bims-camemi Biomed News
on Mitochondrial metabolism in cancer
Issue of 2021‒10‒24
fifty-eight papers selected by
Christian Frezza
University of Cambridge, MRC Cancer Unit

  1. Nat Metab. 2021 Oct;3(10): 1290-1301
      Cellular senescence entails a permanent proliferative arrest, coupled to multiple phenotypic changes. Among these changes is the release of numerous biologically active molecules collectively known as the senescence-associated secretory phenotype, or SASP. A growing body of literature indicates that both senescence and the SASP are sensitive to cellular and organismal metabolic states, which in turn can drive phenotypes associated with metabolic dysfunction. Here, we review the current literature linking senescence and metabolism, with an eye toward findings at the cellular level, including both metabolic inducers of senescence and alterations in cellular metabolism associated with senescence. Additionally, we consider how interventions that target either metabolism or senescent cells might influence each other and mitigate some of the pro-aging effects of cellular senescence. We conclude that the most effective interventions will likely break a degenerative feedback cycle by which cellular senescence promotes metabolic diseases, which in turn promote senescence.
  2. Oncogene. 2021 Oct 19.
      Calcineurin is a calcium- and calmodulin-dependent serine/threonine protein phosphatase that connects the Ca2+-dependent signalling to multiple cellular responses. Calcineurin inhibitors (CNIs) have been widely used to suppress immune response in allograft patients. However, CNIs significantly increase cancer incidence in transplant recipients compared with the general population. Accumulating evidence suggests that CNIs may promote the malignant transformation of cancer cells in addition to its role in immunosuppression, but the underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. Here, we show that calcineurin interacts with pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDC), a mitochondrial gatekeeper enzyme that connects two key metabolic pathways of cells, glycolysis and the tricarboxylic acid cycle. Mitochondrial-localized calcineurin dephosphorylates PDHA1 at Ser232, Ser293 and Ser300, and thus enhances PDC enzymatic activity, remodels cellular glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation, and suppresses cancer cell proliferation. Hypoxia attenuates mitochondrial translocation of calcineurin to promote PDC inactivation. Moreover, CNIs promote metabolic remodelling and the Warburg effect by blocking calcineurin-mediated PDC activation in cancer cells. Our findings indicate that calcineurin is a critical regulator of mitochondrial metabolism and suggest that CNIs may promote tumorigenesis through inhibition of the calcineurin-PDC pathway.
  3. Metabolites. 2021 Sep 28. pii: 658. [Epub ahead of print]11(10):
      Direct injury of mitochondrial respiratory chain (RC) complex I by Ndufs4 subunit mutations results in complex I deficiency (CID) and a progressive encephalomyopathy, known as Leigh syndrome. While mitochondrial, cytosolic and multi-organelle pathways are known to be involved in the neuromuscular LS pathogenesis, compartment-specific metabolomics has, to date, not been applied to murine models of CID. We thus hypothesized that sub-cellular metabolomics would be able to contribute organelle-specific insights to known Ndufs4 metabolic perturbations. To that end, whole brains and skeletal muscle from late-stage Ndufs4 mice and age/sex-matched controls were harvested for mitochondrial and cytosolic isolation. Untargeted 1H-NMR and semi-targeted LC-MS/MS metabolomics was applied to the resulting cell fractions, whereafter important variables (VIPs) were selected by univariate statistics. A predominant increase in multiple targeted amino acids was observed in whole-brain samples, with a more prominent effect at the mitochondrial level. Similar pathways were implicated in the muscle tissue, showing a greater depletion of core metabolites with a compartment-specific distribution, however. The altered metabolites expectedly implicate altered redox homeostasis, alternate RC fueling, one-carbon metabolism, urea cycling and dysregulated proteostasis to different degrees in the analyzed tissues. A first application of EDTA-chelated magnesium and calcium measurement by NMR also revealed tissue- and compartment-specific alterations, implicating stress response-related calcium redistribution between neural cell compartments, as well as whole-cell muscle magnesium depletion. Altogether, these results confirm the ability of compartment-specific metabolomics to capture known alterations related to Ndufs4 KO and CID while proving its worth in elucidating metabolic compartmentalization in said pathways that went undetected in the diluted whole-cell samples previously studied.
    Keywords:  1H-NMR; LC-MS/MS; Ndufs4; complex I deficiency; cytosol; metabolomics; mitochondria; mitochondrial disease; sub-cellular metabolomics
  4. Front Physiol. 2021 ;12 742839
      Most anionic metabolites including respiratory substrates, glycolytic adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and small cations that enter mitochondria, and mitochondrial ATP moving to the cytosol, cross the outer mitochondrial membrane (OMM) through voltage dependent anion channels (VDAC). The closed states of VDAC block the passage of anionic metabolites, and increase the flux of small cations, including calcium. Consequently, physiological or pharmacological regulation of VDAC opening, by conditioning the magnitude of both anion and cation fluxes, is a major contributor to mitochondrial metabolism. Tumor cells display a pro-proliferative Warburg phenotype characterized by enhanced aerobic glycolysis in the presence of partial suppression of mitochondrial metabolism. The heterogeneous and flexible metabolic traits of most human tumors render cells able to adapt to the constantly changing energetic and biosynthetic demands by switching between predominantly glycolytic or oxidative phenotypes. Here, we describe the biological consequences of changes in the conformational state of VDAC for cancer metabolism, the mechanisms by which VDAC-openers promote cancer cell death, and the advantages of VDAC opening as a valuable pharmacological target. Particular emphasis is given to the endogenous regulation of VDAC by free tubulin and the effects of VDAC-tubulin antagonists in cancer cells. Because of its function and location, VDAC operates as a switch to turn-off mitochondrial metabolism (closed state) and increase aerobic glycolysis (pro-Warburg), or to turn-on mitochondrial metabolism (open state) and decrease glycolysis (anti-Warburg). A better understanding of the role of VDAC regulation in tumor progression is relevant both for cancer biology and for developing novel cancer chemotherapies.
    Keywords:  Warburg; cancer; glycolysis; metabolic flexibility; metabolic reprogramming; metabolism; mitochondria; voltage dependent anion channels
  5. Biology (Basel). 2021 Oct 04. pii: 1000. [Epub ahead of print]10(10):
      Cellular bioenergetics requires an intense ATP turnover that is increased further by hypermetabolic states caused by cancer growth or inflammation. Both are associated with metabolic alterations and, notably, enhancement of the Warburg effect (also known as aerobic glycolysis) of poor efficiency with regard to glucose consumption when compared to mitochondrial respiration. Therefore, beside this efficiency issue, other properties of these two pathways should be considered to explain this paradox: (1) biosynthesis, for this only indirect effect should be considered, since lactate release competes with biosynthetic pathways in the use of glucose; (2) ATP production, although inefficient, glycolysis shows other advantages when compared to mitochondrial respiration and lactate release may therefore reflect that the glycolytic flux is higher than required to feed mitochondria with pyruvate and glycolytic NADH; (3) Oxygen supply becomes critical under hypermetabolic conditions, and the ATP/O2 ratio quantifies the efficiency of oxygen use to regenerate ATP, although aerobic metabolism remains intense the participation of anaerobic metabolisms (lactic fermentation or succinate generation) could greatly increase ATP/O2 ratio; (4) time and space constraints would explain that anaerobic metabolism is required while the general metabolism appears oxidative; and (5) active repression of respiration by glycolytic intermediates, which could ensure optimization of glucose and oxygen use.
    Keywords:  ATP; cancer; energy metabolism; glycolysis; inflammation; lactic fermentation; mitochondria
  6. Nat Metab. 2021 Oct;3(10): 1357-1371
      The multifunctional roles of metabolic enzymes allow for the integration of multiple signals to precisely transduce external stimuli into cell fate decisions. Elevation of 3-phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase (PHGDH), the rate-limiting enzyme for de novo serine biosynthesis, is broadly associated with human cancer development; although how PHGDH activity is regulated and its implication in tumorigenesis remains unclear. Here we show that glucose restriction induces the phosphorylation of PHGDH by p38 at Ser371, which promotes the translocation of PHGDH from the cytosol into the nucleus. Concurrently, AMPK phosphorylates PHGDH-Ser55, selectively increasing PHGDH oxidation of malate into oxaloacetate, thus generating NADH. In the nucleus, the altered PHGDH activity restricts NAD+ level and compartmentally repressed NAD+-dependent PARP1 activity for poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation of c-Jun, thereby leading to impaired c-Jun transcriptional activity linked to cell growth inhibition. Physiologically, nuclear PHGDH sustains tumour growth under nutrient stress, and the levels of PHGDH-Ser371 and PHGDH-Ser55 phosphorylation correlate with p38 and AMPK activity, respectively, in clinical human pancreatic cancer specimens. These findings illustrate a previously unidentified nutrient-sensing mechanism with the critical involvement of a non-canonical metabolic effect of PHGDH and underscore the functional importance of alternative PHGDH activity in tumorigenesis.
  7. Trends Microbiol. 2021 Oct 13. pii: S0966-842X(21)00237-7. [Epub ahead of print]
      Mitochondria control various processes that are integral to cellular and organismal homeostasis, including Ca2+ fluxes, bioenergetic metabolism, and cell death. Perhaps not surprisingly, multiple pathogenic bacteria have evolved strategies to subvert mitochondrial functions in support of their survival and dissemination. Here, we discuss nonimmunological pathogenic mechanisms that converge on the ability of bacteria to control the mitochondrial compartment of host cells.
    Keywords:  Listeria monocytogenes; Mycobacterium tuberculosis; autophagy; mitochondria-associated ER membranes; oxidative phosphorylation; regulated cell death
  8. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Oct 09. pii: 5058. [Epub ahead of print]13(20):
      Rewiring glucose metabolism toward aerobic glycolysis provides cancer cells with a rapid generation of pyruvate, ATP, and NADH, while pyruvate oxidation to lactate guarantees refueling of oxidized NAD+ to sustain glycolysis. CtPB2, an NADH-dependent transcriptional co-regulator, has been proposed to work as an NADH sensor, linking metabolism to epigenetic transcriptional reprogramming. By integrating metabolomics and transcriptomics in a triple-negative human breast cancer cell line, we show that genetic and pharmacological down-regulation of CtBP2 strongly reduces cell proliferation by modulating the redox balance, nucleotide synthesis, ROS generation, and scavenging. Our data highlight the critical role of NADH in controlling the oncogene-dependent crosstalk between metabolism and the epigenetically mediated transcriptional program that sustains energetic and anabolic demands in cancer cells.
    Keywords:  CtBP2; cancer metabolic rewiring; epigenetics; metabolomics integration; transcriptomics
  9. Biology (Basel). 2021 Oct 15. pii: 1050. [Epub ahead of print]10(10):
      Human mitochondria are highly dynamic organelles, fusing and budding to maintain reticular networks throughout many cell types. Although extending to the extremities of the cell, the majority of the network is concentrated around the nucleus in most of the commonly cultured cell lines. This organelle harbours its own genome, mtDNA, with a different gene content to the nucleus, but the expression of which is critical for maintaining oxidative phosphorylation. Recent advances in click chemistry have allowed us to visualise sites of mitochondrial protein synthesis in intact cultured cells. We show that the majority of translation occurs in the peri-nuclear region of the network. Further analysis reveals that whilst there is a slight peri-nuclear enrichment in the levels of mitoribosomal protein and mitochondrial rRNA, it is not sufficient to explain this substantial heterogeneity in the distribution of translation. Finally, we also show that in contrast, a mitochondrial mRNA does not show such a distinct gradient in distribution. These data suggest that the relative lack of translation in the peripheral mitochondrial network is not due to an absence of mitoribosomes or an insufficient supply of the mt-mRNA transcripts.
    Keywords:  co-localisation; heterogeneity; mammalian; mitochondria; peri-nuclear; peripheral; protein synthesis
  10. Nat Immunol. 2021 Oct 22.
      Intestinal epithelial cell (IEC) damage by T cells contributes to graft-versus-host disease, inflammatory bowel disease and immune checkpoint blockade-mediated colitis. But little is known about the target cell-intrinsic features that affect disease severity. Here we identified disruption of oxidative phosphorylation and an increase in succinate levels in the IECs from several distinct in vivo models of T cell-mediated colitis. Metabolic flux studies, complemented by imaging and protein analyses, identified disruption of IEC-intrinsic succinate dehydrogenase A (SDHA), a component of mitochondrial complex II, in causing these metabolic alterations. The relevance of IEC-intrinsic SDHA in mediating disease severity was confirmed by complementary chemical and genetic experimental approaches and validated in human clinical samples. These data identify a critical role for the alteration of the IEC-specific mitochondrial complex II component SDHA in the regulation of the severity of T cell-mediated intestinal diseases.
  11. Cell Rep. 2021 Oct 19. pii: S2211-1247(21)01310-3. [Epub ahead of print]37(3): 109846
      Optical methods for measuring intracellular ions including Ca2+ revolutionized our understanding of signal transduction. However, these methods are not extensively applied to intact organs due to issues including inner filter effects, motion, and available probes. Mitochondrial Ca2+ is postulated to regulate cell energetics and death pathways that are best studied in an intact organ. Here, we develop a method to optically measure mitochondrial Ca2+ and demonstrate its validity for mitochondrial Ca2+ and metabolism using hearts from wild-type mice and mice with germline knockout of the mitochondria calcium uniporter (MCU-KO). We previously reported that germline MCU-KO hearts do not show an impaired response to adrenergic stimulation. We find that these MCU-KO hearts do not take up Ca2+, consistent with no alternative Ca2+ uptake mechanisms in the absence of MCU. This approach can address the role of mitochondrial Ca2+ to the myriad of functions attributed to alterations in mitochondrial Ca2+.
    Keywords:  calcium; heart; isoproterenol; mitochondria; spectroscopy
  12. Biochem Pharmacol. 2021 Oct 18. pii: S0006-2952(21)00425-1. [Epub ahead of print] 114809
      Herein we trace links between biochemical pathways, pathogenesis, and metabolic diseases to set the stage for new therapeutic advances. Cellular and acellular microorganisms including bacteria and viruses are primary pathogenic drivers that cause disease. Missing from this statement are subcellular compartments, importantly mitochondria, which can be pathogenic by themselves, also serving as key metabolic disease intermediaries. The breakdown of food molecules provides chemical energy to power cellular processes, with mitochondria as powerhouses and ATP as the principal energy carrying molecule. Most animal cell ATP is produced by mitochondrial synthase; its central role in metabolism has been known for >80 years. Metabolic disorders involving many organ systems are prevalent in all age groups. Progressive pathogenic mitochondrial dysfunction is a hallmark of genetic mitochondrial diseases, the most common phenotypic expression of inherited metabolic disorders. Confluent genetic, metabolic, and mitochondrial axes surface in diabetes, heart failure, neurodegenerative disease, and even in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
    Keywords:  Metabolic abnormalities; Mitochondrial diseases; Pathogenesis and pathogenic drivers; Physiological networks; Therapeutics; diseases; disorders; dysfunction; homeostasis; pathogenesis; reprogramming Biochemical pathways
  13. Antioxidants (Basel). 2021 Oct 14. pii: 1618. [Epub ahead of print]10(10):
      Since breast cancer (BC) cells are dependent on mitochondrial bioenergetics for promoting proliferation, survival, and metastasis, mitochondria highlight as an important target for anticancer drug discovery. FRI-1, methyl 1, 3-dimethyl-5, 8-dioxo-5, 8-dihydro-4-isoquinolinecarboxylate, was previously described as a selective cytotoxic compound on cancer cell lines, however, details on the mechanism of action remain unknown. In this work, we describe that FRI-1 inhibits mitochondrial bioenergetics, producing apoptosis in MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 BC cell lines. FRI-1 decreases the maximal oxygen consumption rate (OCR), Δψm, NADH, and ATP levels, with a notable increase of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, promoting AMPK activation with pro-survival effects. Moreover, FRI-1 inhibits the metabolic remodeling to glycolysis induced by oligomycin. In isolated tumoral mitochondria, FRI-1 increases Complex I and III-dependent OCR state 2, and this is sensitive to rotenone and antimycin A inhibitor additions, suggesting a redox cycling event. Remarkably, α-ketoglutarate and lipoic acid supplementation reversed and promoted, respectively, the FRI-1-induced apoptosis, suggesting that mitochondrial redox disruption affects 2-oxoglutarate dehydrogenase (OGDH) activity, and this is involved in their anticancer mechanism. Consistent with this, the combination of FRI-1 and CPI-613, a dual inhibitor of redox-sensible tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle enzymes PDH and OGDH, produced extensive BC cell death. Taken together, our results suggest that FRI-1 exhibits anticancer effects through inhibition of mitochondrial bioenergetics by redox disruption in BC cells.
    Keywords:  2-oxoglutarate dehydrogenase (OGDH); AMP-activated kinase (AMPK) signaling; CPI-613; devimistat; mitocans; mitochondria; tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle
  14. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2021 ;9 735678
      Iron-sulfur (Fe/S) clusters (ISCs) are redox-active protein cofactors that their synthesis, transfer, and insertion into target proteins require many components. Mitochondrial ISC assembly is the foundation of all cellular ISCs in eukaryotic cells. The mitochondrial ISC cooperates with the cytosolic Fe/S protein assembly (CIA) systems to accomplish the cytosolic and nuclear Fe/S clusters maturation. ISCs are needed for diverse cellular functions, including nitrogen fixation, oxidative phosphorylation, mitochondrial respiratory pathways, and ribosome assembly. Recent research advances have confirmed the existence of different ISCs in enzymes that regulate DNA metabolism, including helicases, nucleases, primases, DNA polymerases, and glycosylases. Here we outline the synthesis of mitochondrial, cytosolic and nuclear ISCs and highlight their functions in DNA metabolism.
    Keywords:  DNA metabolism; DNA repair; DNA replication; genome stability; iron-sulfur (Fe-S) clusters
  15. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Oct 11. pii: 5081. [Epub ahead of print]13(20):
      Activating mutations in KRAS are present in 25% of human cancers. When mutated, the KRAS protein becomes constitutively active, stimulating various effector pathways and leading to the deregulation of key cellular processes, including the suppression of apoptosis and enhancement of proliferation. Furthermore, mutant KRAS also promotes metabolic deregulation and alterations in the tumor microenvironment. However, some KRAS mutant cancer cells become independent of KRAS for their survival by activating diverse bypass networks that maintain essential survival signaling originally governed by mutant KRAS. The proposed inducers of KRAS independency are the activation of YAP1 and/or RSK-mTOR pathways and co-mutations in SKT11 (LKB1), KEAP1, and NFE2L2 (NRF2) genes. Metabolic reprogramming, such as increased glutaminolysis, is also associated with KRAS autonomy. The presence or absence of KRAS dependency is related to the heterogeneity of KRAS mutant cancers. Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in tumor cells is also a characteristic phenotype of KRAS independency. Translationally, this loss of dependence is a cause of primary and acquired resistance to mutant KRAS-specific inhibitors. While KRAS-dependent tumors can be treated with mutant KRAS inhibitor monotherapy, for KRAS-independent tumors, we need an improved understanding of activated bypass signaling pathways towards leveraging vulnerabilities, and advancing therapeutic options for this patient subset.
    Keywords:  EMT; KRAS; RSK; YAP1; autonomy; dependency; metabolic reprogramming
  16. Front Oncol. 2021 ;11 704353
      Prostate cancer is a high-incidence cancer, often detected late in life. The prostate gland is an accessory gland that secretes citrate; an impaired citrate secretion reflects imbalances in the activity of enzymes in the TCA Cycle in mitochondria. Profiling studies on prostate tumours have identified significant metabolite, proteomic, and transcriptional modulations with an increased mitochondrial metabolic activity associated with localised prostate cancer. Here, we focus on the androgen receptor, c-Myc, phosphatase and tensin Homolog deleted on chromosome 10 (PTEN), and p53 as amongst the best-characterised genomic drivers of prostate cancer implicated in metabolic dysregulation and prostate cancer progression. We outline their impact on metabolic function before discussing how this may affect metabolite pools and in turn chromatin structure and the epigenome. We reflect on some recent literature indicating that mitochondrial mutations and OGlcNAcylation may also contribute to this crosstalk. Finally, we discuss the technological challenges of assessing crosstalk given the significant differences in the spatial sensitivity and throughput of genomic and metabolomic profiling approaches.
    Keywords:  TCA cycle; epigenetics; metabolism; mitochondria; prostate cancer
  17. Nature. 2021 Oct 20.
      Dietary interventions can change metabolite levels in the tumour microenvironment, which might then affect cancer cell metabolism to alter tumour growth1-5. Although caloric restriction (CR) and a ketogenic diet (KD) are often thought to limit tumour progression by lowering blood glucose and insulin levels6-8, we found that only CR inhibits the growth of select tumour allografts in mice, suggesting that other mechanisms contribute to tumour growth inhibition. A change in nutrient availability observed with CR, but not with KD, is lower lipid levels in the plasma and tumours. Upregulation of stearoyl-CoA desaturase (SCD), which synthesises monounsaturated fatty acids, is required for cancer cells to proliferate in a lipid-depleted environment, and CR also impairs tumour SCD activity to cause an imbalance between unsaturated and saturated fatty acids to slow tumour growth. Enforcing cancer cell SCD expression or raising circulating lipid levels through a higher-fat CR diet confers resistance to the effects of CR. By contrast, although KD also impairs tumour SCD activity, KD-driven increases in lipid availability maintain the unsaturated to saturated fatty acid ratios in tumours, and changing the KD fat composition to increase tumour saturated fatty acid levels cooperates with decreased tumour SCD activity to slow tumour growth. These data suggest that diet-induced mismatches between tumour fatty acid desaturation activity and the availability of specific fatty acid species determine whether low glycaemic diets impair tumour growth.
  18. EBioMedicine. 2021 Oct 13. pii: S2352-3964(21)00420-5. [Epub ahead of print]73 103627
      Disordered metabolic states, which are characterised by hypoxia and elevated levels of metabolites, particularly lactate, contribute to the immunosuppression in the tumour microenvironment (TME). Excessive lactate secreted by metabolism-reprogrammed cancer cells regulates immune responses via causing extracellular acidification, acting as an energy source by shuttling between different cell populations, and inhibiting the mechanistic (previously 'mammalian') target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway in immune cells. This review focuses on recent advances in the regulation of immune responses by lactate, as well as therapeutic strategies targeting lactate anabolism and transport in the TME, such as those involving glycolytic enzymes and monocarboxylate transporter inhibitors. Considering the multifaceted roles of lactate in cancer metabolism, a comprehensive understanding of how lactate and lactate-targeting therapies regulate immune responses in the TME will provide insights into the complex relationships between metabolism and antitumour immunity.
    Keywords:  Cancer immunity; Cancer metabolism; Glycolytic enzymes; Lactate; Monocarboxylate transporters; Tumour microenvironment
  19. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Oct 19. pii: 5250. [Epub ahead of print]13(20):
      Metabolic reprogramming and epigenetic changes have been characterized as hallmarks of liver cancer. Independently of etiology, oncogenic pathways as well as the availability of different energetic substrates critically influence cellular metabolism, and the resulting perturbations often cause aberrant epigenetic alterations, not only in cancer cells but also in the hepatic tumor microenvironment. Metabolic intermediates serve as crucial substrates for various epigenetic modulations, from post-translational modification of histones to DNA methylation. In turn, epigenetic changes can alter the expression of metabolic genes supporting on the one hand, the increased energetic demand of cancer cells and, on the other hand, influence the activity of tumor-associated immune cell populations. In this review, we will illustrate the most recent findings about metabolic reprogramming in liver cancer. We will focus on the metabolic changes characterizing the tumor microenvironment and on how these alterations impact on epigenetic mechanisms involved in the malignant progression. Furthermore, we will report our current knowledge about the influence of cancer-specific metabolites on epigenetic reprogramming of immune cells and we will highlight how this favors a tumor-permissive immune environment. Finally, we will review the current strategies to target metabolic and epigenetic pathways and their therapeutic potential in liver cancer, alone or in combinatorial approaches.
    Keywords:  SAM; Warburg effect; acetyl-CoA; combinatorial therapy; guadecitabine; immunometabolism; liver cancer; metformin; resminostat
  20. Cells. 2021 Sep 30. pii: 2603. [Epub ahead of print]10(10):
      Nucleotides are essential to cell growth and survival, providing cells with building blocks for DNA and RNA, energy carriers, and cofactors. Mitochondria have a critical role in the production of intracellular ATP and participate in the generation of intermediates necessary for biosynthesis of macromolecules such as purines and pyrimidines. In this review, we highlight the role of purine and mitochondrial metabolism in cancer and how their intersection influences cancer progression, especially in ovarian cancer. Additionally, we address the importance of metabolic rewiring in cancer and how the evolving landscape of purine synthesis and mitochondria inhibitors can be potentially exploited for cancer treatment.
    Keywords:  amino acids; cancers; metabolic reprogramming; mitochondrial metabolism; purines
  21. Autophagy. 2021 Oct 17. 1-3
      The scaffold protein AMBRA1 regulates the early steps of autophagosome formation and cell growth, and its deficiency is associated with neurodevelopmental defects and cancer. In a recent study, we show that AMBRA1 is a key factor in the upstream branch of the MYCN-MYC and CDK4-CDK6-dependent regulation of G1/S phase transition. Indeed, in the developing neuroepithelium, in neural stem cells, and in cancer cells, we demonstrate that AMBRA1 regulates the expression of D-type cyclins by controlling both their proteasomal degradation and their MYCN-MYC-mediated transcription. Also, we show that this regulation axis maintains genome integrity during DNA replication, and we identify a possible line of treatment for tumors downregulating AMBRA1 and/or overexpressing CCND1 (cyclin D1), by demonstrating that AMBRA1-depleted cells carry an AMBRA1-loss-specific lethal sensitivity to CHEK1 inhibition. Interestingly, we show that this aspect is specific for AMBRA1 loss, because ATG7 knockdown does not display the same response to CHEK1 inhibitors. Hence, our findings underscore that the AMBRA1-CCND1 pathway represents a novel crucial mechanism of cell cycle regulation, deeply interconnected with genomic stability in development and cancer.
    Keywords:  AMBRA1; cancer; cell cycle regulation; cyclin D1; neurodevelopment; replication stress; synthetic lethality
  22. JCI Insight. 2021 Oct 22. pii: e142464. [Epub ahead of print]6(20):
      Monocarboxylates, such as lactate and pyruvate, are precursors for biosynthetic pathways, including those for glucose, lipids, and amino acids via the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle and adjacent metabolic networks. The transportation of monocarboxylates across the cellular membrane is performed primarily by monocarboxylate transporters (MCTs), the membrane localization and stabilization of which are facilitated by the transmembrane protein basigin (BSG). Here, we demonstrate that the MCT/BSG axis sits at a crucial intersection of cellular metabolism. Abolishment of MCT1 in the plasma membrane was achieved by Bsg depletion, which led to gluconeogenesis impairment via preventing the influx of lactate and pyruvate into the cell, consequently suppressing the TCA cycle. This net anaplerosis suppression was compensated in part by the increased utilization of glycogenic amino acids (e.g., alanine and glutamine) into the TCA cycle and by activated ketogenesis through fatty acid β-oxidation. Complementary to these observations, hyperglycemia and hepatic steatosis induced by a high-fat diet were ameliorated in Bsg-deficient mice. Furthermore, Bsg deficiency significantly improved insulin resistance induced by a high-fat diet. Taken together, the plasma membrane-selective modulation of lactate and pyruvate transport through BSG inhibition could potentiate metabolic flexibility to treat metabolic diseases.
    Keywords:  Diabetes; Gluconeogenesis; Hepatology; Metabolism
  23. Oncogene. 2021 Oct 16.
      Tumor metabolic reprogramming ensures that cancerous cells obtain sufficient building blocks, energy, and antioxidants to sustain rapid growth and for coping with oxidative stress. Neurogenic differentiation factor 1 (NeuroD1) is upregulated in various types of tumors; however, its involvement in tumor cell metabolic reprogramming remains unclear. In this study, we report that NeuroD1 is positively correlated with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD), the rate-limiting enzyme in the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP), in colorectal cancer cells. In addition, the regulation of G6PD by NeuroD1 alters tumor cell metabolism by stimulating the PPP, leading to enhanced production of nucleotides and NADPH. These, in turn, promote DNA and lipid biosynthesis in tumor cells, while decreasing intracellular levels of reactive oxygen species. Mechanistically, we showed that NeuroD1 binds directly to the G6PD promoter to activate G6PD transcription. Consequently, tumor cell proliferation and colony formation are enhanced, leading to increased tumorigenic potential in vitro and in vivo. These findings reveal a novel function of NeuroD1 as a regulator of G6PD, whereby its oncogenic activity is linked to tumor cell metabolic reprogramming and regulation of the PPP. Furthermore, NeuroD1 represents a potential target for metabolism-based anti-tumor therapeutic strategies.
  24. Mol Cell. 2021 Oct 21. pii: S1097-2765(21)00798-X. [Epub ahead of print]81(20): 4191-4208.e8
      To survive, mammalian cells must adapt to environmental challenges. While the cellular response to mild stress has been widely studied, how cells respond to severe stress remains unclear. We show here that under severe hyperosmotic stress, cells enter a transient hibernation-like state in anticipation of recovery. We demonstrate this adaptive pausing response (APR) is a coordinated cellular response that limits ATP supply and consumption through mitochondrial fragmentation and widespread pausing of mRNA translation. This pausing is accomplished by ribosome stalling at translation initiation codons, which keeps mRNAs poised to resume translation upon recovery. We further show that recovery from severe stress involves ISR (integrated stress response) signaling that permits cell cycle progression, resumption of growth, and reversal of mitochondria fragmentation. Our findings indicate that cells can respond to severe stress via a hibernation-like mechanism that preserves vital elements of cellular function under harsh environmental conditions.
    Keywords:  ATF4; ISR; hypertonic; mTOR; mitochondria; neMito mRNAs; ribosome stalling; stress; translation
  25. Protein Cell. 2021 Oct 23.
      Zn2+ is required for the activity of many mitochondrial proteins, which regulate mitochondrial dynamics, apoptosis and mitophagy. However, it is not understood how the proper mitochondrial Zn2+ level is achieved to maintain mitochondrial homeostasis. Using Caenorhabditis elegans, we reveal here that a pair of mitochondrion-localized transporters controls the mitochondrial level of Zn2+. We demonstrate that SLC-30A9/ZnT9 is a mitochondrial Zn2+ exporter. Loss of SLC-30A9 leads to mitochondrial Zn2+ accumulation, which damages mitochondria, impairs animal development and shortens the life span. We further identify SLC-25A25/SCaMC-2 as an important regulator of mitochondrial Zn2+ import. Loss of SLC-25A25 suppresses the abnormal mitochondrial Zn2+ accumulation and defective mitochondrial structure and functions caused by loss of SLC-30A9. Moreover, we reveal that the endoplasmic reticulum contains the Zn2+ pool from which mitochondrial Zn2+ is imported. These findings establish the molecular basis for controlling the correct mitochondrial Zn2+ levels for normal mitochondrial structure and functions.
    Keywords:  C. elegans; ER-mitochondrial contact; Zn2+ transporter; development; mitochondria
  26. Cell Rep. 2021 Oct 19. pii: S2211-1247(21)01312-7. [Epub ahead of print]37(3): 109848
      During tumor progression, lysosome function is often maladaptively upregulated to match the high energy demand required for cancer cell hyper-proliferation and invasion. Here, we report that mucolipin TRP channel 1 (TRPML1), a lysosomal Ca2+ and Zn2+ release channel that regulates multiple aspects of lysosome function, is dramatically upregulated in metastatic melanoma cells compared with normal cells. TRPML-specific synthetic agonists (ML-SAs) are sufficient to induce rapid (within hours) lysosomal Zn2+-dependent necrotic cell death in metastatic melanoma cells while completely sparing normal cells. ML-SA-caused mitochondria swelling and dysfunction lead to cellular ATP depletion. While pharmacological inhibition or genetic silencing of TRPML1 in metastatic melanoma cells prevents such cell death, overexpression of TRPML1 in normal cells confers ML-SA vulnerability. In the melanoma mouse models, ML-SAs exhibit potent in vivo efficacy of suppressing tumor progression. Hence, targeting maladaptively upregulated lysosome machinery can selectively eradicate metastatic tumor cells in vitro and in vivo.
    Keywords:  ML-SAs; ML-SIs; TRPML1; Zn(2+); cell death; lysosome; metastatic melanoma; mitochondria; small molecule
  27. Nat Metab. 2021 Oct;3(10): 1400-1414
      5-diphosphoinositol pentakisphosphate (5-IP7) is a signalling metabolite linked to various cellular processes. How extracellular stimuli elicit 5-IP7 signalling remains unclear. Here we show that 5-IP7 in β cells mediates parasympathetic stimulation of synaptotagmin-7 (Syt7)-dependent insulin release. Mechanistically, vagal stimulation and activation of muscarinic acetylcholine receptors triggers Gαq-PLC-PKC-PKD-dependent signalling and activates IP6K1, the 5-IP7 synthase. Whereas both 5-IP7 and its precursor IP6 compete with PIP2 for binding to Syt7, Ca2+ selectively binds 5-IP7 with high affinity, freeing Syt7 to enable fusion of insulin-containing vesicles with the cell membrane. β-cell-specific IP6K1 deletion diminishes insulin secretion and glucose clearance elicited by muscarinic stimulation, whereas mice carrying a phosphorylation-mimicking, hyperactive IP6K1 mutant display augmented insulin release, congenital hyperinsulinaemia and obesity. These phenotypes are absent in mice lacking Syt7. Our study proposes a new conceptual framework for inositol pyrophosphate physiology in which 5-IP7 acts as a GPCR second messenger at the interface between peripheral nervous system and metabolic organs, transmitting Gq-coupled GPCR stimulation to unclamp Syt7-dependent, and perhaps other, exocytotic events.
  28. Nat Immunol. 2021 Oct 22.
      Tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) display pro-tumorigenic phenotypes for supporting tumor progression in response to microenvironmental cues imposed by tumor and stromal cells. However, the underlying mechanisms by which tumor cells instruct TAM behavior remain elusive. Here, we uncover that tumor-cell-derived glucosylceramide stimulated unconventional endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress responses by inducing reshuffling of lipid composition and saturation on the ER membrane in macrophages, which induced IRE1-mediated spliced XBP1 production and STAT3 activation. The cooperation of spliced XBP1 and STAT3 reinforced the pro-tumorigenic phenotype and expression of immunosuppressive genes. Ablation of XBP1 expression with genetic manipulation or ameliorating ER stress responses by facilitating LPCAT3-mediated incorporation of unsaturated lipids to the phosphatidylcholine hampered pro-tumorigenic phenotype and survival in TAMs. Together, we uncover the unexpected roles of tumor-cell-produced lipids that simultaneously orchestrate macrophage polarization and survival in tumors via induction of ER stress responses and reveal therapeutic targets for sustaining host antitumor immunity.
  29. Mol Syst Biol. 2021 Oct;17(10): e10427
      Yeasts are known to have versatile metabolic traits, while how these metabolic traits have evolved has not been elucidated systematically. We performed integrative evolution analysis to investigate how genomic evolution determines trait generation by reconstructing genome-scale metabolic models (GEMs) for 332 yeasts. These GEMs could comprehensively characterize trait diversity and predict enzyme functionality, thereby signifying that sequence-level evolution has shaped reaction networks towards new metabolic functions. Strikingly, using GEMs, we can mechanistically map different evolutionary events, e.g. horizontal gene transfer and gene duplication, onto relevant subpathways to explain metabolic plasticity. This demonstrates that gene family expansion and enzyme promiscuity are prominent mechanisms for metabolic trait gains, while GEM simulations reveal that additional factors, such as gene loss from distant pathways, contribute to trait losses. Furthermore, our analysis could pinpoint to specific genes and pathways that have been under positive selection and relevant for the formulation of complex metabolic traits, i.e. thermotolerance and the Crabtree effect. Our findings illustrate how multidimensional evolution in both metabolic network structure and individual enzymes drives phenotypic variations.
    Keywords:  genome analysis; genome-scale metabolic models; metabolic innovation; systems biology
  30. Cell Biol Toxicol. 2021 Oct 18.
      Regardless of the recent advances in therapeutic developments, cancer is still among the primary causes of death globally, indicating the need for alternative therapeutic strategies. Mitochondria, a dynamic organelle, continuously undergo the fusion and fission processes to meet cell requirements. The balanced fission and fusion processes, referred to as mitochondrial dynamics, coordinate mitochondrial shape, size, number, energy metabolism, cell cycle, mitophagy, and apoptosis. An imbalance between these opposing events alters mitochondWangrial dynamics, affects the overall mitochondrial shape, and deregulates mitochondrial function. Emerging evidence indicates that alteration of mitochondrial dynamics contributes to various aspects of tumorigenesis and cancer progression. Therefore, targeting the mitochondrial dynamics regulator could be a potential therapeutic approach for cancer treatment. This review will address the role of imbalanced mitochondrial dynamics in mitochondrial dysfunction during cancer progression. We will outline the clinical significance of mitochondrial dynamics regulators in various cancer types with recent updates in cancer stemness and chemoresistance and its therapeutic potential and clinical utility as a predictive biomarker.
    Keywords:  Cancer; Cancer stem cells; Chemoresistance; Mitochondrial dynamics; Mitochondrial dysfunction; Mitophagy
  31. Exp Eye Res. 2021 Oct 14. pii: S0014-4835(21)00359-6. [Epub ahead of print] 108793
      Membrane contact sites (MCS) play crucial roles in cell physiology with dysfunction in several MCS proteins being linked with neurological and optic nerve diseases. Although there have been significant advances in imaging these interactions over the past two decades with advanced electron microscopy techniques, super-resolution imaging and proximity-dependent fluorescent reporters, a technique to observe and quantify MCS in mammalian optic nerve tissues has not yet been reported. We demonstrate for the first time that proximity ligation assay (PLA), a technique already used in mammalian cell lines, can be used as an efficient method of quantifying inter-organelle contact sites, namely mitochondria-endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and mitochondria-late-endosomes, in mammalian optic nerve tissues treated with adeno-associated virus (AAV) gene therapy with wild-type or phosphomimetic (active) protrudin. PLA utilises complementary single-stranded DNA oligomers bound to secondary antibodies that hybridise and complete a circular piece of DNA when the primary antibodies of interest interact. These interactions can be detected by amplifying the circular DNA and adding fluorescent probes. We show that PLA is a useful method that can be used to quantify MCS in optic nerve tissues. We have found that upregulation of protrudin with gene therapy significantly increases the number of mitochondria-ER and mitochondria-Rab7-late endosomes contact sites in optic nerves.
    Keywords:  Membrane contact sites; Optic nerve; Protrudin; Proximity ligation assay; Retinal ganglion cells
  32. Cell Death Dis. 2021 Oct 21. 12(11): 977
      Inhibitors of the lipogenic enzyme fatty acid synthase (FASN) have attracted much attention in the last decade as potential targeted cancer therapies. However, little is known about the molecular determinants of cancer cell sensitivity to FASN inhibitors (FASNis), which is a major roadblock to their therapeutic application. Here, we find that pharmacological starvation of endogenously produced FAs is a previously unrecognized metabolic stress that heightens mitochondrial apoptotic priming and favors cell death induction by BH3 mimetic inhibitors. Evaluation of the death decision circuits controlled by the BCL-2 family of proteins revealed that FASN inhibition is accompanied by the upregulation of the pro-death BH3-only proteins BIM, PUMA, and NOXA. Cell death triggered by FASN inhibition, which causally involves a palmitate/NADPH-related redox imbalance, is markedly diminished by concurrent loss of BIM or PUMA, suggesting that FASN activity controls cancer cell survival by fine-tuning the BH3 only proteins-dependent mitochondrial threshold for apoptosis. FASN inhibition results in a heightened mitochondrial apoptosis priming, shifting cells toward a primed-for-death state "addicted" to the anti-apoptotic protein BCL-2. Accordingly, co-administration of a FASNi synergistically augments the apoptosis-inducing activity of the dual BCL-XL/BCL-2 inhibitor ABT-263 (navitoclax) and the BCL-2 specific BH3-mimetic ABT-199 (venetoclax). FASN inhibition, however, fails to sensitize breast cancer cells to MCL-1- and BCL-XL-selective inhibitors such as S63845 and A1331852. A human breast cancer xenograft model evidenced that oral administration of the only clinically available FASNi drastically sensitizes FASN-addicted breast tumors to ineffective single-agents navitoclax and venetoclax in vivo. In summary, a novel FASN-driven facet of the mitochondrial priming mechanistically links the redox-buffering mechanism of FASN activity to the intrinsic apoptotic threshold in breast cancer cells. Combining next-generation FASNis with BCL-2-specific BH3 mimetics that directly activate the apoptotic machinery might generate more potent and longer-lasting antitumor responses in a clinical setting.
  33. PLoS Genet. 2021 Oct 19. 17(10): e1009808
      Faithful inheritance of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is crucial for cellular respiration/oxidative phosphorylation and mitochondrial membrane potential. However, how mtDNA is transmitted to progeny is not fully understood. We utilized hypersuppressive mtDNA, a class of respiratory deficient Saccharomyces cerevisiae mtDNA that is preferentially inherited over wild-type mtDNA (rho+), to uncover the factors governing mtDNA inheritance. We found that some regions of rho+ mtDNA persisted while others were lost after a specific hypersuppressive takeover indicating that hypersuppressive preferential inheritance may partially be due to active destruction of rho+ mtDNA. From a multicopy suppression screen, we found that overexpression of putative mitochondrial RNA exonuclease PET127 reduced biased inheritance of a subset of hypersuppressive genomes. This suppression required PET127 binding to the mitochondrial RNA polymerase RPO41 but not PET127 exonuclease activity. A temperature-sensitive allele of RPO41 improved rho+ mtDNA inheritance over a specific hypersuppressive mtDNA at semi-permissive temperatures revealing a previously unknown role for rho+ transcription in promoting hypersuppressive mtDNA inheritance.
  34. J Cell Sci. 2021 Oct 15. pii: jcs258469. [Epub ahead of print]134(20):
      Hypoxia inhibits the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle and leaves glycolysis as the primary metabolic pathway responsible for converting glucose into usable energy. However, the mechanisms that compensate for this loss in energy production due to TCA cycle inactivation remain poorly understood. Glycolysis enzymes are typically diffuse and soluble in the cytoplasm under normoxic conditions. In contrast, recent studies have revealed dynamic compartmentalization of glycolysis enzymes in response to hypoxic stress in yeast, C. elegans and mammalian cells. These messenger ribonucleoprotein (mRNP) structures, termed glycolytic (G) bodies in yeast, lack membrane enclosure and display properties of phase-separated biomolecular condensates. Disruption of condensate formation correlates with defects such as impaired synaptic function in C. elegans neurons and decreased glucose flux in yeast. Concentrating glycolysis enzymes into condensates may lead to their functioning as 'metabolons' that enhance rates of glucose utilization for increased energy production. Besides condensates, glycolysis enzymes functionally associate in other organisms and specific tissues through protein-protein interactions and membrane association. However, as discussed in this Review, the functional consequences of coalescing glycolytic machinery are only just beginning to be revealed. Through ongoing studies, we anticipate the physiological importance of metabolic regulation mediated by the compartmentalization of glycolysis enzymes will continue to emerge.
    Keywords:  Condensate; G body; Glycolysis; Hypoxia
  35. BMC Biol. 2021 Oct 21. 19(1): 229
      BACKGROUND: Mitochondrial dynamics is the result of a dynamic balance between fusion and fission events, which are driven via a set of mitochondria-shaping proteins. These proteins are generally considered to be binary components of either the fission or fusion machinery, but potential crosstalk between the fission and fusion machineries remains less explored. In the present work, we analyzed the roles of mitochondrial elongation factors 1 and 2 (MIEF1/2), core components of the fission machinery in mammals.RESULTS: We show that MIEFs (MIEF1/2), besides their action in the fission machinery, regulate mitochondrial fusion through direct interaction with the fusion proteins Mfn1 and Mfn2, suggesting that MIEFs participate in not only fission but also fusion. Elevated levels of MIEFs enhance mitochondrial fusion in an Mfn1/2- and OPA1-dependent but Drp1-independent manner. Moreover, mitochondrial localization and self-association of MIEFs are crucial for their fusion-promoting ability. In addition, we show that MIEF1/2 can competitively decrease the interaction of hFis1 with Mfn1 and Mfn2, alleviating hFis1-induced mitochondrial fragmentation and contributing to mitochondrial fusion.
    CONCLUSIONS: Our study suggests that MIEFs serve as a central hub that interacts with and regulates both the fission and fusion machineries, which uncovers a novel mechanism for balancing these opposing forces of mitochondrial dynamics in mammals.
    Keywords:  Drp1; MIEF1/2; Mfn1/2; Mitochondrial dynamics; Mitochondrial fission; Mitochondrial fusion; hFis1
  36. Biochem Cell Biol. 2021 Oct 20.
      Sterol O-acyltransferase 1 (SOAT1) is a key enzyme in lipid metabolism, which mediates cholesterol esterification metabolism and is closely associated with many cancers. However, the role of SOAT1 in lung cancer invasion remains unclear. We found that SOAT1 expression was positively correlated with lung cancer invasion. Downregulation of SOAT1 inhibited invasion, mitochondrial fragmentation, AKT phosphorylation, and phospho-Drp (Ser616) in lung cancer cells and promoted intracellular free cholesterol accumulation. Mechanistically, AKT phosphorylation inhibitor MK-2206 alleviated both SOAT1 overexpression or high expression-induced mitochondrial fragmentation and lung cancer cell invasion. Furthermore, intracellular free cholesterol accumulation reduced AKT phosphorylation, SREBP1 mRNA expression, cell invasion, and mitochondrial fragmentation in lung cancer cells with high SOAT1 expression. In summary, our findings suggest that SOAT1 promotes lung cancer invasion activates the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway by downregulating intracellular free cholesterol levels, thereby affecting the regulation of mitochondrial fragmentation.
  37. EMBO Rep. 2021 Oct 18. e53035
      Oxygen plays an important role in diverse biological processes. However, since quantitation of the partial pressure of cellular oxygen in vivo is challenging, the extent of oxygen perturbation in situ and its cellular response remains underexplored. Using two-photon phosphorescence lifetime imaging microscopy, we determine the physiological range of oxygen tension in osteoclasts of live mice. We find that oxygen tension ranges from 17.4 to 36.4 mmHg, under hypoxic and normoxic conditions, respectively. Physiological normoxia thus corresponds to 5% and hypoxia to 2% oxygen in osteoclasts. Hypoxia in this range severely limits osteoclastogenesis, independent of energy metabolism and hypoxia-inducible factor activity. We observe that hypoxia decreases ten-eleven translocation (TET) activity. Tet2/3 cooperatively induces Prdm1 expression via oxygen-dependent DNA demethylation, which in turn activates NFATc1 required for osteoclastogenesis. Taken together, our results reveal that TET enzymes, acting as functional oxygen sensors, regulate osteoclastogenesis within the physiological range of oxygen tension, thus opening new avenues for research on in vivo response to oxygen perturbation.
    Keywords:  bone metabolism; epigenetic regulation; intravital imaging; osteoclast; oxygen
  38. Redox Biol. 2021 Oct 12. pii: S2213-2317(21)00324-4. [Epub ahead of print]47 102164
      Iron-sulfur (Fe-S) clusters are essential cofactors most commonly known for their role mediating electron transfer within the mitochondrial respiratory chain. The Fe-S cluster pathways that function within the respiratory complexes are highly conserved between bacteria and the mitochondria of eukaryotic cells. Within the electron transport chain, Fe-S clusters play a critical role in transporting electrons through Complexes I, II and III to cytochrome c, before subsequent transfer to molecular oxygen. Fe-S clusters are also among the binding sites of classical mitochondrial inhibitors, such as rotenone, and play an important role in the production of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS). Mitochondrial Fe-S clusters also play a critical role in the pathogenesis of disease. High levels of ROS produced at these sites can cause cell injury or death, however, when produced at low levels can serve as signaling molecules. For example, Ndufs2, a Complex I subunit containing an Fe-S center, N2, has recently been identified as a redox-sensitive oxygen sensor, mediating homeostatic oxygen-sensing in the pulmonary vasculature and carotid body. Fe-S clusters are emerging as transcriptionally-regulated mediators in disease and play a crucial role in normal physiology, offering potential new therapeutic targets for diseases including malaria, diabetes, and cancer.
    Keywords:  Drug target; Electron transport chain; Epigenetics; Fe-S cluster; Mitochondria; Oxygen-sensing
  39. FEBS J. 2021 Oct 20.
      The outer mitochondrial membrane is a busy place. One essential activity for cellular survival is the regulation of membrane integrity by the BCL-2 family of proteins. Another critical facet of the outer mitochondrial membrane is its close approximation with the endoplasmic reticulum. These mitochondria associated membranes (MAMs) occupy a significant fraction of the mitochondrial surface and serve as key signaling hubs for multiple cellular processes. Each of these pathways may be considered as forming their own specialized MAM sub-type. Interestingly, like membrane permeabilization, most of these pathways play critical roles in regulating cellular survival and death. Recently, the pro-apoptotic BCL-2 family member BOK, has been found within MAMs where it plays important roles in their structure and function. This has led to a greater appreciation that multiple BCL-2 family proteins, which are known to participate in numerous functions throughout the cell, also have roles within MAMs. In this review we evaluate several MAM subsets, their role in cellular homeostasis and the contribution of BCL-2 family members to their functions.
  40. Oncogene. 2021 Oct 18.
      Human pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) harboring one KRAS mutant allele often displays increasing genomic loss of the remaining wild-type (WT) allele (known as LOH at KRAS) as tumors progress to metastasis, yet the molecular ramification of this WT allelic loss is unknown. In this study, we showed that the restoration of WT KRAS expression in human PDAC cell lines with LOH at KRAS significantly attenuated the malignancy of PDAC cells both in vitro and in vivo, demonstrating a tumor-suppressive role of the WT KRAS allele. Through RNA-Seq, we identified the HIPPO signaling pathway to be positively regulated by WT KRAS in PDAC cells. In accordance with this observation, PDAC cells with LOH at KRAS exhibited increased nuclear localization and activation of transcriptional co-activator YAP1. Mechanistically, we discovered that WT KRAS expression sequestered YAP1 from the nucleus, through enhanced 14-3-3zeta interaction with phosphorylated YAP1 at S127. Consistently, expression of a constitutively-active YAP1 mutant in PDAC cells bypassed the growth inhibitory effects of WT KRAS. In patient samples, we found that the YAP1-activation genes were significantly upregulated in tumors with LOH at KRAS, and YAP1 nuclear localization predicted poor survival for PDAC patients. Collectively, our results reveal that the WT allelic loss leads to functional activation of YAP1 and enhanced tumor malignancy, which explains the selection advantage of the tumor cells with LOH at KRAS during pancreatic cancer clonal evolution and progression to metastasis, and should be taken into consideration in future therapeutic strategies targeting KRAS.
  41. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Oct 17. pii: 11185. [Epub ahead of print]22(20):
      Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is the most common neurodegenerative disorder in our society, as the population ages, its incidence is expected to increase in the coming decades. The etiopathology of this disease still remains largely unclear, probably because of the highly complex and multifactorial nature of AD. However, the presence of mitochondrial dysfunction has been broadly described in AD neurons and other cellular populations within the brain, in a wide variety of models and organisms, including post-mortem humans. Mitochondria are complex organelles that play a crucial role in a wide range of cellular processes, including bioenergetics. In fact, in mammals, including humans, the main source of cellular ATP is the oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS), a process that occurs in the mitochondrial electron transfer chain (ETC). The last enzyme of the ETC, and therefore the ulterior generator of ATP, is the ATP synthase. Interestingly, in mammalian cells, the ATP synthase can also degrade ATP under certain conditions (ATPase), which further illustrates the crucial role of this enzyme in the regulation of cellular bioenergetics and metabolism. In this collaborative review, we aim to summarize the knowledge of the presence of dysregulated ATP synthase, and of other components of mammalian mitochondrial bioenergetics, as an early event in AD. This dysregulation can act as a trigger of the dysfunction of the organelle, which is a clear component in the etiopathology of AD. Consequently, the pharmacological modulation of the ATP synthase could be a potential strategy to prevent mitochondrial dysfunction in AD.
    Keywords:  ATP synthase; ATPase; Alzheimer’s disease; OXPHOS; mitochondria; mitochondrial dysfunction
  42. Cell Death Differ. 2021 Oct 18.
      Ferroptosis is an iron-dependent form of cell death driven by biochemical processes that promote oxidation within the lipid compartment. Calcium (Ca2+) is a signaling molecule in diverse cellular processes such as migration, neurotransmission, and cell death. Here, we uncover a crucial link between ferroptosis and Ca2+ through the identification of the novel tetraspanin MS4A15. MS4A15 localizes to the endoplasmic reticulum, where it blocks ferroptosis by depleting luminal Ca2+ stores and reprogramming membrane phospholipids to ferroptosis-resistant species. Specifically, prolonged Ca2+ depletion inhibits lipid elongation and desaturation, driving lipid droplet dispersion and formation of shorter, more saturated ether lipids that protect phospholipids from ferroptotic reactive species. We further demonstrate that increasing luminal Ca2+ levels can preferentially sensitize refractory cancer cell lines. In summary, MS4A15 regulation of anti-ferroptotic lipid reservoirs provides a key resistance mechanism that is distinct from antioxidant and lipid detoxification pathways. Manipulating Ca2+ homeostasis offers a compelling strategy to balance cellular lipids and cell survival in ferroptosis-associated diseases.
  43. Nat Commun. 2021 Oct 22. 12(1): 6144
      RIPK1 is a crucial regulator of cell death and survival. Ripk1 deficiency promotes mouse survival in the prenatal period while inhibits survival in the early postnatal period without a clear mechanism. Metabolism regulation and autophagy are critical to neonatal survival from severe starvation at birth. However, the mechanism by which RIPK1 regulates starvation resistance and survival remains unclear. Here, we address this question by discovering the metabolic regulatory role of RIPK1. First, metabolomics analysis reveals that Ripk1 deficiency specifically increases aspartate levels in both mouse neonates and mammalian cells under starvation conditions. Increased aspartate in Ripk1-/- cells enhances the TCA  flux and ATP production. The energy imbalance causes defective autophagy induction by inhibiting the AMPK/ULK1 pathway. Transcriptional analyses demonstrate that Ripk1-/- deficiency downregulates gene expression in aspartate catabolism by inactivating SP1. To summarize, this study reveals that RIPK1 serves as a metabolic regulator responsible for starvation resistance.
  44. Nat Protoc. 2021 Oct 22.
      Membrane contact sites between organelles are essential for maintaining cellular homeostasis, which requires the continuous exchange of signaling molecules, ions, nutrients and lipids. Alterations of different contact sites are associated with a wide spectrum of human diseases. However, visualizing and quantifying these contact sites remains a challenge. This protocol describes the use of split-GFP-based contact site sensors (SPLICS) in microscopy applications for mapping organelle contact sites both in fixed and living cells. SPLICS sensors are engineered to express equimolar amounts of the organelle-targeted nonfluorescent β11 and GFP1-10 portions of the split-GFP protein in a single vector, and are capable of reconstituting fluorescence when two opposing membranes come into proximity. Reconstitution will occur only over the cell volume at defined contact sites resulting in a bright signal that can be detected easily and quantified automatically with specific custom-made plugins. The use of minimal targeting sequences facilitates targeting specificity and membrane coverage, avoiding artifacts due to full-length fusion protein overexpression and, thus, possible perturbations of the cell's physiology. SPLICS sensors engineered to simultaneously detect multiple contact sites within the same cell have been generated by exploiting the ability of the β11 GFP fragment to reconstitute different color-shifted variants of the GFP1-10 fragment. Here, we describe a detailed protocol to set up SPLICS expression in living cells (2-3 d), detection and acquisition (1 d), and automated quantification with custom plugins (1-2 d). We also advise on construct design and characterization for novel organelle contacts.
  45. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Oct 26. pii: e2025347118. [Epub ahead of print]118(43):
      Energy production via the mitochondrial electron transport chain (ETC) and mitophagy are two important processes affected in Parkinson's disease (PD). Interestingly, PINK1, mutations of which cause early-onset PD, plays a key role in both processes, suggesting that these two mechanisms are connected. However, the converging link of both pathways currently remains enigmatic. Recent findings demonstrated that lipid aggregation, along with defective mitochondria, is present in postmortem brains of PD patients. In addition, an increasing body of evidence shows that sphingolipids, including ceramide, are altered in PD, supporting the importance of lipids in the pathophysiology of PD. Here, we identified ceramide to play a crucial role in PINK1-related PD that was previously linked almost exclusively to mitochondrial dysfunction. We found ceramide to accumulate in mitochondria and to negatively affect mitochondrial function, most notably the ETC. Lowering ceramide levels improved mitochondrial phenotypes in pink1-mutant flies and PINK1-deficient patient-derived fibroblasts, showing that the effects of ceramide are evolutionarily conserved. In addition, ceramide accumulation provoked ceramide-induced mitophagy upon PINK1 deficiency. As a result of the ceramide accumulation, β-oxidation in PINK1 mutants was decreased, which was rescued by lowering ceramide levels. Furthermore, stimulation of β-oxidation was sufficient to rescue PINK1-deficient phenotypes. In conclusion, we discovered a cellular mechanism resulting from PD-causing loss of PINK1 and found a protective role of β-oxidation in ETC dysfunction, thus linking lipids and mitochondria in the pathophysiology of PINK1-related PD. Furthermore, our data nominate β-oxidation and ceramide as therapeutic targets for PD.
    Keywords:  PINK1; Parkinson’s disease; ceramide; mitochondria; β-oxidation
  46. J Cell Sci. 2021 Oct 22. pii: jcs.258653. [Epub ahead of print]
      Diverse genes associated with familial Parkinson's disease (familial Parkinsonism) have been implicated in mitochondrial quality control. One such gene, PARK7 encodes the protein DJ-1, pathogenic mutations of which trigger its translocation from the cytosol to the mitochondrial matrix. The translocation of steady-state cytosolic proteins like DJ-1 to the mitochondrial matrix by missense mutations is rare and the underlying mechanism remains to be elucidated. Here, we show that the protein unfolding associated with various DJ-1 mutations drives its import into the mitochondrial matrix. Increasing the structural stability of these DJ-1 mutants restores cytosolic localization. Mechanistically, we show that a reduction in the structural stability of DJ-1 exposes a cryptic N-terminal mitochondrial targeting signal (MTS) including Leu10 that promotes DJ-1 import into the mitochondrial matrix for subsequent degradation. Our work describes a novel cellular mechanism for targeting a destabilized cytosolic protein to the mitochondria for degradation.
    Keywords:  DJ-1; Import; Mitochondria; Parkinson's disease
  47. Cell. 2021 Oct 18. pii: S0092-8674(21)01175-2. [Epub ahead of print]
      Glucose consumption is generally increased in tumor cells to support tumor growth. Interestingly, we report that glycogen accumulation is a key initiating oncogenic event during liver malignant transformation. We found that glucose-6-phosphatase (G6PC) catalyzing the last step of glycogenolysis is frequently downregulated to augment glucose storage in pre-malignant cells. Accumulated glycogen undergoes liquid-liquid phase separation, which results in the assembly of the Laforin-Mst1/2 complex and consequently sequesters Hippo kinases Mst1/2 in glycogen liquid droplets to relieve their inhibition on Yap. Moreover, G6PC or another glycogenolysis enzyme-liver glycogen phosphorylase (PYGL) deficiency in both human and mice results in glycogen storage disease along with liver enlargement and tumorigenesis in a Yap-dependent manner. Consistently, elimination of glycogen accumulation abrogates liver growth and cancer incidence, whereas increasing glycogen storage accelerates tumorigenesis. Thus, we concluded that cancer-initiating cells adapt a glycogen storing mode, which blocks Hippo signaling through glycogen phase separation to augment tumor incidence.
    Keywords:  Hippo signaling; Mst1; Mst2; cancer initiation; glycogen storage; liver cancer; phase separation
  48. J Mol Cell Biol. 2021 Oct 19. pii: mjab066. [Epub ahead of print]
      The cyclic GMP‒AMP synthase (cGAS)‒stimulator of interferon genes (STING) signaling pathway senses the presence of cytosolic DNA and, in turn, triggers downstream signaling to induce the expression of inflammatory and type I interferon genes in immune cells. Whereas the innate immune function of the cGAS‒STING pathway is well studied over the past years, emerging evidence suggests that this signaling pathway may have additional functions beyond innate immune surveillance. Consistent with this notion, dysregulation of the cGAS‒STING signaling pathway in adipocytes, hepatocytes, and renal proximal tubule epithelial cells are associated with metabolic dysfunction, impaired energy homeostasis, and kidney diseases. In this review, we summarize current understanding of the cGAS‒STING pathway in several metabolic diseases such as obesity, insulin resistance, alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases, as well as acute kidney injury and chronic kidney disease. We also review the interaction between the cGAS‒STING pathway and lipid metabolism. Lastly, we discuss potential mechanisms by which cGAS‒STING signaling regulates metabolism and point toward future avenues of research targeting the cGAS‒STING pathway as possible means to treat common metabolic disorders.
    Keywords:  AKI; CDK; NAFLD; NASH; STING; cGAS; obesity
  49. FEBS J. 2021 Oct 22.
      Within the growing field of amino acid metabolism, tryptophan (Trp) catabolism is an area of increasing interest. Trp is essential for protein synthesis, and its metabolism gives rise to biologically active catabolites including serotonin and numerous metabolites in the kynurenine (Kyn) pathway. In normal tissues, the production of Trp metabolites is directly regulated by the tissue-specific expression of Trp-metabolizing enzymes. Alterations of these enzymes in cancers can shift the balance and lead to an increased production of specific byproducts that can function as oncometabolites. For example, increased expression of the enzyme IDO1, which converts Trp into Kyn, leads to an increase in Kyn levels in numerous cancers. Kyn functions as an oncometabolite in cancer cells by promoting the activity of the transcription factor aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR), which regulates pro-growth genes. Moreover, Kyn also inhibits T cell activity and thus allows cancer cells to evade clearance by the immune system. Therefore, targeting the Kyn pathway has become a therapeutic focus as a novel means to abrogate tumor growth and immune resistance. This review summarizes the biological role and regulation of Trp metabolism and its catabolites with an emphasis on tumor cell growth and immune evasion, and outlines areas for future research focus.
    Keywords:  AHR; IDO1; TDO2; cancer; immune evasion; kynurenine; proliferation; tryptophan
  50. Cell Rep. 2021 Oct 19. pii: S2211-1247(21)01339-5. [Epub ahead of print]37(3): 109872
      SARM1 is an inducible TIR-domain NAD+ hydrolase that mediates pathological axon degeneration. SARM1 is activated by an increased ratio of NMN to NAD+, which competes for binding to an allosteric activating site. When NMN binds, the TIR domain is released from autoinhibition, activating its NAD+ hydrolase activity. The discovery of this allosteric activating site led us to hypothesize that other NAD+-related metabolites might activate SARM1. Here, we show the nicotinamide analog 3-acetylpyridine (3-AP), first identified as a neurotoxin in the 1940s, is converted to 3-APMN, which activates SARM1 and induces SARM1-dependent NAD+ depletion, axon degeneration, and neuronal death. In mice, systemic treatment with 3-AP causes rapid SARM1-dependent death, while local application to the peripheral nerve induces SARM1-dependent axon degeneration. We identify 2-aminopyridine as another SARM1-dependent neurotoxin. These findings identify SARM1 as a candidate mediator of environmental neurotoxicity and suggest that SARM1 agonists could be developed into selective agents for neurolytic therapy.
    Keywords:  NAMPT; NMNAT; Vacor; base exchange reaction; mass spectrometry; metabolism; myelin; neurolytic block; sciatic nerve; tibial nerve
  51. BMC Cancer. 2021 Oct 17. 21(1): 1112
      BACKGROUND: Tumor cells exhibit enhanced metabolism of nutrients to satisfy the demand of sustained proliferation in vivo. Seminal reports have presented evidence that tryptophan (Trp) metabolic reprogramming induced by aberrant indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenases could promote tumor development in several cancer types. However, the underlying mechanism of Trp metabolism associated tumor progression is not fully understood.MATERIALS AND METHODS: Prostatic cell lines LNCaP and VCaP were purchased from the Cell Bank of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (China). Human prostatic tumor tissue samples were obtained from the Tongji Hospital. Female NOD-SCID mice (6 ~ 8 weeks) were purchased from Huafukang Co. (China) and raised in SPF room. Commercial kits and instruments were used for cell apoptosis analysis, real-time PCR, western blotting, ELISA analysis and other experiments.
    RESULT: Comparing the tumor tissues from prostatic cancer patients, we found elevated expression of tryptophan 2, 3-dioxygenase 2 (TDO2), and elevated Trp metabolism in chemo-resistant tumor tissues. In vitro, overexpression of TDO2 significantly promoted the Trp metabolism in prostatic cancer cell lines LNCaP and VCap, resulting in the multidrug resistance development. Mechanistically, we demonstrated that Trp metabolite kynurenine (Kyn) promoted the upregulation and nuclear translocation of transcription factor aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR). Subsequently, AhR collaborated with NF-κB to facilitate the activation of c-Myc. In turn, c-Myc promoted the up-regulation of ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters and Trp transporters, thereby contributing to chemoresistance and strengthened Trp metabolism in prostatic cancer. Interrupt of Trp/TDO2/Kyn/AhR/c-Myc loop with c-Myc inhibitor Mycro-3 efficiently suppressed the chemoresistance and improved the outcome of chemotherapy, which described a new strategy in clinical prostatic cancer treatment.
    CONCLUSION: Our study demonstrates that elevated TOD2 expression promoted Trp metabolism and metabolite Kyn production, thus resulting in the activation of AhR/c-Myc/ABC-SLC transporters signaling pathway. Interrupt of Trp metabolism/c-Myc loop efficiently suppressed the drugs resistance induced by TDO2, which represented potential target to improve the outcome in drug-resistant prostatic cancer treatment.
    Keywords:  AhR; C-Myc; Kynurenine; Prostatic cancer; Tryptophan metabolism
  52. J Cell Sci. 2021 Oct 21. pii: jcs.259091. [Epub ahead of print]
      Hepatic lipid homeostasis depends on intracellular pathways that respire fatty acid (FA) in peroxisomes and mitochondria and on systemic pathways that secrete FA into the bloodstream, either free or condensed in very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) triglycerides. These systemic and intracellular pathways are interdependent, but it is unclear whether and how they integrate into a single cellular circuit. Here, we report that mouse liver wrappER, a distinct ER compartment with apparent FA- and VLDL-secretion functions, connects peroxisomes and mitochondria. Correlative light electron microscopy, quantitative serial section electron tomography, and 3D organelle reconstruction analysis show that the number of peroxisome-wrappER-mitochondria complexes changes throughout fasting-to-feeding transitions and doubles when VLDL synthesis stops following acute genetic ablation of Mttp in the liver. Quantitative proteomic analysis of peroxisome-wrappER-mitochondria complex-enriched fractions indicates that the loss of Mttp upregulates global FA β-oxidation, thereby integrating the dynamics of this three-organelle association into hepatic FA flux responses. Therefore, liver lipid homeostasis occurs through the convergence of systemic and intracellular FA-elimination pathways in the peroxisome-wrappER-mitochondria complex.
    Keywords:  Fatty acid; Inter-organelle contacts; Liver lipid homeostasis; Mitochondria; Peroxisome; WrappER
  53. Nat Commun. 2021 Oct 19. 12(1): 6091
      Physiological changes in GTP levels in live cells have never been considered a regulatory step of RAC1 activation because intracellular GTP concentration (determined by chromatography or mass spectrometry) was shown to be substantially higher than the in vitro RAC1 GTP dissociation constant (RAC1-GTP Kd). Here, by combining genetically encoded GTP biosensors and a RAC1 activity biosensor, we demonstrated that GTP levels fluctuating around RAC1-GTP Kd correlated with changes in RAC1 activity in live cells. Furthermore, RAC1 co-localized in protrusions of invading cells with several guanylate metabolism enzymes, including rate-limiting inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase 2 (IMPDH2), which was partially due to direct RAC1-IMPDH2 interaction. Substitution of endogenous IMPDH2 with IMPDH2 mutants incapable of binding RAC1 did not affect total intracellular GTP levels but suppressed RAC1 activity. Targeting IMPDH2 away from the plasma membrane did not alter total intracellular GTP pools but decreased GTP levels in cell protrusions, RAC1 activity, and cell invasion. These data provide a mechanism of regulation of RAC1 activity by local GTP pools in live cells.
  54. Aging Cell. 2021 Oct 23. e13499
      Neural stem cells (NSCs) in the adult and aged brain are largely quiescent, and require transcriptional reprogramming to re-enter the cell cycle. However, the mechanisms underlying these changes and how they are altered with age remain undefined. Here, we identify the chromatin accessibility differences between primary neural stem/progenitor cells in quiescent and activated states. These distinct cellular states exhibit shared and unique chromatin profiles, both associated with gene regulation. Accessible chromatin states specific to activation or quiescence are active enhancers bound by key pro-neurogenic and quiescence factors. In contrast, shared sites are enriched for core promoter elements associated with translation and metabolism. Unexpectedly, through integrated analysis, we find that many sites that become accessible during NSC activation are linked to gene repression and associated with pro-quiescence factors, revealing a novel mechanism that may preserve quiescence re-entry. Furthermore, we report that in aged NSCs, chromatin regions associated with metabolic and transcriptional functions bound by key pro-quiescence transcription factors lose accessibility, suggesting a novel mechanism of age-associated NSC dysfunction. Together, our findings reveal how accessible chromatin states regulate the transcriptional switch between NSC quiescence and activation, and how this switch is affected with age.
    Keywords:  aging; chromatin accessibility; neural stem cells; stem cell activation
  55. Nature. 2021 Oct 20.
      Tissue maintenance and repair depend on the integrated activity of multiple cell types1. Whereas the contributions of epithelial2,3, immune4,5 and stromal cells6,7 in intestinal tissue integrity are well understood, the role of intrinsic neuroglia networks remains largely unknown. Here we uncover important roles of enteric glial cells (EGCs) in intestinal homeostasis, immunity and tissue repair. We demonstrate that infection of mice with Heligmosomoides polygyrus leads to enteric gliosis and the upregulation of an interferon gamma (IFNγ) gene signature. IFNγ-dependent gene modules were also induced in EGCs from patients with inflammatory bowel disease8. Single-cell transcriptomics analysis of the tunica muscularis showed that glia-specific abrogation of IFNγ signalling leads to tissue-wide activation of pro-inflammatory transcriptional programs. Furthermore, disruption of the IFNγ-EGC signalling axis enhanced the inflammatory and granulomatous response of the tunica muscularis to helminths. Mechanistically, we show that the upregulation of Cxcl10 is an early immediate response of EGCs to IFNγ signalling and provide evidence that this chemokine and the downstream amplification of IFNγ signalling in the tunica muscularis are required for a measured inflammatory response to helminths and resolution of the granulomatous pathology. Our study demonstrates that IFNγ signalling in enteric glia is central to intestinal homeostasis and reveals critical roles of the IFNγ-EGC-CXCL10 axis in immune response and tissue repair after infectious challenge.