bims-glucam Biomed News
on Glutamine cancer metabolism
Issue of 2021‒05‒09
fourteen papers selected by
Sreeparna Banerjee
Middle East Technical University

  1. Front Immunol. 2021 ;12 624324
      Cancer cells are metabolically vigorous and are superior in the uptake of nutrients and in the release of the tumor microenvironment (TME)-specific metabolites. They create an acidic, hypoxic, and nutrient-depleted TME that makes it difficult for the cytotoxic immune cells to adapt to the metabolically hostile environment. Since a robust metabolism in immune cells is required for optimal anti-tumor effector functions, the challenges caused by the TME result in severe defects in the invasion and destruction of the established tumors. There have been many recent developments in NK and T cell-mediated immunotherapy, such as engineering them to express chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) to enhance tumor-recognition and infiltration. However, to defeat the tumor and overcome the limitations of the TME, it is essential to fortify these novel therapies by improving the metabolism of the immune cells. One potential strategy to enhance the metabolic fitness of immune cells is to upregulate the expression of nutrient transporters, specifically glucose and amino acid transporters. In particular, the amino acid transporters SLC1A5 and SLC7A5 as well as the ancillary subunit SLC3A2, which are required for efficient uptake of glutamine and leucine respectively, could strengthen the metabolic capabilities and effector functions of tumor-directed CAR-NK and T cells. In addition to enabling the influx and efflux of essential amino acids through the plasma membrane and within subcellular compartments such as the lysosome and the mitochondria, accumulating evidence has demonstrated that the amino acid transporters participate in sensing amino acid levels and thereby activate mTORC1, a master metabolic regulator that promotes cell metabolism, and induce the expression of c-Myc, a transcription factor essential for cell growth and proliferation. In this review, we discuss the regulatory pathways of these amino acid transporters and how we can take advantage of these processes to strengthen immunotherapy against cancer.
    Keywords:  SLC1A5; SLC3A2; SLC7A5; anti-tumor immunity; immunometabolism; natural killer cells; nutrient transporters; tumor microenvironment
  2. Cells. 2021 Apr 29. pii: 1056. [Epub ahead of print]10(5):
      Cancer cells alter metabolic processes to sustain their characteristic uncontrolled growth and proliferation. These metabolic alterations include (1) a shift from oxidative phosphorylation to aerobic glycolysis to support the increased need for ATP, (2) increased glutaminolysis for NADPH regeneration, (3) altered flux through the pentose phosphate pathway and the tricarboxylic acid cycle for macromolecule generation, (4) increased lipid uptake, lipogenesis, and cholesterol synthesis, (5) upregulation of one-carbon metabolism for the production of ATP, NADH/NADPH, nucleotides, and glutathione, (6) altered amino acid metabolism, (7) metabolism-based regulation of apoptosis, and (8) the utilization of alternative substrates, such as lactate and acetate. Altered metabolic flux in cancer is controlled by tumor-host cell interactions, key oncogenes, tumor suppressors, and other regulatory molecules, including non-coding RNAs. Changes to metabolic pathways in cancer are dynamic, exhibit plasticity, and are often dependent on the type of tumor and the tumor microenvironment, leading in a shift of thought from the Warburg Effect and the "reverse Warburg Effect" to metabolic plasticity. Understanding the complex nature of altered flux through these multiple pathways in cancer cells can support the development of new therapies.
    Keywords:  Warburg Effect; aerobic glycolysis; cancer; one-carbon metabolism; oxidative phosphorylation; pentose phosphate pathway
  3. Amino Acids. 2021 May 08.
      Fibrosis is a pathologic condition resulting from aberrant wound healing responses that lead to excessive accumulation of extracellular matrix components, distortion of organ architecture, and loss of organ function. Fibrotic disease can affect every organ system; moreover, fibrosis is an important microenvironmental component of many cancers, including pancreatic, cervical, and hepatocellular cancers. Fibrosis is also an independent risk factor for cancer. Taken together, organ fibrosis contributes to up to 45% of all deaths worldwide. There are no approved therapies that halt or reverse fibrotic disease, highlighting the great need for novel therapeutic targets. At the heart of almost all fibrotic disease is the TGF-β-mediated differentiation of fibroblasts into myofibroblasts, the primary cell type responsible for the production of collagen and other matrix proteins and distortion of tissue architecture. Recent advances, particularly in the field of lung fibrosis, have highlighted the role that metabolic reprogramming plays in the pathogenic phenotype of myofibroblasts, particularly the induction of de novo amino acid synthesis pathways that are required to support collagen matrix production by these cells. In this review, we will discuss the metabolic changes associated with myofibroblast differentiation, focusing on the de novo production of glycine and proline, two amino acids which compose over half of the primary structure of collagen protein. We will also discuss the important role that synthesis of these amino acids plays in regulating cellular redox balance and epigenetic state.
    Keywords:  Amino acid; Fibrosis; Glutamine; Metabolism; Proline and glycine
  4. Redox Biol. 2021 Apr 28. pii: S2213-2317(21)00151-8. [Epub ahead of print]43 101993
      Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is the most aggressive breast cancer subtype. Radiotherapy is an effective option for the treatment of TNBC; however, acquired radioresistance is a major challenge to the modality. In this study, we show that the integrated stress response (ISR) is the most activated signaling pathway in radioresistant TNBC cells. The constitutive phosphorylation of eIF2α in radioresistant TNBC cells promotes the activation of ATF4 and elicits the transcription of genes implicated in glutathione biosynthesis, including GCLC, SLC7A11, and CTH, which increases the intracellular level of reduced glutathione (GSH) and the scavenging of reactive oxygen species (ROS) after irradiation (IR), leading to a radioresistant phenotype. The cascade is significantly up-regulated in human TNBC tissues and is associated with unfavorable survival in patients. Dephosphorylation of eIF2α increases IR-induced ROS accumulation in radioresistant TNBC cells by disrupting ATF4-mediated GSH biosynthesis and sensitizes them to IR in vitro and in vivo. These findings reveal ISR as a vital mechanism underlying TNBC radioresistance and propose the eIF2α/ATF4 axis as a novel therapeutic target for TNBC treatment.
    Keywords:  ATF4; GSH; Integrated stress response; Radioresistance; TNBC; eIF2α
  5. J Hepatol. 2021 May 04. pii: S0168-8278(21)00302-0. [Epub ahead of print]
      BACKGROUND & AIMS: A holistic insight on the relationship between obesity and metabolic dysfunction-associated fatty liver disease is an unmet clinical need. Omics investigations can be used to investigate the multifaceted role of altered mitochondrial pathways to promote nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, a major risk factor for liver disease-associated death. There are no specific treatments but remission via surgery might offer an opportunity to examine the signaling processes that govern the complex spectrum of chronic liver diseases observed in extreme obesity. We aim to assess the emerging relationship between metabolism, methylation and liver disease.METHODS: We tailed the flow of information, before and after steatohepatitis remission, from biochemical, histological, and multi-omics analyses in liver biopsies from patients with extreme obesity and successful bariatric surgery. Functional studies were performed in HepG2 cells and primary hepatocytes.
    RESULTS: The reversal of hepatic mitochondrial dysfunction and the control of oxidative stress and inflammatory responses revealed the regulatory role of mitogen-activated protein kinases. The reversible metabolic rearrangements leading to steatohepatitis increased the glutaminolysis-induced production of α-ketoglutarate and the hyperactivation of mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1. These changes were crucial for the adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase/mammalian target of rapamycin-driven pathways that modulated hepatocyte survival by coordinating apoptosis and autophagy. The signaling activity of α-ketoglutarate and the associated metabolites also affected methylation-related epigenomic remodeling enzymes. Integrative analysis of hepatic transcriptome signatures and differentially methylated genomic regions distinguished patients with and without steatohepatitis.
    CONCLUSION: We provide evidence supporting the multifaceted potential of the increased glutaminolysis-induced α-ketoglutarate production and the mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 dysregulation as a conceivable source of the inefficient adaptive responses leading to steatohepatitis.
    LAY SUMMARY: Steatohepatitis is a frequent and threatening complication of extreme obesity without specific treatment. Omics technologies can be used to identify therapeutic targets. We highlight increased glutaminolysis-induced α-ketoglutarate production as a potential source of signals promoting and exacerbating steatohepatitis.
    Keywords:  Bariatric surgery; DNA methylation; Energy metabolism; Epigenetics; Functional studies; Multi omics approach
  6. Hepatology. 2021 May 01.
      BACKGROUND & AIMS: The important roles of glutamate and metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGluR5) in hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) have recently been reported in various liver diseases; however, the mechanism linking the glutamine/glutamate metabolism and mGluR5 in liver fibrosis remains unclear. Here, we report that mGluR5 activation in natural killer (NK) cells attenuates liver fibrosis through increased cytotoxicity and interferon-γ (IFN-γ) production in both mice and humans.APPROACH & RESULTS: Following 2-week injection of carbon tetrachloride (CCl4 ) or 5-week methionine- and choline-deficient diet, liver fibrosis was more aggravated in mGluR5 knockout (KO) mice with significantly decreased frequency of NK cells compared with wild type mice. Consistently, NK cell-specific mGluR5 KO mice had aggravated CCl4 -induced liver fibrosis with decreased production of IFN-γ. Conversely, in vitro activation of mGluR5 in NK cells significantly increased the expression of anti-fibrosis-related genes including Ifng, Prf1, and Klrk1 and the production of IFN-γ via the MEK/ERK pathway, contributing to the increased cytotoxicity against activated HSCs. However, we found that the uptake of glutamate was increased in activated HSCs, resulting in shortage of extracellular glutamate and reduced stimulation of mGluR5 in NK cells. Consequently, this could enable HSCs to evade NK cell cytotoxicity in advanced liver fibrosis. In vivo, pharmacologic activation of mGluR5 accelerated CCl4 -induced liver fibrosis regression by restoring NK cell cytotoxicity. In humans, mGluR5 activation enhanced the cytotoxicity of NK cells isolated from healthy donors, but not from cirrhotic patients with significantly reduced mGluR5 expression in NK cells.
    CONCLUSIONS: mGluR5 plays important roles in attenuating liver fibrosis by augmenting NK cell cytotoxicity, which could be used as a potential therapeutic target for liver fibrosis.
    Keywords:  cirrhosis; glutamine; interferon-gamma; vesicular glutamate transporter
  7. Sci Adv. 2021 May;pii: eabf7114. [Epub ahead of print]7(19):
      There is an urgent need to identify vulnerabilities in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). PDAC cells acquire metabolic changes that augment NADPH production and cytosolic redox homeostasis. Here, we show that high NADPH levels drive activity of NADPH oxidase 4 (NOX4) expressed in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane. NOX4 produces H2O2 metabolized by peroxiredoxin 4 (PRDX4) in the ER lumen. Using functional genomics and subsequent in vitro and in vivo validations, we find that PDAC cell lines with high NADPH levels are dependent on PRDX4 for their growth and survival. PRDX4 addiction is associated with increased reactive oxygen species, a DNA-PKcs-governed DNA damage response and radiosensitivity, which can be rescued by depletion of NOX4 or NADPH. Hence, this study has identified NOX4 as a protein that paradoxically converts the reducing power of the cytosol to an ER-specific oxidative stress vulnerability in PDAC that may be therapeutically exploited by targeting PRDX4.
  8. Dev Cell. 2021 May 03. pii: S1534-5807(21)00322-1. [Epub ahead of print]
      Tumors undergo metabolic transformations to sustain uncontrolled proliferation, avoid cell death, and seed in secondary organs. An increased focus on cancer lipid metabolism has unveiled a number of mechanisms that promote tumor growth and survival, many of which are independent of classical cellular bioenergetics. These mechanisms include modulation of ferroptotic-mediated cell death, support during tumor metastasis, and interactions with the cells of the tumor microenvironment. As such, targeting lipid metabolism for anti-cancer therapies is attractive, with recent work on small-molecule inhibitors identifying compounds to target lipid metabolism. Here, we discuss these topics and identify open questions.
    Keywords:  cancer; immunometabolism; lipids; metabolism; metastasis; tumor microenvironment
  9. J Cell Mol Med. 2021 May 03.
      Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a lethal malignancy with aggressive biological behaviour. Its rapid proliferation and tumour growth require reprogramming of glucose metabolism or the Warburg effect. However, the association between glycolysis-related genes with clinical features and prognosis of PDAC is still unknown. Here, we used the meta-analysis to correlate the hazard ratios (HR) of 106 glycolysis genes from MSigDB by the cox proportional hazards regression analysis in 6 clinical data sets of PDAC patients to form a training cohort, and a single group of PDAC patients from the TCGA, ICGC, Arrayexpress and GEO databases to form the validation cohort. Then, a glycolysis-related prognosis (GRP) score based on 29 glycolysis prognostic genes was established in 757 PDAC patients from the training composite cohort and validated in 267 ICGC-CA validation cohort (all P < .05). In addition, including PADC, the prognostic value was also confirmed in other 7 out of 30 pan-cancer cohorts. The GRP score was significantly related to specific metabolism pathways, immune genes and immune cells in the patients with PADC (all P < .05). Finally, by combining with immune cells, the GRP score also well-predicted the chemosensitivity of patients with PADC in the TCGA cohort (AUC = 0.709). In conclusion, this study developed a GRP score for patients with PDAC in predicting prognosis and chemosensitivity for PDAC.
    Keywords:  chemosensitivity; glycolysis; pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma; prognosis; score
  10. Aging (Albany NY). 2021 May 05. 13
      Abnormal cancer metabolism occurs throughout the development of tumors. Recent studies have shown that abnormal nucleotide metabolism not only accelerates the development of tumors but also inhibits the normal immune response in the tumor microenvironment. Although few relevant experiments and reports are available, study of the interaction between nucleotide metabolism and cancer development is rapidly developing. The intervention, alteration or regulation of molecular mechanisms related to abnormal nucleotide metabolism in tumor cells has become a new idea and strategy for the treatment of tumors and prevention of recurrence and metastasis. Determining how nucleotide metabolism regulates the occurrence and progression of tumors still needs long-term and extensive research and exploration.
    Keywords:  key metabolic enzyme; nucleotide metabolism; oncogene-induced senescence; signaling pathway; tumor immunity
  11. Biol Chem. 2021 May 07.
      Glutamine synthetase (GS) in the liver is expressed in a small perivenous, highly specialized hepatocyte population and is essential for the maintenance of low, non-toxic ammonia levels in the organism. However, GS activity can be impaired by tyrosine nitration of the enzyme in response to oxidative/nitrosative stress in a pH-sensitive way. The underlying molecular mechanism as investigated by combined molecular simulations and in vitro experiments indicates that tyrosine nitration can lead to a fully reversible and pH-sensitive regulation of protein function. This approach was also used to understand the functional consequences of several recently described point mutations of human GS with clinical relevance and to suggest an approach to restore impaired GS activity.
    Keywords:  ammonia; glutaminase; glutamine synthetase; hyperammonemia; molecular dynamics simulations; protein tyrosine nitration
  12. Curr Cancer Drug Targets. 2021 May 03.
      Gliomas are the most common type of malignant brain tumors. Despite significant medical advances, gliomas remain incurable and are associated with high mortality. Although numerous biomarkers of diagnostic value have been identified and significant progress in the prognosis of the outcome has been made, the treatment has not been parallelly improved during the last three decades. This review summarizes and discusses three aspects of recent discoveries related to glioma, with the objective to highlight the advantages of glioma-specific drugs targeting the cell of origin, microenvironment, and metabolism. Given the heterogeneous nature of gliomas, various cell populations have been implicated as likely sources of the tumor. Depending on the mutation(s) acquired by the cells, it is believed that neuronal stem/progenitor cells, oligodendrocyte progenitor cells, mature neurons, and glial cells can initiate cell transformation into a malignant phenotype. The level of tumorigenicity appears to be inversely correlated with the maturation of a given cell population. The microenvironment of gliomas includes non-cancer cells such as immune cells, fibroblasts, and cells of blood vessels, as well as secreted molecules and the extracellular matrix, and all these components play a vital role during tumor initiation and progression. We will discuss in detail how the tumor microenvironment can stimulate and drive the transformation of non-tumor cell populations into tumor-supporting cells or glioma cells. Metabolic reprogramming is a key feature of gliomas and is thought to reflect the adaptation to the increased nutritional requirements of tumor cell proliferation, growth, and survival. Mutations in the IDH gene can shape metabolic reprogramming and may generate some vulnerabilities in glioma cells, such as abnormal lipid metabolism and sensitivity to endoplasmic reticulum stress (ERS). We will analyze the prominent metabolic features of malignant gliomas and the key pathways regulating glioma metabolism. This review is intended to provide a conceptual background for the development of glioma therapies based on the properties of tumor cell populations, microenvironment, and metabolism.
    Keywords:  Drug target; ER stress; Glioma; Lipid droplets; Microenvironment; metabolism
  13. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Apr 29. pii: 4716. [Epub ahead of print]22(9):
      Hexokinases are a family of ubiquitous exose-phosphorylating enzymes that prime glucose for intracellular utilization. Hexokinase 2 (HK2) is the most active isozyme of the family, mainly expressed in insulin-sensitive tissues. HK2 induction in most neoplastic cells contributes to their metabolic rewiring towards aerobic glycolysis, and its genetic ablation inhibits malignant growth in mouse models. HK2 can dock to mitochondria, where it performs additional functions in autophagy regulation and cell death inhibition that are independent of its enzymatic activity. The recent definition of HK2 localization to contact points between mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum called Mitochondria Associated Membranes (MAMs) has unveiled a novel HK2 role in regulating intracellular Ca2+ fluxes. Here, we propose that HK2 localization in MAMs of tumor cells is key in sustaining neoplastic progression, as it acts as an intersection node between metabolic and survival pathways. Disrupting these functions by targeting HK2 subcellular localization can constitute a promising anti-tumor strategy.
    Keywords:  Ca2+; MAMs; apoptosis; cell-penetrating peptides; chemotherapeutics; hexokinase 2; mitochondria; tumor metabolism
  14. Antioxidants (Basel). 2021 Apr 29. pii: 701. [Epub ahead of print]10(5):
      In humans, the glutathione S-transferases (GST) protein family is composed of seven members that present remarkable structural similarity and some degree of overlapping functionalities. GST proteins are crucial antioxidant enzymes that regulate stress-induced signaling pathways. Interestingly, overactive GST proteins are a frequent feature of many human cancers. Recent evidence has revealed that the biology of most GST proteins is complex and multifaceted and that these proteins actively participate in tumorigenic processes such as cell survival, cell proliferation, and drug resistance. Structural and pharmacological studies have identified various GST inhibitors, and these molecules have progressed to clinical trials for the treatment of cancer and other diseases. In this review, we discuss recent findings in GST protein biology and their roles in cancer development, their contribution in chemoresistance, and the development of GST inhibitors for cancer treatment.
    Keywords:  GST inhibitors; Glutathione S-transferases (GSTs); JNK; antioxidants; apoptosis; cancer-cell signaling; chemoresistance; glutathionylation; metabolism; oxidative stress; patient survival; xenobiotic compounds