bims-camemi Biomed News
on Mitochondrial metabolism in cancer
Issue of 2021‒02‒14
fifty-one papers selected by
Christian Frezza
University of Cambridge, MRC Cancer Unit

  1. Cell Metab. 2021 Feb 04. pii: S1550-4131(21)00014-0. [Epub ahead of print]
      Cell-to-cell heterogeneity in metabolism plays an unknown role in physiology and pharmacology. To functionally characterize cellular variability in metabolism, we treated cells with inhibitors of oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) and monitored their responses with live-cell reporters for ATP, ADP/ATP, or activity of the energy-sensing kinase AMPK. Across multiple OXPHOS inhibitors and cell types, we identified a subpopulation of cells resistant to activation of AMPK and reduction of ADP/ATP ratio. This resistant state persists transiently for at least several hours and can be inherited during cell divisions. OXPHOS inhibition suppresses the mTORC1 and ERK growth signaling pathways in sensitive cells, but not in resistant cells. Resistance is linked to a multi-factorial combination of increased glucose uptake, reduced protein biosynthesis, and G0/G1 cell-cycle status. Our results reveal dynamic fluctuations in cellular energetic balance and provide a basis for measuring and predicting the distribution of cellular responses to OXPHOS inhibition.
    Keywords:  AKT; FRET; PI3K; adenosine mono-phosphate-regulated protein kinase; electron transport chain; insulin signaling; mammalian target of rapamycin; metabolic cycle; oligomycin; oscillation; translation regulation
  2. Cell Stress. 2020 Dec 10. 5(2): 23-25
      Proline metabolism is critical for cellular response to microenvironmental stress in living organisms across different kingdoms, ranging from bacteria, plants to animals. In bacteria and plants, proline is known to accrue in response to osmotic and other stresses. In higher organisms such as human, proline metabolism plays important roles in physiology as well as pathological processes including cancer. The importance of proline metabolism in physiology and diseases lies in the fact that the products of proline metabolism are intimately involved in essential cellular processes including protein synthesis, energy production and redox signaling. A surge of protein synthesis in fast proliferating cancer cells, for example, results in markedly increased demand for proline. Proline synthesis is frequently unable to meet the demand in fast proliferating cancer cells. The inadequacy of proline or "proline vulnerability" in cancer may provide an opportunity for therapeutic control of cancer progression. To this end, it is important to understand the signaling mechanism through which proline synthesis is regulated. In a recent study (Guo et al., Nat Commun 11(1):4913, doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-18753-6), we have identified PINCH-1, a component of cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) adhesions, as an important regulator of proline synthesis and cancer progression.
    Keywords:  PINCH-1; cell-extracellular matrix adhesion; fibrosis; mitochondrial dynamics; proline metabolism; tumor growth
  3. Cancer Cell. 2021 Feb 02. pii: S1535-6108(21)00050-7. [Epub ahead of print]
      Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most aggressive nervous system cancer. Understanding its molecular pathogenesis is crucial to improving diagnosis and treatment. Integrated analysis of genomic, proteomic, post-translational modification and metabolomic data on 99 treatment-naive GBMs provides insights to GBM biology. We identify key phosphorylation events (e.g., phosphorylated PTPN11 and PLCG1) as potential switches mediating oncogenic pathway activation, as well as potential targets for EGFR-, TP53-, and RB1-altered tumors. Immune subtypes with distinct immune cell types are discovered using bulk omics methodologies, validated by snRNA-seq, and correlated with specific expression and histone acetylation patterns. Histone H2B acetylation in classical-like and immune-low GBM is driven largely by BRDs, CREBBP, and EP300. Integrated metabolomic and proteomic data identify specific lipid distributions across subtypes and distinct global metabolic changes in IDH-mutated tumors. This work highlights biological relationships that could contribute to stratification of GBM patients for more effective treatment.
    Keywords:  CPTAC; acetylome; glioblastoma; lipidome; metabolome; proteogenomics; proteomics; signaling; single nuclei RNA-seq
  4. Cell Death Discov. 2020 Apr 16. 6(1): 20
      Cancer cells upregulate anabolic processes to maintain high rates of cellular turnover. Limiting the supply of macromolecular precursors by targeting enzymes involved in biosynthesis is a promising strategy in cancer therapy. Several tumors excessively metabolize glutamine to generate precursors for nonessential amino acids, nucleotides, and lipids, in a process called glutaminolysis. Here we show that pharmacological inhibition of glutaminase (GLS) eradicates glioblastoma stem-like cells (GSCs), a small cell subpopulation in glioblastoma (GBM) responsible for therapy resistance and tumor recurrence. Treatment with small molecule inhibitors compound 968 and CB839 effectively diminished cell growth and in vitro clonogenicity of GSC neurosphere cultures. However, our pharmaco-metabolic studies revealed that only CB839 inhibited GLS enzymatic activity thereby limiting the influx of glutamine derivates into the TCA cycle. Nevertheless, the effects of both inhibitors were highly GLS specific, since treatment sensitivity markedly correlated with GLS protein expression. Strikingly, we found GLS overexpressed in in vitro GSC models as compared with neural stem cells (NSC). Moreover, our study demonstrates the usefulness of in vitro pharmaco-metabolomics to score target specificity of compounds thereby refining drug development and risk assessment.
  5. Cells. 2021 Feb 10. pii: 369. [Epub ahead of print]10(2):
      The oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) system localized in the inner mitochondrial membrane secures production of the majority of ATP in mammalian organisms. Individual OXPHOS complexes form supramolecular assemblies termed supercomplexes. The complexes are linked not only by their function but also by interdependency of individual complex biogenesis or maintenance. For instance, cytochrome c oxidase (cIV) or cytochrome bc1 complex (cIII) deficiencies affect the level of fully assembled NADH dehydrogenase (cI) in monomeric as well as supercomplex forms. It was hypothesized that cI is affected at the level of enzyme assembly as well as at the level of cI stability and maintenance. However, the true nature of interdependency between cI and cIV is not fully understood yet. We used a HEK293 cellular model where the COX4 subunit was completely knocked out, serving as an ideal system to study interdependency of cI and cIV, as early phases of cIV assembly process were disrupted. Total absence of cIV was accompanied by profound deficiency of cI, documented by decrease in the levels of cI subunits and significantly reduced amount of assembled cI. Supercomplexes assembled from cI, cIII, and cIV were missing in COX4I1 knock-out (KO) due to loss of cIV and decrease in cI amount. Pulse-chase metabolic labeling of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)-encoded proteins uncovered a decrease in the translation of cIV and cI subunits. Moreover, partial impairment of mitochondrial protein synthesis correlated with decreased content of mitochondrial ribosomal proteins. In addition, complexome profiling revealed accumulation of cI assembly intermediates, indicating that cI biogenesis, rather than stability, was affected. We propose that attenuation of mitochondrial protein synthesis caused by cIV deficiency represents one of the mechanisms, which may impair biogenesis of cI.
    Keywords:  COX; COX4; OXPHOS; biogenesis interdependency; cI; cIV; cIV assembly; complex I; complexome profiling; knock-out; mitochondria; mitochondrial protein synthesis
  6. Annu Rev Biochem. 2021 Feb 08.
      Members of the mitochondrial carrier family [solute carrier family 25 (SLC25)] transport nucleotides, amino acids, carboxylic acids, fatty acids, inorganic ions, and vitamins across the mitochondrial inner membrane. They are important for many cellular processes, such as oxidative phosphorylation of lipids and sugars, amino acid metabolism, macromolecular synthesis, ion homeostasis, cellular regulation, and differentiation. Here, we describe the functional elements of the transport mechanism of mitochondrial carriers, consisting of one central substrate-binding site and two gates with salt-bridge networks on either side of the carrier. Binding of the substrate during import causes three gate elements to rotate inward, forming the cytoplasmic network and closing access to the substrate-binding site from the intermembrane space. Simultaneously, three core elements rock outward, disrupting the matrix network and opening the substrate-binding site to the matrix side of the membrane. During export, substrate binding triggers conformational changes involving the same elements but operating in reverse. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Biochemistry, Volume 90 is June 2021. Please see for revised estimates.
  7. EMBO Rep. 2021 Feb 08. e50629
      Mitophagy is an essential cellular autophagic process that selectively removes superfluous and damaged mitochondria, and it is coordinated with mitochondrial biogenesis to fine tune the quantity and quality of mitochondria. Coordination between these two opposing processes to maintain the functional mitochondrial network is of paramount importance for normal cellular and organismal metabolism. However, the underlying mechanism is not completely understood. Here we report that PGC-1α and nuclear respiratory factor 1 (NRF1), master regulators of mitochondrial biogenesis and metabolic adaptation, also transcriptionally upregulate the gene encoding FUNDC1, a previously characterized mitophagy receptor, in response to cold stress in brown fat tissue. NRF1 binds to the classic consensus site in the promoter of Fundc1 to upregulate its expression and to enhance mitophagy through its interaction with LC3. Specific knockout of Fundc1 in BAT results in reduced mitochondrial turnover and accumulation of functionally compromised mitochondria, leading to impaired adaptive thermogenesis. Our results demonstrate that FUNDC1-dependent mitophagy is directly coupled with mitochondrial biogenesis through the PGC-1α/NRF1 pathway, which dictates mitochondrial quantity, quality, and turnover and contributes to adaptive thermogenesis.
    Keywords:  adaptive thermogenesis; brown adipose tissue; mitochondrial biogenesis; mitophagy
  8. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2021 Feb 13.
      Many tumors are now understood to be heterogenous cell populations arising from a minority of epithelial-like cancer stem cells (CSCs). CSCs demonstrate distinctive metabolic signatures from the more differentiated surrounding tumor bulk that confer resistance to traditional chemotherapeutic regimens and potential for tumor relapse. Many CSC phenotypes including metabolism, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, cellular signaling pathway activity, and others, arise from altered mitochondrial function and turnover, which are regulated by constant cycles of mitochondrial fusion and fission. Further, recycling of mitochondria through mitophagy in CSCs is associated with maintenance of reactive oxygen species levels that dictate gene expression. The protein machinery that drives mitochondrial dynamics is surprisingly simple and may represent attractive new therapeutic avenues to target CSC metabolism and selectively eradicate tumor-generating cells to reduce the risks of metastasis and relapse for a variety of tumor types.
    Keywords:  Cancer stem cells; EMT; Metabolism; Mitochondrial dynamics; Mitochondrial morphology; Signaling; Therapeutic resistance
  9. Cell Calcium. 2021 Jan 30. pii: S0143-4160(21)00011-7. [Epub ahead of print]94 102357
      Mitochondrial activity warrants energy supply to oxidative myofibres to sustain endurance workload. The maintenance of mitochondrial homeostasis is ensured by the control of fission and fusion processes and by the mitophagic removal of aberrant organelles. Many diseases are due to or characterized by dysfunctional mitochondria, and altered mitochondrial dynamics or turnover trigger myopathy per se. In this review, we will tackle the role of mitochondrial dynamics, turnover and metabolism in skeletal muscle, both in health and disease.
    Keywords:  Fusion and fission machinery; Mitochondrial calcium uptake; Mitochondrial myopathies; Mitophagy; Skeletal muscle
  10. Redox Biol. 2021 Jan 30. pii: S2213-2317(21)00032-X. [Epub ahead of print]41 101884
      DJ-1 is a multifaceted protein with pleiotropic functions that has been implicated in multiple diseases, ranging from neurodegeneration to cancer and ischemia-reperfusion injury. Ischemia is a complex pathological state arising when tissues and organs do not receive adequate levels of oxygen and nutrients. When the blood flow is restored, significant damage occurs over and above that of ischemia alone and is termed ischemia-reperfusion injury. Despite great efforts in the scientific community to ameliorate this pathology, its complex nature has rendered it challenging to obtain satisfactory treatments that translate to the clinic. In this review, we will describe the recent findings on the participation of the protein DJ-1 in the pathophysiology of ischemia-reperfusion injury, firstly introducing the features and functions of DJ-1 and, successively highlighting the therapeutic potential of the protein.
    Keywords:  DJ-1; Glucose homeostasis; Ionic balance; Ischemia-reperfusion injury; Mitochondrial homeostasis; Reactive oxygen species
  11. J Drug Target. 2021 Feb 08. 1-16
      Mitophagy is a selective form of macroautophagy in which dysfunctional and damaged mitochondria can be efficiently degraded, removed and recycled through autophagy. Selective removal of damaged or fragmented mitochondria is critical to the functional integrity of the entire mitochondrial network and cells. In past decades, numerous studies have shown that mitophagy is involved in various diseases; however, since the dual role of mitophagy in tumour development, mitophagy role in tumour is controversial, and further elucidation is needed. That is, although mitophagy has been demonstrated to contribute to carcinogenesis, cell migration, ferroptosis inhibition, cancer stemness maintenance, tumour immune escape, drug resistance, etc. during cancer progression, many research also shows that to promote cancer cell death, mitophagy can be induced physiologically or pharmacologically to maintain normal cellular metabolism and prevent cell stress responses and genome damage by diminishing mitochondrial damage, thus suppressing tumour development accompanying these changes. Signalling pathway-specific molecular mechanisms are currently of great biological significance in the identification of potential therapeutic targets. Here, we review recent progress of molecular pathways mediating mitophagy including both canonical pathways (Parkin/PINK1- and FUNDC1-mediated mitophagy) and noncanonical pathways (FKBP8-, Nrf2-, and DRP1-mediated mitophagy); and the regulation of these pathways, and abovementioned pro-cancer and pro-death roles of mitophagy. Finally, we summarise the role of mitophagy in cancer therapy. Mitophagy can potentially be acted as the target for cancer therapy by promotion or inhibition.
    Keywords:  LC3; Mitophagy; PINK1; cancer; parkin
  12. Biomedicines. 2021 Feb 09. pii: 169. [Epub ahead of print]9(2):
      Mitochondrial dysfunctions are among the main hallmarks of several brain diseases, including ischemic stroke. An insufficient supply of oxygen and glucose in brain cells, primarily neurons, triggers a cascade of events in which mitochondria are the leading characters. Mitochondrial calcium overload, reactive oxygen species (ROS) overproduction, mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP) opening, and damage-associated molecular pattern (DAMP) release place mitochondria in the center of an intricate series of chance interactions. Depending on the degree to which mitochondria are affected, they promote different pathways, ranging from inflammatory response pathways to cell death pathways. In this review, we will explore the principal mitochondrial molecular mechanisms compromised during ischemic and reperfusion injury, and we will delineate potential neuroprotective strategies targeting mitochondrial dysfunction and mitochondrial homeostasis.
    Keywords:  cell death; inflammation; ischemic reperfusion; ischemic stroke; mitochondrial fission; mitochondrial fusion; mitochondrial transfer; mitophagy
  13. Biochim Biophys Acta Bioenerg. 2021 Feb 04. pii: S0005-2728(21)00026-8. [Epub ahead of print] 148393
      Cancer cells bioenergetics is more dependent on glycolysis than mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, a phenomenon known as the Warburg Effect. It has been proposed that inhibition of glycolysis may selectively affect cancer cells. However, the effects of glycolysis inhibition on mitochondrial function and structure in cancer cells are not completely understood. Here, we investigated the comparative effects of 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG, a glucose analogue, which suppresses cellular glycolysis) on cellular bioenergetics in human colon cancer DLD-1 cells, smooth muscle cells, human umbilical vein endothelial cells and HL-1 cardiomyocytes. In all cells, 2-DG treatment resulted in significant ATP depletion, however, the cell viability remained unchanged. Also, we did not observe the synergistic effects of 2-DG with anticancer drugs doxorubicin and 5-fluorouracil. Instead, after 2-DG treatment and ATP depletion, mitochondrial respiration and membrane potential were significantly enhanced and mitochondrial morphology changed in the direction of more network organization. Analysis of protein expression demonstrated that 2-DG treatment induced an activation of AMPK (elevated pAMPK/AMPK ratio), increased mitochondrial fusion (mitofusins 1 and 2) and decreased fission (Drp1) proteins. In conclusion, this study suggests a strong link between respiratory function and structural organization of mitochondria in the cell. We propose that the functionality of the mitochondrial network is enhanced compared to disconnected mitochondria.
    Keywords:  2-Deoxy-D-glucose; Cancer cells; Cellular ATP; Energy stress; Glucose metabolism; Mitochondria; Mitochondrial dynamics/network; Mitochondrial function; Mitochondrial membrane potential
  14. Mol Genet Metab Rep. 2021 Mar;26 100721
    Keywords:  2-oxoglutarate-malate antiport; Aspartate; Chromaffin cells; Citrin; Complex II, SDHx; Cytosolic glutamine reductive pathway; Familial pheochromocytoma; Glutamine; NADH redox status; Paraganglioma; SCL25A13; SLC25A11; Succinate dehydrogenase
  15. Front Immunol. 2020 ;11 611347
      The anti-viral pattern recognition receptor STING and its partnering cytosolic DNA sensor cGAS have been increasingly recognized to respond to self DNA in multiple pathologic settings including cancer and autoimmune disease. Endogenous DNA sources that trigger STING include damaged nuclear DNA in micronuclei and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). STING resides in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), and particularly in the ER-mitochondria associated membranes. This unique location renders STING well poised to respond to intracellular organelle stress. Whereas the pathways linking mtDNA and STING have been addressed recently, the mechanisms governing ER stress and STING interaction remain more opaque. The ER and mitochondria share a close anatomic and functional relationship, with mutual production of, and inter-organelle communication via calcium and reactive oxygen species (ROS). This interdependent relationship has potential to both generate the essential ligands for STING activation and to regulate its activity. Herein, we review the interactions between STING and mitochondria, STING and ER, ER and mitochondria (vis-à-vis calcium and ROS), and the evidence for 3-way communication.
    Keywords:  STING; cGAS; endoplasmic reticulum; mitochondria; reactive oxygen species; unfolded protein response
  16. J Physiol. 2021 Feb 10.
      After a Century, it's time to turn the page on understanding of lactate metabolism and appreciate that lactate shuttling is an important component of intermediary metabolism in vivo. Cell-Cell and intracellular Lactate Shuttles fulfill purposes of energy substrate production and distribution as well as cell signaling under fully aerobic conditions. Recognition of lactate shuttling came first in studies of physical exercise where the roles of driver (producer) and recipient (consumer) cells and tissues were obvious. Moreover, the presence of lactate shuttling as part of postprandial glucose disposal and satiety signaling has been recognized. Mitochondrial respiration creates the physiological sink for lactate disposal in vivo. Repeated lactate exposure from regular exercise results in adaptive processes such as mitochondrial biogenesis and other healthful circulatory and neurological characteristic such as improved physical work capacity, metabolic flexibility, learning, and memory. The importance of lactate and lactate shuttling in healthful living is further emphasized when lactate signaling and shuttling are dysregulated as occur in particular illnesses and injuries. Like a Phoenix, lactate has risen to major importance in 21st Century Biology. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Keywords:  exercise; fiber type; gene adaptation; gluconeogenesis; glycogenolysis; indirect pathway; lactate shuttle; lactate signaling; microbiome; muscle; postabsorptive metabolism; postprandial metabolism; satiety
  17. Nat Chem Biol. 2021 Feb 11.
      Redox cycles have been reported in ultradian, circadian and cell cycle-synchronized systems. Redox cycles persist in the absence of transcription and cyclin-CDK activity, indicating that cells harbor multiple coupled oscillators. Nonetheless, the causal relationships and molecular mechanisms by which redox cycles are embedded within ultradian, circadian or cell division cycles remain largely elusive. Yeast harbor an ultradian oscillator, the yeast metabolic cycle (YMC), which comprises metabolic/redox cycles, transcriptional cycles and synchronized cell division. Here, we reveal the existence of robust cycling of H2O2 and peroxiredoxin oxidation during the YMC and show that peroxiredoxin inactivation disrupts metabolic cycling and abolishes coupling with cell division. We find that thiol-disulfide oxidants and reductants predictably modulate the switching between different YMC metabolic states, which in turn predictably perturbs cell cycle entry and exit. We propose that oscillatory H2O2-dependent protein thiol oxidation is a key regulator of metabolic cycling and its coordination with cell division.
  18. Annu Rev Physiol. 2021 Feb 10. 83 551-576
      Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is characterized by impaired regulation of pulmonary hemodynamics and vascular growth. Alterations of metabolism and bioenergetics are increasingly recognized as universal hallmarks of PAH, as metabolic abnormalities are identified in lungs and hearts of patients, animal models of the disease, and cells derived from lungs of patients. Mitochondria are the primary organelle critically mediating the complex and integrative metabolic pathways in bioenergetics, biosynthetic pathways, and cell signaling. Here, we review the alterations in metabolic pathways that are linked to the pathologic vascular phenotype of PAH, including abnormalities in glycolysis and glucose oxidation, fatty acid oxidation, glutaminolysis, arginine metabolism, one-carbon metabolism, the reducing and oxidizing cell environment, and the tricarboxylic acid cycle, as well as the effects of PAH-associated nuclear and mitochondrial mutations on metabolism. Understanding of the metabolic mechanisms underlying PAH provides important knowledge for the design of new therapeutics for treatment of patients.
    Keywords:  fatty acid oxidation; glutaminolysis; glycolysis; metabolism; pulmonary hypertension; right ventricle
  19. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2021 Feb 13.
      Cells use mitophagy to remove dysfunctional or excess mitochondria, frequently in response to imposed stresses, such as hypoxia and nutrient deprivation. Mitochondrial cargo receptors (MCR) induced by these stresses target mitochondria to autophagosomes through interaction with members of the LC3/GABARAP family. There are a growing number of these MCRs, including BNIP3, BNIP3L, FUNDC1, Bcl2-L-13, FKBP8, Prohibitin-2, and others, in addition to mitochondrial protein targets of PINK1/Parkin phospho-ubiquitination. There is also an emerging link between mitochondrial lipid signaling and mitophagy where ceramide, sphingosine-1-phosphate, and cardiolipin have all been shown to promote mitophagy. Here, we review the upstream signaling mechanisms that regulate mitophagy, including components of the mitochondrial fission machinery, AMPK, ATF4, FoxOs, Sirtuins, and mtDNA release, and address the significance of these pathways for stress responses in tumorigenesis and metastasis. In particular, we focus on how mitophagy modulators intersect with cell cycle control and survival pathways in cancer, including following ECM detachment and during cell migration and metastasis. Finally, we interrogate how mitophagy affects tissue atrophy during cancer cachexia and therapy responses in the clinic.
    Keywords:  AMPK; ATF4; Autophagy; BCL2-L-13; BNIP3/BNIP3L; Cachexia; DRP1; Electron transport chain; FUNDC1; Fission; FoxOs; LC3/GABARAP; Metabolism; Metastasis; Mitochondria; Mitohormesis; Mitophagy; NAD+; PARP; PINK1/Parkin; ROS; Respiration; Sirtuins; UPRmt
  20. Cell Death Discov. 2020 Apr 22. 6(1): 27
      Glucose is a major requirement for biological life. Its concentration is constantly sensed at the cellular level, allowing for adequate responses to any changes of glucose availability. Such responses are mediated by key sensors and signaling pathway components that adapt cellular metabolism to glucose levels. One of the major hubs of these responses is mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) kinase, which forms the mTORC1 and mTORC2 protein complexes. Under physiological glucose concentrations, mTORC1 is activated and stimulates a number of proteins and enzymes involved in anabolic processes, while restricting the autophagic process. Conversely, when glucose levels are low, mTORC1 is inhibited, in turn leading to the repression of numerous anabolic processes, sparing ATP and antioxidants. Understanding how mTORC1 activity is regulated by glucose is not only important to better delineate the biological function of mTOR, but also to highlight potential therapeutic strategies for treating diseases characterized by deregulated glucose availability, as is the case of cancer. In this perspective, we depict the different sensors and upstream proteins responsible of controlling mTORC1 activity in response to changes in glucose concentration. This includes the major energy sensor AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), as well as other independent players. The impact of such modes of regulation of mTORC1 on cellular processes is also discussed.
  21. EMBO Rep. 2021 Feb 10. e49097
      Parkin promotes cell survival by removing damaged mitochondria via mitophagy. However, although some studies have suggested that Parkin induces cell death, the regulatory mechanism underlying the dual role of Parkin remains unknown. Herein, we report that mitochondrial ubiquitin ligase (MITOL/MARCH5) regulates Parkin-mediated cell death through the FKBP38-dependent dynamic translocation from the mitochondria to the ER during mitophagy. Mechanistically, MITOL mediates ubiquitination of Parkin at lysine 220 residue, which promotes its proteasomal degradation, and thereby fine-tunes mitophagy by controlling the quantity of Parkin. Deletion of MITOL leads to accumulation of the phosphorylated active form of Parkin in the ER, resulting in FKBP38 degradation and enhanced cell death. Thus, we have shown that MITOL blocks Parkin-induced cell death, at least partially, by protecting FKBP38 from Parkin. Our findings unveil the regulation of the dual function of Parkin and provide a novel perspective on the pathogenesis of PD.
    Keywords:  E3 ubiquitin ligase; MITOL/MARCH5; Parkin; mitochondria; mitophagy
  22. Cell Metab. 2021 Feb 02. pii: S1550-4131(21)00011-5. [Epub ahead of print]
      Attenuating pathological angiogenesis in diseases characterized by neovascularization such as diabetic retinopathy has transformed standards of care. Yet little is known about the molecular signatures discriminating physiological blood vessels from their diseased counterparts, leading to off-target effects of therapy. We demonstrate that in contrast to healthy blood vessels, pathological vessels engage pathways of cellular senescence. Senescent (p16INK4A-expressing) cells accumulate in retinas of patients with diabetic retinopathy and during peak destructive neovascularization in a mouse model of retinopathy. Using either genetic approaches that clear p16INK4A-expressing cells or small molecule inhibitors of the anti-apoptotic protein BCL-xL, we show that senolysis suppresses pathological angiogenesis. Single-cell analysis revealed that subsets of endothelial cells with senescence signatures and expressing Col1a1 are no longer detected in BCL-xL-inhibitor-treated retinas, yielding a retina conducive to physiological vascular repair. These findings provide mechanistic evidence supporting the development of BCL-xL inhibitors as potential treatments for neovascular retinal disease.
    Keywords:  BCL-xL; UBX1967; aging; angiogenesis; cellular senescence; diabetes; p16(INK4A); retina; retinopathy; senolytic
  23. Nat Cancer. 2020 ;1 653-664
      Cancer cells adapt their metabolic activities to support growth and proliferation. However, increased activity of metabolic enzymes is not usually considered an initiating event in the malignant process. Here, we investigate the possible role of the enzyme serine hydroxymethyltransferase-2 (SHMT2) in lymphoma initiation. SHMT2 localizes to the most frequent region of copy number gains at chromosome 12q14.1 in lymphoma. Elevated expression of SHMT2 cooperates with BCL2 in lymphoma development; loss or inhibition of SHMT2 impairs lymphoma cell survival. SHMT2 catalyzes the conversion of serine to glycine and produces an activated one-carbon unit that can be used to support S-adenosyl methionine synthesis. SHMT2 induces changes in DNA and histone methylation patterns leading to promoter silencing of previously uncharacterized mutational genes, such as SASH1 and PTPRM. Together, our findings reveal that amplification of SHMT2 in cooperation with BCL2 is sufficient in the initiation of lymphomagenesis through epigenetic tumor suppressor silencing.
  24. Front Physiol. 2020 ;11 542950
      Mitochondrial enzymes involved in energy transformation are organized into multiprotein complexes that channel the reaction intermediates for efficient ATP production. Three of the mammalian urea cycle enzymes: N-acetylglutamate synthase (NAGS), carbamylphosphate synthetase 1 (CPS1), and ornithine transcarbamylase (OTC) reside in the mitochondria. Urea cycle is required to convert ammonia into urea and protect the brain from ammonia toxicity. Urea cycle intermediates are tightly channeled in and out of mitochondria, indicating that efficient activity of these enzymes relies upon their coordinated interaction with each other, perhaps in a cluster. This view is supported by mutations in surface residues of the urea cycle proteins that impair ureagenesis in the patients, but do not affect protein stability or catalytic activity. We find the NAGS, CPS1, and OTC proteins in liver mitochondria can associate with the inner mitochondrial membrane (IMM) and can be co-immunoprecipitated. Our in-silico analysis of vertebrate NAGS proteins, the least abundant of the urea cycle enzymes, identified a protein-protein interaction region present only in the mammalian NAGS protein-"variable segment," which mediates the interaction of NAGS with CPS1. Use of super resolution microscopy showed that NAGS, CPS1 and OTC are organized into clusters in the hepatocyte mitochondria. These results indicate that mitochondrial urea cycle proteins cluster, instead of functioning either independently or in a rigid multienzyme complex.
    Keywords:  N-acetylglutamate synthase; carbamylphosphate synthetase 1; enzyme cluster; metabolite channeling; mitochondria; ornithine transcarbamylase; super-resolution imaging; urea cycle
  25. Nature. 2021 Jan 27.
      Whole-genome doubling (WGD) is common in human cancers, occurring early in tumorigenesis and generating genetically unstable tetraploid cells that fuel tumour development1,2. Cells that undergo WGD (WGD+ cells) must adapt to accommodate their abnormal tetraploid state; however, the nature of these adaptations, and whether they confer vulnerabilities that can be exploited therapeutically, is unclear. Here, using sequencing data from roughly 10,000 primary human cancer samples and essentiality data from approximately 600 cancer cell lines, we show that WGD gives rise to common genetic traits that are accompanied by unique vulnerabilities. We reveal that WGD+ cells are more dependent than WGD- cells on signalling from the spindle-assembly checkpoint, DNA-replication factors and proteasome function. We also identify KIF18A, which encodes a mitotic kinesin protein, as being specifically required for the viability of WGD+ cells. Although KIF18A is largely dispensable for accurate chromosome segregation during mitosis in WGD- cells, its loss induces notable mitotic errors in WGD+ cells, ultimately impairing cell viability. Collectively, our results suggest new strategies for specifically targeting WGD+ cancer cells while sparing the normal, non-transformed WGD- cells that comprise human tissue.
  26. Sci Adv. 2021 Feb;pii: eabd7459. [Epub ahead of print]7(7):
      The lipogenic enzyme stearoyl CoA desaturase (SCD) plays a key role in tumor lipid metabolism and membrane architecture. SCD is often up-regulated and a therapeutic target in cancer. Here, we report the unexpected finding that median expression of SCD is low in glioblastoma relative to normal brain due to hypermethylation and unintentional monoallelic co-deletion with phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) in a subset of patients. Cell lines from this subset expressed undetectable SCD, yet retained residual SCD enzymatic activity. Unexpectedly, these lines evolved to survive independent of SCD through unknown mechanisms. Cell lines that escaped such genetic and epigenetic alterations expressed higher levels of SCD and were highly dependent on SCD for survival. Last, we identify that SCD-dependent lines acquire resistance through a previously unknown FBJ murine osteosarcoma viral oncogene homolog B (FOSB)-mediated mechanism. Accordingly, FOSB inhibition blunted acquired resistance and extended survival of tumor-bearing mice treated with SCD inhibitor.
  27. Biochim Biophys Acta Gen Subj. 2021 Feb 08. pii: S0304-4165(21)00030-1. [Epub ahead of print] 129871
      PINK1, a serine/threonine ubiquitin kinase, and Parkin, an E3 ubiquitin ligase, work in coordination to target damaged mitochondria to the lysosome in a process called mitophagy. This review will cover what we have learned from PINK1 and Parkin knockout (KO) mice. Systemic PINK1 and Parkin KO mouse models haven't faithfully recapitulated early onset forms of Parkinson's disease found in humans with recessive mutations in these genes. However, the utilization of these mouse models has given us insight into how PINK1 and Parkin contribute to mitochondrial quality control and function in different tissues beyond the brain such as in heart and adipose tissue. Although PINK1 and Parkin KO mice have been generated over a decade ago, these models are still being used today to creatively elucidate cell-type specific functions. Recently, these mouse models have uncovered that these proteins contribute to innate immunity and cancer phenotypes.
    Keywords:  PINK1; Parkin; knockout mouse; mitophagy
  28. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2020 ;8 630771
      Pyroptosis is a recently discovered aspartic aspart-specific cysteine protease (Caspase-1/4/5/11) dependent mode of gene-regulated cell death cell death, which is represented by the rupture of cell membrane perforations and the production of proinflammatory mediaters like interleukin-18(IL-18) and interleukin-1β (IL-1β). Mitochondria also play an important role in apoptotic cell death. When it comes to apoptosis of mitochondrion, mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization (MOMP) is commonly known to cause cell death. As a downstream pathological process of apoptotic signaling, MOMP participates in the leakage of cytochrome-c from mitochondrion to the cytosol and subsequently activate caspase proteases. Hence, targeting MOMP for the sake of manipulating cell death presents potential therapeutic effects among various types of diseases, such as autoimmune disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer. In this review, we highlights the roles and significance of mitochondria in pyroptosis to provide unexplored strategies that target the mitochondria to regulate cell death for clinical benefits.
    Keywords:  MOMP; apoptosis; gasdermin; mitochondria; pyroptosis
  29. Cancer Cell. 2021 Feb 08. pii: S1535-6108(21)00061-1. [Epub ahead of print]39(2): 148-150
      A new study in Nature determines metastatic tropism in xenograft mouse models. This results in a metastasis map for 21 tumor types, the utility of which is demonstrated by identifying lipid metabolism to be uniquely altered in breast cancer cell lines that metastasize to the brain.
  30. Cell Death Dis. 2021 Feb 11. 12(2): 174
      Fulminant hepatitis (FH) is an incurable clinical syndrome where novel therapeutics are warranted. Withaferin A (WA), isolated from herb Withania Somnifera, is a hepatoprotective agent. Whether and how WA improves D-galactosamine (GalN)/lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced FH is unknown. This study was to evaluate the hepatoprotective role and mechanism of WA in GalN/LPS-induced FH. To determine the preventive and therapeutic effects of WA, wild-type mice were dosed with WA 0.5 h before or 2 h after GalN treatment, followed by LPS 30 min later, and then killed 6 h after LPS treatment. To explore the mechanism of the protective effect, the macrophage scavenger clodronate, autophagy inhibitor 3-methyladenine, or gene knockout mouse lines NLR family pyrin domain containing 3 (Nlrp3)-null, nuclear factor-erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2)-null, liver-specific AMP-activated protein kinase (Ampk)a1 knockout (Ampka1ΔHep) and liver-specific inhibitor of KB kinase β (Ikkb) knockout (IkkbΔHep) mice were subjected to GalN/LPS-induced FH. In wild-type mice, WA potently prevented GalN/LPS-induced FH and inhibited hepatic NLRP3 inflammasome activation, and upregulated NRF2 and autophagy signaling. Studies with Nrf2-null, Ampka1ΔHep, and IkkbΔHep mice demonstrated that the hepatoprotective effect was independent of NRF2, hepatic AMPKα1, and IκκB. Similarly, 3-methyladenine cotreatment failed to abolish the hepatoprotective effect of WA. The hepatoprotective effect of WA against GalN/LPS-induced FH was abolished after macrophage depletion, and partially reduced in Nlrp3-null mice. Consistently, WA alleviated LPS-induced inflammation partially dependent on the presence of NLRP3 in primary macrophage in vitro. Notably, WA potently and therapeutically attenuated GalN/LPS-induced hepatotoxicity. In conclusion, WA improves GalN/LPS-induced hepatotoxicity by targeting macrophage partially dependent on NLRP3 antagonism, while largely independent of NRF2 signaling, autophagy induction, and hepatic AMPKα1 and IκκB. These results support the concept of treating FH by pharmacologically targeting macrophage and suggest that WA has the potential to be repurposed for clinically treating FH as an immunoregulator.
  31. Oncogene. 2021 Feb 09.
      Fatty acid metabolism is essential for the biogenesis of cellular components and ATP production to sustain proliferation of cancer cells. Long-chain fatty acyl-CoA synthetases (ACSLs), a group of rate-limiting enzymes in fatty acid metabolism, catalyze the bioconversion of exogenous or de novo synthesized fatty acids to their corresponding fatty acyl-CoAs. In this study, systematical analysis of ACSLs levels and the amount of fatty acyl-CoAs illustrated that ACSL1 were significantly associated with the levels of a broad spectrum of fatty acyl-CoAs, and were elevated in human prostate tumors. ACSL1 increased the biosynthesis of fatty acyl-CoAs including C16:0-, C18:0-, C18:1-, and C18:2-CoA, triglycerides and lipid accumulation in cancer cells. Mechanistically, ACSL1 modulated mitochondrial respiration, β-oxidation, and ATP production through regulation of CPT1 activity. Knockdown of ACSL1 inhibited the cell cycle, and suppressed the proliferation and migration of prostate cancer cells in vitro, and growth of prostate xenograft tumors in vivo. Our study implicates ACSL1 as playing an important role in prostate tumor progression, and provides a therapeutic strategy of targeting fatty acid metabolism for the treatment of prostate cancer.
  32. Elife. 2021 Feb 08. pii: e64821. [Epub ahead of print]10
      When neurons engage in intense periods of activity, the consequent increase in energy demand can be met by the coordinated activation of glycolysis, the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, and oxidative phosphorylation. However, the trigger for glycolytic activation is unknown and the role for Ca2+ in the mitochondrial responses has been debated. Using genetically encoded fluorescent biosensors and NAD(P)H autofluorescence imaging in acute hippocampal slices, here we find that Ca2+ uptake into the mitochondria is responsible for the buildup of mitochondrial NADH, probably through Ca2+ activation of dehydrogenases in the TCA cycle. In the cytosol, we do not observe a role for the Ca2+/calmodulin signaling pathway, or AMPK, in mediating the rise in glycolytic NADH in response to acute stimulation. Aerobic glycolysis in neurons is triggered mainly by the energy demand resulting from either Na+ or Ca2+ extrusion, and in mouse dentate granule cells, Ca2+ creates the majority of this demand.
    Keywords:  brain metabolism; mitochondrial calcium; mitochondrial calcium uniporter; mouse; neuronal glycolysis; neuroscience
  33. Biomedicines. 2021 Jan 29. pii: 130. [Epub ahead of print]9(2):
      Enhanced oxidative stress is closely related to aging and impaired metabolic health and is influenced by diet-derived nutrients and energy. Recent studies have shown that methionine restriction (MetR) is related to longevity and metabolic health in organisms from yeast to rodents. The effect of MetR on lifespan extension and metabolic health is mediated partially through a reduction in oxidative stress. Methionine metabolism is involved in the supply of methyl donors such as S-adenosyl-methionine (SAM), glutathione synthesis and polyamine metabolism. SAM, a methionine metabolite, activates mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 and suppresses autophagy; therefore, MetR can induce autophagy. In the process of glutathione synthesis in methionine metabolism, hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is produced through cystathionine-β-synthase and cystathionine-γ-lyase; however, MetR can induce increased H2S production through this pathway. Similarly, MetR can increase the production of polyamines such as spermidine, which are involved in autophagy. In addition, MetR decreases oxidative stress by inhibiting reactive oxygen species production in mitochondria. Thus, MetR can attenuate oxidative stress through multiple mechanisms, consequently associating with lifespan extension and metabolic health. In this review, we summarize the current understanding of the effects of MetR on lifespan extension and metabolic health, focusing on the reduction in oxidative stress.
    Keywords:  autophagy; lifespan extension; metabolic health; methionine restriction; oxidative stress
  34. Cells Tissues Organs. 2021 Feb 10. 1-14
      Epithelial-mesenchymal plasticity comprises reversible transitions among epithelial, hybrid epithelial/mesenchymal (E/M) and mesenchymal phenotypes, and underlies various aspects of aggressive tumor progression such as metastasis, therapy resistance, and immune evasion. The process of cells attaining one or more hybrid E/M phenotypes is termed as partial epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT). Cells in hybrid E/M phenotype(s) can be more aggressive than those in either fully epithelial or mesenchymal state. Thus, identifying regulators of hybrid E/M phenotypes is essential to decipher the rheostats of phenotypic plasticity and consequent accelerators of metastasis. Here, using a computational systems biology approach, we demonstrate that SLUG (SNAIL2) - an EMT-inducing transcription factor - can inhibit cells from undergoing a complete EMT and thus stabilize them in hybrid E/M phenotype(s). It expands the parametric range enabling the existence of a hybrid E/M phenotype, thereby behaving as a phenotypic stability factor. Our simulations suggest that this specific property of SLUG emerges from the topology of the regulatory network it forms with other key regulators of epithelial-mesenchymal plasticity. Clinical data suggest that SLUG associates with worse patient prognosis across multiple carcinomas. Together, our results indicate that SLUG can stabilize hybrid E/M phenotype(s).
    Keywords:  Cancer systems biology; Epithelial-mesenchymal transition; Hybrid epithelial/mesenchymal phenotypes; Mathematical modeling; Phenotypic stability factor; SLUG
  35. J Clin Invest. 2021 Feb 02. pii: 141566. [Epub ahead of print]
      T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) is an aggressive hematologic malignancy with inferior outcome compared to B-cell ALL. Here, we showed that Runt-related transcription factor 2, RUNX2 was upregulated in high-risk T-ALL with KMT2A rearrangements (KMT2A-R) or an immature immunophenotype. In KMT2A-R cells, we identified RUNX2 as a direct target of the KMT2A chimeras, where it reciprocally bound the KMT2A promoter, establishing a regulatory feed-forward mechanism. Notably, RUNX2 was required for survival of immature and KMT2A-R T-ALL cells in vitro and in vivo. We reported direct transcriptional regulation of CXCR4 signaling by RUNX2, thereby promoting chemotaxis, adhesion and homing to medullary and extramedullary sites. RUNX2 enabled these energy-demanding processes by increasing metabolic activity in T-ALL cells through positive regulation of both glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation. Concurrently, RUNX2 upregulation increased mitochondrial dynamics and biogenesis in T-ALL cells. Finally, as a proof of concept, we demonstrated that immature and KMT2A-R T-ALL cells were vulnerable to pharmacological targeting of the interaction between RUNX2 and its co-factor CBFβ. In conclusion, we showed that RUNX2 acts as a dependency factor in high-risk subtypes of human T-ALL through concomitant regulation of tumour metabolism and leukemic cell migration.
    Keywords:  Cell migration/adhesion; Leukemias; Molecular biology; Oncology
  36. Cell Calcium. 2021 Jan 02. pii: S0143-4160(20)30186-X. [Epub ahead of print]94 102344
      Mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (mROS) are routinely produced at several sites within the organelle. The balance in their formation and elimination is maintained by a complex and robust antioxidant system. mROS may act as second messengers and regulate a number of physiological processes, such as insulin signaling, cell differentiation and proliferation, wound healing, etc. Nevertheless, when a sudden or sustained increase in ROS formation is not efficiently neutralized by the endogenous antioxidant defense system, the detrimental impact of high mROS levels on cell function and viability eventually results in disease development. In this review, we will focus on the dual role of mROS in pathophysiology, emphasizing the physiological role exerted by a regulated mROS production/elimination, and discussing the detrimental effects evoked by an imbalance in mitochondrial redox state. Furthermore, we will touch upon the interplay between mROS and Ca2+ homeostasis.
    Keywords:  Calcium; Mitochondria; Oxidative stress; Reactive oxygen species
  37. Biosens Bioelectron. 2021 Jan 29. pii: S0956-5663(21)00067-1. [Epub ahead of print]178 113031
      Aberrant production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) leads to tissue damage accumulation, which is associated with a myriad of human pathologies. Although several sensors have been developed for ROS quantification, their applications for ROS-related human physiologies and pathologies still remain problematic due to the unstable nature of ROS. Herein, we developed Trx1-cpYFP-fRMsr (TYfR), a genetically-encoded fluorescent biosensor with the remarkable specificity and sensitivity toward fMetRO (free Methionine-R-sulfoxide), allowing for dynamic quantification of physiological levels of fMetRO, a novel indicator of ROS and methionine redox status in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, using the sensor, we observed a significant fMetRO enrichment in serum from patients with acute coronary syndrome, one of the most severe cardiovascular diseases, which becomes more evident following percutaneous coronary intervention. Collectively, this study proposes that fMetRO is a novel biomarker of tissue damage accumulation in ROS-associated human pathologies, and that TYfR is a promising tool for quantifying fMetRO with potentials in versatile applications.
    Keywords:  Acute coronary syndrome; Free methionine-r-sulfoxide reductase; Genetically-encoded fluorescent sensor; Methionine sulfoxide; Oxidative stress; Reactive oxygen species; Reperfusion
  38. Metabolites. 2021 Jan 30. pii: 80. [Epub ahead of print]11(2):
      Nutrients and metabolic pathways regulate cell growth and cell fate decisions via epigenetic modification of DNA and histones. Another key genetic material, RNA, also contains diverse chemical modifications. Among these, N6-methyladenosine (m6A) is the most prevalent and evolutionarily conserved RNA modification. It functions in various aspects of developmental and disease states, by controlling RNA metabolism, such as stability and translation. Similar to other epigenetic processes, m6A modification is regulated by specific enzymes, including writers (methyltransferases), erasers (demethylases), and readers (m6A-binding proteins). As this is a reversible enzymatic process, metabolites can directly influence the flux of this reaction by serving as substrates and/or allosteric regulators. In this review, we will discuss recent understanding of the regulation of m6A RNA modification by metabolites, nutrients, and cellular metabolic pathways.
    Keywords:  N6-methyladenosine; RNA chemical modification; RNA epitranscriptome; RNA methylation; m6A; metabolic pathways; metabolites; nutrient signaling
  39. Metabolites. 2021 Jan 31. pii: 83. [Epub ahead of print]11(2):
      Availability of the amino acid methionine shows remarkable effects on the physiology of individual cells and whole organisms. For example, most cancer cells, but not normal cells, are hyper dependent on high flux through metabolic pathways connected to methionine, and diets restricted for methionine increase healthy lifespan in model organisms. Methionine's impact on physiology goes beyond its role in initiation of translation and incorporation in proteins. Many of its metabolites have a major influence on cellular functions including epigenetic regulation, maintenance of redox balance, polyamine synthesis, and phospholipid homeostasis. As a central component of such essential pathways, cells require mechanisms to sense methionine availability. When methionine levels are low, cellular response programs induce transcriptional and signaling states to remodel metabolic programs and maintain methionine metabolism. In addition, an evolutionary conserved cell cycle arrest is induced to ensure cellular and genomic integrity during methionine starvation conditions. Methionine and its metabolites are critical for cell growth, proliferation, and development in all organisms. However, mechanisms of methionine perception are diverse. Here we review current knowledge about mechanisms of methionine sensing in yeast and mammalian cells, and will discuss the impact of methionine imbalance on cancer and aging.
    Keywords:  S-adenosylmethionine; aging; cancer; cell cycle; methionine; methionine/SAM sensing
  40. Mol Cell Oncol. 2021 ;8(1): 1839341
      The inositol 1,4,5-triphosphate receptor (InsP3R)-mediated calcium (Ca2+) transfer to mitochondria is important to maintain mitochondrial respiration and bioenergetics in normal and cancer cells, even though cancer cells have defective oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS). Here, we discuss how tumor mitochondria could become a feasible therapeutic target to treat tumors that depend on reductive carboxylation.
    Keywords:  Calcium; OXPHOS; autophagy; cancer; cell survival
  41. Biotechnol Bioeng. 2021 Feb 13.
      The control of nutrient availability is critical to large-scale manufacturing of biotherapeutics. However, the quantification of proteinogenic amino acids is time-consuming and thus is difficult to implement for real-time in situ bioprocess control. Genome-scale metabolic models describe the metabolic conversion from media nutrients to proliferation and recombinant protein production, and therefore are a promising platform for in silico monitoring and prediction of amino acid concentrations. This potential has not been realized due to unresolved challenges: (1) the models assume an optimal and highly efficient metabolism, and therefore tend to underestimate amino acid consumption, and (2) the models assume a steady state, and therefore have a short forecast range. We address these challenges by integrating machine learning with the metabolic models. Through this we demonstrate accurate and time-course dependent prediction of individual amino acid concentration in culture medium throughout the production process. Thus, these models can be deployed to control nutrient feeding to avoid premature nutrient depletion or provide early predictions of failed bioreactor runs. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Keywords:  Chinese Hamster Ovary; Metabolic Network Modeling; Systems Biology; bioprocess; metabolism
  42. Blood Adv. 2021 Jan 12. 5(1): 26-38
      Distinct metabolic demands accompany lymphocyte differentiation into short-lived effector and long-lived memory cells. How bioenergetics processes are structured in innate natural killer (NK) cells remains unclear. We demonstrate that circulating human CD56Dim (NKDim) cells have fused mitochondria and enhanced metabolism compared with CD56Br (NKBr) cells. Upon activation, these 2 subsets showed a dichotomous response, with further mitochondrial potentiation in NKBr cells vs paradoxical mitochondrial fission and depolarization in NKDim cells. The latter effect impaired interferon-γ production, but rescue was possible by inhibiting mitochondrial fragmentation, implicating mitochondrial polarization as a central regulator of NK cell function. NKDim cells are heterogeneous, and mitochondrial polarization was associated with enhanced survival and function in mature NKDim cells, including memory-like human cytomegalovirus-dependent CD57+NKG2C+ subsets. In contrast, patients with genetic defects in mitochondrial fusion had a deficiency in adaptive NK cells, which had poor survival in culture. These results support mitochondrial polarization as a central regulator of mature NK cell fitness.
  43. Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2021 Feb 09. pii: S0955-0674(21)00001-6. [Epub ahead of print]69 103-110
      Fundamental biological processes of cell identity and cell fate determination are controlled by complex regulatory networks. These processes require molecular mechanisms that confer cellular phenotypic memory and state persistence. In this minireview, we will summarize mechanisms of cell memory based on regulatory hysteretic feedback loops and explore epigenetic mechanisms widely represented in nature, with special focus on epithelial-to-mesenchymal plasticity. We will also discuss the functional consequences of cell memory and epithelial-to-mesenchymal plasticity dynamics during development and cancer metastasis.
    Keywords:  Cell plasticity; Cell state; Cellular memory; Dynamics; EMT; Feedback loops; Hysteresis; Multistability
  44. J Cell Sci. 2021 Feb 08. pii: jcs252023. [Epub ahead of print]134(5):
      The study of metabolic changes associated with host-pathogen interactions have largely focused on the strategies that microbes use to subvert host metabolism to support their own proliferation. However, recent reports demonstrate that changes in host cell metabolism can also be detrimental to pathogens and restrict their growth. In this Review, I present a framework to consider how the host cell exploits the multifaceted roles of metabolites to defend against microbes. I also highlight how the rewiring of metabolic processes can strengthen cellular barriers to microbial invasion, regulate microbial virulence programs and factors, limit microbial access to nutrient sources and generate toxic environments for microbes. Collectively, the studies described here support a critical role for the rewiring of cellular metabolism in the defense against microbes. Further study of host-pathogen interactions from this framework has the potential to reveal novel aspects of host defense and metabolic control, and may inform how human metabolism impacts the progression of infectious disease.
    Keywords:  Cellular defense; Host–pathogen interaction; Immunity; Metabolism; Metabolites; Microbes; Mitochondria; Nutrients
  45. Drug Discov Today. 2021 Feb 04. pii: S1359-6446(21)00053-2. [Epub ahead of print]
      The circadian clock regulates a wide range of molecular pathways and biological processes. The expression of clock genes is often altered in cancer, fostering tumor initiation and progression. Inhibition and activation of core circadian clock genes, as well as treatments that restore circadian rhythmicity, have been successful in counteracting tumor growth in different experimental models. Here, we provide an up-to-date overview of studies that show the therapeutic effects of targeting the clock molecular machinery in cancer, both genetically and pharmacologically. We also highlight future areas for progress that offer a promising path towards innovative anticancer strategies. Substantial limitations in the current understanding of the complex interplay between the circadian clock and cancer in vivo need to be addressed in order to allow clock-targeting therapies in cancer.
  46. Nat Commun. 2021 02 11. 12(1): 964
      Metabolite levels in urine may provide insights into genetic mechanisms shaping their related pathways. We therefore investigate the cumulative contribution of rare, exonic genetic variants on urine levels of 1487 metabolites and 53,714 metabolite ratios among 4864 GCKD study participants. Here we report the detection of 128 significant associations involving 30 unique genes, 16 of which are known to underlie inborn errors of metabolism. The 30 genes are strongly enriched for shared expression in liver and kidney (odds ratio = 65, p-FDR = 3e-7), with hepatocytes and proximal tubule cells as driving cell types. Use of UK Biobank whole-exome sequencing data links genes to diseases connected to the identified metabolites. In silico constraint-based modeling of gene knockouts in a virtual whole-body, organ-resolved metabolic human correctly predicts the observed direction of metabolite changes, highlighting the potential of linking population genetics to modeling. Our study implicates candidate variants and genes for inborn errors of metabolism.
  47. Trends Biochem Sci. 2021 Feb 10. pii: S0968-0004(21)00004-9. [Epub ahead of print]
      Liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) has emerged in recent years as an important physicochemical process for organizing diverse processes within cells via the formation of membraneless organelles termed biomolecular condensates. Emerging evidence now suggests that the formation and regulation of biomolecular condensates are also intricately linked to cancer formation and progression. We review the most recent literature linking the existence and/or dissolution of biomolecular condensates to different hallmarks of cancer formation and progression. We then discuss the opportunities that this condensate perspective provides for cancer research and the development of novel therapeutic approaches, including the perturbation of condensates by small-molecule inhibitors.
    Keywords:  biomolecular condensates; cancer; cancer therapy; phase separation
  48. Cell Death Dis. 2021 Feb 10. 12(2): 169
      Cisplatin is one of the most effective chemotherapy drugs and is widely used in the treatment of cancer, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and cervical cancer, but its therapeutic benefit is limited by the development of resistance. Our previous studies demonstrated that BCAT1 promoted cell proliferation and decreased cisplatin sensitivity in HCC cells. However, the exact role and mechanism of how BCAT1 is involved in cisplatin cytotoxicity remain undefined. In this study, we revealed that cisplatin triggered autophagy in cancer cells, with an increase in BCAT1 expression. The cisplatin-induced up-regulation of BCAT1 decreased the cisplatin sensitivity by regulating autophagy through the mTOR signaling pathway. In addition, branched-chain amino acids or leucine treatment inhibited cisplatin- or BCAT1-mediated autophagy and increased cisplatin sensitivity by activating mTOR signaling in cancer cells. Moreover, inhibition of autophagy by chloroquine increased cisplatin sensitivity in vivo. Also, the knockdown of BCAT1 or the administration of leucine activated mTOR signaling, inhibited autophagy, and increased cisplatin sensitivity in cancer cells in vivo. These findings demonstrate a new mechanism, revealing that BCAT1 decreases cisplatin sensitivity in cancer cells by inducing mTOR-mediated autophagy via branched-chain amino acid leucine metabolism, providing an attractive pharmacological target to improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy.
  49. EMBO Rep. 2021 Feb 08. e51436
      Amino acid restriction is among promising potential cancer treatment strategies. However, cancer cells employ a multitude of mechanisms to mount resistance to amino acid restriction, which impede the latter's clinical development. Here we show that MAPK signaling activation in asparagine-restricted melanoma cells impairs GSK3-β-mediated c-MYC degradation. In turn, elevated c-MYC supports ATF4 translational induction by enhancing the expression of the amino acid transporter SLC7A5, increasing the uptake of essential amino acids, and the subsequent maintenance of mTORC1 activity in asparagine-restricted melanoma cells. Blocking the MAPK-c-MYC-SLC7A5 signaling axis cooperates with asparagine restriction to effectively suppress melanoma cell proliferation. This work reveals a previously unknown axis of cancer cell adaptation to asparagine restriction and informs mechanisms that may be targeted for enhanced therapeutic efficacy of asparagine limiting strategies.
    Keywords:  ATF4; MAPK; c-MYC; mTORC1; melanoma
  50. J Cell Physiol. 2021 Feb 12.
      In cancerous cells, significant changes occur in the activity of signaling pathways affecting a wide range of cellular activities ranging from growth and proliferation to apoptosis, invasiveness, and metastasis. Extensive changes also happen with respect to the metabolism of a cancerous cell encompassing a wide range of functions that include: nutrient acquisition, biosynthesis of macromolecules, and energy generation. These changes are important and some therapeutic approaches for treating cancers have focused on targeting the metabolism of cancerous cells. Oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes have a significant effect on the metabolism of cells. There appears to be a close interaction between metabolism and the signaling pathways in a cancerous cell, in which the interaction provides the metabolic needs of a cancerous cell for uncontrolled proliferation, resistance to apoptosis, and metastasis. In this review, we have reviewed the latest findings in this regard and briefly review the most recent research findings regarding targeting the metabolism of cancer cells as a therapeutic approach for treatment of cancer.
    Keywords:  cancer; cancer treatment; metabolism; signaling pathways
  51. J Clin Invest. 2021 Feb 11. pii: 144888. [Epub ahead of print]
      Adipose thermogenesis is repressed in obesity, reducing the homeostatic capacity to compensate for chronic overnutrition. Inflammation inhibits adipose thermogenesis, but little is known about how this occurs. Here we show that the innate immune transcription factor IRF3 is a strong repressor of thermogenic gene expression and oxygen consumption in adipocytes. IRF3 achieves this by driving expression of the ubiquitin-like modifier ISG15, which becomes covalently attached to glycolytic enzymes, thus reducing their function and decreasing lactate production. Lactate repletion is able to restore thermogenic gene expression, even when the IRF3-ISG15 axis is activated. Mice lacking ISG15 phenocopy mice lacking IRF3 in adipocytes, as both have elevated energy expenditure and are resistant to diet-induced obesity. These studies provide a deep mechanistic understanding of how the chronic inflammatory milieu of adipose tissue in obesity prevents thermogenic compensation for overnutrition.
    Keywords:  Adipose tissue; Innate immunity; Metabolism