bims-camemi Biomed News
on Mitochondrial metabolism in cancer
Issue of 2021‒10‒31
forty-seven papers selected by
Christian Frezza
University of Cambridge, MRC Cancer Unit

  1. Nature. 2021 Oct 27.
      Glutathione (GSH) is a small-molecule thiol that is abundant in all eukaryotes and has key roles in oxidative metabolism1. Mitochondria, as the major site of oxidative reactions, must maintain sufficient levels of GSH to perform protective and biosynthetic functions2. GSH is synthesized exclusively in the cytosol, yet the molecular machinery involved in mitochondrial GSH import remains unknown. Here, using organellar proteomics and metabolomics approaches, we identify SLC25A39, a mitochondrial membrane carrier of unknown function, as a regulator of GSH transport into mitochondria. Loss of SLC25A39 reduces mitochondrial GSH import and abundance without affecting cellular GSH levels. Cells lacking both SLC25A39 and its paralogue SLC25A40 exhibit defects in the activity and stability of proteins containing iron-sulfur clusters. We find that mitochondrial GSH import is necessary for cell proliferation in vitro and red blood cell development in mice. Heterologous expression of an engineered bifunctional bacterial GSH biosynthetic enzyme (GshF) in mitochondria enables mitochondrial GSH production and ameliorates the metabolic and proliferative defects caused by its depletion. Finally, GSH availability negatively regulates SLC25A39 protein abundance, coupling redox homeostasis to mitochondrial GSH import in mammalian cells. Our work identifies SLC25A39 as an essential and regulated component of the mitochondrial GSH-import machinery.
  2. Nat Commun. 2021 Oct 26. 12(1): 6176
      Serine is a non-essential amino acid that is critical for tumour proliferation and depletion of circulating serine results in reduced tumour growth and increased survival in various cancer models. While many cancer cells cultured in a standard tissue culture medium depend on exogenous serine for optimal growth, here we report that these cells are less sensitive to serine/glycine depletion in medium containing physiological levels of metabolites. The lower requirement for exogenous serine under these culture conditions reflects both increased de novo serine synthesis and the use of hypoxanthine (not present in the standard medium) to support purine synthesis. Limiting serine availability leads to increased uptake of extracellular hypoxanthine, sparing available serine for other pathways such as glutathione synthesis. Taken together these results improve our understanding of serine metabolism in physiologically relevant nutrient conditions and allow us to predict interventions that may enhance the therapeutic response to dietary serine/glycine limitation.
  3. Cell Chem Biol. 2021 Oct 22. pii: S2451-9456(21)00441-4. [Epub ahead of print]
      Efforts to target glucose metabolism in cancer have been limited by the poor potency and specificity of existing anti-glycolytic agents and a poor understanding of the glucose dependence of cancer subtypes in vivo. Here, we present an extensively characterized series of potent, orally bioavailable inhibitors of the class I glucose transporters (GLUTs). The representative compound KL-11743 specifically blocks glucose metabolism, triggering an acute collapse in NADH pools and a striking accumulation of aspartate, indicating a dramatic shift toward oxidative phosphorylation in the mitochondria. Disrupting mitochondrial metabolism via chemical inhibition of electron transport, deletion of the malate-aspartate shuttle component GOT1, or endogenous mutations in tricarboxylic acid cycle enzymes, causes synthetic lethality with KL-11743. Patient-derived xenograft models of succinate dehydrogenase A (SDHA)-deficient cancers are specifically sensitive to KL-11743, providing direct evidence that TCA cycle-mutant tumors are vulnerable to GLUT inhibitors in vivo.
    Keywords:  GLUT inhibitor; PDX models; electron transport chain inhibitors; glycolysis; imaging; malate-aspartate shuttle; mitochondrial inhibitors; pharmacology; redox biology; toxicology
  4. Leuk Lymphoma. 2021 Oct 27. 1-8
      Cancer cells reprogram their metabolism to maintain sustained proliferation, which creates unique metabolic dependencies between malignant and healthy cells that can be exploited for therapy. In acute myeloid leukemia (AML), mitochondrial inhibitors that block tricarboxylic acid cycle enzymes or electron transport chain complexes have recently shown clinical promise. The isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 inhibitor ivosidenib, the isocitrate dehydrogenase 2 inhibitor enasidenib, and the BH3 mimetic venetoclax received FDA approval for treatment of AML in the last few years. Other mitochondrial inhibitors including CPI-613, CB-839, dihydroorotate dehydrogenase inhibitors, IACS-010759, and mubritinib, have shown encouraging preclinical efficacy and are currently being evaluated in clinical trials. In this review, we summarize recent metabolism-based therapies and their ability to target altered cancer metabolism in AML.
    Keywords:  Targeted therapy; acute myeloid leukemia; mitochondrial metabolism
  5. Mol Cell Biochem. 2021 Oct 30.
      The relative contribution of mitochondrial respiration and subsequent energy production in malignant cells has remained controversial to date. Enhanced aerobic glycolysis and impaired mitochondrial respiration have gained more attention in the metabolic study of cancer. In contrast to the popular concept, mitochondria of cancer cells oxidize a diverse array of metabolic fuels to generate a majority of the cellular energy by respiration. Several mitochondrial respiratory chain (MRC) subunits' expressions are critical for the growth, metastasis, and cancer cell invasion. Also, the assembly factors, which regulate the integration of individual MRC complexes into native super-complexes, are upregulated in cancer. Moreover, a series of anti-cancer drugs function by inhibiting respiration and ATP production. In this review, we have specified the roles of mitochondrial fuels, MRC subunits, and super-complex assembly factors that promote active respiration across different cancer types and discussed the potential roles of MRC inhibitor drugs in controlling cancer.
    Keywords:  Cancer; Drugs; Metabolic fuels; Mitochondria; Respiratory chain subunits; Super-complex
  6. Physiol Rev. 2021 10 26.
      The uptake of calcium into and extrusion of calcium from the mitochondrial matrix is a fundamental biological process that has critical effects on cellular metabolism, signaling, and survival. Disruption of mitochondrial calcium (mCa2+) cycling is implicated in numerous acquired diseases such as heart failure, stroke, neurodegeneration, diabetes, and cancer, and is genetically linked to several inherited neuromuscular disorders. Understanding the mechanisms responsible for mCa2+ exchange therefore holds great promise for the treatment of these diseases. The past decade has seen the genetic identification of many of the key proteins that mediate mitochondrial calcium uptake and efflux. Here, we present an overview of the phenomenon of mCa2+ transport, and a comprehensive examination of the molecular machinery that mediates calcium flux across the inner mitochondrial membrane: the mitochondrial uniporter complex (consisting of MCU, EMRE, MICU1, MICU2, MICU3, MCUB, and MCUR1), NCLX, LETM1, the mitochondrial ryanodine receptor, and the mitochondrial permeability transition pore. We then consider the physiological implications of mCa2+ flux and evaluate how alterations in mCa2+ homeostasis contribute to human disease. This review concludes by highlighting opportunities and challenges for therapeutic intervention in pathologies characterized by aberrant mCa2+ handling and by summarizing critical unanswered questions regarding the biology of mCa2+ flux.
    Keywords:  calcium; energetics; metabolism; mitochondria; oxidative phosphorylation
  7. Cell Metab. 2021 Oct 25. pii: S1550-4131(21)00482-4. [Epub ahead of print]
      Wound healing is a coordinated process that initially relies on pro-inflammatory macrophages, followed by a pro-resolution function of these cells. Changes in cellular metabolism likely dictate these distinct activities, but the nature of these changes has been unclear. Here, we profiled early- versus late-stage skin wound macrophages in mice at both the transcriptional and functional levels. We found that glycolytic metabolism in the early phase is not sufficient to ensure productive repair. Instead, by combining conditional disruption of the electron transport chain with deletion of tgcqmitochondrial aspartyl-tRNA synthetase, followed by single-cell sequencing analysis, we found that a subpopulation of early-stage wound macrophages are marked by mitochondrial ROS (mtROS) production and HIF1α stabilization, which ultimately drives a pro-angiogenic program essential for timely healing. In contrast, late-phase, pro-resolving wound macrophages are marked by IL-4Rα-mediated mitochondrial respiration and mitohormesis. Collectively, we identify changes in mitochondrial metabolism as a critical control mechanism for macrophage effector functions during wound healing.
    Keywords:  metabolism; mitochondria; mitochondrial repurposing; mitohormesis; monocyte/macrophage; tissue repair; type 2 immunity; wound healing
  8. Mol Cell. 2021 Oct 15. pii: S1097-2765(21)00800-5. [Epub ahead of print]
      Cell state changes are associated with proteome remodeling to serve newly emergent cell functions. Here, we show that NGN2-driven conversion of human embryonic stem cells to induced neurons (iNeurons) is associated with increased PINK1-independent mitophagic flux that is temporally correlated with metabolic reprogramming to support oxidative phosphorylation. Global multiplex proteomics during neurogenesis revealed large-scale remodeling of functional modules linked with pluripotency, mitochondrial metabolism, and proteostasis. Differentiation-dependent mitophagic flux required BNIP3L and its LC3-interacting region (LIR) motif, and BNIP3L also promoted mitophagy in dopaminergic neurons. Proteomic analysis of ATG12-/- iNeurons revealed accumulation of endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi, and mitochondria during differentiation, indicative of widespread organelle remodeling during neurogenesis. This work reveals broad organelle remodeling of membrane-bound organelles during NGN2-driven neurogenesis via autophagy, identifies BNIP3L's central role in programmed mitophagic flux, and provides a proteomic resource for elucidating how organelle remodeling and autophagy alter the proteome during changes in cell state.
    Keywords:  autophagy; iNeurons; mitophagy; proteomics
  9. J Pathol. 2021 Oct 26.
      Cancer cells have an altered metabolic state that supports their growth; for example, aerobic glycolysis, known as the Warburg effect. Colorectal cancer cells have been reported to exhibit the Warburg effect and mainly rely on glycolysis for progression and have dysfunctional mitochondria. So far, how mitochondrial function influences the properties of colorectal cancer cells is unclear. Here, we demonstrated that mitochondria maintain histone acetylation, in particular H3K27ac, a surrogate epigenomic marker of active super-enhancers, in colorectal cancer cells. Immunohistochemistry was used on human colorectal adenocarcinoma specimens and showed that mitochondrial mass and H3K27ac marks were increased in adenocarcinoma lesions compared to adjacent non-neoplastic mucosa. Immunoblotting after using inhibitors of the mitochondrial respiratory complex or mitochondrial DNA-depleted human colorectal cancer cells revealed that mitochondria maintained pan-histone acetylation and H3K27ac marks. Notably, anchorage-independent growth, a feature of cancer, increased mitochondrial mass and H3K27ac marks in human colorectal cancer cells. These findings indicate that mitochondria in human colorectal cancer cells are not dysfunctional, as formerly believed, but function as inducers of histone acetylation. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Keywords:  Anchorage-independent growth; Colorectal cancer; H3K27ac; Histone acetylation; Mitochondria
  10. Nat Metab. 2021 Oct 25.
      We have previously suggested a central role for mitochondria in the observed sex differences in metabolic traits. However, the mechanisms by which sex differences affect adipose mitochondrial function and metabolic syndrome are unclear. Here we show that in both mice and humans, adipose mitochondrial functions are elevated in females and are strongly associated with adiposity, insulin resistance and plasma lipids. Using a panel of diverse inbred strains of mice, we identify a genetic locus on mouse chromosome 17 that controls mitochondrial mass and function in adipose tissue in a sex- and tissue-specific manner. This locus contains Ndufv2 and regulates the expression of at least 89 mitochondrial genes in females, including oxidative phosphorylation genes and those related to mitochondrial DNA content. Overexpression studies indicate that Ndufv2 mediates these effects by regulating supercomplex assembly and elevating mitochondrial reactive oxygen species production, which generates a signal that increases mitochondrial biogenesis.
  11. Cell Rep. 2021 Oct 26. pii: S2211-1247(21)01350-4. [Epub ahead of print]37(4): 109880
      Targeting mitochondrial metabolism has emerged as a treatment option for cancer patients. The ABL tyrosine kinases promote metastasis, and enhanced ABL signaling is associated with a poor prognosis in lung adenocarcinoma patients. Here we show that ABL kinase allosteric inhibitors impair mitochondrial integrity and decrease oxidative phosphorylation. To identify metabolic vulnerabilities that enhance this phenotype, we utilized a CRISPR/Cas9 loss-of-function screen and identified HMG-CoA reductase, the rate-limiting enzyme of the mevalonate pathway and target of statin therapies, as a top-scoring sensitizer to ABL inhibition. Combination treatment with ABL allosteric inhibitors and statins decreases metastatic lung cancer cell survival in vitro in a synergistic manner. Notably, combination therapy in mouse models of lung cancer brain metastasis and therapy resistance impairs metastatic colonization with a concomitant increase in animal survival. Thus, metabolic combination therapy might be effective to decrease metastatic outgrowth, leading to increased survival for lung cancer patients with advanced disease.
    Keywords:  ABL kinases; HMGCR; brain metastasis; lung adenocarcinoma; statins; therapy resistance
  12. Mol Ther Oncolytics. 2021 Dec 17. 23 82-95
      Reprogramming of cellular metabolism is a hallmark of cancer. Mitochondrial ATP synthase (MAS) produces most of the ATP that drives the cell. High expression of the MAS-composing proteins is found during cancer and is linked to a poor prognosis in glioblastoma, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and clear cell renal cell carcinoma. Cell surface-expressed ATP synthase, translocated from mitochondrion to cell membrane, involves the angiogenesis, tumorigenesis, and metastasis of cancer. ATP synthase has therefore been considered a therapeutic target. We review recent various ATP synthase inhibitors that suppress tumor growth and are being tested for the clinic.
    Keywords:  ATP synthase inhibitor; cancer metabolism; chemotherapy; mitochondrial ATP synthase; mitochondrial metabolism
  13. FEBS J. 2021 Oct 28.
      Major progress has been made in defining the basis of the mitochondrial permeability transition, a Ca2+ -dependent permeability increase of the inner membrane that has puzzled mitochondrial research for almost 70 years. Initially considered an artifact of limited biological interest by most, over the years the permeability transition has raised to the status of regulator of mitochondrial ion homeostasis and of druggable effector mechanism of cell death. The permeability transition is mediated by opening of channel(s) modulated by matrix cyclophilin D, the permeability transition pore(s) (PTP). The field has received new impulse (i) from the hypothesis that the PTP may originate from a Ca2+ -dependent conformational change of F-ATP synthase; and (ii) from the reevaluation of the long-standing hypothesis that it originates from the adenine nucleotide translocator (ANT). Here, we provide a synthetic account of the structure of ANT and F-ATP synthase in order to discuss potential and controversial mechanisms through which they may form high-conductance channels; and review some intriguing findings from the wealth of early studies of PTP modulation that still await an explanation. We hope that this review will stimulate new experiments addressing the many outstanding problems, and thus contribute to the eventual solution of the puzzle of the permeability transition.
    Keywords:  ATP synthase; Mitochondria; adenine nucleotide translocator; calcium transport; channels; cyclophilin; cyclosporin; permeability transition
  14. Clin Cancer Res. 2021 Oct 28. pii: clincanres.3409.2021. [Epub ahead of print]
      Wild-type gastrointestinal stromal tumors (WT GISTs) are most frequently characterized by succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) deficiency. Reliable ex vivo tumor models have been difficult to develop given the downstream metabolic effects of SDH deficiency. Improved tumor modeling approaches are needed to develop effective systemic treatment options for patients with WT GIST.
  15. Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2021 Oct 22. pii: S1357-2725(21)00182-5. [Epub ahead of print] 106101
      Mitochondria change their shape, size and number, in response to cellular demand, through mitochondrial dynamics. The interaction between mitochondria and the ER, through ER-mitochondrial contact sites, is crucial in mitochondrial dynamics. Several protein complexes tethering mitochondria to the ER include proteins involved in fission or fusion but also proteins involved in calcium homeostasis, which is known to affect mitochondrial dynamics. The formation of these contact sites are especially important for mitochondrial fission as these contact sites induce both outer and inner membrane constriction, prior to recruitment of Drp1. While the exact molecular mechanisms behind these constrictions remain uncertain, several hypotheses have been proposed. In this review, we discuss the involvement of tethering complexes in mitochondrial dynamics and provide an overview of the current knowledge and hypotheses on the constriction of the outer and inner mitochondrial membrane at ER-mitochondrial contact sites.
    Keywords:  ER-mitochondrial contact; Mitochondrial dynamics; Mitochondrial membrane constriction
  16. Urol Case Rep. 2022 Jan;40 101885
      Succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) deficient renal cell carcinoma (RCC) are uncommon renal tumors that typically present in relatively younger patients. SDH mutations are known to cause cancer, but often presents with hereditary paragangliomas, pheochromocytomas, and gastrointestinal stromal tumors. This report details a case of SDH deficient RCC in a patient with no know contributing family history. Patient presented with recurrent urinary tract infections and groin pain. Computerized tomography (CT) revealed a 4 cm mass in the right kidney. Partial nephrectomy was performed, and the patient had an uneventful recovery. Immunohistochemical staining revealed the tumor was SDH negative.
    Keywords:  Partial nephrectomy; Renal cancer; Renal cell carcinoma; Succinate dehydrogenase
  17. Nat Commun. 2021 Oct 26. 12(1): 6185
      The circadian system cyclically regulates many physiological and behavioral processes within the day. Desynchronization between physiological and behavioral rhythms increases the risk of developing some, including metabolic, disorders. Here we investigate how the oscillatory nature of metabolic signals, resembling feeding-fasting cycles, sustains the cell-autonomous clock in peripheral tissues. By controlling the timing, period and frequency of glucose and insulin signals via microfluidics, we find a strong effect on Per2::Luc fibroblasts entrainment. We show that the circadian Per2 expression is better sustained via a 24 h period and 12 h:12 h frequency-encoded metabolic stimulation applied for 3 daily cycles, aligned to the cell-autonomous clock, entraining the expression of hundreds of genes mostly belonging to circadian rhythms and cell cycle pathways. On the contrary misaligned feeding-fasting cycles synchronize and amplify the expression of extracellular matrix-associated genes, aligned during the light phase. This study underlines the role of the synchronicity between life-style-associated metabolic signals and peripheral clocks on the circadian entrainment.
  18. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2021 Oct 27.
      Mitochondria are considered to be the powerhouse of the cell. Normal functioning of the mitochondria is not only essential for cellular energy production but also for several immunomodulatory processes. Macrophages operate in metabolic niches and rely on rapid adaptation to specific metabolic conditions such as hypoxia, nutrient limitations or reactive oxygen species to neutralize pathogens. In this regard, the fast reprogramming of mitochondrial metabolism is indispensable to provide the cells with the necessary energy and intermediates to efficiently mount the inflammatory response. Moreover, mitochondria act as a physical scaffold for several proteins involved in immune signaling cascades and their dysfunction is immediately associated with a dampened immune response. In this review, we put special focus on mitochondrial function in macrophages and highlight how mitochondrial metabolism is involved in macrophage activation.
    Keywords:  Itaconic acid; Macrophages; Metabolism; Mitochondira
  19. Oncogene. 2021 Oct 26.
      Intratumoral heterogeneity has been described for various tumor types and models of human cancer, and can have profound effects on tumor progression and drug resistance. This study describes an in-depth analysis of molecular and functional heterogeneity among subclonal populations (SCPs) derived from a single triple-negative breast cancer cell line, including copy number analysis, whole-exome and RNA sequencing, proteome analysis, and barcode analysis of clonal dynamics, as well as functional assays. The SCPs were found to have multiple unique genetic alterations and displayed significant variation in anchorage independent growth and tumor forming ability. Analyses of clonal dynamics in SCP mixtures using DNA barcode technology revealed selection for distinct clonal populations in different in vitro and in vivo environmental contexts, demonstrating that in vitro propagation of cancer cell lines using different culture conditions can contribute to the establishment of unique strains. These analyses also revealed strong enrichment of a single SCP during the development of xenograft tumors in immune-compromised mice. This SCP displayed attenuated interferon signaling in vivo and reduced sensitivity to the antiproliferative effects of type I interferons. Reduction in interferon signaling was found to provide a selective advantage within the xenograft microenvironment specifically. In concordance with the previously described role of interferon signaling as tumor suppressor, these findings suggest that similar selective pressures may be operative in human cancer and patient-derived xenograft models.
  20. Dev Cell. 2021 Oct 22. pii: S1534-5807(21)00809-1. [Epub ahead of print]
      In order to combat molecular damage, most cellular proteins undergo rapid turnover. We have previously identified large nuclear protein assemblies that can persist for years in post-mitotic tissues and are subject to age-related decline. Here, we report that mitochondria can be long lived in the mouse brain and reveal that specific mitochondrial proteins have half-lives longer than the average proteome. These mitochondrial long-lived proteins (mitoLLPs) are core components of the electron transport chain (ETC) and display increased longevity in respiratory supercomplexes. We find that COX7C, a mitoLLP that forms a stable contact site between complexes I and IV, is required for complex IV and supercomplex assembly. Remarkably, even upon depletion of COX7C transcripts, ETC function is maintained for days, effectively uncoupling mitochondrial function from ongoing transcription of its mitoLLPs. Our results suggest that modulating protein longevity within the ETC is critical for mitochondrial proteome maintenance and the robustness of mitochondrial function.
    Keywords:  age mosaicism; aging; electron transport chain; heterogeneity; long-lived proteins; mitochondria; muscle; neurons; protein homeostasis; supercomplexes
  21. Cancer Immunol Res. 2021 Oct 29.
      T cells are the key players in eliminating malignant tumors. Adoptive transfer of tumor antigen-specific T cells and immune checkpoint blockade has yielded durable antitumor responses in the clinic, but not all patients respond initially and some that do respond eventually have tumor progression. Thus, new approaches to enhance the utility of immunotherapy are needed. T-cell activation and differentiation status are tightly controlled at the transcriptional, epigenetic, and metabolic levels. Amino acids are involved in multiple steps of T-cell antitumor immunity, including T-cell activation, proliferation, effector function, memory formation as well as functional exhaustion. In this review, we briefly discuss how amino acid metabolism is linked to T-cell fate decisions and summarize how amino acid deprivation or accumulation of certain amino acid metabolites within the tumor microenvironment diminishes T-cell functionality. Furthermore, we discuss potential strategies for immunotherapy via modulating amino acid metabolism either in T cells intrinsically or extrinsically to achieve therapeutic efficacy.
  22. Oncogene. 2021 Oct 23.
      The RAS→RAF→MEK→ERK pathway is hyperactivated in the majority of human lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD). However, the initial activating mutations induce homeostatic feedback mechanisms that limit ERK activity. How ERK activation reaches the tumor-promoting levels that overcome the feedback and drive malignant progression is unclear. We show here that the lung lineage transcription factor NKX2-1 suppresses ERK activity. In human tissue samples and cell lines, xenografts, and genetic mouse models, NKX2-1 induces the ERK phosphatase DUSP6, which inactivates ERK. In tumor cells from late-stage LUAD with silenced NKX2-1, re-introduction of NKX2-1 induces DUSP6 and inhibits tumor growth and metastasis. We show that DUSP6 is necessary for NKX2-1-mediated inhibition of tumor progression in vivo and that DUSP6 expression is sufficient to inhibit RAS-driven LUAD. Our results indicate that NKX2-1 silencing, and thereby DUSP6 downregulation, is a mechanism by which early LUAD can unleash ERK hyperactivation for tumor progression.
  23. J Biol Chem. 2021 Oct 21. pii: S0021-9258(21)01145-5. [Epub ahead of print] 101339
      Mitochondria are important organelles in eukaryotes. Turnover and quality control of mitochondria are regulated at the transcriptional and post-translational level by several cellular mechanisms. Removal of defective mitochondrial proteins is mediated by mitochondria resident proteases or by proteasomal degradation of individual proteins. Clearance of bulk mitochondria occurs via a selective form of autophagy termed mitophagy. In yeast and some developing metazoan cells (e.g. oocytes and reticulocytes), mitochondria are largely removed by ubiquitin-independent mechanisms. In such cases the regulation of mitophagy is mediated via phosphorylation of mitochondria-anchored autophagy receptors. On the other hand, ubiquitin-dependent recruitment of cytosolic autophagy receptors occurs in situations of cellular stress or disease, where dysfunctional mitochondria would cause oxidative damage. In mammalian cells, a well-studied ubiquitin-dependent mitophagy pathway induced by mitochondrial depolarization is regulated by the mitochondrial protein kinase PINK1 that upon activation recruits the ubiquitin ligase parkin. Here we review mechanisms of mitophagy with an emphasis on post-translational modifications that regulate various mitophagy pathways. We describe the autophagy components involved with particular emphasis on post-translational modifications. We detail the phosphorylations mediated by PINK1 and parkin-mediated ubiquitylations of mitochondrial proteins that can be modulated by deubiquitylating enzymes. We also discuss the role of accessory factors regulating mitochondrial fission/fusion and the interplay with pro- and anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members. Comprehensive knowledge of the processes of mitophagy is essential for the understanding of vital mitochondrial turnover in health and disease.
    Keywords:  autophagy; mitochondria; phosphorylation; protein kinase PINK1; ubiquitin ligase parkin; ubiquitylation
  24. Autophagy. 2021 Oct 27.
      Mice deficient for GHR (growth hormone receptor; ghr KO) have a dramatic lifespan extension, and elevated levels of hepatic chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA). Using quantitative proteomics to identify protein changes in purified liver lysosomes and whole liver lysates, we provide evidence that elevated CMA in ghr KO mice downregulates proteins involved in ribosomal structure, translation initiation and elongation, and nucleocytosolic acetyl-coA production. Following up on these initial proteomics findings, we used a cell culture approach to show that CMA is necessary and sufficient to regulate the abundance of ACLY and ACSS2, the two enzymes that produce nucleocytosolic (but not mitochondrial) acetyl-coA. Inhibition of CMA in NIH3T3 cells has been shown to lead to aberrant accumulation of lipid droplets. We show that this lipid droplet phenotype is rescued by knocking down ACLY or ACSS2, suggesting that CMA regulates lipid droplet formation by controlling ACLY and ACSS2. This evidence leads to a model of how constitutive activation of CMA can shape specific metabolic pathways in long-lived endocrine mutant mice.
    Keywords:  aging; autophagy; growth hormone; metabolism; proteomics
  25. Nature. 2021 Oct 27.
      Adipocytes increase energy expenditure in response to prolonged sympathetic activation via persistent expression of uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1)1,2. Here we report that the regulation of glycogen metabolism by catecholamines is critical for UCP1 expression. Chronic β-adrenergic activation leads to increased glycogen accumulation in adipocytes expressing UCP1. Adipocyte-specific deletion of a scaffolding protein, protein targeting to glycogen (PTG), reduces glycogen levels in beige adipocytes, attenuating UCP1 expression and responsiveness to cold or β-adrenergic receptor-stimulated weight loss in obese mice. Unexpectedly, we observed that glycogen synthesis and degradation are increased in response to catecholamines, and that glycogen turnover is required to produce reactive oxygen species leading to the activation of p38 MAPK, which drives UCP1 expression. Thus, glycogen has a key regulatory role in adipocytes, linking glucose metabolism to thermogenesis.
  26. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2021 Nov;32(11): 2759-2776
      BACKGROUND: Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD), the most common inherited kidney disease, is regulated by different forms of cell death, including apoptosis and autophagy. However, the role in ADPKD of ferroptosis, a recently discovered form of cell death mediated by iron and lipid metabolism, remains elusive.METHODS: To determine a pathophysiologic role of ferroptosis in ADPKD, we investigated whether the absence of Pkd1 (encoding polycystin-1) affected the expression of key factors involved in the process of ferroptosis, using Western blot and qRT-PCR analysis in Pkd1 mutant renal cells and tissues. We also examined whether treatment with erastin, a ferroptosis inducer, and ferrostain-1, a ferroptosis inhibitor, affected cyst growth in Pkd1 mutant mouse models.
    RESULTS: We found that kidney cells and tissues lacking Pkd1 exhibit extensive metabolic abnormalities, including reduced expression of the system Xc- amino acid antiporter (critical for import of cystine), of iron exporter (ferroportin), and of GPX4 (a key and negative regulator of ferroptosis). The abnormalities also include increased expression of iron importers (TfR1, DMT1) and HO-1, which in turn result in high iron levels, low GSH and GPX4 activity, increased lipid peroxidation, and propensity to ferroptosis. We further found that erastin increased, and ferrostatin-1 inhibited ferroptotic cell death and proliferation of Pkd1-deficient cells in kidneys from Pkd1 mutant mice. A lipid peroxidation product increased in Pkd1-deficient cells, 4HNE, promoted the proliferation of survived Pkd1 mutant cells via activation of Akt, S6, Stat3, and Rb during the ferroptotic process, contributing to cyst growth.
    CONCLUSION: These findings indicate that ferroptosis contributes to ADPKD progression and management of ferroptosis may be a novel strategy for ADPKD treatment.
    Keywords:  4HNE; cell proliferation; ferroptosis; iron metabolism; lipid peroxidation
  27. Cell Syst. 2021 Oct 21. pii: S2405-4712(21)00382-3. [Epub ahead of print]
      Pancreatic cancer cells with limited access to free amino acids can grow by scavenging extracellular protein. In a murine model of pancreatic cancer, we performed a genome-wide CRISPR screen for genes required for scavenging-dependent growth. The screen identified key mediators of macropinocytosis, peripheral lysosome positioning, endosome-lysosome fusion, lysosomal protein catabolism, and translational control. The top hit was GCN2, a kinase that suppresses translation initiation upon amino acid depletion. Using isotope tracers, we show that GCN2 is not required for protein scavenging. Instead, GCN2 prevents ribosome stalling but without slowing protein synthesis; cells still use all of the limiting amino acids as they emerge from lysosomes. GCN2 also adapts gene expression to the nutrient-poor environment, reorienting protein synthesis away from ribosomes and toward lysosomal hydrolases, such as cathepsin L. GCN2, cathepsin L, and the other genes identified in the screen are potential therapeutic targets in pancreatic cancer.
    Keywords:  Cathepsin L; GCN2; PDAC; lysosomes; macropinocytosis; protein scavenging; protein synthesis; translation
  28. Cell Stem Cell. 2021 Oct 20. pii: S1934-5909(21)00414-8. [Epub ahead of print]
      Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) rely on complex regulatory networks to preserve stemness. Due to the scarcity of HSCs, technical challenges have limited our insights into the interplay between metabolites, transcription, and the epigenome. In this study, we generated low-input metabolomics, transcriptomics, chromatin accessibility, and chromatin immunoprecipitation data , revealing distinct metabolic hubs that are enriched in HSCs and their downstream multipotent progenitors. Mechanistically, we uncover a non-classical retinoic acid (RA) signaling axis that regulates HSC function. We show that HSCs rely on Cyp26b1, an enzyme conventionally considered to limit RA effects in the cell. In contrast to the traditional view, we demonstrate that Cyp26b1 is indispensable for production of the active metabolite 4-oxo-RA. Further, RA receptor beta (Rarb) is required for complete transmission of 4-oxo-RA-mediated signaling to maintain stem cells. Our findings emphasize that a single metabolite controls stem cell fate by instructing epigenetic and transcriptional attributes.
    Keywords:  4-oxo-RA; Cyp26b1; Rarb; at-RA; epigenetics; hematopoietic stem cells; metabolites; self-renewal; vitamin A
  29. iScience. 2021 Nov 19. 24(11): 103224
      Activation of mitogenic signaling pathways is a common oncogenic driver of many solid tumors including lung cancer. Although activating mutations in the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway are prevalent in non-small cell lung cancers, MAPK pathway activity, counterintuitively, is relatively suppressed in the more aggressively proliferative small cell lung cancer (SCLC). Here, we elucidate the role of the MAPK pathway and how it interacts with other signaling pathways in SCLC. We find that the most common SCLC subtype, SCLC-A associated with high expression of ASCL1, is selectively sensitive to MAPK activation in vitro and in vivo through induction of cell-cycle arrest and senescence. We show strong upregulation of ERK negative feedback regulators and STAT signaling upon MAPK activation in SCLC-A lines. These findings provide insight into the complexity of signaling networks in SCLC and suggest subtype-specific mitogenic vulnerabilities.
    Keywords:  Biological sciences; Cell biology; Molecular biology
  30. Cell Metab. 2021 Oct 22. pii: S1550-4131(21)00481-2. [Epub ahead of print]
      Individual hosts within populations often show inter-individual variation in their susceptibility to bacterial pathogen-related diseases. Utilizing Drosophila, we highlight that phenotypic variation in host-pathogen susceptibility within populations is driven by energetic trade-offs, facilitated by infection-mediated changes in glutamate metabolism. Furthermore, host-pathogen susceptibility is conditioned by life history, which adjusts immunometabolic sensing in muscles to direct vitamin-dependent reallocation of host energy substrates from the adipose tissue (i.e., a muscle-adipose tissue axis). Life history conditions inter-individual variation in the activation strength of intra-muscular NF-κB signaling. Limited intra-muscular NF-κB signaling activity allows for enhanced infection-mediated mitochondrial biogenesis and function, which stimulates glutamate dehydrogenase-dependent synthesis of glutamate. Muscle-derived glutamate acts as a systemic metabolite to promote lipid mobilization through modulating vitamin B enzymatic cofactor transport and function in the adipose tissue. This energy substrate reallocation improves pathogen clearance and boosts host survival. Finally, life history events that adjust energetic trade-offs can shape inter-individual variation in host-pathogen susceptibility after infection.
    Keywords:  Smvt; glutamate; glutamate dehydrogenase; immunometabolism; innate immunity; life history; lipid metabolism; mitochondria; muscle; vitamin
  31. Nat Methods. 2021 Oct 28.
      Liquid chromatography-high-resolution mass spectrometry (LC-MS)-based metabolomics aims to identify and quantify all metabolites, but most LC-MS peaks remain unidentified. Here we present a global network optimization approach, NetID, to annotate untargeted LC-MS metabolomics data. The approach aims to generate, for all experimentally observed ion peaks, annotations that match the measured masses, retention times and (when available) tandem mass spectrometry fragmentation patterns. Peaks are connected based on mass differences reflecting adduction, fragmentation, isotopes, or feasible biochemical transformations. Global optimization generates a single network linking most observed ion peaks, enhances peak assignment accuracy, and produces chemically informative peak-peak relationships, including for peaks lacking tandem mass spectrometry spectra. Applying this approach to yeast and mouse data, we identified five previously unrecognized metabolites (thiamine derivatives and N-glucosyl-taurine). Isotope tracer studies indicate active flux through these metabolites. Thus, NetID applies existing metabolomic knowledge and global optimization to substantially improve annotation coverage and accuracy in untargeted metabolomics datasets, facilitating metabolite discovery.
  32. Annu Rev Med. 2021 Oct 26.
      In order to fuel their relentless expansion, cancers must expand their vasculature to augment delivery of oxygen and essential nutrients. The disordered web of irregular vessels that results, however, leaves gaps in oxygen delivery that foster tumor hypoxia. At the same time, tumor cells increase their oxidative metabolism to cope with the energetic demands of proliferation, which further worsens hypoxia due to heightened oxygen consumption. In these hypoxic, nutrient-deprived environments, tumors and suppressive stroma evolve to flourish while antitumor immunity collapses due to a combination of energetic deprivation, toxic metabolites, acidification, and other suppressive signals. Reversal of cancer hypoxia thus has the potential to increase the survival and effector function of tumor-infiltrating T cells, as well as to resensitize tumors to immunotherapy. Early clinical trials combining hypoxia reduction with immune checkpoint blockade have shown promising results in treating patients with advanced, metastatic, and therapeutically refractory cancers. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Medicine, Volume 73 is January 2022. Please see for revised estimates.
  33. Epigenetics. 2021 Oct 24.
      Aberrant DNA methylation is an epigenetic hallmark of malignant tumors. The DNA methylation level is regulated by not only DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs) but also Ten-Eleven Translocation (TET) family proteins. However, the exact role of TET genes in breast cancer remains controversial. Here, we uncover that the ERα-positive breast cancer patients with high TET2 mRNA expression had better overall survival rates. Consistently, knockout of TET2 promotes the tumorigenesis of ERα-positive MCF7 breast cancer cells. Mechanistically, TET2 loss leads to aberrant DNA methylation (gain of 5mC) at a large proportion of enhancers, accompanied by significant reduction in H3K4me1 and H3K27ac enrichment. By analyzing the epigenetically reprogrammed enhancers, we identify estrogen responsive element (ERE) as one of the enriched motifs of transcriptional factors. Importantly, TET2 loss impairs 17beta-estradiol (E2)-induced transcription of the epigenetically reprogrammed EREs-associated genes through attenuating the binding of ERα. Taken together, these findings shed light on our understanding of the epigenetic mechanisms underlying the enhancer reprogramming during breast cancer pathogenesis.
    Keywords:  Breast cancer; ERα; TET2; enhancer
  34. Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2021 Oct 28.
      Mitochondria, the only semiautonomous organelles in mammalian cells, possess a circular, double-stranded genome termed mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). While nuclear genomic DNA compaction, chromatin compartmentalization and transcription are known to be regulated by phase separation, how the mitochondrial nucleoid, a highly compacted spherical suborganelle, is assembled and functions is unknown. Here we assembled mitochondrial nucleoids in vitro and show that mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM) undergoes phase separation with mtDNA to drive nucleoid self-assembly. Moreover, nucleoid droplet formation promotes recruitment of the transcription machinery via a special, co-phase separation that concentrates transcription initiation, elongation and termination factors, and retains substrates to facilitate mtDNA transcription. We propose a model of mitochondrial nucleoid self-assembly driven by phase separation, and a pattern of co-phase separation involved in mitochondrial transcriptional regulation, which orchestrates the roles of TFAM in both mitochondrial nucleoid organization and transcription.
  35. Cancer Discov. 2021 Oct 28. pii: candisc.0551.2021. [Epub ahead of print]
      Early T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ETP-ALL) is an aggressive hematologic malignancy associated with early relapse and poor prognosis that is genetically, immunophenotypically and transcriptionally distinct from more mature T-cell acute lymphoblastic (T-ALL) tumors. Here, we leveraged global metabolomic and transcriptomic profiling of primary ETP and T-ALL leukemia samples to identify specific metabolic circuitries differentially active in this high-risk leukemia group. ETP-ALLs showed increased biosynthesis of phospholipids and sphingolipids, and were specifically sensitive to inhibition of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA Reductase (HMGCR), the rate-limiting enzyme in the mevalonate pathway. Mechanistically, inhibition of cholesterol synthesis inhibited oncogenic AKT1 signaling and suppressed MYC expression via loss of chromatin accessibility at a leukemia stem cell-specific long range MYC enhancer. In all, these results identify the mevalonate pathway as a druggable novel vulnerability in high-risk ETP-ALL cells and uncover an unanticipated critical role for cholesterol biosynthesis in signal transduction and epigenetic circuitries driving leukemia cell growth and survival.
  36. EMBO J. 2021 Oct 27. e108069
      Brown and beige fat are specialized for energy expenditure by dissipating energy from glucose and fatty acid oxidation as heat. While glucose and fatty acid metabolism have been extensively studied in thermogenic adipose tissues, the involvement of amino acids in regulating adaptive thermogenesis remains little studied. Here, we report that asparagine supplementation in brown and beige adipocytes drastically upregulated the thermogenic transcriptional program and lipogenic gene expression, so that asparagine-fed mice showed better cold tolerance. In mice with diet-induced obesity, the asparagine-fed group was more responsive to β3-adrenergic receptor agonists, manifesting in blunted body weight gain and improved glucose tolerance. Metabolomics and 13 C-glucose flux analysis revealed that asparagine supplement spurred glycolysis to fuel thermogenesis and lipogenesis in adipocytes. Mechanistically, asparagine stimulated the mTORC1 pathway, which promoted expression of thermogenic genes and key enzymes in glycolysis. These findings show that asparagine bioavailability affects glycolytic and thermogenic activities in adipose tissues, providing a possible nutritional strategy for improving systemic energy homeostasis.
    Keywords:  asparagine; brown adipocytes; glycolysis; mTORC1; thermogenesis
  37. Curr Opin Syst Biol. 2021 Dec;pii: 100381. [Epub ahead of print]28
      Metastases represent a major cause of cancer-associated deaths. Despite extensive research, targeting metastasis remains the main obstacle in cancer therapy. Therefore, it is of tremendous importance to elucidate the mechanisms that impinge on the different steps of the metastatic cascade. Metabolic plasticity is a cornerstone of the tumorigenic process that not only enables cancer cells to rapidly proliferate but also thrive and retain vitality. Plasticity of the metabolic networks that wire cancer cells is of utmost importance during the metastatic cascade when cancer cells are at their most vulnerable and have to survive in a panoply of inhospitable environments as they make their journey to form metastatic lesions. Here, we highlight which metabolic processes are known to power metastasis formation and lay the foundation for additional work aimed at discovering regulatory nodes of metabolic plasticity that can be used to target metastatic disease.
  38. Cell Rep. 2021 Oct 26. pii: S2211-1247(21)01373-5. [Epub ahead of print]37(4): 109903
      Sleep is crucial to restore body functions and metabolism across nearly all tissues and cells, and sleep restriction is linked to various metabolic dysfunctions in humans. Using exhaled breath analysis by secondary electrospray ionization high-resolution mass spectrometry, we measured the human exhaled metabolome at 10-s resolution across a night of sleep in combination with conventional polysomnography. Our subsequent analysis of almost 2,000 metabolite features demonstrates rapid, reversible control of major metabolic pathways by the individual vigilance states. Within this framework, whereas a switch to wake reduces fatty acid oxidation, a switch to slow-wave sleep increases it, and the transition to rapid eye movement sleep results in elevation of tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle intermediates. Thus, in addition to daily regulation of metabolism, there exists a surprising and complex underlying orchestration across sleep and wake. Both likely play an important role in optimizing metabolic circuits for human performance and health.
    Keywords:  breath analysis; high-resolution mass spectrometry; metabolomics; secondary electrospray ionization; sleep
  39. Nat Commun. 2021 Oct 27. 12(1): 6212
      Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) account for over 70% of deaths world-wide. Previous work has linked NCDs such as type 2 diabetes (T2D) to disruption of chromatin regulators. However, the exact molecular origins of these chronic conditions remain elusive. Here, we identify the H4 lysine 16 acetyltransferase MOF as a critical regulator of central carbon metabolism. High-throughput metabolomics unveil a systemic amino acid and carbohydrate imbalance in Mof deficient mice, manifesting in T2D predisposition. Oral glucose tolerance testing (OGTT) reveals defects in glucose assimilation and insulin secretion in these animals. Furthermore, Mof deficient mice are resistant to diet-induced fat gain due to defects in glucose uptake in adipose tissue. MOF-mediated H4K16ac deposition controls expression of the master regulator of glucose metabolism, Pparg and the entire downstream transcriptional network. Glucose uptake and lipid storage can be reconstituted in MOF-depleted adipocytes in vitro by ectopic Glut4 expression, PPARγ agonist thiazolidinedione (TZD) treatment or SIRT1 inhibition. Hence, chronic imbalance in H4K16ac promotes a destabilisation of metabolism triggering the development of a metabolic disorder, and its maintenance provides an unprecedented regulatory epigenetic mechanism controlling diet-induced obesity.
  40. Nat Commun. 2021 Oct 27. 12(1): 6207
      Cyclic guanosine monophosphate-adenosine monophosphate (cGAMP), produced by cyclic GMP-AMP synthase (cGAS), stimulates the production of type I interferons (IFN). Here we show that cGAMP activates DNA damage response (DDR) signaling independently of its canonical IFN pathways. Loss of cGAS dampens DDR signaling induced by genotoxic insults. Mechanistically, cGAS activates DDR in a STING-TBK1-dependent manner, wherein TBK1 stimulates the autophosphorylation of the DDR kinase ATM, with the consequent activation of the CHK2-p53-p21 signal transduction pathway and the induction of G1 cell cycle arrest. Despite its stimulatory activity on ATM, cGAMP suppresses homology-directed repair (HDR) through the inhibition of polyADP-ribosylation (PARylation), in which cGAMP reduces cellular levels of NAD+; meanwhile, restoring NAD+ levels abrogates cGAMP-mediated suppression of PARylation and HDR. Finally, we show that cGAMP also activates DDR signaling in invertebrate species lacking IFN (Crassostrea virginica and Nematostella vectensis), suggesting that the genome surveillance mechanism of cGAS predates metazoan interferon-based immunity.
  41. PLoS Genet. 2021 Oct;17(10): e1009871
      Kohlschütter-Tönz syndrome (KTS) manifests as neurological dysfunctions, including early-onset seizures. Mutations in the citrate transporter SLC13A5 are associated with KTS, yet their underlying mechanisms remain elusive. Here, we report that a Drosophila SLC13A5 homolog, I'm not dead yet (Indy), constitutes a neurometabolic pathway that suppresses seizure. Loss of Indy function in glutamatergic neurons caused "bang-induced" seizure-like behaviors. In fact, glutamate biosynthesis from the citric acid cycle was limiting in Indy mutants for seizure-suppressing glutamate transmission. Oral administration of the rate-limiting α-ketoglutarate in the metabolic pathway rescued low glutamate levels in Indy mutants and ameliorated their seizure-like behaviors. This metabolic control of the seizure susceptibility was mapped to a pair of glutamatergic neurons, reversible by optogenetic controls of their activity, and further relayed onto fan-shaped body neurons via the ionotropic glutamate receptors. Accordingly, our findings reveal a micro-circuit that links neural metabolism to seizure, providing important clues to KTS-associated neurodevelopmental deficits.
  42. Mol Neurobiol. 2021 Oct 26.
      Along evolution, living organisms developed a precise timekeeping system, circadian clocks, to adapt life to the 24-h light/dark cycle and temporally regulate physiology and behavior. The transcriptional molecular circadian clock and metabolic/redox oscillator conforming these clocks are present in organs, tissues, and even in individual cells, where they exert circadian control over cellular metabolism. Disruption of the molecular clock may cause metabolic disorders and higher cancer risk. The synthesis and degradation of glycerophospholipids (GPLs) is one of the most highly regulated metabolisms across the 24-h cycle in terms of total lipid content and enzyme expression and activity in the nervous system and individual cells. Lipids play a plethora of roles (membrane biogenesis, energy sourcing, signaling, and the regulation of protein-chromatin interaction, among others), making control of their metabolism a vital checkpoint in the cellular organization of physiology. An increasing body of evidence clearly demonstrates an orchestrated and sequential series of events occurring in GPL metabolism across the 24-h day in diverse retinal cell layers, immortalized fibroblasts, and glioma cells. Moreover, the clock gene Per1 and other circadian-related genes are tightly involved in the regulation of GPL synthesis in quiescent cells. However, under proliferation, the metabolic oscillator continues to control GPL metabolism of brain cancer cells even after molecular circadian clock disruption, reflecting the crucial role of the temporal metabolism organization in cell preservation. The aim of this review is to examine the control exerted by circadian clocks over GPL metabolism, their synthesizing enzyme expression and activities in normal and tumorous cells of the nervous system and in immortalized fibroblasts.
    Keywords:  Acyltransferases; Choline kinase; Circadian rhythms; Clock genes; Fibroblasts; Lipin1; Metabolic oscillator; Molecular clock; Nuclear receptors; Phosphatidylcholine; Phospholipid metabolism; Retina; Tumor cells
  43. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2021 ;9 710247
      Recessive mutations in DNAJC3, an endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-resident BiP co-chaperone, have been identified in patients with multisystemic neurodegeneration and diabetes mellitus. To further unravel these pathomechanisms, we employed a non-biased proteomic approach and identified dysregulation of several key cellular pathways, suggesting a pathophysiological interplay of perturbed lipid metabolism, mitochondrial bioenergetics, ER-Golgi function, and amyloid-beta processing. Further functional investigations in fibroblasts of patients with DNAJC3 mutations detected cellular accumulation of lipids and an increased sensitivity to cholesterol stress, which led to activation of the unfolded protein response (UPR), alterations of the ER-Golgi machinery, and a defect of amyloid precursor protein. In line with the results of previous studies, we describe here alterations in mitochondrial morphology and function, as a major contributor to the DNAJC3 pathophysiology. Hence, we propose that the loss of DNAJC3 affects lipid/cholesterol homeostasis, leading to UPR activation, β-amyloid accumulation, and impairment of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation.
    Keywords:  DNAJC3; cholesterol-stress; mitochondria; proteomics; unfolded protein response (UPR)
  44. Front Ecol Evol. 2021 Apr;pii: 661583. [Epub ahead of print]9
      Ecological fitness is the ability of individuals in a population to survive and reproduce. Individuals with increased fitness are better equipped to withstand the selective pressures of their environments. This paradigm pertains to all organismal life as we know it; however, it is also becoming increasingly clear that within multicellular organisms exist highly complex, competitive, and cooperative populations of cells under many of the same ecological and evolutionary constraints as populations of individuals in nature. In this review I discuss the parallels between populations of cancer cells and populations of individuals in the wild, highlighting how individuals in either context are constrained by their environments to converge on a small number of critical phenotypes to ensure survival and future reproductive success. I argue that the hallmarks of cancer can be distilled into key phenotypes necessary for cancer cell fitness: survival and reproduction. I posit that for therapeutic strategies to be maximally beneficial, they should seek to subvert these ecologically driven phenotypic responses.
    Keywords:  fitness; ideal free distribution; metastasis; niche construction theory; tumor microenvironment
  45. Nature. 2021 Oct 27.
      The Dispatched protein, which is related to the NPC1 and PTCH1 cholesterol transporters1,2 and to H+-driven transporters of the RND family3,4, enables tissue-patterning activity of the lipid-modified Hedgehog protein by releasing it from tightly -localized sites of embryonic expression5-10. Here we determine a cryo-electron microscopy structure of the mouse protein Dispatched homologue 1 (DISP1), revealing three Na+ ions coordinated within a channel that traverses its transmembrane domain. We find that the rate of Hedgehog export is dependent on the Na+ gradient across the plasma membrane. The transmembrane channel and Na+ binding are disrupted in DISP1-NNN, a variant with asparagine substitutions for three intramembrane aspartate residues that each coordinate and neutralize the charge of one of the three Na+ ions. DISP1-NNN and variants that disrupt single Na+ sites retain binding to, but are impaired in export of the lipid-modified Hedgehog protein to the SCUBE2 acceptor. Interaction of the amino-terminal signalling domain of the Sonic hedgehog protein (ShhN) with DISP1 occurs via an extensive buried surface area and contacts with an extended furin-cleaved DISP1 arm. Variability analysis reveals that ShhN binding is restricted to one extreme of a continuous series of DISP1 conformations. The bound and unbound DISP1 conformations display distinct Na+-site occupancies, which suggests a mechanism by which transmembrane Na+ flux may power extraction of the lipid-linked Hedgehog signal from the membrane. Na+-coordinating residues in DISP1 are conserved in PTCH1 and other metazoan RND family members, suggesting that Na+ flux powers their conformationally driven activities.
  46. J Biol Chem. 2021 Oct 21. pii: S0021-9258(21)01141-8. [Epub ahead of print] 101335
      Oncogenic KRAS drives cancer growth by activating diverse signaling networks, not all of which have been fully delineated. We set out to establish a system-wide profile of the KRAS-regulated kinase signaling network (kinome) in KRAS-mutant pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). We knocked down KRAS expression in a panel of six cell lines, and then applied Multiplexed Inhibitor Bead/Mass Spectrometry (MIB/MS) to monitor changes in kinase activity and/or expression. We hypothesized that depletion of KRAS would result in downregulation of kinases required for KRAS-mediated transformation, and in upregulation of other kinases that could potentially compensate for the deleterious consequences of the loss of KRAS. We identified 15 upregulated and 13 downregulated kinases in common across the panel of cell lines. In agreement with our hypothesis, all 15 of the upregulated kinases have established roles as cancer drivers (e.g., SRC, TGFBR1, ILK), and pharmacologic inhibition of one of these upregulated kinases, DDR1, suppressed PDAC growth. Interestingly, 11 of the 13 downregulated kinases have established driver roles in cell cycle progression, particularly in mitosis (e.g., WEE1, Aurora A, PLK1). Consistent with a crucial role for the downregulated kinases in promoting KRAS-driven proliferation, we found that pharmacologic inhibition of WEE1 also suppressed PDAC growth. The unexpected paradoxical activation of ERK upon WEE1 inhibition led us to inhibit both WEE1 and ERK concurrently, which caused further potent growth suppression and enhanced apoptotic death compared to WEE1 inhibition alone. We conclude that system-wide delineation of the KRAS-regulated kinome can identify potential therapeutic targets for KRAS-mutant pancreatic cancer.
    Keywords:  DDR1; RAS protein; WEE1; cancer biology; extracellular-signal-regulated kinase (ERK); kinome; mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK); pancreatic cancer; proteomics
  47. Cell. 2021 Oct 28. pii: S0092-8674(21)01117-X. [Epub ahead of print]184(22): 5506-5526
      Endogenous cytoplasmic DNA (cytoDNA) species are emerging as key mediators of inflammation in diverse physiological and pathological contexts. Although the role of endogenous cytoDNA in innate immune activation is well established, the cytoDNA species themselves are often poorly characterized and difficult to distinguish, and their mechanisms of formation, scope of function and contribution to disease are incompletely understood. Here, we summarize current knowledge in this rapidly progressing field with emphases on similarities and differences between distinct cytoDNAs, their underlying molecular mechanisms of formation and function, interactions between cytoDNA pathways, and therapeutic opportunities in the treatment of age-associated diseases.
    Keywords:  aging; cancer; cytoplasmic DNA; cytoplasmic chromatin fragment; micronucleus; mitochondrial DNA; retrotransposon; senescence