bims-pimaco Biomed News
on PI3K and MAPK signalling in colorectal cancer
Issue of 2021‒05‒30
thirteen papers selected by
Lucas B. Zeiger
Beatson Institute for Cancer Research

  1. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2021 May 27.
      Fatty acid synthase (FASN) participates in many fundamental biological processes, including energy storage and signal transduction, and is overexpressed in many cancer cells. We previously showed in a context of lipogenesis that FASN is protected from degradation by its interaction with O-GlcNAc transferase (OGT) in a nutrient-dependent manner. We and others also reported that OGT and O-GlcNAcylation up-regulate the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway that senses mitogenic signals and nutrient availability to drive cell cycle. Using biochemical and microscopy approaches, we show here that FASN co-localizes with OGT in the cytoplasm and, to a lesser extent, in the membrane fraction. This interaction occurs in a cell cycle-dependent manner, following the pattern of FASN expression. Moreover, we show that FASN expression depends on OGT upon serum stimulation. The level of FASN also correlates with the activation of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway in hepatic cell lines, and in livers of obese mice and in a chronically activated insulin and mTOR signaling mouse model (PTEN-null mice). These results indicate that FASN is under a dual control of O-GlcNAcylation and mTOR pathways. In turn, blocking FASN with the small-molecule inhibitor C75 reduces both OGT and O-GlcNAcylation levels, and mTOR activation, highlighting a novel reciprocal regulation between these actors. In addition to the role of O-GlcNAcylation in tumorigenesis, our findings shed new light on how aberrant activity of FASN and mTOR signaling may promote the emergence of hepatic tumors.
    Keywords:  Cell proliferation; Ob/ob mice; Protein interactions; Proximity ligation assay; siRNA
  2. Nat Commun. 2021 May 25. 12(1): 3140
      INPP4B suppresses PI3K/AKT signaling by converting PI(3,4)P2 to PI(3)P and INPP4B inactivation is common in triple-negative breast cancer. Paradoxically, INPP4B is also a reported oncogene in other cancers. How these opposing INPP4B roles relate to PI3K regulation is unclear. We report PIK3CA-mutant ER+ breast cancers exhibit increased INPP4B mRNA and protein expression and INPP4B increased the proliferation and tumor growth of PIK3CA-mutant ER+ breast cancer cells, despite suppression of AKT signaling. We used integrated proteomics, transcriptomics and imaging to demonstrate INPP4B localized to late endosomes via interaction with Rab7, which increased endosomal PI3Kα-dependent PI(3,4)P2 to PI(3)P conversion, late endosome/lysosome number and cargo trafficking, resulting in enhanced GSK3β lysosomal degradation and activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling. Mechanistically, Wnt inhibition or depletion of the PI(3)P-effector, Hrs, reduced INPP4B-mediated cell proliferation and tumor growth. Therefore, INPP4B facilitates PI3Kα crosstalk with Wnt signaling in ER+ breast cancer via PI(3,4)P2 to PI(3)P conversion on late endosomes, suggesting these tumors may be targeted with combined PI3K and Wnt/β-catenin therapies.
  3. Adv Sci (Weinh). 2021 May;8(10): 2004344
      Colorectal cancer, one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers worldwide, is often accompanied by uncontrolled proliferation of tumor cells. Dyskerin pseudouridine synthase 1 (DKC1), screened using the genome-wide RNAi strategy, is a previously unidentified key regulator that promotes colorectal cancer cell proliferation. Enforced expression of DKC1, but not its catalytically inactive mutant D125A, accelerates cell growth in vitro and in vivo. DKC1 knockdown or its inhibitor pyrazofurin attenuates cell proliferation. Proteomics, RNA immunoprecipitation (RIP)-seq, and RNA decay analyses reveal that DKC1 binds to and stabilizes the mRNA of several ribosomal proteins (RPs), including RPL10A, RPL22L1, RPL34, and RPS3. DKC1 depletion significantly accelerates mRNA decay of these RPs, which mediates the oncogenic function of DKC1. Interestingly, these DKC1-regulated RPs also interact with HRAS and suppress the RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK pathway. Pyrazofurin and trametinib combination synergistically restrains colorectal cancer cell growth in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, DKC1 is markedly upregulated in colorectal cancer tissues compared to adjacent normal tissues. Colorectal cancer patients with higher DKC1 expression has consistently poorer overall survival and progression-free survival outcomes. Taken together, these data suggest that DKC1 is an essential gene and candidate therapeutic target for colorectal cancer.
    Keywords:  MEK1/2; dyskerin pseudouridine synthase 1; pyrazofurin; ribosomal protein; trametinib
  4. ESMO Open. 2021 May 24. pii: S2059-7029(21)00116-2. [Epub ahead of print]6(3): 100156
      The RAS oncogene is among the most commonly mutated in cancer. RAS mutations are identified in about half of patients diagnosed with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC), conferring poor prognosis and lack of response to anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) antibodies. In the last decades, several investigational attempts failed in directly targeting RAS mutations, thus RAS was historically regarded as 'undruggable'. Recently, novel specific KRASG12C inhibitors showed promising results in different solid tumors, including mCRC, renewing interest in this biomarker as a target. In this review, we discuss different strategies of RAS targeting in mCRC, according to literature data in both clinical and preclinical settings. We recognized five main strategies focusing on those more promising: direct RAS targeting, targeting the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway, harnessing RAS through immunotherapy combinations, RAS targeting through metabolic pathways, and finally other miscellaneous approaches. Direct KRASG12C inhibition is emerging as the most promising strategy in mCRC as well as in other solid malignancies. However, despite good disease control rates, tumor response and duration of response are still limited in mCRC. At this regard, combinational approaches with anti-epidermal growth factor receptor drugs or checkpoint inhibitors have been proposed to enhance treatment efficacy, based on encouraging results achieved in preclinical studies. Besides, concomitant therapies increasing metabolic stress are currently under evaluation and expected to also provide remarkable results in RAS codon mutations apart from KRASG12C. In conclusion, based on hereby reported efforts of translational research, RAS mutations should no longer be regarded as 'undruggable' and future avenues are now opening for translation in the clinic in mCRC.
    Keywords:  KRAS; RAS; adagrasib; colorectal cancer; sotorasib
  5. Signal Transduct Target Ther. 2021 May 28. 6(1): 188
      Weight loss and cachexia are common problems in colorectal cancer patients; thus, parenteral and enteral nutrition support play important roles in cancer care. However, the impact of nonessential amino acid components of nutritional intake on cancer progression has not been fully studied. In this study, we discovered that gastrointestinal cancer patients who received cysteine as part of the parenteral nutrition had shorter overall survival (P < 0.001) than those who did not. Cystine indeed robustly promotes colon cancer cell growth in vitro and in immunodeficient mice, predominately by inhibiting SESN2 transcription via the GCN2-ATF4 axis, resulting in mTORC1 activation. mTORC1 inhibitors Rapamycin and Everolimus block cystine-induced cancer cell proliferation. In addition, cystine confers resistance to oxaliplatin and irinotecan chemotherapy by quenching chemotherapy-induced reactive oxygen species via synthesizing glutathione. We demonstrated that dietary deprivation of cystine suppressed colon cancer xenograft growth without weight loss in mice and boosted the antitumor effect of oxaliplatin. These findings indicate that cyst(e)ine, as part of supplemental nutrition, plays an important role in colorectal cancer and manipulation of cyst(e)ine content in nutritional formulations may optimize colorectal cancer patient survival.
  6. Biomed Pharmacother. 2021 May 24. pii: S0753-3322(21)00499-6. [Epub ahead of print]140 111717
      KRAS (kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene) is a member of the RAS family. KRAS mutations are one of most dominant mutations in colorectal cancer (CRC). The impact of KRAS mutations on the prognosis and survival of CRC patients drives many research studies to explore potential therapeutics or target therapy for the KRAS mutant CRC. This review summarizes the current understanding of the pathological consequences of the KRAS mutations in the development of CRC; and the impact of the mutations on the response and the sensitivity to the current front-line chemotherapy. The current therapeutic strategies for treating KRAS mutant CRC, the difficulties and challenges will also be discussed.
    Keywords:  Colorectal cancer; KRAS; Mutation; Therapy
  7. Bioeng Transl Med. 2021 May;6(2): e10200
      Time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (TOF-SIMS) is an imaging-based analytical technique that can characterize the surfaces of biomaterials. We used TOF-SIMS to identify important metabolites and oncogenic KRAS mutation expressed in human colorectal cancer (CRC). We obtained 540 TOF-SIMS spectra from 180 tissue samples by scanning cryo-sections and selected discriminatory molecules using the support vector machine (SVM) algorithm. Each TOF-SIMS spectrum contained nearly 860,000 ion profiles and hundreds of spectra were analyzed; therefore, reducing the dimensionality of the original data was necessary. We performed principal component analysis after preprocessing the spectral data, and the principal components (20) of each spectrum were used as the inputs of the SVM algorithm using the R package. The performance of the algorithm was evaluated using the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) area under the curve (AUC) (0.9297). Spectral peaks (m/z) corresponding to discriminatory molecules used to classify normal and tumor samples were selected according to p-value and were assigned to arginine, α-tocopherol, and fragments of glycerophosphocholine. Pathway analysis using these discriminatory molecules showed that they were involved in gastrointestinal disease and organismal abnormalities. In addition, spectra were classified according to the expression of KRAS somatic mutation, with 0.9921 AUC. Taken together, TOF-SIMS efficiently and simultaneously screened metabolite biomarkers and performed KRAS genotyping. In addition, a machine learning algorithm was provided as a diagnostic tool applied to spectral data acquired from clinical samples prepared as frozen tissue slides, which are commonly used in a variety of biomedical tests.
    Keywords:  KRAS somatic mutation; biomarker screening; colorectal cancer; support vector machine learning algorithm; time‐of‐flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (TOF‐SIMS)
  8. Front Oncol. 2021 ;11 670423
      Mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 1 (MAP2K1) is a dual specificity protein kinase that phosphorylates both threonine and tyrosine residues in ERK. MAP2K1 mutations have been identified in several cancers. However, their role in Middle Eastern papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) and colorectal cancer (CRC) is lacking. In this study, we evaluated the prevalence of MAP2K1 mutations in a large cohort of Middle Eastern PTC and CRC using whole-exome and Sanger sequencing technology. In the discovery cohort of 100 PTC and 100 CRC cases (comprising 50 MAPK mutant and 50 MAPK wildtype cases each), we found one MAP2K1 mutation each in PTC and CRC, both of which were MAPK wildtype. We further analyzed 286 PTC and 289 CRC MAPK wildtype cases and found three MAP2K1 mutant PTC cases and two MAP2K1 mutant CRC cases. Thus, the overall prevalence of MAP2K1 mutation in MAPK wildtype cases was 1.1% (4/336) in PTC and 0.9% (3/339) in CRC. Histopathologically, three of the four MAP2K1 mutant PTC cases were follicular variant and all four tumors were unifocal with absence of extra-thyroidal extension. All the three CRC cases harboring MAP2K1 mutation were of older age (> 50 years) and had moderately differentiated stage II/III tumors located in the left colon. In conclusion, this is the first comprehensive report of MAP2K1 somatic mutations prevalence in PTC and CRC from this ethnicity. The mutually exclusive nature of MAP2K1 and MAPK mutations suggests that each of these mutation may function as an initiating mutation driving tumorigenesis through MAPK signaling pathway.
    Keywords:  MAP2K1; colorectal cancer; mutation; papillary thyroid cancer; somatic
  9. Nucleic Acids Res. 2021 May 22. pii: gkab362. [Epub ahead of print]
      Appropriate regulation of the Integrated stress response (ISR) and mTORC1 signaling are central for cell adaptation to starvation for amino acids. Halofuginone (HF) is a potent inhibitor of aminoacylation of tRNAPro with broad biomedical applications. Here, we show that in addition to translational control directed by activation of the ISR by general control nonderepressible 2 (GCN2), HF increased free amino acids and directed translation of genes involved in protein biogenesis via sustained mTORC1 signaling. Deletion of GCN2 reduced cell survival to HF whereas pharmacological inhibition of mTORC1 afforded protection. HF treatment of mice synchronously activated the GCN2-mediated ISR and mTORC1 in liver whereas Gcn2-null mice allowed greater mTORC1 activation to HF, resulting in liver steatosis and cell death. We conclude that HF causes an amino acid imbalance that uniquely activates both GCN2 and mTORC1. Loss of GCN2 during HF creates a disconnect between metabolic state and need, triggering proteostasis collapse.
  10. Int J Biol Markers. 2021 May 27. 17246008211017152
      BACKGROUND: The KRAS mutations are high-frequency somatic mutations found in colorectal cancer patients from Western and Asian countries however, with the exception of exon 2 of KRAS, other prevalence and prognostic values have not been adequately assessed in Asian patients. The aim of this study was to determine the mutation frequencies of whole exon mutations of KRAS in Chinese colorectal cancer patients and to investigate their impact on prognosis.METHODS: A total of 7189 tumor tissue samples (iCohort) were subjected to next-generation sequencing for detection of KRAS mutations. All pathologic or likely pathologic mutations of KRAS were considered. In addition, clinical features and prognostic dates were collected from 145 patients at The Third Affiliated Hospital of Soochow University, China (sCohort) and used droplet digital™ polymerase chain reaction to detect KRAS mutations.
    RESULTS: In the iCohort, 2706 patients (37.6%) were confirmed harboring KRAS mutations. The most frequent of these mutations were G12D (32.19%), G12V (17.96%), and G13D (17.59%). In the sCohort, 51 colorectal cancer patients (35.17%) had KRAS mutations, among which KRAS G12D (64.71%), G13D (29.41%), and G14D (3.92%) were high-frequency. The KRAS mutations were associated with shorter median overall survival than wild-type tumors (69 vs. 55 months; HR 1.80; 95% Cl 1.22, 2.64; P=0.0003). In the Cox multivariate analysis, age (HR 1.562; 95% Cl 1.10, 2.22; P=0.013), tumor differentiation (HR 0.417; 95% Cl 0.19, 0.90; P=0.026), and KRAS mutation (HR 1.897; 95% Cl 0.19, 0.90; P=0.001) remained independent predictors of shorter overall survival. Among the common KRAS mutations, G12D was significantly associated with shorter overall survival (HR 2.17; 95% Cl 1.31, 3.58; P < 0.0001) compared with KRAS wild-type patients.
    CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that KRAS genes are frequently mutated, and over 30% harbored the KRAS G12D mutation subtype. We found that the KRAS G12D mutation is associated with inferior survival and is a biomarker of poor prognosis in Chinese patients. Our data emphasize the importance of molecular features in colorectal cancer patients, which could potentially be improved by G12D-specific related inhibitors.
    Keywords:  KRAS; KRAS G12D; colorectal cancer; prognosis
  11. Cell Rep. 2021 May 25. pii: S2211-1247(21)00499-X. [Epub ahead of print]35(8): 109157
      Increasing evidence suggests that the reactivation of initially inhibited signaling pathways causes drug resistance. Here, we analyze how network topologies affect signaling responses to drug treatment. Network-dependent drug resistance is commonly attributed to negative and positive feedback loops. However, feedback loops by themselves cannot completely reactivate steady-state signaling. Newly synthesized negative feedback regulators can induce a transient overshoot but cannot fully restore output signaling. Complete signaling reactivation can only occur when at least two routes, an activating and inhibitory, connect an inhibited upstream protein to a downstream output. Irrespective of the network topology, drug-induced overexpression or increase in target dimerization can restore or even paradoxically increase downstream pathway activity. Kinase dimerization cooperates with inhibitor-mediated alleviation of negative feedback. Our findings inform drug development by considering network context and optimizing the design drug combinations. As an example, we predict and experimentally confirm specific combinations of RAF inhibitors that block mutant NRAS signaling.
    Keywords:  MAPK pathways; RAF inhibitors; drug resistance; drug synergy; kinase inhibitors; kinetic models; modular response analysis; oncogenic RAS; signaling networks; targeted therapy
  12. EMBO Mol Med. 2021 May 25. e13502
      Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) patients frequently suffer from undetected micro-metastatic disease. This clinical situation would greatly benefit from additional investigation. Therefore, we set out to identify key signalling events that drive metastatic evolution from the pancreas. We searched for a gene signature that discriminate localised PDAC from confirmed metastatic PDAC and devised a preclinical protocol using circulating cell-free DNA (cfDNA) as an early biomarker of micro-metastatic disease to validate the identification of key signalling events. An unbiased approach identified, amongst actionable markers of disease progression, the PI3K pathway and a distinctive PI3Kα activation signature as predictive of PDAC aggressiveness and prognosis. Pharmacological or tumour-restricted genetic PI3Kα-selective inhibition prevented macro-metastatic evolution by hindering tumoural cell migratory behaviour independently of genetic alterations. We found that PI3Kα inhibition altered the quantity and the species composition of the produced lipid second messenger PIP3 , with a selective decrease of C36:2 PI-3,4,5-P3 . Tumoural PI3Kα inactivation prevented the accumulation of pro-tumoural CD206-positive macrophages in the tumour-adjacent tissue. Tumour cell-intrinsic PI3Kα promotes pro-metastatic features that could be pharmacologically targeted to delay macro-metastatic evolution.
    Keywords:  PI3K isoforms; pancreatic cancer; phosphoinositide; targeted therapy; tumour-stroma dialog
  13. Mol Cell Oncol. 2021 ;8(3): 1919006
      Ferroptosis is a cell death mechanism triggered by lipid peroxidation. Our recent study linked cyst(e)ine availability with glutathione peroxidase 4 (GPX4) protein synthesis and ferroptosis mitigation via a Rag-mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) axis, and proposed that co-targeting mTORC1 and ferroptosis is a promising strategy for cancer therapy.
    Keywords:  GPX4; SLC7A11; cancer therapy; cysteine; cystine; ferroptosis; lipid peroxidation; mTORC1