bims-camemi Biomed News
on Mitochondrial metabolism in cancer
Issue of 2021‒09‒19
fifty-one papers selected by
Christian Frezza
University of Cambridge, MRC Cancer Unit

  1. Free Radic Biol Med. 2021 Sep 11. pii: S0891-5849(21)00720-6. [Epub ahead of print]
      Cancer cells frequently lack nutrients like glucose, due to insufficient vascular networks. Mitochondrial phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase, PCK2, has recently been found to mediate partial gluconeogenesis and hence anabolic metabolism in glucose starved cancer cells. Here we show that PCK2 acts as a regulator of mitochondrial respiration and maintains the redox balance in nutrient-deprived human lung cancer cells. PCK2 silencing increased the abundance and interconversion of tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle intermediates, augmented mitochondrial respiration and enhanced glutathione oxidation under glucose and serum starvation, in a PCK2 re-expression reversible manner. Moreover, enhancing the TCA cycle by PCK2 inhibition severely reduced colony formation of lung cancer cells under starvation. As a conclusion, PCK2 contributes to maintaining a reduced glutathione pool in starved cancer cells besides mediating the biosynthesis of gluconeogenic/glycolytic intermediates. The study sheds light on adaptive responses in cancer cells to nutrient deprivation and shows that PCK2 confers protection against respiration-induced oxidative stress.
    Keywords:  Adaptation; Cancer metabolism; Gluconeogenesis; Metabolic flexibility; Mitochondria; Redox balance; Respiration
  2. Nat Protoc. 2021 Sep 17.
      Cancer cells undergo diverse metabolic adaptations to meet the energetic demands imposed by dysregulated growth and proliferation. Assessing metabolism in intact tumors allows the investigator to observe the combined metabolic effects of numerous cancer cell-intrinsic and -extrinsic factors that cannot be fully captured in culture models. We have developed methods to use stable isotope-labeled nutrients (e.g., [13C]glucose) to probe metabolic activity within intact tumors in vivo, in mice and humans. In these methods, the labeled nutrient is introduced to the circulation through an intravenous catheter prior to surgical resection of the tumor and adjacent nonmalignant tissue. Metabolism within these tissues during the infusion transfers the isotope label into metabolic intermediates from pathways supplied by the infused nutrient. Extracting metabolites from surgical specimens and analyzing their isotope labeling patterns provides information about metabolism in the tissue. We provide detailed information about this technique, from introduction of the labeled tracer through data analysis and interpretation, including streamlined approaches to quantify isotope labeling in informative metabolites extracted from tissue samples. We focus on infusions with [13C]glucose and the application of mass spectrometry to assess isotope labeling in intermediates from central metabolic pathways, including glycolysis, the tricarboxylic acid cycle and nonessential amino acid synthesis. We outline practical considerations to apply these methods to human subjects undergoing surgical resections of solid tumors. We also discuss the method's versatility and consider the relative advantages and limitations of alternative approaches to introduce the tracer, harvest the tissue and analyze the data.
  3. FEBS J. 2021 Sep 12.
      Mitochondrial dysfunction is increasingly appreciated as a central contributor to human disease. Oxidative metabolism at the mitochondrial respiratory chain produces ATP and is intricately tied to redox homeostasis and biosynthetic pathways. Metabolic stress arising from genetic mutations in mitochondrial genes and environmental factors such as malnutrition or overnutrition is perceived by the cell and leads to adaptive and maladaptive responses that can underlie pathology. Here, we will outline cellular sensors that react to alterations in energy production, organellar redox, and metabolites stemming from mitochondrial disease (MD) mutations. MD is a heterogenous group of disorders primarily defined by defects in mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation from nuclear or mitochondrial-encoded gene mutations. Pre-clinical therapies that improve fitness of MD mouse models have been recently identified. Targeting metabolic/energetic deficiencies, maladaptive signaling processes, and hyper-oxygenation of tissues are all strategies aside from direct genetic approaches that hold therapeutic promise. A further mechanistic understanding of these curative processes as well as the identification of novel targets will significantly impact mitochondrial biology and disease research.
    Keywords:  Mitochondrial dysfunction; hypoxia; mTORC1; metabolism; mitochondrial disease; mitochondrial signaling; oxidative stress; reactive oxygen species; redox homeostasis
  4. Cancer Lett. 2021 Sep 08. pii: S0304-3835(21)00454-7. [Epub ahead of print]
      Cancer cells craftily adapt their energy metabolism to their microenvironment. Nutrient deprivation due to hypovascularity and fibrosis is a major characteristic of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC); thus, PDAC cells must produce energy intrinsically. However, the enhancement of energy production via activating Kras mutations is insufficient to explain the metabolic rewiring of PDAC cells. Here, we investigated the molecular mechanism underlying the metabolic shift in PDAC cells under serine starvation. Amino acid analysis revealed that the concentrations of all essential amino acids and most nonessential amino acids were decreased in the blood of PDAC patients. In addition, the plasma serine concentration was significantly higher in PDAC patients with PHGDH-high tumors than in those with PHGDH-low tumors. Although the growth and tumorigenesis of PK-59 cells with PHGDH promoter hypermethylation were significantly decreased by serine starvation, these activities were maintained in PDAC cell lines with PHGDH promoter hypomethylation by serine biosynthesis through PHGDH induction. In fact, DNA methylation analysis by pyrosequencing revealed that the methylation status of the PHGDH promoter was inversely correlated with the PHGDH expression level in human PDAC tissues. In addition to PHGDH induction by serine starvation, PDAC cells showed enhanced serine biosynthesis under serine starvation through 3-PG accumulation via PGAM1 knockdown, resulting in enhanced PDAC cell growth and tumor growth. However, PHGDH knockdown efficiently suppressed PDAC cell growth and tumor growth under serine starvation. These findings provide evidence that targeting the serine biosynthesis pathway by inhibiting PHGDH is a potent therapeutic approach to eliminate PDAC cells in nutrient-deprived microenvironments.
    Keywords:  Cancer metabolism; Glycolysis; Nutrient microenvironment; Pancreatic cancer; Serine biosynthesis
  5. Theranostics. 2021 ;11(18): 8674-8691
      Background: Clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) is characterized by glycogen-laden, unexplained male predominance, and frequent mutations in the Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) gene and histone modifier genes. Besides, poor survival rates of ccRCC patients seem to be associated with up-regulation of the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP). However, the mechanism underlying these features remains unclear. Methods: Whole exome sequencing was used to identify the gene mutation that implicated in the rewired glucose metabolism. RNA-seq analyses were performed to evaluate the function of KDM5C in ccRCC. Furthermore, heavy isotope tracer analysis and metabolites quantification assays were used to study how KDM5C affects intracellular metabolic flux. To provide more in vivo evidence, we generated the Kdm5c -/- mice by CRISPR-Cas9 mediated gene knockout and performed the xenografts with KDM5C overexpressing or depleted cell lines. Results: A histone demethylase gene KDM5C, which can escape from X-inactivation and is predominantly mutated in male ccRCC patients, was identified to harbor the frameshift mutation in the ccRCC cell line with the highest glycogen level, while the restoration of KDM5C significantly reduced the glycogen level. Transcriptome and metabolomic analysis linked KDM5C to metabolism-related biological processes. KDM5C specifically regulated the expression of several hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-related genes and Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) that were involved in glycogenesis/glycogenolysis and PPP, respectively, mainly through the histone demethylase activity of KDM5C. Depletion of KDM5C increased the production of glycogen, which was then directed to glycogenolysis to generate glucose-6-phosphate (G6P) and subsequently PPP to produce nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate hydride (NADPH) and glutathione (GSH), thus conferring cells resistance to reactive oxygen species (ROS) and ferroptosis. KDM5C re-expression suppressed the glucose flux through PPP and re-sensitized cancer cells to ferroptosis. Notably, Kdm5c-knockout mice kidney tissues exhibited elevated glycogen level, reduced lipid peroxidation and displayed a transformation of renal cysts into hyperplastic lesions, implying a cancer-protective benefit of ferroptosis. Furthermore, KDM5C deficiency predicted the poor prognosis, and clinically relevant KDM5C mutants failed to suppress glycogen accumulation and promoted ferroptosis as wild type. Conclusion: This work revealed that a histone modifier gene inactive mutation reprogramed glycogen metabolism and helped to explain the long-standing puzzle of male predominance in human cancer. In addition, our findings may suggest the therapeutic value of targeting glycogen metabolism in ccRCC.
    Keywords:  KDM5C; X-inactivation escaping gene; glycogen; male predominance; pentose phosphate pathway
  6. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2021 ;12 731648
      The mechanisms of epigenetic gene regulation-histone modifications, chromatin remodeling, DNA methylation, and noncoding RNA-use metabolites as enzymatic cofactors and substrates in reactions that allow chromatin formation, nucleotide biogenesis, transcription, RNA processing, and translation. Gene expression responds to demands from cellular processes that use specific metabolites and alters or maintains cellular metabolic status. However, the roles of metabolites-particularly nucleotides-as regulatory molecules in epigenetic regulation and biological processes remain largely unknown. Here we review the crosstalk between gene expression, nucleotide metabolism, and cellular processes, and explore the role of metabolism in epigenetics as a critical regulator of biological events.
    Keywords:  ADP-ribosylation; DNA damage; NAD; RNA editing; chromatin modifiers; histone modifications; metabolism; nucleotide metabolism
  7. Cell Rep. 2021 Sep 14. pii: S2211-1247(21)01148-7. [Epub ahead of print]36(11): 109701
      Citrate lies at a critical node of metabolism, linking tricarboxylic acid metabolism and lipogenesis via acetyl-coenzyme A. Recent studies have observed that deficiency of the sodium-dependent citrate transporter (NaCT), encoded by SLC13A5, dysregulates hepatic metabolism and drives pediatric epilepsy. To examine how NaCT contributes to citrate metabolism in cells relevant to the pathophysiology of these diseases, we apply 13C isotope tracing to SLC13A5-deficient hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells and primary rat cortical neurons. Exogenous citrate appreciably contributes to intermediary metabolism only under hypoxic conditions. In the absence of glutamine, citrate supplementation increases de novo lipogenesis and growth of HCC cells. Knockout of SLC13A5 in Huh7 cells compromises citrate uptake and catabolism. Citrate supplementation rescues Huh7 cell viability in response to glutamine deprivation or Zn2+ treatment, and NaCT deficiency mitigates these effects. Collectively, these findings demonstrate that NaCT-mediated citrate uptake is metabolically important under nutrient-limited conditions and may facilitate resistance to metal toxicity.
    Keywords:  NaCT; SLC13A5; citrate; hepatocellular carcinoma; lipogenesis; neurons; zinc
  8. Redox Biol. 2021 Sep 10. pii: S2213-2317(21)00284-6. [Epub ahead of print]46 102125
      Heme is an essential cofactor required for a plethora of cellular processes in eukaryotes. In metazoans the heme biosynthetic pathway is typically partitioned between the cytosol and mitochondria, with the first and final steps taking place in the mitochondrion. The pathway has been extensively studied and its biosynthetic enzymes structurally characterized to varying extents. Nevertheless, understanding of the regulation of heme synthesis and factors that influence this process in metazoans remains incomplete. Therefore, we investigated the molecular organization as well as the physical and genetic interactions of the terminal pathway enzyme, ferrochelatase (Hem15), in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Biochemical and genetic analyses revealed dynamic association of Hem15 with Mic60, a core component of the mitochondrial contact site and cristae organizing system (MICOS). Loss of MICOS negatively impacts Hem15 activity, affects the size of the Hem15 high-mass complex, and results in accumulation of reactive and potentially toxic tetrapyrrole precursors that may cause oxidative damage. Restoring intermembrane connectivity in MICOS-deficient cells mitigates these cytotoxic effects. These data provide new insights into how heme biosynthetic machinery is organized and regulated, linking mitochondrial architecture-organizing factors to heme homeostasis.
    Keywords:  Ferrochelatase; Heme; MICOS; Mitochondria; Yeast
  9. Cell Death Dis. 2021 Sep 13. 12(9): 847
      Proximal tubular epithelial cells (TECs) demand high energy and rely on mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation as the main energy source. However, this is disturbed in renal fibrosis. Acetylation is an important post-translational modification for mitochondrial metabolism. The mitochondrial protein NAD+-dependent deacetylase sirtuin 3 (SIRT3) regulates mitochondrial metabolic function. Therefore, we aimed to identify the changes in the acetylome in tubules from fibrotic kidneys and determine their association with mitochondria. We found that decreased SIRT3 expression was accompanied by increased acetylation in mitochondria that have separated from TECs during the early phase of renal fibrosis. Sirt3 knockout mice were susceptible to hyper-acetylated mitochondrial proteins and to severe renal fibrosis. The activation of SIRT3 by honokiol ameliorated acetylation and prevented renal fibrosis. Analysis of the acetylome in separated tubules using LC-MS/MS showed that most kidney proteins were hyper-acetylated after unilateral ureteral obstruction. The increased acetylated proteins with 26.76% were mitochondrial proteins which were mapped to a broad range of mitochondrial pathways including fatty acid β-oxidation, the tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA cycle), and oxidative phosphorylation. Pyruvate dehydrogenase E1α (PDHE1α), which is the primary link between glycolysis and the TCA cycle, was hyper-acetylated at lysine 385 in TECs after TGF-β1 stimulation and was regulated by SIRT3. Our findings showed that mitochondrial proteins involved in regulating energy metabolism were acetylated and targeted by SIRT3 in TECs. The deacetylation of PDHE1α by SIRT3 at lysine 385 plays a key role in metabolic reprogramming associated with renal fibrosis.
  10. J Enzyme Inhib Med Chem. 2021 Dec;36(1): 2010-2015
      Tumours reprogram their metabolism to acquire an evolutionary advantage over normal cells. However, not all such metabolic pathways support energy production. An example of these metabolic pathways is the Methylglyoxal (MG) one. This pathway helps maintain the redox state, and it might act as a phosphate sensor that monitors the intracellular phosphate levels. In this work, we discuss the biochemical step of the MG pathway and interrelate it with cancer.
    Keywords:  Methylglyoxal; cancer; enzyme; pH; redox
  11. J Biol Chem. 2021 Sep 13. pii: S0021-9258(21)00998-4. [Epub ahead of print] 101196
      Mitochondria undergo continuous cycles of fission and fusion to promote inheritance, regulate quality control, and mitigate organelle stress. More recently, this process of mitochondrial dynamics has been demonstrated to be highly sensitive to nutrient supply, ultimately conferring bioenergetic plasticity to the organelle. However, whether regulators of mitochondrial dynamics play a causative role in nutrient regulation remains unclear. In this study, we generated a cellular loss-of-function model for dynamin-related protein 1 (DRP1), the primary regulator of outer membrane mitochondrial fission. Loss of DRP1 (shDRP1) resulted in extensive ultrastructural and functional remodeling of mitochondria, characterized by pleomorphic enlargement, increased electron density of the matrix, and defective NADH and succinate oxidation. Despite increased mitochondrial size and volume, shDRP1 cells exhibited reduced cellular glucose uptake and mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation. Untargeted transcriptomic profiling revealed severe downregulation of genes required for cellular and mitochondrial calcium homeostasis, inhibition of ATP-stimulated calcium flux, and impaired substrate oxidation stimulated by calcium levels. The insights obtained herein suggest that DRP1 regulates fatty acid oxidation by altering whole-cell and mitochondrial calcium dynamics. These findings are relevant to the targetability of mitochondrial fission and have clinical relevance in the identification of treatments for fission-related pathologies such as hereditary neuropathies, inborn errors in metabolism, cancer, and chronic diseases.
    Keywords:  calcium signaling; dynamin-related protein 1; mitochondrial dynamics; skeletal muscle; β-oxidation
  12. Mol Cancer Res. 2021 Sep 17. pii: molcanres.MCR-21-0456-E.2021. [Epub ahead of print]
      Exploitation of DNA repair defects has enabled major advances in treating specific cancers. Recent work discovered that the oncometabolite 2-hydroxyglutarate (2-HG), produced by neomorphic isocitrate dehydrogenase 1/2 (IDH1/2) mutations, confers a homology directed repair (HDR) defect through 2-HG-induced histone hypermethylation masking HDR signaling. Here, we report that IDH1 mutant cancer cells are profoundly sensitive to the histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi) vorinostat, by further suppressing the residual HDR in 2-HG-producing cells. Vorinostat down-regulates repair factors BRCA1 and RAD51 via disrupted E2F-factor regulation, causing increased DNA double strand breaks, reduced DNA repair factor foci, and functional HDR deficiency even beyond 2-HG's effects. This results in greater cell death of IDH1 mutant cells and confers synergy with radiation and PARPi, both against cells in culture and patient-derived tumor xenografts. Our work identifies HDACi's utility against IDH1 mutant cancers, and presents IDH1/2 mutations as potential biomarkers to guide trials testing HDACi in gliomas and other malignancies. Implications: IDH1 mutant cells show profound vulnerability to HDACi treatment, alone and with PARPi and radiation, via HDR suppression, presenting IDH1/2 mutations as biomarkers for HDACi's use in gliomas and other malignancies.
  13. Front Oncol. 2021 ;11 719922
      Cancer associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are a major component of the tumour microenvironment in most tumours, and are key mediators of the response to tissue damage caused by tumour growth and invasion, contributing to the observation that tumours behave as 'wounds that do not heal'. CAFs have been shown to play a supporting role in all stages of tumour progression, and this is dependent on the highly secretory phenotype CAFs develop upon activation, of which extracellular matrix (ECM) production is a key element. A collagen rich, stromal ECM has been shown to influence tumour growth and metastasis, exclude immune cells and impede drug delivery, and is associated with poor prognosis in many cancers. CAFs also extensively remodel their metabolism to support cancer cells, however, it is becoming clear that metabolic rewiring also supports intrinsic functions of activated fibroblasts, such as increased ECM production. In this review, we summarise how fibroblasts metabolically regulate ECM production, focussing on collagen production, at the transcriptional, translational and post-translational level, and discuss how this can provide possible strategies for effectively targeting CAF activation and formation of a tumour-promoting stroma.
    Keywords:  CAF; amino acids; extracellular matrix; fibroblasts; metabolism; tumour microenvironment
  14. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2021 Sep 15.
      Mitochondria-the intracellular powerhouse in which nutrients are converted into energy in the form of ATP or heat-are highly dynamic, double-membraned organelles that harness a plethora of cellular functions that sustain energy metabolism and homeostasis. Exciting new discoveries now indicate that the maintenance of this ever changing and functionally pleiotropic organelle is particularly relevant in terminally differentiated cells that are highly dependent on aerobic metabolism. Given the central role in maintaining metabolic and physiological homeostasis, dysregulation of the mitochondrial network might therefore confer a potentially devastating vulnerability to high-energy requiring cell types, contributing to a broad variety of hereditary and acquired diseases. In this Review, we highlight the biological functions of mitochondria-localized enzymes from the perspective of understanding-and potentially reversing-the pathophysiology of inherited disorders affecting the homeostasis of the mitochondrial network and cellular metabolism. Using methylmalonic acidemia as a paradigm of complex mitochondrial dysfunction, we discuss how mitochondrial directed-signaling circuitries govern the homeostasis and physiology of specialized cell types and how these may be disturbed in disease. This Review also provides a critical analysis of affected tissues, potential molecular mechanisms, and novel cellular and animal models of methylmalonic acidemia which are being used to develop new therapeutic options for this disease. These insights might ultimately lead to new therapeutics, not only for methylmalonic acidemia, but also for other currently intractable mitochondrial diseases, potentially transforming our ability to regulate homeostasis and health.
    Keywords:  Cell damage; Inherited metabolic diseases; Metabolism; Mitochondria; Mitophagy; Oxidative stress
  15. Hum Mol Genet. 2021 Sep 14. pii: ddab269. [Epub ahead of print]
      The metabolic needs for postnatal growth of the human nervous system are vast. Recessive loss-of-function mutations in the mitochondrial enzyme glutamate pyruvate transaminase 2 (GPT2) in humans cause postnatal undergrowth of brain, and cognitive and motor disability. We demonstrate that GPT2 governs critical metabolic mechanisms in neurons required for neuronal growth and survival. These metabolic processes include neuronal alanine synthesis and anaplerosis, the replenishment of tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle intermediates. We performed metabolomics across postnatal development in Gpt2-null mouse brain to identify the trajectory of dysregulated metabolic pathways: alterations in alanine occur earliest; followed by reduced TCA cycle intermediates and reduced pyruvate; followed by elevations in glycolytic intermediates and amino acids. Neuron-specific deletion of GPT2 in mice is sufficient to cause motor abnormalities and death pre-weaning, a phenotype identical to the germline Gpt2-null mouse. Alanine biosynthesis is profoundly impeded in Gpt2-null neurons. Exogenous alanine is necessary for Gpt2-null neuronal survival in vitro, but is not needed for Gpt2-null astrocytes. Dietary alanine supplementation in Gpt2-null mice enhances animal survival, and improves the metabolic profile of Gpt2-null brain, but does not alone appear to correct motor function. In surviving Gpt2-null animals, we observe smaller upper and lower motor neurons in vivo. We also observe selective death of lower motor neurons in vivo with worsening motor behavior with age. In conclusion, these studies of the pathophysiology of GPT2 Deficiency have identified metabolic mechanisms required for neuronal growth and that potentially underlie selective neuronal vulnerabilities in motor neurons.
  16. STAR Protoc. 2021 Sep 17. 2(3): 100807
      Heterogeneous metabolism supports critical single-cell functions. Here, we describe deep-learning-enabled image analyses of a genetically encoded lactate-sensing probe which can accurately quantify metabolite levels and glycolytic rates at the single-cell level. Multiple strategies and test data have been included to obviate possible obstacles including successful sensor expression and accurate segmentation. This protocol reliably discriminates between metabolically diverse subpopulations which can be used to directly link metabolism to functional phenotypes by integrating spatiotemporal information, genetic or pharmacological perturbations, and real-time metabolic states. For complete details on the use and execution of this protocol, please refer to Wu et al. (2021a).
    Keywords:  Bioinformatics; Cell Biology; Metabolism; Microscopy; Molecular/Chemical Probes; Single Cell
  17. Cell Chem Biol. 2021 Sep 11. pii: S2451-9456(21)00403-7. [Epub ahead of print]
      Topoisomerase II (topo II) is essential for disentangling newly replicated chromosomes. DNA unlinking involves the physical passage of one duplex through another and depends on the transient formation of double-stranded DNA breaks, a step exploited by frontline chemotherapeutics to kill cancer cells. Although anti-topo II drugs are efficacious, they also elicit cytotoxic side effects in normal cells; insights into how topo II is regulated in different cellular contexts is essential to improve their targeted use. Using chemical fractionation and mass spectrometry, we have discovered that topo II is subject to metabolic control through the TCA cycle. We show that TCA metabolites stimulate topo II activity in vitro and that levels of TCA flux modulate cellular sensitivity to anti-topo II drugs in vivo. Our work reveals an unanticipated connection between the control of DNA topology and cellular metabolism, a finding with ramifications for the clinical use of anti-topo II therapies.
    Keywords:  DNA topology; ICRF-187; TCA cycle; cancer; chemotherapy; dexrazoxane; etoposide; metabolism; topoisomerase
  18. Nat Metab. 2021 Sep 16.
      Macrophages exhibit a spectrum of activation states ranging from classical to alternative activation1. Alternatively, activated macrophages are involved in diverse pathophysiological processes such as confining tissue parasites2, improving insulin sensitivity3 or promoting an immune-tolerant microenvironment that facilitates tumour growth and metastasis4. Recently, the metabolic regulation of macrophage function has come into focus as both the classical and alternative activation programmes require specific regulated metabolic reprogramming5. While most of the studies regarding immunometabolism have focussed on the catabolic pathways activated to provide energy, little is known about the anabolic pathways mediating macrophage alternative activation. In this study, we show that the anabolic transcription factor sterol regulatory element binding protein 1 (SREBP1) is activated in response to the canonical T helper 2 cell cytokine interleukin-4 to trigger the de novo lipogenesis (DNL) programme, as a necessary step for macrophage alternative activation. Mechanistically, DNL consumes NADPH, partitioning it away from cellular antioxidant defences and raising reactive oxygen species levels. Reactive oxygen species serves as a second messenger, signalling sufficient DNL, and promoting macrophage alternative activation. The pathophysiological relevance of this mechanism is validated by showing that SREBP1/DNL is essential for macrophage alternative activation in vivo in a helminth infection model.
  19. Gut. 2021 Sep 11. pii: gutjnl-2021-325405. [Epub ahead of print]
      OBJECTIVE: Large-scale genome sequencing efforts of human tumours identified epigenetic modifiers as one of the most frequently mutated gene class in human cancer. However, how these mutations drive tumour development and tumour progression are largely unknown. Here, we investigated the function of the histone demethylase KDM6A in gastrointestinal cancers, such as liver cancer and pancreatic cancer.DESIGN: Genetic alterations as well as expression analyses of KDM6A were performed in patients with liver cancer. Genetic mouse models of liver and pancreatic cancer coupled with Kdm6a-deficiency were investigated, transcriptomic and epigenetic profiling was performed, and in vivo and in vitro drug treatments were conducted.
    RESULTS: KDM6A expression was lost in 30% of patients with liver cancer. Kdm6a deletion significantly accelerated tumour development in murine liver and pancreatic cancer models. Kdm6a-deficient tumours showed hyperactivation of mTORC1 signalling, whereas endogenous Kdm6a re-expression by inducible RNA-interference in established Kdm6a-deficient tumours diminished mTORC1 activity resulting in attenuated tumour progression. Genome-wide transcriptional and epigenetic profiling revealed direct binding of Kdm6a to crucial negative regulators of mTORC1, such as Deptor, and subsequent transcriptional activation by epigenetic remodelling. Moreover, in vitro and in vivo genetic epistasis experiments illustrated a crucial function of Deptor and mTORC1 in Kdm6a-dependent tumour suppression. Importantly, KDM6A expression in human tumours correlates with mTORC1 activity and KDM6A-deficient tumours exhibit increased sensitivity to mTORC1 inhibition.
    CONCLUSION: KDM6A is an important tumour suppressor in gastrointestinal cancers and acts as an epigenetic toggle for mTORC1 signalling. Patients with KDM6A-deficient tumours could benefit of targeted therapy focusing on mTORC1 inhibition.
    Keywords:  gastrointestinal cancer; hepatobiliary cancer; hepatocellular carcinoma; molecular carcinogenesis
  20. Neuro Oncol. 2021 Sep 13. pii: noab219. [Epub ahead of print]
      BACKGROUND: We postulate that meningiomas undergo distinct metabolic reprogramming in tumorigenesis and unravelling their metabolic phenotypes provide new therapeutic insights. Glutamine catabolism is key to the growth and proliferation of tumors. Here, we investigated the metabolomics of freshly resected meningiomas and glutamine metabolism in patient-derived meningioma cells.METHODS: 1H NMR spectroscopy of tumor tissues from 33 meningioma patients was used to differentiate the metabolite profiles of grade-I and grade-II meningiomas. Glutamine metabolism was examined using 13C/ 15N glutamine tracer, in five patient-derived meningioma cells.
    RESULTS: Alanine, lactate, glutamate, glutamine, and glycine were predominantly elevated only in grade-II meningiomas by 74%, 76%, 35%, 75% and 33% respectively, with alanine, and glutamine being statistically significant (p ≤ 0.02). 13C/ 15N glutamine tracer experiments revealed that both grade-I and -II meningiomas actively metabolize glutamine to generate various key carbon intermediates including alanine and proline that are necessary for the tumor growth. Also, it is shown that glutaminase (GLS1) inhibitor, CB-839 is highly effective in downregulating glutamine metabolism and decreasing proliferation in meningioma cells.
    CONCLUSION: Alanine and glutamine/glutamate are mainly elevated in grade-II meningiomas. Grade-I meningiomas possess relatively higher glutamine metabolism providing carbon/nitrogen for the biosynthesis of key nonessential amino acids. GLS1 inhibitor (CB-839) would be very effective in downregulating glutamine metabolic pathways in grade-I meningiomas leading to decreased cellular proliferation.
    Keywords:  alanine; glutamine; meningioma; metabolic flux analysis; metabolomics
  21. Nature. 2021 Sep 15.
      Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths worldwide1. Studies in human tissues and in mouse models have suggested that for many cancers, stem cells sustain early mutations driving tumour development2,3. For the pancreas, however, mechanisms underlying cellular renewal and initiation of PDAC remain unresolved. Here, using lineage tracing from the endogenous telomerase reverse transcriptase (Tert) locus, we identify a rare TERT-positive subpopulation of pancreatic acinar cells dispersed throughout the exocrine compartment. During homeostasis, these TERThigh acinar cells renew the pancreas by forming expanding clones of acinar cells, whereas randomly marked acinar cells do not form these clones. Specific expression of mutant Kras in TERThigh acinar cells accelerates acinar clone formation and causes transdifferentiation to ductal pre-invasive pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasms by upregulating Ras-MAPK signalling and activating the downstream kinase ERK (phospho-ERK). In resected human pancreatic neoplasms, we find that foci of phospho-ERK-positive acinar cells are common and frequently contain activating KRAS mutations, suggesting that these acinar regions represent an early cancer precursor lesion. These data support a model in which rare TERThigh acinar cells may sustain KRAS mutations, driving acinar cell expansion and creating a field of aberrant cells initiating pancreatic tumorigenesis.
  22. Cell. 2021 Sep 16. pii: S0092-8674(21)00997-1. [Epub ahead of print]184(19): 5031-5052.e26
      Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a highly aggressive cancer with poor patient survival. Toward understanding the underlying molecular alterations that drive PDAC oncogenesis, we conducted comprehensive proteogenomic analysis of 140 pancreatic cancers, 67 normal adjacent tissues, and 9 normal pancreatic ductal tissues. Proteomic, phosphoproteomic, and glycoproteomic analyses were used to characterize proteins and their modifications. In addition, whole-genome sequencing, whole-exome sequencing, methylation, RNA sequencing (RNA-seq), and microRNA sequencing (miRNA-seq) were performed on the same tissues to facilitate an integrated proteogenomic analysis and determine the impact of genomic alterations on protein expression, signaling pathways, and post-translational modifications. To ensure robust downstream analyses, tumor neoplastic cellularity was assessed via multiple orthogonal strategies using molecular features and verified via pathological estimation of tumor cellularity based on histological review. This integrated proteogenomic characterization of PDAC will serve as a valuable resource for the community, paving the way for early detection and identification of novel therapeutic targets.
    Keywords:  CPTAC; KRAS; endothelial cell; glycoproteins; immune-cold tumors; kinase inhibitors; neoplastic cellularity; pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma; proteogenomics; tumor subtyping
  23. Mech Ageing Dev. 2021 Sep 09. pii: S0047-6374(21)00141-X. [Epub ahead of print] 111569
      Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) is a vital coenzyme in redox reactions. NAD+ is also important in cellular signalling as it is consumed by PARPs, SARM1, sirtuins and CD38. Cellular NAD+ levels regulate several essential processes including DNA repair, immune cell function, senescence, and chromatin remodelling. Maintenance of these cellular processes is important for healthy ageing and lifespan. Interestingly, the levels of NAD+ decline during ageing in several organisms, including humans. Declining NAD+ levels have been linked to several age-related diseases including various metabolic diseases and cognitive decline. Decreasing tissue NAD+ concentrations have been ascribed to an imbalance between biosynthesis and consumption of the dinucleotide, resulting from, for instance, reduced levels of the rate limiting enzyme NAMPT along with an increased activation state of the NAD+-consuming enzymes PARPs and CD38. The progression of some age-related diseases can be halted or reversed by therapeutic augmentation of NAD+ levels. NAD+ metabolism has therefore emerged as a potential target to ameliorate age-related diseases. The present review explores how ageing affects NAD+ metabolism and current approaches to reverse the age-dependent decline of NAD+.
    Keywords:  NAD biosynthesis; NAD metabolism; PARP; Sirtuins; ageing
  24. Genes Dis. 2021 Nov;8(6): 731-745
      Cystine/glutamate antiporter solute carrier family 7 member 11 (SLC7A11; also known as xCT) plays a key role in antioxidant defense by mediating cystine uptake, promoting glutathione synthesis, and maintaining cell survival under oxidative stress conditions. Recent studies showed that, to prevent toxic buildup of highly insoluble cystine inside cells, cancer cells with high expression of SLC7A11 (SLC7A11high) are forced to quickly reduce cystine to more soluble cysteine, which requires substantial NADPH supply from the glucose-pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) route, thereby inducing glucose- and PPP-dependency in SLC7A11high cancer cells. Limiting glucose supply to SLC7A11high cancer cells results in significant NADPH "debt", redox "bankruptcy", and subsequent cell death. This review summarizes our current understanding of NADPH-generating and -consuming pathways, discusses the opposing role of SLC7A11 in protecting cells from oxidative stress-induced cell death such as ferroptosis but promoting glucose starvation-induced cell death, and proposes the concept that SLC7A11-mediated cystine uptake acts as a double-edged sword in cellular redox regulation. A detailed understanding of SLC7A11 in redox biology may identify metabolic vulnerabilities in SLC7A11high cancer for therapeutic targeting.
    Keywords:  Cysteine; Cystine; NADPH; Pentose phosphate pathway; SLC7A11; xCT
  25. Commun Biol. 2021 Sep 15. 4(1): 1081
      Transcription factor nuclear factor erythroid 2 p45-related factor 2 (Nrf2) and its main negative regulator, Kelch-like ECH associated protein 1 (Keap1), are at the interface between redox and intermediary metabolism. Nrf2 activation is protective in models of human disease and has benefits in clinical trials. Consequently, the Keap1/Nrf2 protein complex is a drug target. However, in cancer Nrf2 plays a dual role, raising concerns that Nrf2 activators may promote growth of early neoplasms. To address this concern, we examined the role of Nrf2 in development of colorectal adenomas by employing genetic, pharmacological, and metabolomic approaches. We found that colorectal adenomas that form in Gstp-/-: ApcMin/+ mice are characterized by altered one-carbon metabolism and that genetic activation, but not disruption of Nrf2, enhances these metabolic alterations. However, this enhancement is modest compared to the magnitude of metabolic differences between tumor and peri-tumoral tissues, suggesting that the metabolic changes conferred by Nrf2 activation may have little contribution to the early stages of carcinogenesis. Indeed, neither genetic (by Keap1 knockdown) nor pharmacological Nrf2 activation, nor its disruption, affected colorectal adenoma formation in this model. We conclude that pharmacological Nrf2 activation is unlikely to impact the early stages of development of colorectal cancer.
  26. Nat Commun. 2021 Sep 13. 12(1): 5404
      Inactivating mutations in SMARCA4 and concurrent epigenetic silencing of SMARCA2 characterize subsets of ovarian and lung cancers. Concomitant loss of these key subunits of SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complexes in both cancers is associated with chemotherapy resistance and poor prognosis. Here, we discover that SMARCA4/2 loss inhibits chemotherapy-induced apoptosis through disrupting intracellular organelle calcium ion (Ca2+) release in these cancers. By restricting chromatin accessibility to ITPR3, encoding Ca2+ channel IP3R3, SMARCA4/2 deficiency causes reduced IP3R3 expression leading to impaired Ca2+ transfer from the endoplasmic reticulum to mitochondria required for apoptosis induction. Reactivation of SMARCA2 by a histone deacetylase inhibitor rescues IP3R3 expression and enhances cisplatin response in SMARCA4/2-deficient cancer cells both in vitro and in vivo. Our findings elucidate the contribution of SMARCA4/2 to Ca2+-dependent apoptosis induction, which may be exploited to enhance chemotherapy response in SMARCA4/2-deficient cancers.
  27. Cancer Drug Resist. 2021 ;4 85-95
      Wild-type p53 is a stress-responsive transcription factor and a potent tumor suppressor. P53 inhibits the growth of incipient cancer cells by blocking their proliferation or inducing their death through apoptosis. Autophagy is a self-eating process that plays a key role in response to stress. During autophagy, organelles and other intracellular components are degraded in autophagolysosomes and the autophagic breakdown products are recycled into metabolic and energy producing pathways needed for survival. P53 can promote or inhibit autophagy depending on its subcellular localization, mutation status, and the level of stress. Blocking autophagy has been reported in several studies to increase p53-mediated apoptosis, revealing that autophagy can influence cell-fate in response to activated p53 and is a potential target to increase p53-dependent tumor suppression.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; histone methylation; metabolism
  28. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2021 Sep 11. pii: S0003-9861(21)00276-9. [Epub ahead of print] 109027
      The dithiol reagents phenylarsine oxide (PAO) and dibromobimane (DBrB) have opposite effects on the F1FO-ATPase activity. PAO 20% increases ATP hydrolysis at 50 μM when the enzyme activity is activated by the natural cofactor Mg2+ and at 150 μM when it is activated by Ca2+. The PAO-driven F1FO-ATPase activation is reverted to the basal activity by 50 μM dithiothreitol (DTE). Conversely, 300 μM DBrB decreases the F1FO-ATPase activity by 25% when activated by Mg2+ and by 50% when activated by Ca2+. In both cases, the F1FO-ATPase inhibition by DBrB is insensitive to DTE. The mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP) formation, related to the Ca2+-dependent F1FO-ATPase activity, is stimulated by PAO and desensitized by DBrB. Since PAO and DBrB apparently form adducts with different cysteine couples, the results highlight the crucial role of cross-linking of vicinal dithiols on the F1FO-ATPase, with (ir)reversible redox states, in the mPTP modulation.
    Keywords:  F(1)F(O)-ATPase; Mitochondria; Post-translational modification; Thiols; mPTP
  29. Nat Commun. 2021 Sep 13. 12(1): 5406
      DNA methylation is aberrant in cancer, but the dynamics, regulatory role and clinical implications of such epigenetic changes are still poorly understood. Here, reduced representation bisulfite sequencing (RRBS) profiles of 1538 breast tumors and 244 normal breast tissues from the METABRIC cohort are reported, facilitating detailed analysis of DNA methylation within a rich context of genomic, transcriptional, and clinical data. Tumor methylation from immune and stromal signatures are deconvoluted leading to the discovery of a tumor replication-linked clock with genome-wide methylation loss in non-CpG island sites. Unexpectedly, methylation in most tumor CpG islands follows two replication-independent processes of gain (MG) or loss (ML) that we term epigenomic instability. Epigenomic instability is correlated with tumor grade and stage, TP53 mutations and poorer prognosis. After controlling for these global trans-acting trends, as well as for X-linked dosage compensation effects, cis-specific methylation and expression correlations are uncovered at hundreds of promoters and over a thousand distal elements. Some of these targeted known tumor suppressors and oncogenes. In conclusion, this study demonstrates that global epigenetic instability can erode cancer methylomes and expose them to localized methylation aberrations in-cis resulting in transcriptional changes seen in tumors.
  30. Trends Cell Biol. 2021 Sep 09. pii: S0962-8924(21)00163-X. [Epub ahead of print]
      Solute carrier transporters (SLCs) mediate nutrient and metabolite cellular homeostasis. Immune cells depend on SLCs to induce rapid and robust metabolic reprogramming, thereby controlling diverse immunological responses. Recent studies hint toward an important role of SLCs in immunity. Here, we review the emerging roles of SLCs in immunotherapy via modifying the metabolism and effector functions of immune cells. We focus on the roles of three major nutrient (glucose, amino acid, and lipid)-related transporters in immunity of representative cells [T cells, dendritic cells (DCs), natural killer (NK) cells, and macrophages) in innate and adaptive immunity. Other SLCs, such as ion transporters are also briefly discussed. Finally, we propose some potential strategies for targeting SLCs to augment tumour immunotherapy.
    Keywords:  immunocyte; metabolic reprogramming; nutrient and metabolite; solute carrier transporter; tumour immunotherapy
  31. Genes Dev. 2021 Sep 16.
      Activating mutations in KRAS (KRAS*) are present in nearly all pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) cases and critical for tumor maintenance. By using an inducible KRAS* PDAC mouse model, we identified a deubiquitinase USP21-driven resistance mechanism to anti-KRAS* therapy. USP21 promotes KRAS*-independent tumor growth via its regulation of MARK3-induced macropinocytosis, which serves to maintain intracellular amino acid levels for anabolic growth. The USP21-mediated KRAS* bypass, coupled with the frequent amplification of USP21 in human PDAC tumors, encourages the assessment of USP21 as a novel drug target as well as a potential parameter that may affect responsiveness to emergent anti-KRAS* therapy.
    Keywords:  KRAS; MARK3; USP21; macropinocytosis; targeted therapy resistance
  32. Nat Commun. 2021 Sep 13. 12(1): 5402
      Chromosomal instability (CIN) and epigenetic alterations have been implicated in tumor progression and metastasis; yet how these two hallmarks of cancer are related remains poorly understood. By integrating genetic, epigenetic, and functional analyses at the single cell level, we show that progression of uveal melanoma (UM), the most common intraocular primary cancer in adults, is driven by loss of Polycomb Repressive Complex 1 (PRC1) in a subpopulation of tumor cells. This leads to transcriptional de-repression of PRC1-target genes and mitotic chromosome segregation errors. Ensuing CIN leads to the formation of rupture-prone micronuclei, exposing genomic double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) to the cytosol. This provokes tumor cell-intrinsic inflammatory signaling, mediated by aberrant activation of the cGAS-STING pathway. PRC1 inhibition promotes nuclear enlargement, induces a transcriptional response that is associated with significantly worse patient survival and clinical outcomes, and enhances migration that is rescued upon pharmacologic inhibition of CIN or STING. Thus, deregulation of PRC1 can promote tumor progression by inducing CIN and represents an opportunity for early therapeutic intervention.
  33. J Cell Sci. 2021 Sep 15. pii: jcs.255299. [Epub ahead of print]
      The Voltage Dependent Anion channel (VDAC) is a ubiquitous channel in the outer membrane of the mitochondrion with multiple roles in protein, metabolite and small molecule transport. In mammalian cells, VDAC, as part of a larger complex including the inositol triphosphate receptor, has been shown to have a role in mediating contacts between the mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum (ER). We identify VDAC of the pathogenic apicomplexan Toxoplasma gondii and demonstrate its importance for parasite growth. We show that VDAC is involved in protein import and metabolite transfer to mitochondria. Further, depletion of VDAC resulted in significant morphological changes of the mitochondrion and ER, suggesting a role in mediating contacts between these organelles in T. gondii.
    Keywords:  Calcium; ER; Membrane contact sites; Mitochondria; Mitochondrion; Motility; Porin; Toxoplasma; VDAC
  34. Redox Biol. 2021 Sep 08. pii: S2213-2317(21)00286-X. [Epub ahead of print]46 102127
      Mitochondrial energy production and function rely on optimal concentrations of the essential redox-active lipid, coenzyme Q (CoQ). CoQ deficiency results in mitochondrial dysfunction associated with increased mitochondrial oxidative stress and a range of pathologies. What drives CoQ deficiency in many of these pathologies is unknown, just as there currently is no effective therapeutic strategy to overcome CoQ deficiency in humans. To date, large-scale studies aimed at systematically interrogating endogenous systems that control CoQ biosynthesis and their potential utility to treat disease have not been carried out. Therefore, we developed a quantitative high-throughput method to determine CoQ concentrations in yeast cells. Applying this method to the Yeast Deletion Collection as a genome-wide screen, 30 genes not known previously to regulate cellular concentrations of CoQ were discovered. In combination with untargeted lipidomics and metabolomics, phosphatidylethanolamine N-methyltransferase (PEMT) deficiency was confirmed as a positive regulator of CoQ synthesis, the first identified to date. Mechanistically, PEMT deficiency alters mitochondrial concentrations of one-carbon metabolites, characterized by an increase in the S-adenosylmethionine to S-adenosylhomocysteine (SAM-to-SAH) ratio that reflects mitochondrial methylation capacity, drives CoQ synthesis, and is associated with a decrease in mitochondrial oxidative stress. The newly described regulatory pathway appears evolutionary conserved, as ablation of PEMT using antisense oligonucleotides increases mitochondrial CoQ in mouse-derived adipocytes that translates to improved glucose utilization by these cells, and protection of mice from high-fat diet-induced insulin resistance. Our studies reveal a previously unrecognized relationship between two spatially distinct lipid pathways with potential implications for the treatment of CoQ deficiencies, mitochondrial oxidative stress/dysfunction, and associated diseases.
    Keywords:  Coenzyme Q; Insulin resistance; Mitochondria; PEMT; Reactive oxygen species; S-adenosylhomocysteine; S-adenosylmethionine
  35. Cell Death Discov. 2021 Sep 15. 7(1): 241
      Triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs) are characterized by poor survival, prognosis, and gradual resistance to cytotoxic chemotherapeutics, like doxorubicin (DOX). The clinical utility of DOX is limited by its cardiotoxic and chemoresistant effects that manifest over time. To induce chemoresistance, TNBC rewires oncogenic gene expression and cell signaling pathways. Recent studies have demonstrated that reprogramming of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) metabolism facilitates tumor growth and survival. Branched-chain ketoacid dehydrogenase kinase (BCKDK), a regulatory kinase of the rate-limiting enzyme of the BCAA catabolic pathway, is reported to activate RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK signaling to promote tumor cell proliferation. However, it remains unexplored if BCKDK action remodels TNBC proliferation and survival per se and influences susceptibility to DOX-induced genotoxic stress. TNBC cells treated with DOX exhibited reduced BCKDK expression and intracellular BCKAs. Genetic and pharmacological inhibition of BCKDK in TNBC cell lines also showed a similar reduction in intracellular and secreted BCKAs. BCKDK silencing in TNBC cells downregulated mitochondrial metabolism genes, reduced electron complex protein expression, oxygen consumption, and ATP production. Transcriptome analysis of BCKDK silenced cells confirmed dysregulation of mitochondrial metabolic networks and upregulation of the apoptotic signaling pathway. Furthermore, BCKDK inhibition with concurrent DOX treatment exacerbated apoptosis, caspase activity, and loss of TNBC proliferation. Inhibition of BCKDK in TNBC also upregulated sestrin 2 and concurrently decreased mTORC1 signaling and protein synthesis. Overall, loss of BCKDK action in TNBC remodels BCAA flux, reduces protein translation triggering cell death, ATP insufficiency, and susceptibility to genotoxic stress.
  36. NPJ Syst Biol Appl. 2021 Sep 17. 7(1): 36
      Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is fundamental to both normal tissue development and cancer progression. We hypothesized that EMT plasticity defines a range of metabolic phenotypes and that individual breast epithelial metabolic phenotypes are likely to fall within this phenotypic landscape. To determine EMT metabolic phenotypes, the metabolism of EMT was described within genome-scale metabolic models (GSMMs) using either transcriptomic or proteomic data from the breast epithelial EMT cell culture model D492. The ability of the different data types to describe breast epithelial metabolism was assessed using constraint-based modeling which was subsequently verified using 13C isotope tracer analysis. The application of proteomic data to GSMMs provided relatively higher accuracy in flux predictions compared to the transcriptomic data. Furthermore, the proteomic GSMMs predicted altered cholesterol metabolism and increased dependency on argininosuccinate lyase (ASL) following EMT which were confirmed in vitro using drug assays and siRNA knockdown experiments. The successful verification of the proteomic GSMMs afforded iBreast2886, a breast GSMM that encompasses the metabolic plasticity of EMT as defined by the D492 EMT cell culture model. Analysis of breast tumor proteomic data using iBreast2886 identified vulnerabilities within arginine metabolism that allowed prognostic discrimination of breast cancer patients on a subtype-specific level. Taken together, we demonstrate that the metabolic reconstruction iBreast2886 formalizes the metabolism of breast epithelial cell development and can be utilized as a tool for the functional interpretation of high throughput clinical data.
  37. Prog Biophys Mol Biol. 2021 Sep 09. pii: S0079-6107(21)00101-2. [Epub ahead of print]
      The evolution of early life and of contemporary viruses has been driven in significant part by random genetic mutations, while modern unicellular and organismal evolution primarily leverages evolved, efficient and active cell biology processes for adaptive changes prior to selection. Random mutations are often buffered by cell homeostasis, or they have a negative role, e.g., by causing death or monogenic diseases, or by triggering real-time cancer evolution. Accordingly, the Modern Synthesis theory no longer adequately describes the efficient, often punctuated and at times directionally adaptive natural genetic engineering (NGE) processes deduced from the DNA record of evolution. Similarly, the somatic mutation theory (SMT) of cancer describes driver mutations that can trigger oncogenesis, and passenger mutations characteristic of periods of genetic microevolution in cancer. At the precancerous stage, most somatic mutations are repaired or buffered in the cell, aberrant cells are removed, or organismal bioelectric tissue signals or other physiological functional networks maintain control of rogue, mutated cells. However, the SMT is not sufficient to describe the observed punctuated macroevolution of cancer-cell genes, chromosomes, karyotypes and epigenomes, nor of expressed cancer-cell transcriptomes, proteomes and epiproteomes, which include non-DNA-templated post-translational modifications, protein-protein interactions and metabolites. Moreover, punctuated cancer cell macroevolution often culminates in macro-effects, which include epithelial-mesenchymal transitions (EMT), cancer cell polyploidies and even giant multinucleated cancer cells that drive cancer progression, therapy resistance and metastasis. All of this cancer-cell evolution competes in a molecular and cellular arms race with host immune cells and antibodies, as well as with the host tumor microenvironment. Empirically observed punctuated, multilevel and multiclonal cancer macroevolution, and the concomitant, rapid co-development of the host immune system and tumor microenvironment, can occur with the efficiency, speed and lethality of cancer that is enabled by evolved, active natural genetic engineering (NGE) mechanisms. NGE affects both vertical cancer-cell genomic inheritance and evolution towards therapy resistance and metastasis, as well as viral or cancer-cell exosome vector-driven horizontal gene transfers that contributes to cancer cell cooperation, or to transforming previously non-cancerous somatic cells into destabilized cancer cells during metastasis. In addition, externally driven, irreversible and transferable (EDIT) adaptations are exemplified by mitotically heritable, non-templated cancer cell epigenetics, and by mitotically heritable cancer-cell surface protein and lipid glycosylation, as important examples of fast time-scale molecular evolution mechanisms in which genes are followers, similar to evo-devo processes in organismal evolution.
    Keywords:  Cancer evolution; Epiproteome; Evolvability; Glycosylation; Heritable adaptation processes
  38. Curr Protoc. 2021 Sep;1(9): e245
      Studies in various tissues have revealed a central role of metabolic pathways in regulating adult stem cell function in tissue regeneration and tumor initiation. The unique metabolic dependences or preferences of adult stem cells, therefore, are emerging as a new category of therapeutic target. Recently, advanced methods including high-resolution metabolomics, proteomics, and transcriptomics have been developed to address the growing interest in stem cell metabolism. A practical framework integrating the omics analyses is needed to systematically perform metabolic characterization in a cell-type-specific manner. Here, we leverage recent advances in transcriptomics and proteomics research to identify cell-type-specific metabolic features by reconstructing cell identity using genes and the encoded enzymes involved in major metabolic pathways. We provide protocols for cell isolation, transcriptome and proteome analyses, and metabolite profiling and measurement. The workflow for mapping cell-type-specific metabolic signatures presented here, although initially developed for intestinal crypt cells, can be easily implemented for cell populations in other tissues, and is highly compatible with most public datasets. © 2021 The Authors. Current Protocols published by Wiley Periodicals LLC. Basic Protocol 1: Intestinal crypt isolation and cell population purification Basic Protocol 2: Transcriptome analyses for cell-type-specific metabolic gene expression Basic Protocol 3: Proteome analyses for cell-type-specific metabolic enzyme levels Basic Protocol 4: Metabolite profiling and measurement.
    Keywords:  metabolism; proteome; stem cell; transcriptome
  39. Nat Commun. 2021 Sep 17. 12(1): 5507
      The specific niche adaptations that facilitate primary disease and Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) survival after induction chemotherapy remain unclear. Here, we show that Bone Marrow (BM) adipocytes dynamically evolve during ALL pathogenesis and therapy, transitioning from cellular depletion in the primary leukaemia niche to a fully reconstituted state upon remission induction. Functionally, adipocyte niches elicit a fate switch in ALL cells towards slow-proliferation and cellular quiescence, highlighting the critical contribution of the adipocyte dynamic to disease establishment and chemotherapy resistance. Mechanistically, adipocyte niche interaction targets posttranscriptional networks and suppresses protein biosynthesis in ALL cells. Treatment with general control nonderepressible 2 inhibitor (GCN2ib) alleviates adipocyte-mediated translational repression and rescues ALL cell quiescence thereby significantly reducing the cytoprotective effect of adipocytes against chemotherapy and other extrinsic stressors. These data establish how adipocyte driven restrictions of the ALL proteome benefit ALL tumours, preventing their elimination, and suggest ways to manipulate adipocyte-mediated ALL resistance.
  40. Cancer Cell. 2021 Sep 13. pii: S1535-6108(21)00401-3. [Epub ahead of print]39(9): 1175-1177
      Fibroblasts are a major non-neoplastic component of solid tumors, yet it is unclear whether they promote or oppose cancer. In this issue of Cancer Cell, Hutton et al. report two distinct fibroblast subpopulations that are defined by a single marker, one subpopulation that is tumor permissive and the other that is tumor suppressive and supports anti-tumor immunity.
  41. PLoS One. 2021 ;16(9): e0257090
      Isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 and 2 (IDH1/2) mutations and their key effector 2-hydroxyglutarate (2-HG) have been reported to promote oncogenesis in various human cancers. To elucidate molecular mechanism(s) associated with IDH1/2 mutations, we established mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEF) cells and human colorectal cancer cells stably expressing cancer-associated IDH1R132C or IDH2R172S, and analyzed the change in metabolic characteristics of the these cells. We found that IDH1/2 mutants induced intracellular 2-HG accumulation and inhibited cell proliferation. Expression profile analysis by RNA-seq unveiled that glucose transporter 1 (Glut1) was induced by the IDH1/2 mutants or treatment with 2-HG in the MEF cells. Consistently, glucose uptake and lactate production were increased by the mutants, suggesting the deregulation of glucose metabolism. Furthermore, PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway and Hif1α expression were involved in the up-regulation of Glut1. Together, these results suggest that Glut1 is a potential target regulated by cancer-associated IDH1/2 mutations.
  42. Blood. 2021 Sep 15. pii: blood.2021013201. [Epub ahead of print]
      AML is characterized by the presence of leukemia stem cells (LSCs), and failure to fully eradicate this population contributes to disease persistence/relapse. Prior studies have characterized metabolic vulnerabilities of LSCs, which demonstrate preferential reliance on oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) for energy metabolism and survival. In the present study, using both genetic and pharmacologic strategies in primary human AML specimens, we show that signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) mediates OXPHOS in LSCs. STAT3 regulates AML-specific expression of MYC, which in turn controls transcription of the neutral amino acid transporter SLC1A5. We show that genetic inhibition of MYC or SLC1A5 acts to phenocopy the impairment of OXPHOS observed with STAT3 inhibition, thereby establishing this axis as a regulatory mechanism linking STAT3 to energy metabolism. Inhibition of SLC1A5 reduces intracellular levels of glutamine, glutathione and multiple TCA metabolites, leading to reduced TCA cycle activity and inhibition of OXPHOS. Based on these findings, we used a novel small molecule STAT3 inhibitor, that binds STAT3 and disrupts STAT3-DNA, to evaluate the biological role of STAT3. We show that STAT3 inhibition selectively leads to cell death in AML stem and progenitor cells derived from newly diagnosed and relapsed patients, while sparing normal hematopoietic cells. Together, these findings establish a STAT3-mediated mechanism that controls energy metabolism and survival in primitive AML cells.
  43. Commun Biol. 2021 Sep 17. 4(1): 1093
      TOR complex 1 (TORC1) is an evolutionarily-conserved protein kinase that controls cell growth and metabolism in response to nutrients, particularly amino acids. In mammals, several amino acid sensors have been identified that converge on the multi-layered machinery regulating Rag GTPases to trigger TORC1 activation; however, these sensors are not conserved in many other organisms including yeast. Previously, we reported that glutamine activates yeast TORC1 via a Gtr (Rag ortholog)-independent mechanism involving the vacuolar protein Pib2, although the identity of the supposed glutamine sensor and the exact TORC1 activation mechanism remain unclear. In this study, we successfully reconstituted glutamine-responsive TORC1 activation in vitro using only purified Pib2 and TORC1. In addition, we found that glutamine specifically induced a change in the folding state of Pib2. These findings indicate that Pib2 is a glutamine sensor that directly activates TORC1, providing a new model for the metabolic control of cells.
  44. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Sep 21. pii: e2109475118. [Epub ahead of print]118(38):
      Genome remethylation is essential for mammalian development but specific reasons are unclear. Here we examined embryonic stem (ES) cell fate in the absence of de novo DNA methyltransferases. We observed that ES cells deficient for both Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b are rapidly eliminated from chimeras. On further investigation we found that in vivo and in vitro the formative pluripotency transition is derailed toward production of trophoblast. This aberrant trajectory is associated with failure to suppress activation of Ascl2 Ascl2 encodes a bHLH transcription factor expressed in the placenta. Misexpression of Ascl2 in ES cells provokes transdifferentiation to trophoblast-like cells. Conversely, Ascl2 deletion rescues formative transition of Dnmt3a/b mutants and improves contribution to chimeric epiblast. Thus, de novo DNA methylation safeguards against ectopic activation of Ascl2 However, Dnmt3a/b-deficient cells remain defective in ongoing embryogenesis. We surmise that multiple developmental transitions may be secured by DNA methylation silencing potentially disruptive genes.
    Keywords:  DNA methylation; embryonic stem cells; pluripotency
  45. EMBO J. 2021 Sep 15. e107237
      BAK and BAX, the effectors of intrinsic apoptosis, each undergo major reconfiguration to an activated conformer that self-associates to damage mitochondria and cause cell death. However, the dynamic structural mechanisms of this reconfiguration in the presence of a membrane have yet to be fully elucidated. To explore the metamorphosis of membrane-bound BAK, we employed hydrogen-deuterium exchange mass spectrometry (HDX-MS). The HDX-MS profile of BAK on liposomes comprising mitochondrial lipids was consistent with known solution structures of inactive BAK. Following activation, HDX-MS resolved major reconfigurations in BAK. Mutagenesis guided by our HDX-MS profiling revealed that the BCL-2 homology (BH) 4 domain maintains the inactive conformation of BAK, and disrupting this domain is sufficient for constitutive BAK activation. Moreover, the entire N-terminal region preceding the BAK oligomerisation domains became disordered post-activation and remained disordered in the activated oligomer. Removal of the disordered N-terminus did not impair, but rather slightly potentiated, BAK-mediated membrane permeabilisation of liposomes and mitochondria. Together, our HDX-MS analyses reveal new insights into the dynamic nature of BAK activation on a membrane, which may provide new opportunities for therapeutic targeting.
    Keywords:  BAK; BCL-2; apoptosis; hydrogen-deuterium exchange mass spectrometry; membrane
  46. Endocrinology. 2021 Sep 17. pii: bqab199. [Epub ahead of print]
      Cross-talk between peripheral tissues is essential to ensure the coordination of nutrient intake with disposition during the feeding period, thereby preventing metabolic disease. This Mini-review considers the interactions between the key peripheral tissues that constitute the metabolic clock, each of which is considered in a separate Mini-review in this collation of articles published in Endocrinology in 2020/2021, by: Martchenko et al. (Circadian Rhythms and the Gastrointestinal Tract: Relationship to Metabolism and Gut Hormones); Alvarez et al. (The Microbiome as a Circadian Coordinator of Metabolism); Seshadri et al. (Circadian Regulation of the Pancreatic Beta Cell); McCommis et al. (The Importance of Keeping Time in the Liver); Oosterman et al. (The Circadian Clock, Shift Work, and Tissue-Specific Insulin Resistance); and Heyde et al. (Contributions of White and Brown Adipose Tissues to the Circadian Regulation of Energy Metabolism). The use of positive- and negative-feedback signals, both hormonal and metabolic, between these tissues ensures that peripheral metabolic pathways are synchronized with the timing of food intake, thus optimizing nutrient disposition and preventing metabolic disease. Collectively, these articles highlight the critical role played by the circadian clock in the maintenance of metabolic homeostasis.
    Keywords:  adipocyte; circadian; hepatocyte; intestine; islet; metabolism; microbiome; myocyte
  47. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Sep 21. pii: e2114839118. [Epub ahead of print]118(38):
  48. Cell Metab. 2021 Sep 08. pii: S1550-4131(21)00375-2. [Epub ahead of print]
      Clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) preferentially invades into perinephric adipose tissue (PAT), a process associated with poor prognosis. However, the detailed mechanisms underlying this interaction remain elusive. Here, we describe a bi-directional communication between ccRCC cells and the PAT. We found that ccRCC cells secrete parathyroid-hormone-related protein (PTHrP) to promote the browning of PAT by PKA activation, while PAT-mediated thermogenesis results in the release of excess lactate to enhance ccRCC growth, invasion, and metastasis. Further, tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) extensively used in the treatment of ccRCC enhanced this vicious cycle of ccRCC-PAT communication by promoting the browning of PAT. However, if this cross-communication was short circuited by the pharmacological suppression of adipocyte browning via H89 or KT5720, the anti-tumor efficacy of the TKI, sunitinib, was enhanced. These results suggest that ccRCC-PAT cross-communication has important clinical relevance, and use of combined therapy holds great promise in enhancing the efficacy of TKIs.
    Keywords:  PKA; PTHrP; adipocytes browning; cell-to-cell communication; clear cell renal cell carcinoma; lactate; lung metastasis; tyrosine kinase inhibitors