bims-apauto Biomed News
on Apoptosis and autophagy
Issue of 2023‒02‒12
four papers selected by
Su Hyun Lee
Harvard University

  1. Cell Oncol (Dordr). 2023 Feb 06.
      BACKGROUND: Human malignancies are composed of heterogeneous subpopulations of cancer cells with phenotypic and functional diversity. Among them, a unique subset of cancer stem cells (CSCs) has both the capacity for self-renewal and the potential to differentiate and contribute to multiple tumor properties. As such, CSCs are promising cellular targets for effective cancer therapy. At the molecular level, hyper-activation of multiple stemness regulatory signaling pathways and downstream transcription factors play critical roles in controlling CSCs establishment and maintenance. To regulate CSC properties, these stemness pathways are controlled by post-translational modifications including, but not limited to phosphorylation, acetylation, methylation, and ubiquitination.CONCLUSION: In this review, we focus on E3 ubiquitin ligases and their roles and mechanisms in regulating essential hallmarks of CSCs, such as self-renewal, invasion and metastasis, metabolic reprogramming, immune evasion, and therapeutic resistance. Moreover, we discuss emerging therapeutic approaches to eliminate CSCs through targeting E3 ubiquitin ligases by chemical inhibitors and proteolysis-targeting chimera (PROTACs) which are currently under development at the discovery, preclinical, and clinical stages. Several outstanding issues such as roles for E3 ubiquitin ligases in heterogeneity and phenotypical/functional evolution of CSCs remain to be studied under pathologically and clinically relevant conditions. With the rapid application of functional genomic and proteomic approaches at single cell, spatiotemporal, and even single molecule levels, we anticipate that more specific and precise functions of E3 ubiquitin ligases will be delineated in dictating CSC properties. Rational design and proper translation of these mechanistic understandings may lead to novel therapeutic modalities for cancer procession medicine.
    Keywords:  Cancer stem cells (CSCs); E3 ubiquitin ligases; Molecularly targeted therapy; Proteolysis-targeting chimera (PROTAC); Ubiquitin-proteosome system
  2. Autophagy. 2023 Feb 06.
      Drug-tolerant persister (DTP) cancer cells drive residual tumor and relapse. However, the mechanisms underlying DTP state development are largely unexplored. In a recent study, we determined that PINK1-mediated mitophagy favors DTP generation in the context of MAPK inhibition therapy. DTP cells that persist in the presence of a MAPK inhibitor exhibit mitochondria-dependent metabolism. During DTP state development, MYC depletion alleviates the transcriptional repression of PINK1, resulting in PINK1 upregulation and mitophagy activation. PINK1-mediated mitophagy is essential for mitochondrial homeostasis in DTP cells. Either knockdown of PINK1 or mitophagy inhibition eradicates DTP cells and achieves complete responses to MAPK inhibition therapy. This study reveals a novel role of mitophagy as a protective mechanism for DTP development.
    Keywords:  Drug-tolerant persister; MAPK inhibitor; PINK1; mitophagy; quiescent cancer cells
  3. J Cell Physiol. 2023 Feb 06.
      Exosome biogenesis occurs parallel to multiple endocytic traffic routes. These coexisting routes drive cargo loading in exosomes via overlapping of exosome biogenesis with endosomal pathways. One such pathway is autophagy which captures damaged intracellular organelles or their components in an autophagosome vesicle and route them for lysosomal degradation. However, in case of a noncanonical fusion event between autophagosome and maturing multivesicular body (MVB)-a site for exosome biogenesis, the autophagic cargo is putatively loaded in exosomes and subsequent released out of the cell via formation of an "amphisome" like structure. Similarly, during "mitophagy" or mitochondrial (mt) autophagy, amphisome formation routes mitophagy cargo to exosomes. These mt-cargo enriched exosomes or mt-enREXO are often positive for LC3 protein-an autophagic flux marker, and potent regulators of paracrine signaling with both homeostatic and pathological roles. Here, I review this emerging concept and discuss how intracellular autophagic routes helps in generation of mt-enREXO and utility of these vesicles in paracrine cellular signaling and diagnostic areas.
    Keywords:  cancer; exosomes; heart disease; mitochondria cargo
  4. Leukemia. 2023 Feb 04.
      Mitochondrial metabolism recently emerged as a critical dependency in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The shape of mitochondria is tightly regulated by dynamin GTPase proteins, which drive opposing fusion and fission forces to consistently adapt bioenergetics to the cellular context. Here, we showed that targeting mitochondrial fusion was a new vulnerability of AML cells, when assayed in patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models. Genetic depletion of mitofusin 2 (MFN2) or optic atrophy 1 (OPA1) or pharmacological inhibition of OPA1 (MYLS22) blocked mitochondrial fusion and had significant anti-leukemic activity, while having limited impact on normal hematopoietic cells ex vivo and in vivo. Mechanistically, inhibition of mitochondrial fusion disrupted mitochondrial respiration and reactive oxygen species production, leading to cell cycle arrest at the G0/G1 transition. These results nominate the inhibition of mitochondrial fusion as a promising therapeutic approach for AML.