bims-istrec Biomed News
on Integrated stress response in cancer
Issue of 2022‒01‒16
five papers selected by
Vincenzo Ciminale’s Lab
Istituto Oncologico Veneto

  1. NPJ Breast Cancer. 2022 Jan 10. 8(1): 2
      Androgen receptor (AR) is an important prognostic marker and therapeutic target in luminal androgen receptor triple-negative breast cancer (LAR TNBC) and prostate cancer (PCa). Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress may activate the unfolded protein response (UPR) to regulate associated protein expression and is closely related to tumor growth and drug resistance. The effect of ER stress on AR expression and signaling remains unclear. Here, we focused on the regulation and underlying mechanism of AR expression induced by ER stress in LAR TNBC and PCa. Western blotting and quantitative RT-PCR results showed that AR expression was markedly decreased under ER stress induced by thapsigargin and brefeldin A, and this effect was dependent on PERK/eIF2α/ATF4 signaling activation. Chromatin immunoprecipitation-PCR and luciferase reporter gene analysis results showed that ATF4 bound to the AR promoter regions to inhibit its activity. Moreover, ATF4 overexpression inhibited tumor proliferation and AR expression both in vitro and in vivo. Collectively, these results demonstrated that ER stress could decrease AR mRNA and protein levels via PERK/eIF2α/ATF4 signaling in LAR TNBC and PCa. Targeting the UPR may be a treatment strategy for AR-dependent TNBC and PCa.
  2. Am J Cancer Res. 2021 ;11(12): 6004-6023
      Patients with diabetes have increased risk of cancer and poor response to anti-cancer treatment. Increased protein synthesis is associated with endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress which can trigger the unfolded protein response (UPR) to restore homeostasis, failure of which can lead to dysregulated cellular growth. We hypothesize that hyperglycemia may have legacy effect in promoting survival of cancer cells through dysregulation of UPR. Using HCT116 colorectal cancer cells as a model, we demonstrated the effects of high glucose (25 mM) on promoting cell growth which persisted despite return to normal glucose medium (5.6 mM). Using the Affymetrix gene expression microarray in HCT116 cells programmed by high glucose, we observed activation of genes related to cell proliferation and cell cycle progression and suppression of genes implicated in UPR including BiP and CHOP. These gene expression changes were validated in HCT116 cancer cells using quantitative real-time PCR and Western blot analysis. We further examined the effects of thapsigargin, an anti-cancer prodrug, which utilized ER stress pathway to induce apoptosis. High glucose attenuated thapsigargin-induced UPR and growth inhibition in HCT116 cells, which persisted despite return to normal glucose medium. Western blot analysis showed activation of caspase-3 in thapsigargin-treated cells in both normal and high glucose medium, albeit with lower levels of cleaved caspase-3 in cells exposed to high glucose, suggesting reduced apoptosis. Flow cytometry analysis confirmed fewer apoptotic cells under thapsigargin treatment in cells exposed to high glucose. Our results suggested that hyperglycemia altered gene expression involved in UPR with increased cell proliferation and facilitated survival of HCT116 cells under thapsigargin-induced ER stress by reducing the apoptotic response.
    Keywords:  Apoptosis; ER stress; UPR; cancer; diabetes
  3. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Dec 26. pii: 99. [Epub ahead of print]14(1):
      High-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC) is a significant cause of mortality among women worldwide. Traditional treatment consists of platinum-based therapy; however, rapid development of platinum resistance contributes to lower life expectancy, warranting newer therapies to supplement the current platinum-based protocol. Repurposing market-available drugs as cancer therapeutics is a cost- and time-effective way to avail new therapies to drug-resistant patients. The anti-HIV agent nelfinavir (NFV) has shown promising toxicity against various cancers; however, its role against HGSOC is unknown. Here, we studied the effect of NFV against HGSOC cells obtained from patients along disease progression and carrying different sensitivities to platinum. NFV triggered, independently of platinum sensitivity, a dose-dependent reduction in the HGSOC cell number and viability, and a parallel increase in hypo-diploid DNA content. Moreover, a dose-dependent reduction in clonogenic survival of cells escaping the acute toxicity was indicative of long-term residual damage. In addition, dose- and time-dependent phosphorylation of H2AX indicated NFV-mediated DNA damage, which was associated with decreased survival and proliferation signals driven by the AKT and ERK pathways. NFV also mediated a dose-dependent increase in endoplasmic reticulum stress-related molecules associated with long-term inhibition of protein synthesis and concurrent cell death; such events were accompanied by a proapoptotic environment, signaled by increased phospho-eIF2α, ATF4, and CHOP, increased Bax/Bcl-2 ratio, and cleaved executer caspase-7. Finally, we show that NFV potentiates the short-term cell cycle arrest and long-term toxicity caused by the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib. Overall, our in vitro study demonstrates that NFV can therapeutically target HGSOC cells of differential platinum sensitivities via several mechanisms, suggesting its prospective repurposing benefit considering its good safety profile.
    Keywords:  DNA damage; chemotherapy; drug repositioning; endoplasmic reticulum stress; nelfinavir; ovarian cancer; protein synthesis
  4. Chem Biol Interact. 2022 Jan 07. pii: S0009-2797(22)00011-4. [Epub ahead of print]353 109806
      Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is an extremely aggressive malignancy that ranks as the sixth-leading cause of cancer-associated death worldwide. Recently, various epigenetic mechanisms including gene methylation were reported to be potential next era HCC therapeutics and biomarkers. Although inhibition of epigenetic enzymes including histone lysine demethylase 4 (KDM4) enhanced cell death in HCC cells, the detailed mechanism of cell death machinery is poorly understood. In this study, we found that ML324, a small molecule KDM4-specific inhibitor, induced the death of HCC cells in a general cell culture system and 3D spheroid culture with increased cleavage of caspase-3. Mechanistically, we identified that unfolded protein responses (UPR) were involved in ML324-induced HCC cell death. Incubation of HCC cells with ML324 upregulated death receptor 5 (DR5) expression through the activation transcription factor 3 (ATF3)-C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP)-dependent pathway. Moreover, we identified BIM protein as a mediator of ML324-induced apoptosis using CRISPR/Cas9 knockout analysis. We showed that the loss of Bim suppressed ML324-induced apoptosis by flow cytometry analysis, colony formation assay, and caspase-3 activation assay. Interestingly, BIM protein expression by ML324 was regulated by ATF3, CHOP, and DR5 which are factors involved in UPR. Specifically, we confirmed the regulating roles of KDM4E in Bim and CHOP expression using a chromatin immune precipitation (ChIP) assay. Physical binding of KDM4E to Bim and CHOP promoters decreased the response to ML324. Our findings suggest that KDM4 inhibition is a potent anti-tumor therapeutic strategy for human HCC, and further studies of UPR-induced apoptosis and the associated epigenetic functional mechanisms may lead to the discovery of novel target for future cancer therapy.
    Keywords:  Bim; Death receptor 5; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Lysine demethylase 4; ML324; Unfolded protein response
  5. Blood Cancer Discov. 2022 Jan;3(1): 50-65
      Diffuse large B-cell lymphomas (DLBCL) are broadly dependent on anaplerotic metabolism regulated by mitochondrial SIRT3. Herein we find that translational upregulation of ATF4 is coupled with anaplerotic metabolism in DLBCLs due to nutrient deprivation caused by SIRT3 driving rapid flux of glutamine into the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle. SIRT3 depletion led to ATF4 downregulation and cell death, which was rescued by ectopic ATF4 expression. Mechanistically, ATF4 translation is inhibited in SIRT3-deficient cells due to the increased pools of amino acids derived from compensatory autophagy and decreased glutamine consumption by the TCA cycle. Absence of ATF4 further aggravates this state through downregulation of its target genes, including genes for amino acid biosynthesis and import. Collectively, we identify a SIRT3-ATF4 axis required to maintain survival of DLBCL cells by enabling them to optimize amino acid uptake and utilization. Targeting ATF4 translation can potentiate the cytotoxic effect of SIRT3 inhibitor to DLBCL cells. SIGNIFICANCE: We discovered the link between SIRT3 and ATF4 in DLBCL cells, which connected lymphoma amino acid metabolism with ATF4 translation via metabolic stress signals. SIRT3-ATF4 axis is required in DLBCL cells regardless of subtype, which indicates a common metabolic vulnerability in DLBCLs and can serve as a therapeutic target.This article is highlighted in the In This Issue feature, p. 1.