bims-mimeim Biomed News
on Mitochondria, metabolism and immunity
Issue of 2021‒02‒21
ten papers selected by
Matthew C. Sinton
University of Glasgow


  1. Elife. 2021 Feb 18. pii: e63003. [Epub ahead of print]10
      Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) results from episodes of airway collapse and intermittent hypoxia (IH) and is associated with a host of health complications. Although the lung is the first organ to sense changes in oxygen levels, little is known about the consequences of IH to the lung hypoxia-inducible factor- (HIF)-responsive pathways. We hypothesized that exposure to IH would lead to cell-specific up and downregulation of diverse expression pathways. We identified changes in circadian and immune pathways in lungs from mice exposed to IH. Among all cell types, endothelial cells showed the most prominent transcriptional changes. Upregulated genes in myofibroblast cells were enriched for genes associated with pulmonary hypertension and included targets of several drugs currently used to treat chronic pulmonary diseases. A better understanding of the pathophysiologic mechanisms underlying diseases associated with OSA could improve our therapeutic approaches, directing therapies to the most relevant cells and molecular pathways.
    Keywords:  chromosomes; gene expression; mouse
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.63003
  2. Nat Commun. 2021 02 16. 12(1): 1052
      The parasitic protist Trypanosoma brucei is the causative agent of Human African Trypanosomiasis, also known as sleeping sickness. The parasite enters the blood via the bite of the tsetse fly where it is wholly reliant on glycolysis for the production of ATP. Glycolytic enzymes have been regarded as challenging drug targets because of their highly conserved active sites and phosphorylated substrates. We describe the development of novel small molecule allosteric inhibitors of trypanosome phosphofructokinase (PFK) that block the glycolytic pathway resulting in very fast parasite kill times with no inhibition of human PFKs. The compounds cross the blood brain barrier and single day oral dosing cures parasitaemia in a stage 1 animal model of human African trypanosomiasis. This study demonstrates that it is possible to target glycolysis and additionally shows how differences in allosteric mechanisms may allow the development of species-specific inhibitors to tackle a range of proliferative or infectious diseases.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-21273-6
  3. Brain Behav Immun. 2021 Feb 12. pii: S0889-1591(21)00043-X. [Epub ahead of print]
      Hematoma size after intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) significantly affects patient outcome. However, our knowledge of endogenous mechanisms that underlie hematoma clearance and the potential role of the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10) is limited. Using organotypic hippocampal slice cultures and a collagenase-induced ICH mouse model, we investigated the role of microglial IL-10 in phagocytosis ex vivo and hematoma clearance in vivo. In slice culture, exposure to hemoglobin induced IL-10 expression in microglia and enhanced phagocytosis that depended on IL-10-regulated expression of CD36. Following ICH, IL-10-deficient mice had more severe neuroinflammation, brain edema, iron deposition, and neurologic deficits associated with delayed hematoma clearance. Intranasal administration of recombinant IL-10 accelerated hematoma clearance and improved neurologic function. Additionally, IL-10-deficient mice had weakened in vivo phagocytic ability owing to decreased expression of microglial CD36. Moreover, loss of IL-10 significantly increased monocyte-derived macrophage infiltration and enhanced brain inflammation in vivo. These results indicate that IL-10 regulates microglial phagocytosis and monocyte-derived macrophage infiltration after ICH and that CD36 is a key phagocytosis effector regulated by IL-10. Leveraging the innate immune response to ICH by augmenting IL-10 signaling may provide a useful strategy for accelerating hematoma clearance and improving neurologic outcome in clinical translation studies.
    Keywords:  IL-10; hematoma clearance; intracerebral hemorrhage; macrophage; microglia
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2021.02.001
  4. Nature. 2021 Feb 15.
      Regulatory T (Treg) cells, although vital for immune homeostasis, also represent a major barrier to anti-cancer immunity, as the tumour microenvironment (TME) promotes the recruitment, differentiation and activity of these cells1,2. Tumour cells show deregulated metabolism, leading to a metabolite-depleted, hypoxic and acidic TME3, which places infiltrating effector T cells in competition with the tumour for metabolites and impairs their function4-6. At the same time, Treg cells maintain a strong suppression of effector T cells within the TME7,8. As previous studies suggested that Treg cells possess a distinct metabolic profile from effector T cells9-11, we hypothesized that the altered metabolic landscape of the TME and increased activity of intratumoral Treg cells are linked. Here we show that Treg cells display broad heterogeneity in their metabolism of glucose within normal and transformed tissues, and can engage an alternative metabolic pathway to maintain suppressive function and proliferation. Glucose uptake correlates with poorer suppressive function and long-term instability, and high-glucose conditions impair the function and stability of Treg cells in vitro. Treg cells instead upregulate pathways involved in the metabolism of the glycolytic by-product lactic acid. Treg cells withstand high-lactate conditions, and treatment with lactate prevents the destabilizing effects of high-glucose conditions, generating intermediates necessary for proliferation. Deletion of MCT1-a lactate transporter-in Treg cells reveals that lactate uptake is dispensable for the function of peripheral Treg cells but required intratumorally, resulting in slowed tumour growth and an increased response to immunotherapy. Thus, Treg cells are metabolically flexible: they can use 'alternative' metabolites in the TME to maintain their suppressive identity. Further, our results suggest that tumours avoid destruction by not only depriving effector T cells of nutrients, but also metabolically supporting regulatory populations.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-03045-2
  5. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2021 Feb 18.
      Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is involved in energy dissipation and has been linked to weight loss, insulin sensitivity, and reduced risk of atherosclerotic disease. BAT is found most often in the supraclavicular region, as well as mediastinal and paravertebral areas, and it is predominantly seen in young persons. BAT is activated by cold temperature and the sympathetic nervous system. In humans, BAT was initially detected via 2-deoxy-2-[18 F]fluoro-d-glucose (FDG) positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT), a high-resolution molecular imaging modality used to identify and stage malignancies. Recent studies have shown that BAT can be localized using conventional imaging modalities, such as CT or magnetic resonance imaging, as well as radiotracers used for single-photon emission CT. In this systematic review, we have summarized the evidence for BAT detection in humans using various imaging techniques.
    Keywords:  BAT; CT; FDG; MRI; PET; brown adipose tissue
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1111/nyas.14579
  6. Nature. 2021 02;590(7846): 480-485
      Obesity increases the risk of mortality because of metabolic sequelae such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease1. Thermogenesis by adipocytes can counteract obesity and metabolic diseases2,3. In thermogenic fat, creatine liberates a molar excess of mitochondrial ADP-purportedly via a phosphorylation cycle4-to drive thermogenic respiration. However, the proteins that control this futile creatine cycle are unknown. Here we show that creatine kinase B (CKB) is indispensable for thermogenesis resulting from the futile creatine cycle, during which it traffics to mitochondria using an internal mitochondrial targeting sequence. CKB is powerfully induced by thermogenic stimuli in both mouse and human adipocytes. Adipocyte-selective inactivation of Ckb in mice diminishes thermogenic capacity, increases predisposition to obesity, and disrupts glucose homeostasis. CKB is therefore a key effector of the futile creatine cycle.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03221-y
  7. Cell Rep. 2021 Jan 26. pii: S2211-1247(20)31667-3. [Epub ahead of print]34(4): 108678
      Osteosarcoma is the most common pediatric and adult primary malignant bone cancer. Curative regimens target the folate pathway, downstream of serine metabolism, with high-dose methotrexate. Here, the rate-limiting enzyme in the biosynthesis of serine from glucose, 3-phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase (PHGDH), is examined, and an inverse correlation between PHGDH expression and relapse-free and overall survival in osteosarcoma patients is found. PHGDH inhibition in osteosarcoma cell lines attenuated cellular proliferation without causing cell death, prompting a robust metabolic analysis to characterize pro-survival compensation. Using metabolomic and lipidomic profiling, cellular response to PHGDH inhibition is identified as accumulation of unsaturated lipids, branched chain amino acids, and methionine cycle intermediates, leading to activation of pro-survival mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) signaling. Increased mTORC1 activation sensitizes cells to mTORC1 pathway inhibition, resulting in significant, synergistic cell death in vitro and in vivo. Identifying a therapeutic combination for PHGDH-high cancers offers preclinical justification for a dual metabolism-based combination therapy for osteosarcoma.
    Keywords:  GATOR; PHGDH; SAMTOR; lipid metabolism; mTORC1; methotrexate; one-carbon metabolism; osteosarcoma; perhexiline; serine biosynthesis
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2020.108678
  8. Cancer Metab. 2021 Feb 19. 9(1): 10
      BACKGROUND: Harnessing the power of the immune system by using immune checkpoint inhibitors has resulted in some of the most exciting advances in cancer treatment. The full potential of this approach has, however, not been fully realized for treating many cancers such as pancreatic and breast cancer. Cancer metabolism influences many aspects of cancer progression including immune surveillance. An expanded understanding of how cancer metabolism can directly impact immune checkpoints may allow further optimization of immunotherapy. We therefore investigated, for the first time, the relationship between the overexpression of choline kinase-α (Chk-α), an enzyme observed in most cancers, and the expression of the immune checkpoint PD-L1.METHODS: We used small interfering RNA to downregulate Chk-α, PD-L1, or both in two triple-negative human breast cancer cell lines (MDA-MB-231 and SUM-149) and two human pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma cell lines (Pa09C and Pa20C). The effects of the downregulation were studied at the genomic, proteomic, and metabolomic levels. The findings were compared with the results obtained by the analysis of public data from The Cancer Genome Atlas Program.
    RESULTS: We identified an inverse dependence between Chk-α and PD-L1 at the genomic, proteomic, and metabolomic levels. We also found that prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase 2 (COX-2) and transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) play an important role in this relationship. We independently confirmed this relationship in human cancers by analyzing data from The Cancer Genome Atlas Program.
    CONCLUSIONS: Our data identified previously unknown roles of PD-L1 in cancer cell metabolic reprogramming, and revealed the immunosuppressive increased PD-L1 effect of Chk-α downregulation. These data suggest that PD-L1 regulation of metabolism may be mediated through Chk-α, COX-2, and TGF-β. The observations provide new insights that can be applied to the rational design of combinatorial therapies targeting immune checkpoints and cancer metabolism.
    Keywords:  Breast cancer; COX-2; Choline kinase alpha; Immune checkpoints; PD-L1
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1186/s40170-021-00245-w
  9. J Clin Invest. 2021 Feb 16. pii: 135963. [Epub ahead of print]
      Aberrant lipid metabolism promotes the development of skeletal muscle insulin resistance, but the exact identity of lipid-mediated mechanisms relevant to human obesity remains unclear. A comprehensive lipidomic analysis of primary myocytes from lean insulin-sensitive (LN) and obese insulin-resistant (OB) individuals revealed several species of lysophospholipids (lyso-PL) that were differentially-abundant. These changes coincided with greater expression of lysophosphatidylcholine acyltransferase 3 (LPCAT3), an enzyme involved in phospholipid transacylation (Lands cycle). Strikingly, mice with skeletal muscle-specific knockout of LPCAT3 (LPCAT3-MKO) exhibited greater muscle lyso-PC/PC, concomitant with improved skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity. Conversely, skeletal muscle-specific overexpression of LPCAT3 (LPCAT3-MKI) promoted glucose intolerance. The absence of LPCAT3 reduced phospholipid packing of cellular membranes and increased plasma membrane lipid clustering, suggesting that LPCAT3 affects insulin receptor phosphorylation by modulating plasma membrane lipid organization. In conclusion, obesity accelerates the skeletal muscle Lands cycle, whose consequence might induce the disruption of plasma membrane organization that suppresses muscle insulin action.
    Keywords:  Insulin signaling; Metabolism; Muscle Biology; Skeletal muscle
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1172/JCI135963
  10. Cell Metab. 2021 Feb 09. pii: S1550-4131(21)00013-9. [Epub ahead of print]
      The architecture of cristae provides a spatial mitochondrial organization that contains functional respiratory complexes. Several protein components including OPA1 and MICOS complex subunits organize cristae structure, but upstream regulatory mechanisms are largely unknown. Here, in vivo and in vitro reconstitution experiments show that the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) kinase PERK promotes cristae formation by increasing TOM70-assisted mitochondrial import of MIC19, a critical subunit of the MICOS complex. Cold stress or β-adrenergic stimulation activates PERK that phosphorylates O-linked N-acetylglucosamine transferase (OGT). Phosphorylated OGT glycosylates TOM70 on Ser94, enhancing MIC19 protein import into mitochondria and promoting cristae formation and respiration. In addition, PERK-activated OGT O-GlcNAcylates and attenuates CK2α activity, which mediates TOM70 Ser94 phosphorylation and decreases MIC19 mitochondrial protein import. We have identified a cold-stress inter-organelle PERK-OGT-TOM70 axis that increases cell respiration through mitochondrial protein import and subsequent cristae formation. These studies have significant implications in cellular bioenergetics and adaptations to stress conditions.
    Keywords:  MIC19; PERK-OGT axis; TOM70; brown adipocytes; cold stress; cristae biogenesis; mitochondrial protein import; respiration
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2021.01.013