bims-camemi Biomed News
on Mitochondrial metabolism in cancer
Issue of 2021‒05‒02
forty-seven papers selected by
Christian Frezza
University of Cambridge, MRC Cancer Unit


  1. Nat Metab. 2021 Apr 26.
      Cytosolic mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) elicits a type I interferon response, but signals triggering the release of mtDNA from mitochondria remain enigmatic. Here, we show that mtDNA-dependent immune signalling via the cyclic GMP-AMP synthase‒stimulator of interferon genes‒TANK-binding kinase 1 (cGAS-STING-TBK1) pathway is under metabolic control and is induced by cellular pyrimidine deficiency. The mitochondrial protease YME1L preserves pyrimidine pools by supporting de novo nucleotide synthesis and by proteolysis of the pyrimidine nucleotide carrier SLC25A33. Deficiency of YME1L causes inflammation in mouse retinas and in cultured cells. It drives the release of mtDNA and a cGAS-STING-TBK1-dependent inflammatory response, which requires SLC25A33 and is suppressed upon replenishment of cellular pyrimidine pools. Overexpression of SLC25A33 is sufficient to induce immune signalling by mtDNA. Similarly, depletion of cytosolic nucleotides upon inhibition of de novo pyrimidine synthesis triggers mtDNA-dependent immune responses in wild-type cells. Our results thus identify mtDNA release and innate immune signalling as a metabolic response to cellular pyrimidine deficiencies.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1038/s42255-021-00385-9
  2. J Clin Invest. 2021 Apr 29. pii: 143691. [Epub ahead of print]
      Hypoxia is a hallmark of solid tumors that promotes cell growth, survival, metastasis and confers resistance to chemo and radiotherapies. Hypoxic responses are largely mediated by the transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α and HIF-2α. Our work demonstrates that HIF-2α is essential for colorectal cancer (CRC) progression. However, targeting hypoxic cells is difficult and tumors rapidly acquire resistance to recently developed inhibitors of HIF-2α. To overcome this limitation, we performed a small molecule screen to identify HIF-2α dependent vulnerabilities. Several known ferroptosis activators and dimethyl fumarate (DMF), a cell permeable mitochondrial metabolite derivative, led to selective synthetic lethality in HIF-2α expressing tumor enteroids. Our work demonstrates that HIF-2α integrates two independent forms of cell death via regulation of cellular iron and oxidation. First, activation of HIF-2α upreguated lipid and iron regulatory genes in colon cancer cells and colon tumors in mice and led to a ferroptosis-susceptible cell state. Secondly, via an iron dependent, lipid peroxidation-independent pathway, HIF-2α activation potentiated ROS, via irreversible cysteine oxidation and enhanced cell death. Inhibition or knockdown of HIF-2α decreased ROS and resistance to oxidative cell death in vitro and in vivo. Our results demonstrate a mechanistic vulnerability in cancer cells that were the dependent on HIF-2α that can be leveraged for colon cancer treatment.
    Keywords:  Cancer; Cell stress; Hypoxia; Metabolism; Oncology
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1172/JCI143691
  3. Sci Adv. 2021 Apr;pii: eabe7359. [Epub ahead of print]7(18):
      Recent findings indicate that mitochondrial respiration regulates blood endothelial cell proliferation; however, its role in differentiating lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) is unknown. We hypothesized that mitochondria could work as a sensor of LECs' metabolic specific needs by determining their functional requirements according to their differentiation status and local tissue microenvironment. Accordingly, we conditionally deleted the QPC subunit of mitochondrial complex III in differentiating LECs of mouse embryos. Unexpectedly, mutant mice were devoid of a lymphatic vasculature by mid-gestation, a consequence of the specific down-regulation of main LEC fate regulators, particularly Vegfr3, leading to the loss of LEC fate. Mechanistically, this is a result of reduced H3K4me3 and H3K27ac in the genomic locus of key LEC fate controllers (e.g., Vegfr3 and Prox1). Our findings indicate that by sensing the LEC differentiation status and microenvironmental metabolic conditions, mitochondrial complex III regulates the critical Prox1-Vegfr3 feedback loop and, therefore, LEC fate specification and maintenance.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abe7359
  4. J Neurochem. 2021 Apr 27.
      Metabolic changes that correlate to cognitive changes are well known in AD. Metabolism is often linked to functional changes in proteins by post-translational modifications. The importance of the regulation of transcription by acetylation is well documented. Advanced mass spectrometry reveals hundreds of acetylated proteins in multiple tissues, but the acetylome of human brain, its functional significance and the changes with disease are unknown. Filling this gap is critical for understanding the pathophysiology and development of therapies. To fill this gap, we assessed the human brain acetylome in human brain and its changes with Alzheimer's Disease (AD). More than 5% of the 4,442 proteins from the human brain global proteome were acetylated. Acetylated proteins were primarily found in the cytosol (148), mitochondria (100), nucleus (91) and plasma membrane (58). The comparison of the brain acetylome in controls to that of patients with AD revealed striking and selective differences in terms of its abundances of acetylated peptides/sites. Acetylation of 18 mitochondrial proteins decreased, while acetylation of two cytosolic proteins, tau and GFAP, increased. Our experiments demonstrate that acetylation at some specific lysine sites alters enzyme function. The results indicate that general activation of de-acetylases (i.e., sirtuins) is not an appropriate therapeutic approach for AD.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer’s disease; acetylation; human brain; ketoglutarate dehydrogenase complex; pyruvate dehydrogenase complex
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1111/jnc.15377
  5. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Apr 06. pii: 1727. [Epub ahead of print]13(7):
      Tumor cells display metabolic alterations when compared to non-transformed cells. These characteristics are crucial for tumor development, maintenance and survival providing energy supplies and molecular precursors. Anaplerosis is the property of replenishing the TCA cycle, the hub of carbon metabolism, participating in the biosynthesis of precursors for building blocks or signaling molecules. In advanced prostate cancer, an upshift of succinate-driven oxidative phosphorylation via mitochondrial Complex II was reported. Here, using untargeted metabolomics, we found succinate accumulation mainly in malignant cells and an anaplerotic effect contributing to biosynthesis, amino acid, and carbon metabolism. Succinate also stimulated oxygen consumption. Malignant prostate cells displayed higher mitochondrial affinity for succinate when compared to non-malignant prostate cells and the succinate-driven accumulation of metabolites induced expression of mitochondrial complex subunits and their activities. Moreover, extracellular succinate stimulated migration, invasion, and colony formation. Several enzymes linked to accumulated metabolites in the malignant cells were found upregulated in tumor tissue datasets, particularly NME1 and SHMT2 mRNA expression. High expression of the two genes was associated with shorter disease-free survival in prostate cancer cohorts. Moreover, in-vitro expression of both genes was enhanced in prostate cancer cells upon succinate stimulation. In conclusion, the data indicate that uptake of succinate from the tumor environment has an anaplerotic effect that enhances the malignant potential of prostate cancer cells.
    Keywords:  anaplerosis; cancer metabolism; mitochondria; prostate cancer; succinate
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13071727
  6. J Cell Biochem. 2021 Apr 28.
      The safety and efficacy of mitoquinol mesylate (MitoQ) in attenuating the progression of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in Wistar rats has been reported. However, the binding modes for MitoQ as well as its molecular mechanisms in cirrhosis and liver cancer have not been fully investigated. This study sought to understand the structural and molecular mechanisms of MitoQ in modulating the expression of nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) and mitochondrial succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) in cirrhotic-HCC rats. The research indicates that the upregulated Nrf2 expression in cirrhotic-HCC rats was significantly (p < 0.05) reduced by MitoQ while the activity of SDH was significantly (p < 0.05) increased. Analysis of binding modes revealed MitoQ interacts with amino acid residues in the active pocket of tramtrack and bric-a-brac (BTB) and KELCH domains of KEAP1 with average binding affinities of -66.46 and -74.74 kcal/mol, respectively. Also, MitoQ interacted with the key amino acid residues at the active site of mitochondrial complex II with a higher average binding affinity of -75.76 kcal/mol compared to co-crystallized ligand of complex II (-62.31 kcal/mol). Molecular dynamics simulations data showed the binding of MitoQ to be stable with low eigenvalues while the quantum mechanics calculations suggest MitoQ to be very reactive with its mechanism of chemical reactivity to be via electrophilic reactions. Thus, MitoQ modulates expression of Nrf2 and enhances activity of mitochondrial SDH in cirrhotic-HCC rats via its interaction with key amino acid residues in the active pocket of BTB and KELCH domains of KEAP1 as well as amino residues at the active site of SDH. These findings are significant in demonstrating the potential of Nrf2 and SDH as possible biomarkers for the diagnosis and/or prognosis of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients. This study also supports repurposing of mitoQ for the treatment/management of liver cirrhosis and HCC.
    Keywords:  hepatocellular carcinoma; mitochondria; mitoquinol mesylate; nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2; succinate dehydrogenase
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1002/jcb.29937
  7. EMBO J. 2021 May 01. e103563
      The early secretory pathway and autophagy are two essential and evolutionarily conserved endomembrane processes that are finely interlinked. Although growing evidence suggests that intracellular trafficking is important for autophagosome biogenesis, the molecular regulatory network involved is still not fully defined. In this study, we demonstrate a crucial effect of the COPII vesicle-related protein TFG (Trk-fused gene) on ULK1 puncta number and localization during autophagy induction. This, in turn, affects formation of the isolation membrane, as well as the correct dynamics of association between LC3B and early ATG proteins, leading to the proper formation of both omegasomes and autophagosomes. Consistently, fibroblasts derived from a hereditary spastic paraparesis (HSP) patient carrying mutated TFG (R106C) show defects in both autophagy and ULK1 puncta accumulation. In addition, we demonstrate that TFG activity in autophagy depends on its interaction with the ATG8 protein LC3C through a canonical LIR motif, thereby favouring LC3C-ULK1 binding. Altogether, our results uncover a link between TFG and autophagy and identify TFG as a molecular scaffold linking the early secretion pathway to autophagy.
    Keywords:  ERGIC; LC3C; TFG; autophagy
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.15252/embj.2019103563
  8. Cancer Metab. 2021 Apr 30. 9(1): 20
      Pyruvate carboxylase (PC) is a mitochondrial enzyme that catalyzes the ATP-dependent carboxylation of pyruvate to oxaloacetate (OAA), serving to replenish the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle. In nonmalignant tissue, PC plays an essential role in controlling whole-body energetics through regulation of gluconeogenesis in the liver, synthesis of fatty acids in adipocytes, and insulin secretion in pancreatic β cells. In breast cancer, PC activity is linked to pulmonary metastasis, potentially by providing the ability to utilize glucose, fatty acids, and glutamine metabolism as needed under varying conditions as cells metastasize. PC enzymatic activity appears to be of particular importance in cancer cells that are unable to utilize glutamine for anaplerosis. Moreover, PC activity also plays a role in lipid metabolism and protection from oxidative stress in cancer cells. Thus, PC activity may be essential to link energy substrate utilization with cancer progression and to enable the metabolic flexibility necessary for cell resilience to changing and adverse conditions during the metastatic process.
    Keywords:  Energy metabolism; Metastasis; Pyruvate carboxylase
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1186/s40170-021-00256-7
  9. J Invertebr Pathol. 2021 Apr 25. pii: S0022-2011(21)00063-X. [Epub ahead of print] 107596
      Microsporidia are a group of obligate intracellular parasites which lack mitochondria and have highly reduced genomes. Therefore, they are unable to produce ATP via the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle and oxidative phosphorylation. Instead, they have evolved strategies to obtain and manipulate host metabolism to acquire nutrients. However, little is known about how microsporidia modulate host energy metabolisms. Here, we present the first targeted metabolomics study to investigate changes in host energy metabolism as a result of infection by a microsporidian. Metabolites of silkworm embryo cell (BmE) were measured 48 hours post infection by Nosema bombycis. Thirty metabolites were detected, nine of which were upregulated and mainly involved in glycolysis (glucose 6-phosphate, fructose 1,6-bisphosphate) and the TCA cycle (succinate, α-ketoglutarate, cis-aconitate, isocitrate, citrate, fumarate). Pathway enrichment analysis suggested that the upregulated metabolites could promote the synthesization of nucleotides, fatty acids, and amino acids by the host. ATP concentration in host cells, however, was not significantly changed by the infection. This ATP homeostasis was also found in Encephalitozoon hellem infected mouse macrophage RAW264.7, human monocytic leukemia THP-1, human embryonic kidney 293, and human foreskin fibroblast cells. These findings suggest that microsporidia have evolved strategies to maintain levels of ATP in the host while stimulating metabolic pathways to provide additional nutrients for the parasite.
    Keywords:  ATP homeostasis; Microsporidia; TCA cycle; glycolysis; host metabolism
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jip.2021.107596
  10. Life (Basel). 2021 Apr 08. pii: 325. [Epub ahead of print]11(4):
      Human diseases range from gene-associated to gene-non-associated disorders, including age-related diseases, neurodegenerative, neuromuscular, cardiovascular, diabetic diseases, neurocognitive disorders and cancer. Mitochondria participate to the cascades of pathogenic events leading to the onset and progression of these diseases independently of their association to mutations of genes encoding mitochondrial protein. Under physiological conditions, the mitochondrial ATP synthase provides the most energy of the cell via the oxidative phosphorylation. Alterations of oxidative phosphorylation mainly affect the tissues characterized by a high-energy metabolism, such as nervous, cardiac and skeletal muscle tissues. In this review, we focus on human diseases caused by altered expressions of ATP synthase genes of both mitochondrial and nuclear origin. Moreover, we describe the contribution of ATP synthase to the pathophysiological mechanisms of other human diseases such as cardiovascular, neurodegenerative diseases or neurocognitive disorders.
    Keywords:  ATP synthase; human disease; mitochondria
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3390/life11040325
  11. Physiol Rep. 2021 Apr;9(7): e14728
      The purpose of this investigation was to present calculations of fractional H+ exchange (~H+ e ) from the chemical reactions of non-mitochondrial energy catabolism. Data of muscle pH and metabolite accumulation were based on published research for intense exercise to contractile failure within ~3 min, from which capacities and time profiles were modeled. Data were obtained from prior research for multiple competitive cation dissociation constants of metabolites and the chemical reactions of non-mitochondrial energy catabolism, and pH dependent calculations of ~H+ e from specific chemical reactions. Data revealed that the 3 min of intense exercise incurred a total ATP turnover of 142.5 mmol L-1 , with a total intramuscular ~H+ exchange (-'ve = release) of -187.9 mmol L-1 . Total ~H+ metabolic consumption was 130.6 mmol L-1 , revealing a net total ~H+ e (~H+ te ) of -57.3 mmol L-1 . Lactate production had a ~H+ te of 44.2 mmol L-1 (for a peak accumulation = 45 mmol L-1 ). The net ~H+ te for the sum of the CK, AK, and AMPD reactions was 36.33 mmol L-1 . The ~H+ te from ATP turnover equaled -47.5 mmol L-1 . The total ~H+ release to lactate ratio was 4.3 (187.9/44). Muscle ~H+ release during intense exercise is up to ~4-fold larger than previously assumed based on the lactic acid construct.
    Keywords:  acidosis; dissociation constant; glycolysis; intense exercise; lactate; metabolic acidosis; metabolism; pKa; proton exchange
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.14814/phy2.14728
  12. Semin Cancer Biol. 2021 Apr 23. pii: S1044-579X(21)00102-4. [Epub ahead of print]
      Iron is an essential metal for cellular metabolism. The reduced form of iron is a cofactor in numerous redox reactions in the cell and is therefore required for many vital physiological functions. Since iron is an oxidatively active metal, its homeostasis is tightly regulated in healthy cell. Most of iron exists in a protein-bound form, in erythrocytes as the heme compound hemoglobin, and in storage proteins such as ferritin, hemosiderin and myoglobin. Iron also is bound to proteins and non-heme enzymes involved in oxidation-reduction reactions and the transfer of electrons. There is no free iron inside the cell, however a small fraction of loosely bound iron is found in the cytoplasm. This poorly defined pool of ferrous iron is called labile iron pool. Under pathological conditions iron homeostasis may be disrupted at different levels including absorption, systemic transportation, and cellular uptake and storage. Cancer cells display dysregulated iron homeostasis and, for reasons yet poorly understood, require more iron for their metabolism and growth. As a result, in cancer cells labile iron pool is increased, and loosely bound iron catalyzes Fenton reaction and perhaps other reactions that generate reactive oxygen species. Oxygen-derived free radicals produce DNA mutations, damage proteins and lipids resulting in either cell death or cell transformation.
    Keywords:  Cancer; Ferroptosis; Iron addiction
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.semcancer.2021.04.001
  13. Metabolites. 2021 Apr 01. pii: 216. [Epub ahead of print]11(4):
      Metabolic reprogramming is an emerging hallmark of cancer and is driven by abnormalities of oncogenes and tumor suppressors. Accelerated metabolism causes cancer cell aggression through the dysregulation of rate-limiting metabolic enzymes as well as by facilitating the production of intermediary metabolites. However, the mechanisms by which a shift in the metabolic landscape reshapes the intracellular signaling to promote the survival of cancer cells remain to be clarified. Recent high-resolution mass spectrometry-based proteomic analyses have spotlighted that, unexpectedly, lysine residues of numerous cytosolic as well as nuclear proteins are acetylated and that this modification modulates protein activity, sublocalization and stability, with profound impact on cellular function. More importantly, cancer cells exploit acetylation as a post-translational protein for microenvironmental adaptation, nominating it as a means for dynamic modulation of the phenotypes of cancer cells at the interface between genetics and environments. The objectives of this review were to describe the functional implications of protein lysine acetylation in cancer biology by examining recent evidence that implicates oncogenic signaling as a strong driver of protein acetylation, which might be exploitable for novel therapeutic strategies against cancer.
    Keywords:  epigenetics; mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) complexes; metabolic reprogramming; microenvironment; protein acetylation
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3390/metabo11040216
  14. Trends Cancer. 2021 Apr 22. pii: S2405-8033(21)00081-9. [Epub ahead of print]
      The mitochondrial electron transport chain (ETC) has been an attractive target for cancer therapy due to its essentiality for tumor growth. Krall et al. found that under ETC dysfunction, a decrease in asparagine limits cancer cell proliferation and activates the integrated stress response, creating a therapeutically exploitable metabolic vulnerability.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trecan.2021.04.001
  15. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Apr 27. pii: 4558. [Epub ahead of print]22(9):
      Mitochondria play vital roles, including ATP generation, regulation of cellular metabolism, and cell survival. Mitochondria contain the majority of cellular nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), which an essential cofactor that regulates metabolic function. A decrease in both mitochondria biogenesis and NAD+ is a characteristic of metabolic diseases, and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator 1-α (PGC-1α) orchestrates mitochondrial biogenesis and is involved in mitochondrial NAD+ pool. Here we discuss how PGC-1α is involved in the NAD+ synthesis pathway and metabolism, as well as the strategy for increasing the NAD+ pool in the metabolic disease state.
    Keywords:  NAD+, SIRTs; PGC-1α; metabolic disease; mitochondria
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22094558
  16. Anal Biochem. 2021 Apr 21. pii: S0003-2697(21)00107-X. [Epub ahead of print] 114206
      The use of metabolomics technologies and stable isotope labeling recently enabled us to discover an unexpected role of N-acetyl-aspartyl-glutamate (NAAG): NAAG is a glutamate reservoir for cancer cells. In the current study, we first found that glucose carbon contributes to the formation of NAAG and its precursors via glycolysis, demonstrating the existence of a glucose-NAAG-glutamate cycle in cancer cells. Second, we found that glucose carbon and, unexpectedly, glutamine carbon contribute to the formation of lactate via glutaminolysis. Importantly, lactate carbon can be incorporated into glucose via gluconeogenesis, demonstrating the existence of a glutamine-lactate-glucose cycle. While a glucose-lactate-glucose cycle was expected, the finding of a glutamine-lactate-glucose cycle was unforeseen. And third, we discovered that glutamine carbon is incorporated into γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), revealing a glutamate-GABA-succinate cycle. Thus, NAAG, lactate, and GABA can play important roles as storage molecules for glutamate, glucose, and succinate carbon in oncogenic MYC-transformed P493 lymphoma B cells (MYC-ON cells) but not in non-oncogenic MYC-OFF cells. Altogether, examining the isotopic labeling patterns of metabolites derived from labeled 13C6-glucose or 13C515N2-glutamine helped reveal the presence of what we have named "metabolic reservoir cycles" in oncogenic cells.
    Keywords:  GABA; Metabolic reservoir cycles; NAAG; lactate; oncogenic cells; storage molecules
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ab.2021.114206
  17. Biochim Biophys Acta Rev Cancer. 2021 Apr 26. pii: S0304-419X(21)00050-0. [Epub ahead of print] 188553
      The commencement of cancer is attributed to one or a few cells that become rogue and attain the property of immortality. The inception of distinct cancer cell clones during the hyperplastic and dysplastic stages of cancer progression is the utimate consequence of the dysregulated cellular pathways and the proliferative potential itself. Furthermore, a critical factor that adds a layer of complexity to this pre-existent intra-tumoral heterogeneity (ITH) is the foundation of an oxygen gradient, that is established due to the improper architecture of the tumor vasculature. Therefore, as a resultant effect, the poorly oxygenated regions thus formed and characterized as hypoxic, promote the emergence of aggressive and treatment-resistant cancer cell clones. The extraordinary property of the hypoxic cancer cells to exist harmoniously with cancerous and non-cancerous cells in the tumor microenvironment (TME) further increases the intricacies of ITH. Here in this review, the pivotal influence of differential oxygen concentrations in shaping the ITH is thoroughly discussed. We also emphasize on the vitality of the interacting networks that govern the overall fate of oxygen gradient-dependent origin of tumor heterogeneity. Additionally, the implications of less-appreciated reverse Warburg effect, a symbiotic metabolic coupling, and the associated epigenetic regulation of rewiring of cancer metabolism in response to oxygen gradients, have been highlighted as critical influencers of ITH.
    Keywords:  Altered metabolism; Cancer epigenetics; Hypoxia; Inter-cellular networks; Oxygen-gradient; Tumor heterogeneity; Tumor microenvironment
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbcan.2021.188553
  18. Cell Metab. 2021 Apr 22. pii: S1550-4131(21)00169-8. [Epub ahead of print]
      NAD(H) and NADP(H) have traditionally been viewed as co-factors (or co-enzymes) involved in a myriad of oxidation-reduction reactions including the electron transport in the mitochondria. However, NAD pathway metabolites have many other important functions, including roles in signaling pathways, post-translational modifications, epigenetic changes, and regulation of RNA stability and function via NAD-capping of RNA. Non-oxidative reactions ultimately lead to the net catabolism of these nucleotides, indicating that NAD metabolism is an extremely dynamic process. In fact, recent studies have clearly demonstrated that NAD has a half-life in the order of minutes in some tissues. Several evolving concepts on the metabolism, transport, and roles of these NAD pathway metabolites in disease states such as cancer, neurodegeneration, and aging have emerged in just the last few years. In this perspective, we discuss key recent discoveries and changing concepts in NAD metabolism and biology that are reshaping the field. In addition, we will pose some open questions in NAD biology, including why NAD metabolism is so fast and dynamic in some tissues, how NAD and its precursors are transported to cells and organelles, and how NAD metabolism is integrated with inflammation and senescence. Resolving these questions will lead to significant advancements in the field.
    Keywords:  NAD pathway metabolites; NAD(+); aging; disease; humans; mitochondria; transport; vitamin B3
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2021.04.003
  19. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Apr 09. pii: 3903. [Epub ahead of print]22(8):
      Mitophagy is a selective autophagic process, essential for cellular homeostasis, that eliminates dysfunctional mitochondria. Activated by inner membrane depolarization, it plays an important role during development and is fundamental in highly differentiated post-mitotic cells that are highly dependent on aerobic metabolism, such as neurons, muscle cells, and hepatocytes. Both defective and excessive mitophagy have been proposed to contribute to age-related neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, metabolic diseases, vascular complications of diabetes, myocardial injury, muscle dystrophy, and liver disease, among others. Pharmacological or dietary interventions that restore mitophagy homeostasis and facilitate the elimination of irreversibly damaged mitochondria, thus, could serve as potential therapies in several chronic diseases. However, despite extraordinary advances in this field, mainly derived from in vitro and preclinical animal models, human applications based on the regulation of mitochondrial quality in patients have not yet been approved. In this review, we summarize the key selective mitochondrial autophagy pathways and their role in prevalent chronic human diseases and highlight the potential use of specific interventions.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer’s; Huntington’s; PINK1; Parkin; Parkinson’s; aging; atherosclerosis; dementia; diabetes; exercise; heart failure; mice; mitophagy; muscle wasting; rats
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22083903
  20. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Apr 22. pii: 4363. [Epub ahead of print]22(9):
      Mitochondria are double membrane-bound organelles in eukaryotic cells essential to a variety of cellular functions including energy conversion and ATP production, iron-sulfur biogenesis, lipid and amino acid metabolism, and regulating apoptosis and stress responses. Mitochondrial dysfunction is mechanistically linked to several neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, and ageing. Excessive and dysfunctional/damaged mitochondria are degraded by selective autophagic pathways known as mitophagy. Both budding yeast and mammals use the well-conserved machinery of core autophagy-related genes (ATGs) to execute and regulate mitophagy. In mammalian cells, the PINK1-PARKIN mitophagy pathway is a well-studied pathway that senses dysfunctional mitochondria and marks them for degradation in the lysosome. PINK1-PARKIN mediated mitophagy relies on ubiquitin-binding mitophagy adaptors that are non-ATG proteins. Loss-of-function mutations in PINK1 and PARKIN are linked to Parkinson´s disease (PD) in humans, and defective mitophagy is proposed to be a main pathomechanism. Despite the common view that yeast cells lack PINK1- and PARKIN-homologs and that mitophagy in yeast is solely regulated by receptor-mediated mitophagy, some studies suggest that a ubiquitination-dependent mitophagy pathway also exists. Here, we will discuss shared mechanisms between mammals and yeast, how mitophagy in the latter is regulated in a ubiquitin-dependent and -independent manner, and why these pathways are essential for yeast cell survival and fitness under various physiological stress conditions.
    Keywords:  PARKIN; PINK1; autophagy; cancer; mitophagy; quality control; ubiquitin
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22094363
  21. EMBO J. 2021 Apr 29. e106868
      Mitochondrial homeostasis is essential for providing cellular energy, particularly in resource-demanding neurons, defects in which cause neurodegeneration, but the function of interferons (IFNs) in regulating neuronal mitochondrial homeostasis is unknown. We found that neuronal IFN-β is indispensable for mitochondrial homeostasis and metabolism, sustaining ATP levels and preventing excessive ROS by controlling mitochondrial fission. IFN-β induces events that are required for mitochondrial fission, phosphorylating STAT5 and upregulating PGAM5, which phosphorylates serine 622 of Drp1. IFN-β signaling then recruits Drp1 to mitochondria, oligomerizes it, and engages INF2 to stabilize mitochondria-endoplasmic reticulum (ER) platforms. This process tethers damaged mitochondria to the ER to separate them via fission. Lack of neuronal IFN-β in the Ifnb-/- model of Parkinson disease (PD) disrupts STAT5-PGAM5-Drp1 signaling, impairing fission and causing large multibranched, damaged mitochondria with insufficient ATP production and excessive oxidative stress to accumulate. In other PD models, IFN-β rescues dopaminergic neuronal cell death and pathology, associated with preserved mitochondrial homeostasis. Thus, IFN-β activates mitochondrial fission in neurons through the pSTAT5/PGAM5/S622 Drp1 pathway to stabilize mitochondria/ER platforms, constituting an essential neuroprotective mechanism.
    Keywords:  ATP; Parkinson disease; ROS; hydroxydopamine; mitochondrial metabolism
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.15252/embj.2020106868
  22. Nutrients. 2021 Apr 26. pii: 1469. [Epub ahead of print]13(5):
      Prior studies have reported that dietary protein dilution (DPD) or amino acid dilution promotes heightened water intake (i.e., hyperdipsia) however, the exact dietary requirements and the mechanism responsible for this effect are still unknown. Here, we show that dietary amino acid (AA) restriction is sufficient and required to drive hyperdipsia during DPD. Our studies demonstrate that particularly dietary essential AA (EAA) restriction, but not non-EAA, is responsible for the hyperdipsic effect of total dietary AA restriction (DAR). Additionally, by using diets with varying amounts of individual EAA under constant total AA supply, we demonstrate that restriction of threonine (Thr) or tryptophan (Trp) is mandatory and sufficient for the effects of DAR on hyperdipsia and that liver-derived fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) is required for this hyperdipsic effect. Strikingly, artificially introducing Thr de novo biosynthesis in hepatocytes reversed hyperdipsia during DAR. In summary, our results show that the DPD effects on hyperdipsia are induced by the deprivation of Thr and Trp, and in turn, via liver/hepatocyte-derived FGF21.
    Keywords:  amino acids; dietary protein; restriction; water intake
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13051469
  23. Front Immunol. 2021 ;12 641883
      Cellular metabolism of both cancer and immune cells in the acidic, hypoxic, and nutrient-depleted tumor microenvironment (TME) has attracted increasing attention in recent years. Accumulating evidence has shown that cancer cells in TME could outcompete immune cells for nutrients and at the same time, producing inhibitory products that suppress immune effector cell functions. Recent progress revealed that metabolites in the TME could dysregulate gene expression patterns in the differentiation, proliferation, and activation of immune effector cells by interfering with the epigenetic programs and signal transduction networks. Nevertheless, encouraging studies indicated that metabolic plasticity and heterogeneity between cancer and immune effector cells could provide us the opportunity to discover and target the metabolic vulnerabilities of cancer cells while potentiating the anti-tumor functions of immune effector cells. In this review, we will discuss the metabolic impacts on the immune effector cells in TME and explore the therapeutic opportunities for metabolically enhanced immunotherapy.
    Keywords:  anti-tumor immunity; epigenetic modifications; immune cell reprogramming; metabolites; tumor microenvironment
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2021.641883
  24. EMBO J. 2021 May 01. e106214
      BNIP3 is a mitophagy receptor with context-dependent roles in cancer, but whether and how it modulates melanoma growth in vivo remains unknown. Here, we found that elevated BNIP3 levels correlated with poorer melanoma patient's survival and depletion of BNIP3 in B16-F10 melanoma cells compromised tumor growth in vivo. BNIP3 depletion halted mitophagy and enforced a PHD2-mediated downregulation of HIF-1α and its glycolytic program both in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistically, we found that BNIP3-deprived melanoma cells displayed increased intracellular iron levels caused by heightened NCOA4-mediated ferritinophagy, which fostered PHD2-mediated HIF-1α destabilization. These effects were not phenocopied by ATG5 or NIX silencing. Restoring HIF-1α levels in BNIP3-depleted melanoma cells rescued their metabolic phenotype and tumor growth in vivo, but did not affect NCOA4 turnover, underscoring that these BNIP3 effects are not secondary to HIF-1α. These results unravel an unexpected role of BNIP3 as upstream regulator of the pro-tumorigenic HIF-1α glycolytic program in melanoma cells.
    Keywords:  BNIP3; HIF-1α; ferritinophagy; melanoma; metabolism
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.15252/embj.2020106214
  25. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Apr 26. pii: 4524. [Epub ahead of print]22(9):
      In most eukaryotes, mitochondrial protein synthesis is essential for oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) as some subunits of the respiratory chain complexes are encoded by the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Mutations affecting the mitochondrial translation apparatus have been identified as a major cause of mitochondrial diseases. These mutations include either heteroplasmic mtDNA mutations in genes encoding for the mitochondrial rRNA (mtrRNA) and tRNAs (mttRNAs) or mutations in nuclear genes encoding ribosomal proteins, initiation, elongation and termination factors, tRNA-modifying enzymes, and aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (mtARSs). Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (ARSs) catalyze the attachment of specific amino acids to their cognate tRNAs. Differently from most mttRNAs, which are encoded by mitochondrial genome, mtARSs are encoded by nuclear genes and then imported into the mitochondria after translation in the cytosol. Due to the extensive use of next-generation sequencing (NGS), an increasing number of mtARSs variants associated with large clinical heterogeneity have been identified in recent years. Being most of these variants private or sporadic, it is crucial to assess their causative role in the disease by functional analysis in model systems. This review will focus on the contributions of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae in the functional validation of mutations found in mtARSs genes associated with human disorders.
    Keywords:  mitochondrial aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases; mitochondrial diseases; novel variants; yeast model
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22094524
  26. J Physiol. 2021 Apr 24.
      KEY POINTS: Ageing is associated with increased systemic inflammation and metabolic dysfunction that contributes to the development of age-associated diseases. The role of adipose tissue in immunometabolic alterations that take place with ageing is unknown in humans. We show in healthy, active and lean older adults that adipose tissue-but not skeletal muscle-displays considerable pro-inflammatory transcriptomic, cellular, and secretory changes, and a reduction in insulin signalling proteins compared to younger adults. These findings indicate that adipose tissue undergoes substantial immunometabolic alterations with ageing, and that these changes are tissue-specific and more profound than those observed in skeletal muscle or in the circulation. These results identify adipose tissue as an important tissue in the biological ageing process in humans, which may exhibit signs of immunometabolic dysfunction prior to systemic manifestation.ABSTRACT: Ageing and obesity are both characterised by inflammation and a deterioration in metabolic health. It is now clear that adipose tissue plays a major role in inflammation and metabolic control in obesity, but little is known about the role of adipose tissue in human ageing. To understand how ageing impacts adipose tissue, we characterised subcutaneous adipose and skeletal muscle samples from twelve Young (27 ± 4yrs) and twelve Old (66 ± 5yrs) active/ non-obese adults. We performed a wide-range of whole-body and tissue measures, including RNA-sequencing and multi-colour flow cytometry. We also measured a range of inflammatory and metabolic proteins in the circulation and their release by adipose tissue, ex vivo. Both adipose tissue and muscle had ∼2-fold more immune cells per gram of tissue with ageing. In adipose tissue, this immune cell infiltration was driven by increased memory/ effector T-cells, whereas in muscle the accumulation was driven by memory/ effector T-cells and macrophages. Transcriptomic analysis revealed that, with ageing, adipose tissue-but not muscle-was enriched for inflammatory transcripts/ pathways related to acquired and innate immunity. Ageing also increased the adipose tissue pro-inflammatory secretory profile. Insulin signalling protein content was reduced in adipose tissue, but not muscle. Our findings indicate that adipose tissue undergoes substantial immunometabolic changes with ageing in humans, and that these changes are tissue-specific and more profound than those observed in the circulation and skeletal muscle. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Keywords:  adipose tissue; aging; immunometabolism; inflammation; metabolism; skeletal muscle
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1113/JP280977
  27. Nature. 2021 Apr 28.
      Vascular malformations are considered monogenic disorders that result in dysregulated vessel growth. Cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs) arise owing to inactivation of the endothelial CCM protein complex required to dampen MEKK3 activity1-4. Environmental factors explain differences in CCM natural history between individuals5, but why single CCMs often exhibit sudden, rapid growth culminating in stroke or seizure is unknown. Here we demonstrate that CCM growth requires increased PI3K-mTOR signalling and loss of CCM function. We identify PIK3CA gain of function (GOF) and CCM loss of function (LOF) somatic mutations in the same cells in a majority of human CCMs. Using mouse models, we show that CCM growth requires both PI3K GOF and CCM LOF in endothelial cells, and that both CCM LOF and increased expression of the transcription factor KLF4, a downstream MEKK3 effector, augment mTOR signalling in endothelial cells. Consistent with these findings, the mTORC1 inhibitor Rapamycin effectively blocks CCM formation in mouse models. We establish a three-hit mechanism analogous to cancer in which aggressive vascular malformations arise through the loss of vascular "suppressor genes" that constrain vessel growth and gain of a vascular "oncogene" that stimulates excess vessel growth. These findings suggest that aggressive CCMs may be treated using clinically approved mTORC1 inhibitors.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03562-8
  28. Cell Metab. 2021 Apr 22. pii: S1550-4131(21)00168-6. [Epub ahead of print]
      Altered tissue mechanics and metabolism are defining characteristics of cancer that impact not only proliferation but also migration. While migrating through a mechanically and spatially heterogeneous microenvironment, changes in metabolism allow cells to dynamically tune energy generation and bioenergetics in response to fluctuating energy needs. Physical cues from the extracellular matrix influence mechanosignaling pathways, cell mechanics, and cytoskeletal architecture to alter presentation and function of metabolic enzymes. In cancer, altered mechanosensing and metabolic reprogramming supports metabolic plasticity and high energy production while cells migrate and metastasize. Here, we discuss the role of mechanoresponsive metabolism in regulating cell migration and supporting metastasis as well as the potential of therapeutically targeting cancer metabolism to block motility and potentially metastasis.
    Keywords:  bioenergetics; cancer invasion; energy metabolism; mechanotransduction; tumor microenvironment
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2021.04.002
  29. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Apr 06. pii: 3799. [Epub ahead of print]22(7):
      In general, metabolic flexibility refers to an organism's capacity to adapt to metabolic changes due to differing energy demands. The aim of this work is to summarize and discuss recent findings regarding variables that modulate energy regulation in two different pathways of mitochondrial fatty metabolism: β-oxidation and fatty acid biosynthesis. We focus specifically on two diseases: very long-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency (VLCADD) and malonyl-CoA synthetase deficiency (acyl-CoA synthetase family member 3 (ACSF3)) deficiency, which are both characterized by alterations in metabolic flexibility. On the one hand, in a mouse model of VLCAD-deficient (VLCAD-/-) mice, the white skeletal muscle undergoes metabolic and morphologic transdifferentiation towards glycolytic muscle fiber types via the up-regulation of mitochondrial fatty acid biosynthesis (mtFAS). On the other hand, in ACSF3-deficient patients, fibroblasts show impaired mitochondrial respiration, reduced lipoylation, and reduced glycolytic flux, which are compensated for by an increased β-oxidation rate and the use of anaplerotic amino acids to address the energy needs. Here, we discuss a possible co-regulation by mtFAS and β-oxidation in the maintenance of energy homeostasis.
    Keywords:  VLCADD; inherited metabolic disorders; metabolic flexibility; mitochondrial fatty acid metabolism; mtFAS
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22073799
  30. Appl Sci (Basel). 2021 Mar;pii: 2071. [Epub ahead of print]11(5):
      Mitochondrial cristae are dynamic invaginations of the inner membrane and play a key role in its metabolic capacity to produce ATP. Structural alterations caused by either genetic abnormalities or detrimental environmental factors impede mitochondrial metabolic fluxes and lead to a decrease in their ability to meet metabolic energy requirements. While some of the key proteins associated with mitochondrial cristae are known, very little is known about how the inner membrane dynamics are involved in energy metabolism. In this study, we present a computational strategy to understand how cristae are formed using a phase-based separation approach of both the inner membrane space and matrix space, which are explicitly modeled using the Cahn-Hilliard equation. We show that cristae are formed as a consequence of minimizing an energy function associated with phase interactions which are subject to geometric boundary constraints. We then extended the model to explore how the presence of calcium phosphate granules, entities that form in calcium overload conditions, exert a devastating inner membrane remodeling response that reduces the capacity for mitochondria to produce ATP. This modeling approach can be extended to include arbitrary geometrical constraints, the spatial heterogeneity of enzymes, and electrostatic effects to mechanize the impact of ultrastructural changes on energy metabolism.
    Keywords:  bioenergetics; calcium overload; computer simulation; cristae; cryo-electron microscopy; mathematical modeling; membrane topology; mitochondria; mitochondria ultrastructure; mitochondrial dynamics
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3390/app11052071
  31. Biochem Soc Trans. 2021 Apr 30. pii: BST20200742. [Epub ahead of print]
      In the last two decades, IF1, the endogenous inhibitor of the mitochondrial F1Fo-ATPase (ATP synthase) has assumed greater and ever greater interest since it has been found to be overexpressed in many cancers. At present, several findings indicate that IF1 is capable of playing a central role in cancer cells by promoting metabolic reprogramming, proliferation and resistance to cell death. However, the mechanism(s) at the basis of this pro-oncogenic action of IF1 remains elusive. Here, we recall the main features of the mechanism of the action of IF1 when the ATP synthase works in reverse, and discuss the experimental evidence that support its relevance in cancer cells. In particular, a clear pro-oncogenic action of IF1 is to avoid wasting of ATP when cancer cells are exposed to anoxia or near anoxia conditions, therefore favoring cell survival and tumor growth. However, more recently, various papers have described IF1 as an inhibitor of the ATP synthase when it is working physiologically (i.e. synthethizing ATP), and therefore reprogramming cell metabolism to aerobic glycolysis. In contrast, other studies excluded IF1 as an inhibitor of ATP synthase under normoxia, providing the basis for a hot debate. This review focuses on the role of IF1 as a modulator of the ATP synthase in normoxic cancer cells with the awareness that the knowledge of the molecular action of IF1 on the ATP synthase is crucial in unravelling the molecular mechanism(s) responsible for the pro-oncogenic role of IF1 in cancer and in developing related anticancer strategies.
    Keywords:  ATP synthase; ROS; inhibitor factor 1
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1042/BST20200742
  32. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Apr 15. pii: 1914. [Epub ahead of print]13(8):
      Mitochondria are well known to participate in multiple aspects of tumor formation and progression. They indeed can alter the susceptibility of cells to engage regulated cell death, regulate pro-survival signal transduction pathways and confer metabolic plasticity that adapts to specific tumor cell demands. Interestingly, a relatively poorly explored aspect of mitochondria in neoplastic disease is their contribution to the characteristic genomic instability that underlies the evolution of the disease. In this review, we summarize the known mechanisms by which mitochondrial alterations in cancer tolerate and support the accumulation of DNA mutations which leads to genomic instability. We describe recent studies elucidating mitochondrial responses to DNA damage as well as the direct contribution of mitochondria to favor the accumulation of DNA alterations.
    Keywords:  ROS; apoptosis; calcium; genomic instability; mitochondria; mitophagy; p53; tumor progression
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13081914
  33. Metabolites. 2021 Apr 07. pii: 226. [Epub ahead of print]11(4):
      Disrupted endothelial metabolism is linked to endothelial dysfunction and cardiovascular disease. Targeted metabolic inhibitors are potential therapeutics; however, their systemic impact on endothelial metabolism remains unknown. In this study, we combined stable isotope labeling with 13C metabolic flux analysis (13C MFA) to determine how targeted inhibition of the polyol (fidarestat), pentose phosphate (DHEA), and hexosamine biosynthetic (azaserine) pathways alters endothelial metabolism. Glucose, glutamine, and a four-carbon input to the malate shuttle were important carbon sources in the baseline human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVEC) 13C MFA model. We observed two to three times higher glutamine uptake in fidarestat and azaserine-treated cells. Fidarestat and DHEA-treated HUVEC showed decreased 13C enrichment of glycolytic and TCA metabolites and amino acids. Azaserine-treated HUVEC primarily showed 13C enrichment differences in UDP-GlcNAc. 13C MFA estimated decreased pentose phosphate pathway flux and increased TCA activity with reversed malate shuttle direction in fidarestat and DHEA-treated HUVEC. In contrast, 13C MFA estimated increases in both pentose phosphate pathway and TCA activity in azaserine-treated cells. These data show the potential importance of endothelial malate shuttle activity and suggest that inhibiting glycolytic side branch pathways can change the metabolic network, highlighting the need to study systemic metabolic therapeutic effects.
    Keywords:  aldose reductase inhibitors; cardiovascular disease; endothelial metabolism; fluxomics; hexosamine biosynthetic pathway; metabolic flux analysis; pentose phosphate pathway; polyol pathway
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3390/metabo11040226
  34. Life (Basel). 2021 Apr 17. pii: 351. [Epub ahead of print]11(4):
      The mitochondrial respiratory chain encompasses four oligomeric enzymatic complexes (complex I, II, III and IV) which, together with the redox carrier ubiquinone and cytochrome c, catalyze electron transport coupled to proton extrusion from the inner membrane. The protonmotive force is utilized by complex V for ATP synthesis in the process of oxidative phosphorylation. Respiratory complexes are known to coexist in the membrane as single functional entities and as supramolecular aggregates or supercomplexes (SCs). Understanding the assembly features of SCs has relevant biomedical implications because defects in a single protein can derange the overall SC organization and compromise the energetic function, causing severe mitochondrial disorders. Here we describe in detail the main types of SCs, all characterized by the presence of complex III. We show that the genetic alterations that hinder the assembly of Complex III, not just the activity, cause a rearrangement of the architecture of the SC that can help to preserve a minimal energetic function. Finally, the major metabolic disturbances associated with severe SCs perturbation due to defective complex III are discussed along with interventions that may circumvent these deficiencies.
    Keywords:  MTCYB mutations; complex III; cytochrome b; mitochondrial DNA; mitochondrial diseases; oxidative stress; respiratory complexes; respiratory supercomplexes
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3390/life11040351
  35. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Apr 04. pii: 1709. [Epub ahead of print]13(7):
      Mitochondrial production of 2-hydroxyglutarate (2HG) can be catalyzed by wild-type isocitrate dehydrogenase 2 (IDH2) and alcohol dehydrogenase, iron-containing 1 (ADHFE1). We investigated whether biochemical background and substrate concentration in breast cancer cells promote 2HG production. To estimate its role in 2HG production, we quantified 2HG levels and its enantiomers in breast cancer cells using analytical approaches for metabolomics. By manipulation of mitochondrial substrate fluxes using genetic and pharmacological approaches, we demonstrated the existence of active competition between 2HG producing enzymes, i.e., IDH2 and ADHFE1. Moreover, we showed that distinct fractions of IDH2 enzyme molecules operate in distinct oxido-reductive modes, providing NADPH and producing 2HG simultaneously. We have also detected 2HG release in the urine of breast cancer patients undergoing adjuvant therapy and detected a correlation with stages of breast carcinoma development. In summary, we provide a background for vital mitochondrial production of 2HG in breast cancer cells with outcomes towards cancer biology and possible future diagnosis of breast carcinoma.
    Keywords:  2HG; IDH2; breast carcinoma
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13071709
  36. Blood. 2021 Apr 28. pii: blood.2020007932. [Epub ahead of print]
      Cancer cells are in most instances characterized by rapid proliferation and uncontrolled cell division. Hence, they must adapt to proliferation-induced metabolic stress through intrinsic or acquired anti-metabolic stress responses to maintain homeostasis and survival. One mechanism to achieve this is to reprogram gene expression in a metabolism-dependent manner. MondoA (also known as MLXIP), a member of the MYC interactome, has been described as an example of such a metabolic sensor. However, the role of MondoA in malignancy is not fully understood and the underlying mechanism in metabolic responses remains elusive. By assessing patient data sets we found that MondoA overexpression is associated with a worse survival in pediatric common acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL). Using CRISPR/Cas9 and RNA interference approaches, we observed that MondoA depletion reduces transformational capacity of B-ALL cells in vitro and dramatically inhibits malignant potential in an in vivo mouse model. Interestingly, reduced expression of MondoA in patient data sets correlated with enrichment in metabolic pathways. The loss of MondoA correlated with increased tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle activity. Mechanistically, MondoA senses metabolic stress in B-ALL cells by restricting oxidative phosphorylation through reduced PDH activity. Glutamine starvation conditions greatly enhance this effect and highlight the inability to mitigate metabolic stress upon loss of MondoA in B-ALL. Our findings give a novel insight into the function of MondoA in pediatric B-ALL and support the notion that MondoA inhibition in this entity offers a therapeutic opportunity and should be further explored.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1182/blood.2020007932
  37. Nature. 2021 Apr 28.
      Several enteric pathogens can gain specific metabolic advantages over other members of the microbiota by inducing host pathology and inflammation. The pathogen Clostridium difficile is responsible for a toxin-mediated colitis that causes 450,000 infections and 15,000 deaths in the United States each year1; however, the molecular mechanisms by which C. difficile benefits from this pathology remain unclear. To understand how the metabolism of C. difficile adapts to the inflammatory conditions that its toxins induce, here we use RNA sequencing to define, in a mouse model, the metabolic states of wild-type C. difficile and of an isogenic mutant that lacks toxins. By combining bacterial and mouse genetics, we demonstrate that C. difficile uses sorbitol derived from both diet and host. Host-derived sorbitol is produced by the enzyme aldose reductase, which is expressed by diverse immune cells and is upregulated during inflammation-including during toxin-mediated disease induced by C. difficile. This work highlights a mechanism by which C. difficile can use a host-derived nutrient that is generated during toxin-induced disease by an enzyme that has not previously been associated with infection.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03502-6
  38. Immunometabolism. 2021 ;pii: e210018. [Epub ahead of print]3(2):
      Macrophages are instrumental for the repair of organs that become injured due to ischemia, yet their potential for healing is sensitive to the availability of metabolites from the surrounding milieu. This sensitivity extends beyond anabolic and catabolic reactions, as metabolites are also leveraged to control production of secreted factors that direct intercellular crosstalk. In response to limiting extracellular oxygen, acute-phase macrophages activate hypoxia-inducible transcription factors that repurpose cellular metabolism. Subsequent repair-phase macrophages secrete cytokines to activate stromal cells, the latter which contribute to matrix deposition and scarring. As we now appreciate, these distinct functions are calibrated by directing flux of carbons and cofactors into specific metabolic shunts. This occurs through glycolysis, the pentose phosphate shunt, the tricarboxylic acid cycle, oxidative phosphorylation, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotides, lipids, amino acids, and through lesser understood pathways. The integration of metabolism with macrophage function is particularly important during injury to the ischemic heart, as glucose and lipid imbalance lead to inefficient repair and permanent loss of non-regenerative muscle. Here we review macrophage metabolic signaling under ischemic stress with implications for cardiac repair.
    Keywords:  cardiac repair; macrophage; metabolism
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.20900/immunometab20210018
  39. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2021 Apr 29.
      This Review focuses on the mechanistic evidence for a link between obesity, dysregulated cellular metabolism and breast cancer. Strong evidence now links obesity with the development of 13 different types of cancer, including oestrogen receptor-positive breast cancer in postmenopausal women. A number of local and systemic changes are hypothesized to support this relationship, including increased circulating levels of insulin and glucose as well as adipose tissue-derived oestrogens, adipokines and inflammatory mediators. Metabolic pathways of energy production and utilization are dysregulated in tumour cells and this dysregulation is a newly accepted hallmark of cancer. Dysregulated metabolism is also hypothesized to be a feature of non-neoplastic cells in the tumour microenvironment. Obesity-associated factors regulate metabolic pathways in both breast cancer cells and cells in the breast microenvironment, which provides a molecular link between obesity and breast cancer. Consequently, interventions that target these pathways might provide a benefit in postmenopausal women and individuals with obesity, a population at high risk of breast cancer.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41574-021-00487-0
  40. Oncogene. 2021 Apr 29.
      Ferroptosis, a form of regulated cell death triggered by lipid peroxidation, was recently identified as an important mechanism in radiotherapy (RT)-mediated tumor suppression and radioresistance, although the exact genetic contexts in which to target ferroptosis in RT remains to be defined. p53 is the most commonly mutated gene in human cancers and a major effector to RT. Here, we identify ferroptosis as a critical mechanism to mediate p53 function in tumor radiosensitivity. Mechanistically, RT-mediated p53 activation antagonizes RT-induced SLC7A11 expression and represses glutathione synthesis, thereby promoting RT-induced lipid peroxidation and ferroptosis. p53 deficiency promotes radioresistance in cancer cells or tumors at least partly through SLC7A11-mediated ferroptosis inhibition. Ferroptosis inducers (FINs) that inhibit SLC7A11 exert significant radiosensitizing effects in tumor organoids and patient-derived xenografts with p53 mutation or deficiency. Finally, we show that RT-induced ferroptosis correlates with p53 activation and better clinical outcomes to RT in cancer patients. Together, our study uncovers a previously unappreciated role of ferroptosis in p53-mediated radiosensitization and suggest using FINs in combination with RT to treat p53-mutant cancers.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41388-021-01790-w
  41. Front Oncol. 2021 ;11 627217
      Individuals carrying a pathogenic germline variant in the breast cancer predisposition gene BRCA1 (gBRCA1+) are prone to developing breast cancer. Apart from its well-known role in DNA repair, BRCA1 has been shown to powerfully impact cellular metabolism. While, in general, metabolic reprogramming was named a hallmark of cancer, disrupted metabolism has also been suggested to drive cancer cell evolution and malignant transformation by critically altering microenvironmental tissue integrity. Systemic metabolic effects induced by germline variants in cancer predisposition genes have been demonstrated before. Whether or not systemic metabolic alterations exist in gBRCA1+ individuals independent of cancer incidence has not been investigated yet. We therefore profiled the plasma metabolome of 72 gBRCA1+ women and 72 age-matched female controls, none of whom (carriers and non-carriers) had a prior cancer diagnosis and all of whom were cancer-free during the follow-up period. We detected one single metabolite, pyruvate, and two metabolite ratios involving pyruvate, lactate, and a metabolite of yet unknown structure, significantly altered between the two cohorts. A machine learning signature of metabolite ratios was able to correctly distinguish between gBRCA1+ and controls in ~82%. The results of this study point to innate systemic metabolic differences in gBRCA1+ women independent of cancer incidence and raise the question as to whether or not constitutional alterations in energy metabolism may be involved in the etiology of BRCA1-associated breast cancer.
    Keywords:  BRCA1 germline mutation; HIF1 alpha; NAD+ balance; aerobic glycolysis; breast cancer; energy metabolism; lactate; plasma metabolome
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3389/fonc.2021.627217
  42. Cell Chem Biol. 2021 Apr 22. pii: S2451-9456(21)00161-6. [Epub ahead of print]
      RNA-based sensors for intracellular metabolites are a promising solution to the emerging issue of metabolic heterogeneity. However, their development, i.e., the conversion of an aptamer into an in vivo-functional intracellular metabolite sensor, still harbors challenges. Here, we accomplished this for the glycolytic flux-signaling metabolite, fructose-1,6-bisphosphate (FBP). Starting from in vitro selection of an aptamer, we constructed device libraries with a hammerhead ribozyme as actuator. Using high-throughput screening in yeast with fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS), next-generation sequencing, and genetic-environmental perturbations to modulate the intracellular FBP levels, we identified a sensor that generates ratiometric fluorescent readout. An abrogated response in sensor mutants and occurrence of two sensor conformations-revealed by RNA structural probing-indicated in vivo riboswitching activity. Microscopy showed that the sensor can differentiate cells with different glycolytic fluxes within yeast populations, opening research avenues into metabolic heterogeneity. We demonstrate the possibility to generate RNA-based sensors for intracellular metabolites for which no natural metabolite-binding RNA element exits.
    Keywords:  RNA; aptamer; biosensor; fructose-1,6-bisphosphate; glycolysis; metabolic heterogeneity; ribozyme; screening
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chembiol.2021.04.006
  43. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Apr 10. pii: 1815. [Epub ahead of print]13(8):
      BACKGROUND: Glioblastoma (GBM) can use metabolic fuels other than glucose (Glc). The ability of GBM to use galactose (Gal) as a fuel via the Leloir pathway is investigated.METHODS: Gene transcript data were accessed to determine the association between expression of genes of the Leloir pathway and patient outcomes. Growth studies were performed on five primary patient-derived GBM cultures using Glc-free media supplemented with Gal. The role of Glut3/Glut14 in sugar import was investigated using antibody inhibition of hexose transport. A specific inhibitor of GALK1 (Cpd36) was used to inhibit Gal catabolism. Gal metabolism was examined using proton, carbon and phosphorous NMR spectroscopy, with 13C-labeled Glc and Gal as tracers.
    RESULTS: Data analysis from published databases revealed that elevated levels of mRNA transcripts of SLC2A3 (Glut3), SLC2A14 (Glut14) and key Leloir pathway enzymes correlate with poor patient outcomes. GBM cultures proliferated when grown solely on Gal in Glc-free media and switching Glc-grown GBM cells into Gal-enriched/Glc-free media produced elevated levels of Glut3 and/or Glut14 enzymes. The 13C NMR-based metabolic flux analysis demonstrated a fully functional Leloir pathway and elevated pentose phosphate pathway activity for efficient Gal metabolism in GBM cells.
    CONCLUSION: Expression of Glut3 and/or Glut14 together with the enzymes of the Leloir pathway allows GBM to transport and metabolize Gal at physiological glucose concentrations, providing GBM cells with an alternate energy source. The presence of this pathway in GBM and its selective targeting may provide new treatment strategies.
    Keywords:  GBM; Glut14; Leloir pathway; galactose scavenging; pentose phosphate pathway
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13081815
  44. Mitochondrion. 2021 Apr 21. pii: S1567-7249(21)00057-X. [Epub ahead of print]
      Our laboratory has demonstrated that functional N-methyl-D-aspartate-like receptors are present on neuronal mitochondria (NMDAm). This novel site gates the influx of Ca2+ and causes a several-fold increase in ATP levels. Although elevations in ATP in other cell types have been linked to increases in mitochondrial Ca2+, it has not been established whether the same holds true for calcium uptake via NMDAm. In this study, we have investigated the effect of NMDAm activation on a variety of bioenergetic parameters. Our findings suggest that mitochondrial bioenergetics are not only modulated by NMDAm activation in a Ca2+-dependent but also in a Ca2+-independent manner.
    Keywords:  ATP; Bioenergetics; Calcium; Mitochondria; N-methyl-D-aspartate; Respiration
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mito.2021.04.011
  45. Nat Rev Immunol. 2021 Apr 29.
      Several non-redundant features of the tumour microenvironment facilitate immunosuppression and limit anticancer immune responses. These include physical barriers to immune infiltration, the recruitment of suppressive immune cells and the upregulation of ligands on tumour cells that bind to inhibitory receptors on immune cells. Recent insights into the importance of the metabolic restrictions imposed by the tumour microenvironment on antitumour T cells have begun to inform immunotherapeutic anticancer strategies. Therapeutics that target metabolic restrictions, such as low glucose levels, a low pH, hypoxia and the generation of suppressive metabolites, have shown promise as combination therapies for different types of cancer. In this Review, we discuss the metabolic aspects of the antitumour T cell response in the context of immune checkpoint blockade, adoptive cell therapy and treatment with oncolytic viruses, and discuss emerging combination strategies.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41577-021-00541-y
  46. Annu Rev Immunol. 2021 Apr 26. 39 395-416
      Recent evidence supports the notion that mitochondrial metabolism is necessary for T cell activation, proliferation, and function. Mitochondrial metabolism supports T cell anabolism by providing key metabolites for macromolecule synthesis and generating metabolites for T cell function. In this review, we focus on how mitochondrial metabolism controls conventional and regulatory T cell fates and function.
    Keywords:  ROS; TCA cycle; acetyl-CoA; epigenetics; inflammation; l-2-hydroxyglutarate; l-2HG
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-immunol-101819-082015
  47. Br J Pharmacol. 2021 May;178(10): 2031-2033
      LINKED ARTICLES: This article is part of a themed issue on Cellular metabolism and diseases. To view the other articles in this section visit http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bph.v178.10/issuetoc.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1111/bph.15355