: S1567-7249(21)00002-7. [Epub ahead of print]
      Mitochondrial quality control is crucial for sustaining cellular maintenance. Mitochondrial Ca2+ play an important role in the maintenance of mitochondrial quality control through regulation of mitochondrial dynamics, mitophagy and mitochondrial biogenesis for preserving cellular homeostasis. The regulation of this dynamic interlink between these mitochondrial networks and mitochondrial Ca2+ appears indispensable for the adaptation of cells under external stimuli. Moreover, dysregulation of mitochondrial Ca2+ divulges impaired mitochondrial control that results in several pathological conditions such as cancer. Hence this review untangles the interplay between mitochondrial Ca2+ and quality control that govern mitochondrial health and mitochondrial coordinates in the development of cancer.
    Keywords:  Cancer; Mitochondrial Ca(2+); Mitochondrial biogenesis; Mitochondrial quality control; Mitophagy
  36. EMBO J. 2021 Jan 18. e106309
      The N6-methyladenosine (m6 A) RNA modification serves crucial functions in RNA metabolism; however, the molecular mechanisms underlying the regulation of m6 A are not well understood. Here, we establish arginine methylation of METTL14, a component of the m6 A methyltransferase complex, as a novel pathway that controls m6 A deposition in mammalian cells. Specifically, protein arginine methyltransferase 1 (PRMT1) interacts with, and methylates the intrinsically disordered C terminus of METTL14, which promotes its interaction with RNA substrates, enhances its RNA methylation activity, and is crucial for its interaction with RNA polymerase II (RNAPII). Mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) expressing arginine methylation-deficient METTL14 exhibit significantly reduced global m6 A levels. Transcriptome-wide m6 A analysis identified 1,701 METTL14 arginine methylation-dependent m6 A sites located in 1,290 genes involved in various cellular processes, including stem cell maintenance and DNA repair. These arginine methylation-dependent m6 A sites are associated with enhanced translation of genes essential for the repair of DNA interstrand crosslinks; thus, METTL14 arginine methylation-deficient mESCs are hypersensitive to DNA crosslinking agents. Collectively, these findings reveal important aspects of m6 A regulation and new functions of arginine methylation in RNA metabolism.
    Keywords:  DNA repair; PRMT1; RGG motif; RNA m6A methylation; arginine methylation
  37. FASEB J. 2021 Feb;35(2): e21284
      It has been well-established that cancer cells often display altered metabolic profiles, and recent work has concentrated on how cancer cells adapt to serine removal. Serine can be either taken exogenously or synthesized from glucose, and its regulation forms an important mechanism for nutrient integration. One of the several important metabolic roles for serine is in the generation of bioactive sphingolipids since it is the main substrate for serine palmitoyltransferase, the initial and rate-limiting enzyme in the synthesis of sphingolipids. Previously, serine deprivation has been connected to the action of the tumor suppressor p53, and we have previously published on a role for p53 regulating sphingosine kinase 1 (SK1), an enzyme that phosphorylates sphingosine to form sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P). SK1 is a key enzyme in sphingolipid synthesis that functions in pro-survival and tumor-promoting pathways and whose expression is also often elevated in cancers. Here we show that SK1 was degraded during serine starvation in a time and dose-dependent manner, which led to sphingosine accumulation. This was independent of effects on p53 but required the action of the proteasome. Furthermore, we show that overexpression of SK1, to compensate for SK1 loss, was detrimental to cell growth under conditions of serine starvation, demonstrating that the suppression of SK1 under these conditions is adaptive. Mitochondrial oxygen consumption decreased in response to SK1 degradation, and this was accompanied by an increase in intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS). Suppression of ROS with N-acteylcysteine resulted in suppression of the metabolic adaptations and in decreased cell growth under serine deprivation. The effects of SK1 suppression on ROS were mimicked by D-erythro-sphingosine, whereas S1P was ineffective, suggesting that the effects of loss of SK1 were due to the accumulation of its substrate sphingosine. This study reveals a new mechanism for regulating SK1 levels and a link of SK1 to serine starvation as well as mitochondrial function.
    Keywords:  serine; sphingolipids; sphingosine; sphingosine kinase 1
  38. J Cell Sci. 2021 Jan 22. pii: jcs247056. [Epub ahead of print]134(2):
      Autophagy is deregulated in many cancers and represents an attractive target for therapeutic intervention. However, the precise contributions of autophagy to metastatic progression, the principle cause of cancer-related mortality, is only now being uncovered. While autophagy promotes primary tumor growth, metabolic adaptation and resistance to therapy, recent studies have unexpectedly revealed that autophagy suppresses the proliferative outgrowth of disseminated tumor cells into overt and lethal macrometastases. These studies suggest autophagy plays unexpected and complex roles in the initiation and progression of metastases, which will undoubtedly impact therapeutic approaches for cancer treatment. Here, we discuss the intricacies of autophagy in metastatic progression, highlighting and integrating the pleiotropic roles of autophagy on diverse cell biological processes involved in metastasis.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Cancer; Metastasis; Selective Autophagy
  39. Sci Rep. 2021 Jan 21. 11(1): 2054
      Here, we investigated the potential roles of Mitofusin-2 (MFN2) in thyroid cancer progression. MFN2 regulates mitochondrial fusion/division in cells and plays an important role in various aspects of cell metabolism. MFN2 might involve in cell cycle regulation, apoptosis, and differentiation, and it might play a role as a tumor suppressor in carcinogenesis. We evaluated the prognostic impacts of MFN2 expression in thyroid cancer by analyzing TCGA data. In vitro and in vivo, MFN2 was knocked out using CRISPR/Cas9 or siRNA, and MFN2 was stably overexpressed in two thyroid cancer cell lines (Cal62 and HTH83). TCGA analysis revealed that MFN2 expression was lower in thyroid cancer than in normal tissues and significantly associated with a degree of differentiation, RAS mutations, and less lymph node metastasis. MFN2 expression was significantly correlated with cell adhesion molecules and epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) in a gene-set enrichment assay. MFN2 knock-out (KO) in Cal62 and HTH83 cells using CRISPR/Cas9 or siRNA significantly promoted cell migration and invasion in vitro. The same trends were observed in MFN2 KO mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) compared to those in the controls (MFN2 WT MEFs). Conversely, MFN2 overexpression in cancer cell lines greatly inhibited cell migration and invasion. However, there was no difference in colony formation and proliferation in Cal62 and HTH83 cells after modulating MFN2, although there were significant differences between MFN KO and WT MEFs. EMT-associated protein expression was induced after MFN2 KO in both cancer cell lines. The mechanistic results suggest that MFN2 might modulate EMT through inducing the AKT signaling pathway. EMT-associated changes in protein expression were also confirmed by modulating MFN2 in xenograft tumors. Thus, MFN2 acts as a tumor suppressor in thyroid cancer progression and metastasis by modulating EMT.
  40. Curr Cancer Drug Targets. 2021 Jan 20.
      AIM: The study of action of iron, DOX, and their complex on the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (MPTP) opening and the detection of possible protectors of MPTP in the conditions close to mitochondria-dependent ferroptosis.BACKGROUND: The toxicity of doxorubicin (DOX) is mainly associated with the free iron accumulation and mitochondrial dysfunction. DOX can provoke ferroptosis, iron-dependent cell death driven by the membrane damage. The mitochondrial permeability transition pore (MPTP) is considered as a common pathway leading to the development of apoptosis, necrosis, and, possibly, ferroptosis. The influence of DOX on the Ca2+ -induced opening of MPTP in the presence of iron has not yet been studied.
    OBJECTIVE: The study was conducted on isolated liver and heart mitochondria. MPTP and succinate-ubiquinone oxidoreductase were studied as targets of DOX in mitochondria-dependent ferroptosis.
    METHODS: The study was conducted on isolated mitochondria of the liver and heart. Changes of threshold calcium concentrations required for MPTP opening were measured by a Ca2+ selective electrode, mitochondrial membrane potential was registered by tetraphenylphosphonium (TPP+)-selective electrode, and mitochondrial swelling was recorded as a decrease in absorbance at 540 nm. The activity of succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) was determined by the reduction of the electron acceptor DCPIP.
    CONCLUSION: MPTP and the respiratory complex II are identified as the main targets of the iron-dependent action of DOX on the isolated mitochondria. All MPTP protectors tested abolished or weakened the effect of iron and a complex of iron with DOX on Ca2+ -induced MPTP opening, acting in different stages of MPTP activation. These data open new approaches to the modulation of the toxic influence of DOX on mitochondria with the aim to reduce their dysfunction.
    Keywords:  Doxorubicin; alkalization; butylhydroxytoluene; deferoxamine; iron; mitochondrial permeability transition pore
  41. Nature. 2021 Jan 20.
      Ageing is characterized by the development of persistent pro-inflammatory responses that contribute to atherosclerosis, metabolic syndrome, cancer and frailty1-3. The ageing brain is also vulnerable to inflammation, as demonstrated by the high prevalence of age-associated cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease4-6. Systemically, circulating pro-inflammatory factors can promote cognitive decline7,8, and in the brain, microglia lose the ability to clear misfolded proteins that are associated with neurodegeneration9,10. However, the underlying mechanisms that initiate and sustain maladaptive inflammation with ageing are not well defined. Here we show that in ageing mice myeloid cell bioenergetics are suppressed in response to increased signalling by the lipid messenger prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), a major modulator of inflammation11. In ageing macrophages and microglia, PGE2 signalling through its EP2 receptor promotes the sequestration of glucose into glycogen, reducing glucose flux and mitochondrial respiration. This energy-deficient state, which drives maladaptive pro-inflammatory responses, is further augmented by a dependence of aged myeloid cells on glucose as a principal fuel source. In aged mice, inhibition of myeloid EP2 signalling rejuvenates cellular bioenergetics, systemic and brain inflammatory states, hippocampal synaptic plasticity and spatial memory. Moreover, blockade of peripheral myeloid EP2 signalling is sufficient to restore cognition in aged mice. Our study suggests that cognitive ageing is not a static or irrevocable condition but can be reversed by reprogramming myeloid glucose metabolism to restore youthful immune functions.
  42. J Biol Chem. 2021 Jan 19. pii: S0021-9258(21)00079-X. [Epub ahead of print] 100310
      The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) contains various enzymes that metabolize fatty acids (FAs). Given that FAs are the components of membranes, FA metabolic enzymes might be associated with regulation of ER membrane functions. However, it remains unclear whether there is the interplay between FA metabolic enzymes and ER membrane proteins. Trans-2-enoyl-CoA reductase (TER) is a FA reductase present in the ER membrane, and catalyzes the last step in the FA elongation cycle and sphingosine degradation pathway. Here we identify sarco(endo)plasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase 2b (SERCA2b), an ER Ca2+ pump responsible for Ca2+ accumulation in the ER, as a TER-binding protein by affinity purification from HEK293 cell lysates. We show that TER directly binds to SERCA2b by in vitro assays using recombinant proteins. Thapsigargin, a specific SERCA inhibitor, inhibits this binding. TER binds to SERCA2b through its conserved C-terminal region. TER overexpression suppresses SERCA2b ATPase activity in microsomal membranes of HEK293 cells. Depletion of TER increases Ca2+ storage in the ER and accelerates SERCA2b-dependent Ca2+ uptake to the ER after ligand-induced Ca2+ release. Moreover, depletion of TER reduces the Ca2+-dependent nuclear translocation of nuclear factor of activated T cells 4 (NFAT4). These results demonstrate that TER is a negative regulator of SERCA2b, implying the direct linkage of FA metabolism and Ca2+ accumulation in the ER.
    Keywords:  NFAT transcription factor; calcium; calcium ATPase; calcium transport; endoplasmic reticulum; fatty acid metabolism; protein-protein interaction
  43. Anal Chem. 2021 Jan 22.
      The metabolome comprises a complex network of interconnecting enzyme-catalyzed reactions that involve transfers of numerous molecular subunits. Thus, the reconstruction of metabolic networks requires metabolite substructures to be tracked. Subunit tracking can be achieved by tracing stable isotopes through metabolic transformations using NMR and ultrahigh -resolution (UHR)-mass spectrometry (MS). UHR-MS1 readily resolves and counts isotopic labels in metabolites but requires tandem MS to help identify isotopic enrichment in substructures. However, it is challenging to perform chromatography-based UHR-MS1 with its long acquisition time, while acquiring MS2 data on many coeluting labeled isotopologues for each metabolite. We have developed an ion chromatography (IC)-UHR-MS1/data-independent(DI)-HR-MS2 method to trace the fate of 13C atoms from [13C6]-glucose ([13C6]-Glc) in 3D A549 spheroids in response to anticancer selenite and simultaneously 13C/15N atoms from [13C5,15N2]-glutamine ([13C5,15N2]-Gln) in 2D BEAS-2B cells in response to arsenite transformation. This method retains the complete isotopologue distributions of metabolites via UHR-MS1 while simultaneously acquiring substructure label information via DI-MS2. These details in metabolite labeling patterns greatly facilitate rigorous reconstruction of multiple, intersecting metabolic pathways of central metabolism, which are illustrated here for the purine/pyrimidine nucleotide biosynthesis. The pathways reconstructed based on subunit-level isotopologue analysis further reveal specific enzyme-catalyzed reactions that are impacted by selenite or arsenite treatments.
  44. J Biol Chem. 2020 Dec 25. pii: S0021-9258(17)50701-2. [Epub ahead of print]295(52): 18316-18327
      Pyrroline-5-carboxylate reductase 1 (PYCR1) catalyzes the biosynthetic half-reaction of the proline cycle by reducing Δ1-pyrroline-5-carboxylate (P5C) to proline through the oxidation of NAD(P)H. Many cancers alter their proline metabolism by up-regulating the proline cycle and proline biosynthesis, and knockdowns of PYCR1 lead to decreased cell proliferation. Thus, evidence is growing for PYCR1 as a potential cancer therapy target. Inhibitors of cancer targets are useful as chemical probes for studying cancer mechanisms and starting compounds for drug discovery; however, there is a notable lack of validated inhibitors for PYCR1. To fill this gap, we performed a small-scale focused screen of proline analogs using X-ray crystallography. Five inhibitors of human PYCR1 were discovered: l-tetrahydro-2-furoic acid, cyclopentanecarboxylate, l-thiazolidine-4-carboxylate, l-thiazolidine-2-carboxylate, and N-formyl l-proline (NFLP). The most potent inhibitor was NFLP, which had a competitive (with P5C) inhibition constant of 100 μm. The structure of PYCR1 complexed with NFLP shows that inhibitor binding is accompanied by conformational changes in the active site, including the translation of an α-helix by 1 Å. These changes are unique to NFLP and enable additional hydrogen bonds with the enzyme. NFLP was also shown to phenocopy the PYCR1 knockdown in MCF10A H-RASV12 breast cancer cells by inhibiting de novo proline biosynthesis and impairing spheroidal growth. In summary, we generated the first validated chemical probe of PYCR1 and demonstrated proof-of-concept for screening proline analogs to discover inhibitors of the proline cycle.
    Keywords:  X-ray crystallography; breast cancer; enzyme inhibitor; enzyme kinetics; tumor metabolism
  45. J Clin Invest. 2021 Jan 19. pii: 138267. [Epub ahead of print]
      Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) is the most frequent mitochondrial disease and was the first to be genetically defined by a point mutation in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). A molecular diagnosis is reached in up to 95%, the vast majority of which are accounted for by three mutations within mitochondrial complex I (CI) subunit encoding genes in the mtDNA (mtLHON). Here, we resolve the enigma of LHON in the absence of pathogenic mtDNA mutations. We describe biallelic mutations in a nuclear encoded gene, DNAJC30, in 33 unsolved patients from 29 families and establish an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance for LHON (arLHON), which to date has been a prime example of a maternally inherited disorder. Remarkably, all hallmarks of mtLHON are recapitulated, including incomplete penetrance, male predominance, and significant idebenone responsivity. Moreover, by tracking protein turnover in patient-derived cell lines and a DNAJC30-knock-out cellular model, we measure reduced turnover of specific CI N-module subunits and a resultant impairment of CI function. This demonstrates DNAJC30 is to be a chaperone protein needed for the efficient exchange of CI subunits exposed to reactive oxygen species and integral to a mitochondrial CI repair mechanism, thereby providing the first example of a disease resulting from impaired exchange of assembled respiratory chain subunits.
    Keywords:  Genetic diseases; Genetics; Neuroscience
  46. Cancer Discov. 2021 Jan 18.
      Cell suicide pathways, termed regulated cell death (RCD), play a critical role in organismal development, homeostasis, and pathogenesis. Here, we provide an overview of key RCD modalities, namely apoptosis, entosis, necroptosis, pyroptosis, and ferroptosis. We explore how various RCD modules serve as a defense mechanism against the emergence of cancer as well as the manner in which they can be exploited to drive oncogenesis. Furthermore, we outline current therapeutic agents that activate RCD and consider novel RCD-based strategies for tumor elimination. SIGNIFICANCE: A variety of antitumor therapeutics eliminate cancer cells by harnessing the devastating potential of cellular suicide pathways, emphasizing the critical importance of RCD in battling cancer. This review supplies a mechanistic perspective of distinct RCD modalities and explores the important role they play in tumorigenesis. We discuss how RCD modules serve as a double-edged sword as well as novel approaches aimed at selectively manipulating RCD for tumor eradication.
  47. Nat Metab. 2021 Jan;3(1): 75-89
      NADPH has long been recognized as a key cofactor for antioxidant defence and reductive biosynthesis. Here we report a metabolism-independent function of NADPH in modulating epigenetic status and transcription. We find that the reduction of cellular NADPH levels, achieved by silencing malic enzyme or glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, impairs global histone acetylation and transcription in both adipocytes and tumour cells. These effects can be reversed by supplementation with exogenous NADPH or by inhibition of histone deacetylase 3 (HDAC3). Mechanistically, NADPH directly interacts with HDAC3 and interrupts the association between HDAC3 and its co-activator nuclear receptor corepressor 2 (Ncor2; SMRT) or Ncor1, thereby impairing HDAC3 activation. Interestingly, NADPH and the inositol tetraphosphate molecule Ins(1,4,5,6)P4 appear to bind to the same domains on HDAC3, with NADPH having a higher affinity towards HDAC3 than Ins(1,4,5,6)P4. Thus, while Ins(1,4,5,6)P4 promotes formation of the HDAC3-Ncor complex, NADPH inhibits it. Collectively, our findings uncover a previously unidentified and metabolism-independent role of NADPH in controlling epigenetic change and gene expression by acting as an endogenous inhibitor of HDAC3.
  48. Mol Genet Metab. 2021 Jan 11. pii: S1096-7192(21)00004-4. [Epub ahead of print]
      Cystathionine beta-synthase deficient homocystinuria (HCU) is a life-threatening disorder of sulfur metabolism. Our knowledge of the metabolic changes induced in HCU are based almost exclusively on data derived from plasma. In the present study, we present a comprehensive analysis on the effects of HCU upon the hepatic metabolites and enzyme expression levels of the methionine-folate cycles in a mouse model of HCU. HCU induced a 10-fold increase in hepatic total homocysteine and in contrast to plasma, this metabolite was only lowered by approximately 20% by betaine treatment indicating that this toxic metabolite remains unacceptably elevated. Hepatic methionine, S-adenosylmethionine, S-adenosylhomocysteine, N-acetlymethionine, N-formylmethionine, methionine sulfoxide, S-methylcysteine, serine, N-acetylserine, taurocyamine and N-acetyltaurine levels were also significantly increased by HCU while cysteine, N-acetylcysteine and hypotaurine were all significantly decreased. In terms of polyamine metabolism, HCU significantly decreased spermine and spermidine levels while increasing 5'-methylthioadenosine. Betaine treatment restored normal spermine and spermidine levels but further increased 5'-methylthioadenosine. HCU induced a 2-fold induction in expression of both S-adenosylhomocysteine hydrolase and methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. Induction of this latter enzyme was accompanied by a 10-fold accumulation of its product, 5-methyl-tetrahydrofolate, with the potential to significantly perturb one‑carbon metabolism. Expression of the cytoplasmic isoform of serine hydroxymethyltransferase was unaffected by HCU but the mitochondrial isoform was repressed indicating differential regulation of one‑carbon metabolism in different sub-cellular compartments. All HCU-induced changes in enzyme expression were completely reversed by either betaine or taurine treatment. Collectively, our data show significant alterations of polyamine, folate and methionine cycle metabolism in HCU hepatic tissues that in some cases, differ significantly from those observed in plasma, and have the potential to contribute to multiple aspects of pathogenesis.
    Keywords:  Cystathionine beta-synthase; Folate cycle; Homocysteine; Homocystinuria; Methionine cycle; One‑carbon metabolism
  49. Elife. 2021 Jan 18. pii: e61630. [Epub ahead of print]10
      Germline inactivating mutations in Folliculin (FLCN) cause Birt-Hogg-Dubé (BHD) syndrome, a rare autosomal dominant disorder predisposing to kidney tumors. FLCN is a conserved, essential gene linked to diverse cellular processes but the mechanisms by which FLCN prevents kidney cancer remain unknown. Here we show that deleting FLCN activates TFE3, upregulating its downstream E-box genes in human renal tubular epithelial cells (RPTEC/TERT1), including RRAGD and GPNMB, without modifying mTORC1 activity. Surprisingly, deletion of FLCN or its binding partners FNIP1/FNIP2 also induces interferon response genes, but independently of interferon. Mechanistically, FLCN loss promotes STAT2 recruitment to chromatin and slows cellular proliferation. Our integrated analysis identifies STAT1/2 signaling as a novel target of FLCN in renal cells and BHD tumors. STAT1/2 activation appears to counterbalance TFE3-directed hyper-proliferation and may influence the immune response. These findings shed light on unique roles of FLCN in human renal tumorigenesis and pinpoint candidate prognostic biomarkers.
    Keywords:  cancer biology; genetics; genomics; human
  50. Cancer Metab. 2021 Jan 22. 9(1): 5
      BACKGROUND: Aerobic glycolysis, discovered by Otto Warburg, is a hallmark of cancer metabolism even though not yet fully understood. The low activity of the cancerous pyruvate kinase isozyme (M2) is thought to play an important role by facilitating the conversion of glycolytic intermediates to other anabolic pathways to support tumors' high proliferation rate.METHODS: Five breast cancer cell lines representing different molecular subtypes were used in this study where real time measurements of cellular bioenergetics and immunoblotting analysis of energy- and nutrient-sensing pathways were employed to investigate the potential effects of PKM2 allosteric activator (DASA-58) in glucose rewiring.
    RESULTS: In this study, we show that DASA-58 can induce pyruvate kinase activity in breast cancer cells without affecting the overall cell survival. The drug is also able to reduce TXNIP levels (an intracellular glucose sensor) probably through depletion of upstream glycolytic metabolites and independent of AMPK and ER signaling. AMPK shows an induction in phosphorylation (T172) in response to treatment an effect that can be potentiated by combining DASA-58 with other metabolic inhibitors.
    CONCLUSIONS: Altogether, the multifaceted metabolic reprogramming induced by DASA-58 in breast cancer cells increases their susceptibility to other therapeutics suggesting the suitability of the intracellular glucose sensor TXNIP as a marker of PK activity.
    Keywords:  AMPK; Breast cancer; Cancer metabolism; Glycolysis; Pyruvate kinase M2; TXNIP
  51. Sci Rep. 2021 Jan 18. 11(1): 1662
      Analyzing metabolism of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) provides key opportunities to study the pathophysiology of several diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity and cancer. Extracellular flux (XF) assays provide dynamic metabolic analysis of living cells that can capture ex vivo cellular metabolic responses to biological stressors. To obtain reliable data from PBMCs from individuals, novel methods are needed that allow for standardization and take into account the non-adherent and highly dynamic nature of PBMCs. We developed a novel method for extracellular flux analysis of PBMCs, where we combined brightfield imaging with metabolic flux analysis and data integration in R. Multiple buffy coat donors were used to demonstrate assay linearity with low levels of variation. Our method allowed for accurate and precise estimation of XF assay parameters by reducing the standard score and standard score interquartile range of PBMC basal oxygen consumption rate and glycolytic rate. We applied our method to freshly isolated PBMCs from sixteen healthy subjects and demonstrated that our method reduced the coefficient of variation in group mean basal oxygen consumption rate and basal glycolytic rate, thereby decreasing the variation between PBMC donors. Our novel brightfield image procedure is a robust, sensitive and practical normalization method to reliably measure, compare and extrapolate XF assay data using PBMCs, thereby increasing the relevance for PBMCs as marker tissue in future clinical and biological studies, and enabling the use of primary blood cells instead of immortalized cell lines for immunometabolic experiments.
  52. Cancer Res. 2021 Jan 22. pii: canres.1641.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      MYCN is amplified in 20-25% of neuroblastoma, and MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma contributes to a large percent of pediatric cancer-related deaths. Therapy improvements for this subtype of cancer is a high priority. Here we uncover a MYCN-dependent therapeutic vulnerability in neuroblastoma. Namely, amplified MYCN rewired the cell through expression of key receptors, ultimately enhancing iron influx through increased expression of the iron import transferrin receptor 1 (TfR1). Accumulating iron caused reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, and MYCN-amplified neuroblastomas showed enhanced reliance on the system Xc- cystine/glutamate antiporter for ROS detoxification through increased transcription of this receptor. This dependence created a marked vulnerability to targeting the system Xc-/glutathione (GSH) pathway with ferroptosis inducers. This reliance can be exploited through therapy with FDA-approved rheumatoid arthritis (RA) drugs sulfasalazine (SAS) and auranofin: in MYCN-amplified, patient-derived xenograft models, both therapies blocked growth and induced ferroptosis. SAS and auranofin activity was largely mitigated by the ferroptosis inhibitor ferrostatin-1, antioxidants like NAC, or by the iron scavenger deferoxamine (DFO). DFO reduced auranofin-induced ROS, further linking increased iron capture in MYCN-amplified NB to a therapeutic vulnerability to ROS-inducing drugs. These data uncover an oncogene vulnerability to ferroptosis caused by increased iron accumulation and subsequent reliance on the system Xc-/GSH pathway.
  53. J Biol Chem. 2020 Dec 04. pii: S0021-9258(17)50489-5. [Epub ahead of print]295(49): 16743-16753
      Mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with a variety of human diseases including neurodegeneration, diabetes, nonalcohol fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and cancer, but its underlying causes are incompletely understood. Using the human hepatic cell line HepG2 as a model, we show here that endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation (ERAD), an ER protein quality control process, is critically required for mitochondrial function in mammalian cells. Pharmacological inhibition or genetic ablation of key proteins involved in ERAD increased cell death under both basal conditions and in response to proinflammatory cytokines, a situation frequently found in NAFLD. Decreased viability of ERAD-deficient HepG2 cells was traced to impaired mitochondrial functions including reduced ATP production, enhanced reactive oxygen species (ROS) accumulation, and increased mitochondrial outer membrane permeability. Transcriptome profiling revealed widespread down-regulation of genes underpinning mitochondrial functions, and up-regulation of genes associated with tumor growth and aggression. These results highlight a critical role for ERAD in maintaining mitochondrial functional and structural integrity and raise the possibility of improving cellular and organismal mitochondrial function via enhancing cellular ERAD capacity.
    Keywords:  ERAD; ROS; SEL1L; calcium; cell death; cytochrome c; endoplasmic reticulum; endoplasmic reticulum stress (ER stress); endoplasmic reticulum-associated protein degradation (ERAD); hepatocyte death; liver; mitochondria; mitochondrial disease; mitochondrial permeability transition (MPT)
  54. Elife. 2021 Jan 20. pii: e61980. [Epub ahead of print]10
      Little is known about the metabolic regulation of rare cell populations because most metabolites are hard to detect in small numbers of cells. We previously described a method for metabolomic profiling of flow cytometrically-isolated hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) that detects 60 metabolites in 10,000 cells (Agathocleous et al., 2017). Here we describe a new method involving hydrophilic liquid interaction chromatography and high-sensitivity orbitrap mass spectrometry that detected 160 metabolites in 10,000 HSCs, including many more glycolytic and lipid intermediates. We improved chromatographic separation, increased mass resolution, minimized ion suppression, and eliminated sample drying. Most metabolite levels did not significantly change during cell isolation. Mouse HSCs exhibited increased glycerophospholipids relative to bone marrow cells and methotrexate treatment altered purine biosynthesis. Circulating human melanoma cells were depleted for purine intermediates relative to subcutaneous tumors, suggesting decreased purine synthesis during metastasis. These methods facilitate the routine metabolomic analysis of rare cells from tissues.
    Keywords:  mouse; regenerative medicine; stem cells
  55. Science. 2021 01 22. 371(6527): 405-410
      Infection triggers expansion and effector differentiation of T cells specific for microbial antigens in association with metabolic reprograming. We found that the glycolytic enzyme lactate dehydrogenase A (LDHA) is induced in CD8+ T effector cells through phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling. In turn, ablation of LDHA inhibits PI3K-dependent phosphorylation of Akt and its transcription factor target Foxo1, causing defective antimicrobial immunity. LDHA deficiency cripples cellular redox control and diminishes adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production in effector T cells, resulting in attenuated PI3K signaling. Thus, nutrient metabolism and growth factor signaling are highly integrated processes, with glycolytic ATP serving as a rheostat to gauge PI3K-Akt-Foxo1 signaling in the control of T cell immunity. Such a bioenergetic mechanism for the regulation of signaling may explain the Warburg effect.
  56. Curr Med Chem. 2021 Jan 18.
      Mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress are prominent features of a plethora of human disorders. Dysregulation of mitochondrial functions represents a common pathogenic mechanism of diseases such as neurodegenerative disorders and cancer. The maintenance of the Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+ ) pool, and a positive NAD+ /NADH ratio, are essential for mitochondrial and cell functions. The synthesis and degradation of NAD+ and transport of its key intermediates among cell compartments play an important role to maintain optimal NAD levels, for regulation of NAD+ -utilizing enzymes, such as sirtuins (Sirt), poly-ADP-ribose polymerases, and CD38/157 enzymes, either intracellularly as well as extracellularly. In this review, we present and discuss the links between NAD+ , NAD+ -consuming enzymes, mitochondria functions, and diseases. Attempts to treat various diseases with supplementation of NAD+ cycling intermediates and inhibitors of sirtuins and ADP-ribosyl transferases may highlight a possible therapeutic approach for therapy of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.
    Keywords:  ADP-ribosyl transferases; NAD cycling; compartmentalization; nicotinamide; nicotinamide mononucleotide; nicotinamide riboside; sirtuins
  57. Cancer Res. 2021 Jan 21.
      Deregulation of the mRNA translational process has been observed during tumorigenesis. However, recent findings have shown that deregulation of translation also contributes specifically to cancer cell spread. During metastasis, cancer cells undergo changes in cellular state, permitting the acquisition of features necessary for cell survival, dissemination, and outgrowth. In addition, metastatic cells respond to external cues, allowing for their persistence under significant cellular and microenvironmental stresses. Recent work has revealed the importance of mRNA translation to these dynamic changes, including regulation of cell states through epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and tumor dormancy and as a response to external stresses such as hypoxia and immune surveillance. In this review, we focus on examples of altered translation underlying these phenotypic changes and responses to external cues and explore how they contribute to metastatic progression. We also highlight the therapeutic opportunities presented by aberrant mRNA translation, suggesting novel ways to target metastatic tumor cells.
  58. J Cell Mol Med. 2021 Jan 19.
      The recovery of blood supply after a period of myocardial ischaemia does not restore the heart function and instead results in a serious dysfunction called myocardial ischaemia-reperfusion injury (IRI), which involves several complex pathophysiological processes. Mitochondria have a wide range of functions in maintaining the cellular energy supply, cell signalling and programmed cell death. When mitochondrial function is insufficient or disordered, it may have adverse effects on myocardial ischaemia-reperfusion and therefore mitochondrial dysfunction caused by oxidative stress a core molecular mechanism of IRI. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma co-activator 1α (PGC-1α) is an important antioxidant molecule found in mitochondria. However, its role in IRI has not yet been systematically summarized. In this review, we speculate the role of PGC-1α as a key regulator of mitonuclear communication, which may interacts with nuclear factor, erythroid 2 like -1 and -2 (NRF-1/2) to inhibit mitochondrial oxidative stress, promote the clearance of damaged mitochondria, enhance mitochondrial biogenesis, and reduce the burden of IRI.
    Keywords:  mitochondria; myocardial ischaemia-reperfusion injury (IRI); nuclear factor, erythroid 2 like 1/2 (NRF-1/2); nucleus; oxidative stress; peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma co-activator-1α (PGC-1α)
  59. Nat Metab. 2021 Jan;3(1): 1
  60. Mol Cell. 2021 Jan 12. pii: S1097-2765(20)30958-8. [Epub ahead of print]
      Micronuclei are aberrant nuclear compartments that can form as a result of chromosome mis-segregation. Frequent loss of micronuclear envelope integrity exposes DNA to the cytoplasm, leading to chromosome fragmentation and immune activation. Here, we use micronuclei purification to show that the endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-associated nuclease TREX1 inhibits cGAS activation at micronuclei by degrading micronuclear DNA upon micronuclear envelope rupture. We demonstrate that the ER accesses ruptured micronuclei and plays a critical role in enabling TREX1 nucleolytic attack. TREX1 mutations, previously implicated in immune disease, untether TREX1 from the ER, disrupt TREX1 localization to micronuclei, diminish micronuclear DNA damage, and enhance cGAS activation. These results establish ER-directed resection of micronuclear DNA by TREX1 as a critical regulator of cytosolic DNA sensing in chromosomally unstable cells and provide a mechanistic basis for the importance of TREX1 ER tethering in preventing autoimmunity.
    Keywords:  APE1; BAF; STING; TREX1; cGAS; chromosome instability; chromothripsis; endoplasmic reticulum; micronuclei; nuclear envelope
  61. Nat Ecol Evol. 2021 Jan 18.
      The initiation and progression of cancers reflect the underlying process of somatic evolution, in which the diversification of heritable phenotypes provides a substrate for natural selection, resulting in the outgrowth of the most fit subpopulations. Although somatic evolution can tap into multiple sources of diversification, it is assumed to lack access to (para)sexual recombination-a key diversification mechanism throughout all strata of life. On the basis of observations of spontaneous fusions involving cancer cells, the reported genetic instability of polypoid cells and the precedence of fusion-mediated parasexual recombination in fungi, we asked whether cell fusions between genetically distinct cancer cells could produce parasexual recombination. Using differentially labelled tumour cells, we found evidence of low-frequency, spontaneous cell fusions between carcinoma cells in multiple cell line models of breast cancer both in vitro and in vivo. While some hybrids remained polyploid, many displayed partial ploidy reduction, generating diverse progeny with heterogeneous inheritance of parental alleles, indicative of partial recombination. Hybrid cells also displayed elevated levels of phenotypic plasticity, which may further amplify the impact of cell fusions on the diversification of phenotypic traits. Using mathematical modelling, we demonstrated that the observed rates of spontaneous somatic cell fusions may enable populations of tumour cells to amplify clonal heterogeneity, thus facilitating the exploration of larger areas of the adaptive landscape (relative to strictly asexual populations), which may substantially accelerate a tumour's ability to adapt to new selective pressures.
  62. Science. 2021 01 22. 371(6527): 400-405
      Key to the success of intracellular pathogens is the ability to sense and respond to a changing host cell environment. Macrophages exposed to microbial products undergo metabolic changes that drive inflammatory responses. However, the role of macrophage metabolic reprogramming in bacterial adaptation to the intracellular environment has not been explored. Here, using metabolic profiling and dual RNA sequencing, we show that succinate accumulation in macrophages is sensed by intracellular Salmonella Typhimurium (S. Tm) to promote antimicrobial resistance and type III secretion. S Tm lacking the succinate uptake transporter DcuB displays impaired survival in macrophages and in mice. Thus, S Tm co-opts the metabolic reprogramming of infected macrophages as a signal that induces its own virulence and survival, providing an additional perspective on metabolic host-pathogen cross-talk.
  63. Biomolecules. 2021 Jan 15. pii: E107. [Epub ahead of print]11(1):
      It has become impossible to review all the existing literature on Voltage-Dependent Anion selective Channel (VDAC) in a single article. A real Renaissance of studies brings this protein to the center of decisive knowledge both for cell physiology and therapeutic application. This review, after highlighting the similarities between the cellular context and the study methods of the solute carriers present in the inner membrane and VDAC in the outer membrane of the mitochondria, will focus on the isoforms of VDAC and their biochemical characteristics. In particular, the possible reasons for their evolutionary onset will be discussed. The variations in their post-translational modifications and the differences between the regulatory regions of their genes, probably the key to understanding the current presence of these genes, will be described. Finally, the situation in the higher eukaryotes will be compared to that of yeast, a unicellular eukaryote, where there is only one active isoform and the role of VDAC in energy metabolism is better understood.
    Keywords:  Voltage-Dependent Anion selective Channel; bioenergetics; gene promoter; isoforms; metabolism; oxidative post-translational modification; yeast