bims-cagime Biomed News
on Cancer, aging and metabolism
Issue of 2021‒02‒07
seventy papers selected by
Kıvanç Görgülü
Technical University of Munich

  1. Nature. 2021 Feb 03.
      Tissue damage increases the risk of cancer through poorly understood mechanisms1. In mouse models of pancreatic cancer, pancreatitis associated with tissue injury collaborates with activating mutations in the Kras oncogene to markedly accelerate the formation of early neoplastic lesions and, ultimately, adenocarcinoma2,3. Here, by integrating genomics, single-cell chromatin assays and spatiotemporally controlled functional perturbations in autochthonous mouse models, we show that the combination of Kras mutation and tissue damage promotes a unique chromatin state in the pancreatic epithelium that distinguishes neoplastic transformation from normal regeneration and is selected for throughout malignant evolution. This cancer-associated epigenetic state emerges within 48 hours of pancreatic injury, and involves an 'acinar-to-neoplasia' chromatin switch that contributes to the early dysregulation of genes that define human pancreatic cancer. Among the factors that are most rapidly activated after tissue damage in the pre-malignant pancreatic epithelium is the alarmin cytokine interleukin 33, which recapitulates the effects of injury in cooperating with mutant Kras to unleash the epigenetic remodelling program of early neoplasia and neoplastic transformation. Collectively, our study demonstrates how gene-environment interactions can rapidly produce gene-regulatory programs that dictate early neoplastic commitment, and provides a molecular framework for understanding the interplay between genetic and environmental cues in the initiation of cancer.
  2. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Feb 09. pii: e2021475118. [Epub ahead of print]118(6):
      Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the deadliest forms of cancer and is highly refractory to current therapies. We had previously shown that PDAC can utilize its high levels of basal autophagy to support its metabolism and maintain tumor growth. Consistent with the importance of autophagy in PDAC, autophagy inhibition significantly enhances response of PDAC patients to chemotherapy in two randomized clinical trials. However, the specific metabolite(s) that autophagy provides to support PDAC growth is not yet known. In this study, we demonstrate that under nutrient-replete conditions, loss of autophagy in PDAC leads to a relatively restricted impairment of amino acid pools, with cysteine levels showing a significant drop. Additionally, we made the striking discovery that autophagy is critical for the proper membrane localization of the cystine transporter SLC7A11. Mechanistically, autophagy impairment results in the loss of SLC7A11 on the plasma membrane and increases its localization at the lysosome in an mTORC2-dependent manner. Our results demonstrate a critical link between autophagy and cysteine metabolism and provide mechanistic insights into how targeting autophagy can cause metabolic dysregulation in PDAC.
    Keywords:  SLC7A11; autophagy; lysosome; pancreatic cancer; pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma
  3. Theranostics. 2021 ;11(7): 3472-3488
      Rationale: The activity of aldehyde dehydrogenase 7A1 (ALDH7A1), an enzyme that catalyzes the lipid peroxidation of fatty aldehydes was found to be upregulated in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). ALDH7A1 knockdown significantly reduced tumor formation in PDAC. We raised a question how ALDH7A1 contributes to cancer progression. Methods: To answer the question, the role of ALDH7A1 in energy metabolism was investigated by knocking down and knockdown gene in mouse model, because the role of ALDH7A1 has been reported as a catabolic enzyme catalyzing fatty aldehyde from lipid peroxidation to fatty acid. Oxygen consumption rate (OCR), ATP production, mitochondrial membrane potential, proliferation assay and immunoblotting were performed. In in vivo study, two human PDAC cell lines were used for pre-clinical xenograft model as well as spontaneous PDAC model of KPC mice was also employed for anti-cancer therapeutic effect. Results: ALDH7A1 knockdown significantly reduced tumor formation with reduction of OCR and ATP production, which was inversely correlated with increase of 4-hydroxynonenal. This implies that ALDH7A1 is critical to process fatty aldehydes from lipid peroxidation. Overall survival of PDAC is doubled by cross breeding of KPC (KrasG12D; Trp53R172H; Pdx1-Cre) and Aldh7a1-/- mice. Conclusion: Inhibitions of ALDH7A1 and oxidative phosphorylation using gossypol and phenformin resulted in a regression of tumor formation in xenograft mice model and KPC mice model.
    Keywords:  ALDH7A1; KPC mice model; cancer metabolism; oxidative phosphorylation complex I; pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma
  4. J Cell Sci. 2021 Feb 03. pii: jcs.256255. [Epub ahead of print]
      Mitophagy, the selective recycling of mitochondria through autophagy, is a crucial metabolic process induced by cellular stress, and defects are linked to aging, sarcopenia, and neurodegenerative diseases. To therapeutically target mitophagy, the fundamental in vivo dynamics and molecular mechanisms must be fully understood. Here, we generated mitophagy biosensor zebrafish lines expressing mitochondrially targeted, pH-sensitive, fluorescent probes mito-Keima and mito-EGFP-mCherry and used quantitative intravital imaging to illuminate mitophagy during physiological stresses-embryonic development, fasting and hypoxia. In fasted muscle, volumetric mitolysosome size analyses documented organelle stress-response dynamics, and time-lapse imaging revealed mitochondrial filaments undergo piecemeal fragmentation and recycling rather than the wholesale turnover observed in cultured cells. Hypoxia-inducible factor (Hif) pathway activation through physiological hypoxia or chemical or genetic modulation also provoked mitophagy. Intriguingly, mutation of a single mitophagy receptor bnip3 prevented this effect, whereas disruption of other putative hypoxia-associated mitophagy genes bnip3la (nix), fundc1, pink1 or prkn (Parkin) had no effect. This in vivo imaging study establishes fundamental dynamics of fasting-induced mitophagy and identifies bnip3 as the master regulator of Hif-induced mitophagy in vertebrate muscle.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Fasting; Hypoxia; Lysosome; Mitochondria
  5. Sci Adv. 2021 Feb;pii: eabd7819. [Epub ahead of print]7(6):
      Blood vessels provide supportive microenvironments for maintaining tissue functions. Age-associated vascular changes and their relation to tissue aging and pathology are poorly understood. Here, we perform 3D imaging of young and aging vascular beds. Multiple organs in mice and humans demonstrate an age-dependent decline in vessel density and pericyte numbers, while highly remodeling tissues such as skin preserve the vasculature. Vascular attrition precedes the appearance of cellular hallmarks of aging such as senescence. Endothelial VEGFR2 loss-of-function mice demonstrate that vascular perturbations are sufficient to stimulate cellular changes coupled with aging. Age-associated tissue-specific molecular changes in the endothelium drive vascular loss and dictate pericyte to fibroblast differentiation. Lineage tracing of perivascular cells with inducible PDGFRβ and NG2 Cre mouse lines demonstrated that increased pericyte to fibroblast differentiation distinguishes injury-induced organ fibrosis and zymosan-induced arthritis. To spur further discoveries, we provide a freely available resource with 3D vascular and tissue maps.
  6. Nat Commun. 2021 02 01. 12(1): 720
      Cellular senescence is induced by stresses and results in a stable proliferation arrest accompanied by a pro-inflammatory secretome. Senescent cells accumulate during aging, promoting various age-related pathologies and limiting lifespan. The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor, type 2 (ITPR2) calcium-release channel and calcium fluxes from the ER to the mitochondria are drivers of senescence in human cells. Here we show that Itpr2 knockout (KO) mice display improved aging such as increased lifespan, a better response to metabolic stress, less immunosenescence, as well as less liver steatosis and fibrosis. Cellular senescence, which is known to promote these alterations, is decreased in Itpr2 KO mice and Itpr2 KO embryo-derived cells. Interestingly, ablation of ITPR2 in vivo and in vitro decreases the number of contacts between the mitochondria and the ER and their forced contacts induce premature senescence. These findings shed light on the role of contacts and facilitated exchanges between the ER and the mitochondria through ITPR2 in regulating senescence and aging.
  7. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Feb 03. pii: 1534. [Epub ahead of print]22(4):
      Cell metabolism is reprogrammed in cancer cells to meet their high bioenergetics and biosynthetic demands. This metabolic reprogramming is accompanied by alterations in redox metabolism, characterized by accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Elevated production of ROS, mostly by mitochondrial respiration, is counteracted by higher production of antioxidant defenses (mainly glutathione and antioxidant enzymes). Cancer cells are adapted to a high concentration of ROS, which contributes to tumorigenesis, metastasis formation, resistance to therapy and relapse. Frequent genetic alterations observed in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) affect KRAS and p53 proteins, which have a role in ROS production and control, respectively. These observations led to the proposal of the use of antioxidants to prevent PDAC development and relapse. In this review, we focus on the therapeutic strategies to further increase ROS level to induce PDAC cell death. Combining the promotion of ROS production and inhibition of antioxidant capacity is a promising avenue for pancreatic cancer therapy in the clinic.
    Keywords:  ROS; cancer metabolism; cancer therapeutic strategy; mitochondria; mitochondrial metabolism; oxidative stress; pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma; redox metabolism
  8. Cancer Res. 2021 Feb 01. pii: canres.CAN-20-3892-A.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      Stromal fibrosis activates pro-survival and pro-epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) pathways in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). In patient tumors treated with neoadjuvant stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), we found upregulation of fibrosis, extracellular matrix (ECM), and EMT gene signatures, which can drive therapeutic resistance and tumor invasion. Molecular, functional, and translational analysis identified two cell surface proteins, A disintegrin and metalloprotease 10 (ADAM10) and ephrinB2, as drivers of fibrosis and tumor progression after RT. RT resulted in increased ADAM10 expression in tumor cells, leading to cleavage of ephrinB2, which was also detected in plasma. Pharmacologic or genetic targeting of ADAM10 decreased RT-induced fibrosis and tissue tension, tumor cell migration, and invasion, sensitizing orthotopic tumors to radiation killing and prolonging mouse survival. Inhibition of ADAM10 and genetic ablation of ephrinB2 in fibroblasts reduced the metastatic potential of tumor cells after RT. Stimulation of tumor cells with EphrinB2 FC-protein reversed the reduction in tumor cell invasion with ADAM10 ablation. These findings represent a model of PDAC adaptation that explains resistance and metastasis after radiation therapy and identifies a targetable pathway to enhance RT efficacy.
  9. Pancreatology. 2021 Jan 22. pii: S1424-3903(21)00034-X. [Epub ahead of print]
      Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer-associated death in western countries, where the incidence and number of deaths are increasing every year. Intrinsic or acquired resistance of tumor cells to chemotherapy agents is the major reason for failure of traditional cancer treatment. Several factors are implicated in this impressive resistance; however, of these, it is important to highlight the extensive cellular heterogeneity of these tumors. This heterogeneity is linked to a wide range of sensitivity that different clones in the same tumor display to chemotherapeutic agents. Accordingly, recent findings in this field have discovered new therapeutic targets in order to develop new combinatory treatments, as well as to induce several cell death pathways and reduce therapy-threshold and likelihood of future resistance. Accordingly, recent research has focused on targeting mitochondria, an organelle with key roles regulating cell death signaling pathways, such as apoptosis, necroptosis, autophagy, ferroptosis, or parthanatos. These findings - identifying new compounds, alone or in combination, that can target pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma cell resistance - could be the key to future treatments.
    Keywords:  Apoptosis; Autophagy; Cell death; Chemoresistance; Ferroptosis; Immunogenic cell death; Necroptosis; Pancreas cancer; Parthanatos; Pyroptosis
  10. Cancer Cell. 2021 Jan 23. pii: S1535-6108(21)00041-6. [Epub ahead of print]
      Mutant p53 (mtp53) proteins can exert cancer-promoting gain-of-function activities. We report a mechanism by which mtp53 suppresses both cell-autonomous and non-cell-autonomous signaling to promote cancer cell survival and evasion of tumor immune surveillance. Mtp53 interferes with the function of the cytoplasmic DNA sensing machinery, cGAS-STING-TBK1-IRF3, that activates the innate immune response. Mtp53, but not wild-type p53, binds to TANK-binding protein kinase 1 (TBK1) and prevents the formation of a trimeric complex between TBK1, STING, and IRF3, which is required for activation, nuclear translocation, and transcriptional activity of IRF3. Inactivation of innate immune signaling by mtp53 alters cytokine production, resulting in immune evasion. Restoring TBK1 signaling is sufficient to bypass mtp53 and lead to restored immune cell function and cancer cell eradication. This work is of translational interest because therapeutic approaches that restore TBK1 function could potentially reactivate immune surveillance and eliminate mtp53 tumors.
    Keywords:  IRF3; STING; TBK1; immune evasion; innate immune signaling; mutant p53
  11. Endocrinology. 2021 Mar 01. pii: bqab006. [Epub ahead of print]162(3):
      Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) is an essential coenzyme that regulates cellular energy metabolism in many cell types. The major purpose of the present study was to test the hypothesis that NAD+ in white adipose tissue (WAT) is a regulator of whole-body metabolic flexibility in response to changes in insulin sensitivity and with respect to substrate availability and use during feeding and fasting conditions. To this end, we first evaluated the relationship between WAT NAD+ concentration and metabolic flexibility in mice and humans. We found that WAT NAD+ concentration was increased in mice after calorie restriction and exercise, 2 enhancers of metabolic flexibility. Bariatric surgery-induced 20% weight loss increased plasma adiponectin concentration, skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity, and WAT NAD+ concentration in people with obesity. We next analyzed adipocyte-specific nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (Nampt) knockout (ANKO) mice, which have markedly decreased NAD+ concentrations in WAT. ANKO mice oxidized more glucose during the light period and after fasting than control mice. In contrast, the normal postprandial stimulation of glucose oxidation and suppression of fat oxidation were impaired in ANKO mice. Data obtained from RNA-sequencing of WAT suggest that loss of NAMPT increases inflammation, and impairs insulin sensitivity, glucose oxidation, lipolysis, branched-chain amino acid catabolism, and mitochondrial function in WAT, which are features of metabolic inflexibility. These results demonstrate a novel function of WAT NAMPT-mediated NAD+ biosynthesis in regulating whole-body metabolic flexibility, and provide new insights into the role of adipose tissue NAD+ biology in metabolic health.
    Keywords:  NAD+; adiponectin; adipose tissue; insulin sensitivity; metabolic flexibility; obesity
  12. Biol Chem. 2020 Nov 18. 402(1): 73-88
      Mitochondria are key players of cellular metabolism, Ca2+ homeostasis, and apoptosis. The functionality of mitochondria is tightly regulated, and dysfunctional mitochondria are removed via mitophagy, a specialized form of autophagy that is compromised in hereditary forms of Parkinson's disease. Through mitophagy, cells are able to cope with mitochondrial stress until the damage becomes too great, which leads to the activation of pro-apoptotic BCL-2 family proteins located on the outer mitochondrial membrane. Active pro-apoptotic BCL-2 proteins facilitate the release of cytochrome c from the mitochondrial intermembrane space (IMS) into the cytosol, committing the cell to apoptosis by activating a cascade of cysteinyl-aspartate specific proteases (caspases). We are only beginning to understand how the choice between mitophagy and the activation of caspases is determined on the mitochondrial surface. Intriguingly in neurons, caspase activation also plays a non-apoptotic role in synaptic plasticity. Here we review the current knowledge on the interplay between mitophagy and caspase activation with a special focus on the central nervous system.
    Keywords:  BCL-2 family; PINK1; Parkin; Parkinson’s disease; caspase-3; synaptic plasticity
  13. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Feb 09. pii: e2020395118. [Epub ahead of print]118(6):
      A hallmark of cancer, including pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA), is a massive stromal and inflammatory reaction. Many efforts have been made to identify the anti- or protumoral role of cytokines and immune subpopulations within the stroma. Here, we investigated the role of interleukin-17A (IL17A) and its effect on tumor fibroblasts and the tumor microenvironment. We used a spontaneous PDA mouse model (KPC) crossed to IL17A knockout mice to show an extensive desmoplastic reaction, without impaired immune infiltration. Macrophages, especially CD80+ and T cells, were more abundant at the earlier time point. In T cells, a decrease in FoxP3+ cells and an increase in CD8+ T cells were observed in KPC/IL17A-/- mice. Fibroblasts isolated from IL17A+/+ and IL17A-/- KPC mice revealed very different messenger RNA (mRNA) and protein profiles. IL17A-/- fibroblasts displayed the ability to restrain tumor cell invasion by producing factors involved in extracellular matrix remodeling, increasing T cell recruitment, and producing higher levels of cytokines and chemokines favoring T helper 1 cell recruitment and activation and lower levels of those recruiting myeloid/granulocytic immune cells. Single-cell quantitative PCR on isolated fibroblasts confirmed a very divergent profile of IL17A-proficient and -deficient cells. All these features can be ascribed to increased levels of IL17F observed in the sera of IL17A-/- mice, and to the higher expression of its cognate receptor (IL17RC) specifically in IL17A-/- cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs). In addition to the known effects on neoplastic cell transformation, the IL17 cytokine family uniquely affects fibroblasts, representing a suitable candidate target for combinatorial immune-based therapies in PDA.
    Keywords:  IL17A; cancer-associated fibroblast; extracellular matrix; fibrosis; pancreatic cancer
  14. Nature. 2021 Jan 27.
      Selective targeting of aneuploid cells is an attractive strategy for cancer treatment1. However, it is unclear whether aneuploidy generates any clinically relevant vulnerabilities in cancer cells. Here we mapped the aneuploidy landscapes of about 1,000 human cancer cell lines, and analysed genetic and chemical perturbation screens2-9 to identify cellular vulnerabilities associated with aneuploidy. We found that aneuploid cancer cells show increased sensitivity to genetic perturbation of core components of the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC), which ensures the proper segregation of chromosomes during mitosis10. Unexpectedly, we also found that aneuploid cancer cells were less sensitive than diploid cells to short-term exposure to multiple SAC inhibitors. Indeed, aneuploid cancer cells became increasingly sensitive to inhibition of SAC over time. Aneuploid cells exhibited aberrant spindle geometry and dynamics, and kept dividing when the SAC was inhibited, resulting in the accumulation of mitotic defects, and in unstable and less-fit karyotypes. Therefore, although aneuploid cancer cells could overcome inhibition of SAC more readily than diploid cells, their long-term proliferation was jeopardized. We identified a specific mitotic kinesin, KIF18A, whose activity was perturbed in aneuploid cancer cells. Aneuploid cancer cells were particularly vulnerable to depletion of KIF18A, and KIF18A overexpression restored their response to SAC inhibition. Our results identify a therapeutically relevant, synthetic lethal interaction between aneuploidy and the SAC.
  15. Nat Commun. 2021 02 01. 12(1): 729
      Treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) has demonstrated clinical benefit for a wide range of cancer types. Because only a subset of patients experience clinical benefit, there is a strong need for biomarkers that are easily accessible across diverse practice settings. Here, in a retrospective cohort study of 1714 patients with 16 different cancer types treated with ICI, we show that higher neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) is significantly associated with poorer overall and progression-free survival, and lower rates of response and clinical benefit, after ICI therapy across multiple cancer types. Combining NLR with tumor mutational burden (TMB), the probability of benefit from ICI is significantly higher (OR = 3.22; 95% CI, 2.26-4.58; P < 0.001) in the NLR low/TMB high group compared to the NLR high/TMB low group. NLR is a suitable candidate for a cost-effective and widely accessible biomarker, and can be combined with TMB for additional predictive capacity.
  16. Nat Neurosci. 2021 Feb;24(2): 234-244
      Fibrosis is a common pathological response to inflammation in many peripheral tissues and can prevent tissue regeneration and repair. Here, we identified persistent fibrotic scarring in the CNS following immune cell infiltration in the experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) mouse model of multiple sclerosis. Using lineage tracing and single-cell sequencing in EAE, we determined that the majority of the fibrotic scar is derived from proliferative CNS fibroblasts, not pericytes or infiltrating bone marrow-derived cells. Ablating proliferating fibrotic cells using cell-specific expression of herpes thymidine kinase led to an increase in oligodendrocyte lineage cells within the inflammatory lesions and a reduction in motor disability. We further identified that interferon-gamma pathway genes are enriched in CNS fibrotic cells, and the fibrotic cell-specific deletion of Ifngr1 resulted in reduced fibrotic scarring in EAE. These data delineate a framework for understanding the CNS fibrotic response.
  17. Aging Cell. 2021 Feb 06. e13318
      Senescence, a state of stable growth arrest, plays an important role in ageing and age-related diseases in vivo. Although the INK4/ARF locus is known to be essential for senescence programmes, the key regulators driving p16 and ARF transcription remain largely underexplored. Using siRNA screening for modulators of the p16/pRB and ARF/p53/p21 pathways in deeply senescent human mammary epithelial cells (DS HMECs) and fibroblasts (DS HMFs), we identified EGR2 as a novel regulator of senescence. EGR2 expression is up-regulated during senescence, and its ablation by siRNA in DS HMECs and HMFs transiently reverses the senescent phenotype. We demonstrate that EGR2 activates the ARF and p16 promoters and directly binds to both the ARF and p16 promoters. Loss of EGR2 down-regulates p16 levels and increases the pool of p16- p21- 'reversed' cells in the population. Moreover, EGR2 overexpression is sufficient to induce senescence. Our data suggest that EGR2 is a direct transcriptional activator of the p16/pRB and ARF/p53/p21 pathways in senescence and a novel marker of senescence.
    Keywords:  EGR2; Ink4a; cellular senescence; p16; replicative lifespan; senescence; transcription factor
  18. Elife. 2021 Feb 01. pii: e62886. [Epub ahead of print]10
      Cells store energy in the form of neutral lipids packaged into micrometer-sized organelles named lipid droplets (LD). These structures emerge from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) at sites marked by the protein seipin, but the mechanisms regulating their biogenesis remain poorly understood. Using a combination of molecular simulations, yeast genetics and fluorescence microscopy, we show that interactions between lipids' acyl-chains modulate the propensity of neutral lipids to be stored in LD, in turn preventing or promoting their accumulation in the ER membrane. Our data suggest that diacylglycerol, that is enriched at sites of LD formation, promotes the packaging of neutral lipids into LDs, together with ER-abundant lipids, such as phosphatidylethanolamine. On the opposite end, short and saturated acyl-chains antagonize fat storage in LD and promote accumulation of neutral lipids in the ER. Our results provide a new conceptual understanding of LD biogenesis in the context of ER homeostasis and function.
    Keywords:  S. cerevisiae; cell biology; molecular biophysics; structural biology
  19. STAR Protoc. 2021 Mar 19. 2(1): 100280
      Targeted identification of cellular processes responsible for a phenotype is of major importance in guiding efforts in bioengineering and medicine. Genome-scale metabolic models (GEMs) are widely used to integrate various types of omics data and study the cellular physiology under different conditions. Here, we present PhenoMapping, a protocol that uses GEMs, omics, and phenotypic data to map cellular processes and observed phenotypes. PhenoMapping also classifies genes as conditionally and unconditionally essential and guides a comprehensive curation of GEMs. For complete details on the use and execution of this protocol, please refer to Stanway et al. (2019) and Krishnan et al. (2020).
    Keywords:  Bioinformatics; Metabolism
  20. Sci Rep. 2021 Feb 03. 11(1): 2923
      The antidiabetic adiponectin receptor agonist AdipoRon has been shown to suppress the tumour growth of human pancreatic cancer cells. Because obesity and diabetes affect pancreatic cancer progression and chemoresistance, we investigated the effect of AdipoRon on orthotopic tumour growth of Panc02 pancreatic cancer cells in DIO (diet-induced obese) prediabetic mice. Administration of AdipoRon into DIO mice fed high-fat diets, in which prediabetic conditions were alleviated to some extent, did not reduce either body weight or tumour growth. However, when the DIO mice were fed low-fat diets, body weight and the blood leptin level gradually decreased, and importantly, AdipoRon became effective in suppressing tumour growth, which was accompanied by increases in necrotic areas and decreases in Ki67-positive cells and tumour microvessels. AdipoRon inhibited cell growth and induced necrotic cell death of Panc02 cells and suppressed angiogenesis of endothelial MSS31 cells. Insulin and IGF-1 only slightly reversed the AdipoRon-induced suppression of Panc02 cell survival but had no effect on the AdipoRon-induced suppression of MSS31 cell angiogenesis. Leptin significantly ameliorated AdipoRon-induced suppression of angiogenesis through inhibition of ERK1/2 activation. These results suggest that obesity-associated factors weaken the anticancer effect of AdipoRon, which indicates the importance of weight loss in combating pancreatic cancer.
  21. Am Surg. 2021 Jan 31. 3134821989050
      BACKGROUND: Neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) has been reported as prognostic in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Data about NLR changes during neoadjuvant therapy (NAT) and its relationship with pathological tumor response and survival are lacking.METHODS: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma patients with NAT followed by resection between 2009 and 2015 were identified from a prospective database. Neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio was collected prior to NAT (baseline), on chemotherapy (prior to cycle 3), and prior to surgery. Baseline NLR, and changes in NLR between baseline and on chemotherapy (delta 1) and between baseline and surgery (delta 2) were compared with pathologic response (<90% and ≥90% defined as poor and good), overall (OS), and disease-free survival (DFS) using Wilcoxon rank-sum and Cox proportional hazard models.
    RESULTS: Of 93 patients, 17% had good pathological response. Median (interquartile range) NLR at baseline, third cycle, and surgery were 2.7 (2.0-3.7), 2.5 (1.9-4.1), and 3.1 (2.1-5.3), respectively. Median change in NLR from baseline to third cycle was .06 (P = .72), and .6 from baseline to surgery (P < .01). Baseline NLR, delta 1, and delta 2 were not associated with pathological response, OS, or DFS.
    DISCUSSION: Neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio increased after NAT, but a significant association between NLR and pathological response, OS, and DFS in resected PDAC patients was not observed.
    Keywords:  neoadjuvant therapy; neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio; pancreatic cancer; pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma; pathological tumor response; survival
  22. Mol Cancer. 2021 Feb 05. 20(1): 28
      The overlapping metabolic reprogramming of cancer and immune cells is a putative determinant of the antitumor immune response in cancer. Increased evidence suggests that cancer metabolism not only plays a crucial role in cancer signaling for sustaining tumorigenesis and survival, but also has wider implications in the regulation of antitumor immune response through both the release of metabolites and affecting the expression of immune molecules, such as lactate, PGE2, arginine, etc. Actually, this energetic interplay between tumor and immune cells leads to metabolic competition in the tumor ecosystem, limiting nutrient availability and leading to microenvironmental acidosis, which hinders immune cell function. More interestingly, metabolic reprogramming is also indispensable in the process of maintaining self and body homeostasis by various types of immune cells. At present, more and more studies pointed out that immune cell would undergo metabolic reprogramming during the process of proliferation, differentiation, and execution of effector functions, which is essential to the immune response. Herein, we discuss how metabolic reprogramming of cancer cells and immune cells regulate antitumor immune response and the possible approaches to targeting metabolic pathways in the context of anticancer immunotherapy. We also describe hypothetical combination treatments between immunotherapy and metabolic intervening that could be used to better unleash the potential of anticancer therapies.
    Keywords:  Immune checkpoint…; Immunity; Metabolic reprogramming; Oxysterols; TIL; TME
  23. J Cell Sci. 2021 Feb 01. pii: jcs.248294. [Epub ahead of print]
      The most common PIK3CA mutation, producing the H1047R mutant of p110α, arises in myriad malignancies and is typically observed in low grade breast tumours. In contrast, amplification is observed for wildtype PIK3CB, encoding p110β, and occurs at low frequency but in aggressive, high-grade, metastatic tumours. We hypothesized that mutant p110αH1047R and wildtype p110β give rise to distinct transformed phenotypes. We show that p110αH1047R and wildtype p110β, but not wildtype p110α, transform MCF-10A cells and constitutively stimulate PI3K/AKT signalling. However, their resultant morphological transformed phenotypes are distinct. p110αH1047R induced an EMT commensurate with SNAIL induction and loss of E-cadherin. p110β, however, maintained E-cadherin expression despite cells readily delaminating from epithelial sheets. Distinct from the prominent filopodia in p110αH1047R-expressing cells, p110β induced formation of lamellipodia, cells migrating with significantly greater velocity and decreased directionality. p110β-induced phenotypic alterations were accompanied by hyperactivation of RAC1, the dependency of transformation of p110β-binding to Rac1 revealed using a Rac1-binding mutant of p110β. Thus, PIK3CB amplification induces a transformed phenotype that is dependent upon a p110β-Rac1 signalling loop and is distinct from the transformed phenotype induced by p110αH1047R.
    Keywords:  Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transiition; Mammary epithelial cells; Migration; PI3K; PIK3CB; Rac1
  24. EMBO J. 2021 Feb 02. e105268
      Mitochondrial translation dysfunction is associated with neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases. Cells eliminate defective mitochondria by the lysosomal machinery via autophagy. The relationship between mitochondrial translation and lysosomal function is unknown. In this study, mitochondrial translation-deficient hearts from p32-knockout mice were found to exhibit enlarged lysosomes containing lipofuscin, suggesting impaired lysosome and autolysosome function. These mice also displayed autophagic abnormalities, such as p62 accumulation and LC3 localization around broken mitochondria. The expression of genes encoding for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+ ) biosynthetic enzymes-Nmnat3 and Nampt-and NAD+ levels were decreased, suggesting that NAD+ is essential for maintaining lysosomal acidification. Conversely, nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) administration or Nmnat3 overexpression rescued lysosomal acidification. Nmnat3 gene expression is suppressed by HIF1α, a transcription factor that is stabilized by mitochondrial translation dysfunction, suggesting that HIF1α-Nmnat3-mediated NAD+ production is important for lysosomal function. The glycolytic enzymes GAPDH and PGK1 were found associated with lysosomal vesicles, and NAD+ was required for ATP production around lysosomal vesicles. Thus, we conclude that NAD+ content affected by mitochondrial dysfunction is essential for lysosomal maintenance.
    Keywords:  GAPDH; NAD+; Nmnat3; lysosome; mitochondria
  25. Cancer Res. 2021 Feb 02. pii: canres.2633.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) still presents with a dismal prognosis despite intense research. Better understanding of cellular homeostasis could identify druggable targets to improve therapy. Here we propose RAD50-interacting protein 1 (RINT1) as an essential mediator of cellular homeostasis in PDAC. In a cohort of resected PDAC, low RINT1 protein expression correlated significantly with better survival. Accordingly, RINT1 depletion caused severe growth defects in vitro associated with accumulation of DNA double-strand breaks (DSB), G2 cell cycle arrest, disruption of Golgi-ER homeostasis, and cell death. Time-resolved transcriptomics corroborated by quantitative proteome and interactome analyses pointed towards defective SUMOylation after RINT1 loss, impairing nucleocytoplasmic transport and DSB response. Subcutaneous xenografts confirmed tumor response by RINT1 depletion, also resulting in a survival benefit when transferred to an orthotopic model. Primary human PDAC organoids licensed RINT1 relevance for cell viability. Taken together, our data indicate that RINT1 loss affects PDAC cell fate by disturbing SUMOylation pathways. Therefore, a RINT1 interference strategy may represent a new putative therapeutic approach.
  26. Trends Cell Biol. 2021 Jan 28. pii: S0962-8924(21)00001-5. [Epub ahead of print]
      The TP53 tumor suppressor is the most frequently mutated gene in human cancer. p53 suppresses tumorigenesis by transcriptionally regulating a network of target genes that play roles in various cellular processes. Though originally characterized as a critical regulator for responses to acute DNA damage (activation of apoptosis and cell cycle arrest), recent studies have highlighted new pathways and transcriptional targets downstream of p53 regulating genomic integrity, metabolism, redox biology, stemness, and non-cell autonomous signaling in tumor suppression. Here, we summarize our current understanding of p53-mediated tumor suppression, situating recent findings from mouse models and unbiased screens in the context of previous studies and arguing for the importance of the pleiotropic effects of the p53 transcriptional network in inhibiting cancer.
    Keywords:  cancer; mouse models; network; p53; transcription factor; tumor suppression
  27. Gastroenterology. 2021 Jan 29. pii: S0016-5085(21)00326-7. [Epub ahead of print]
      BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Homologous recombination deficiency (HRD) in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), remains poorly defined beyond germline(g) alterations in BRCA1, BRCA2 and PALB2.METHODS: We interrogated whole genome sequencing (WGS) data on 391 patients including 49 carriers of pathogenic variants (PVs) in gBRCA and PALB2. HRD classifiers were applied to the dataset and included: 1) the genomic instability score (GIS) used by Myriad's MyChoice HRD assay; 2) substitution base signature 3 (SBS3); 3) HRDetect; and, 4) Structural Variant (SV) burden. Clinical outcomes and responses to chemotherapy were correlated with HRD status.
    RESULTS: Biallelic tumour inactivation of gBRCA or PALB2 was evident in 43/49 germline carriers identifying HRD-PDAC. HRDetect (score ≥0.7) predicted gBRCA1/PALB2 deficiency with highest sensitivity (98%) and specificity (100%). HRD genomic tumour classifiers suggested that 7-10% of PDAC that do not harbor gBRCA/PALB2 have features of HRD. Of the somatic HRDetecthi cases, 69% were attributed to alterations in BRCA1/2, PALB2, RAD51C/D and XRCC2, and a tandem duplicator phenotype. TP53 loss was more common in BRCA1- compared to BRCA2-associated HRD-PDAC. HRD status was not prognostic in resected PDAC. However in advanced disease the GIS (p=0.02), SBS3 (p=0.03) and HRDetect score (p=0.005) were predictive of platinum response and superior survival. PVs in gATM (n=6) or gCHEK2 (n=2) did not result in HRD-PDAC by any of the classifiers. In four patients, BRCA2 reversion mutations associated with platinum resistance.
    CONCLUSIONS: Germline and parallel somatic profiling of PDAC outperforms germline testing alone in identifying HRD-PDAC. An additional 7-10% of patients without gBRCA/PALB2 mutations may benefit from DNA damage response agents.
  28. Elife. 2021 Feb 02. pii: e63284. [Epub ahead of print]10
      A farnesylated and methylated form of prelamin A called progerin causes Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS). Inhibiting progerin methylation by inactivating the isoprenylcysteine carboxylmethyltransferase (ICMT) gene stimulates proliferation of HGPS cells and improves survival of Zmpste24-deficient mice. However, we don't know whether Icmt inactivation improves phenotypes in an authentic HGPS mouse model. Moreover, it is unknown whether pharmacologic targeting of ICMT would be tolerated by cells and produce similar cellular effects as genetic inactivation. Here, we show that knockout of Icmt improves survival of HGPS mice and restores vascular smooth muscle cell numbers in the aorta. We also synthesized a potent ICMT inhibitor called C75 and found that it delays senescence and stimulates proliferation of late-passage HGPS cells and Zmpste24-deficient mouse fibroblasts. Importantly, C75 did not influence proliferation of wild-type human cells or Zmpste24-deficient mouse cells lacking Icmt, indicating drug specificity. These results raise hopes that ICMT inhibitors could be useful for treating children with HGPS.
    Keywords:  HGPS; ICMT; cell biology; inhibitor; methylation; mouse; progeria; senescence
  29. J Biol Chem. 2020 Jan 03. pii: S0021-9258(17)49551-2. [Epub ahead of print]295(1): 83-98
      Adipose tissue is essential for whole-body glucose homeostasis, with a primary role in lipid storage. It has been previously observed that lactate production is also an important metabolic feature of adipocytes, but its relationship to adipose and whole-body glucose disposal remains unclear. Therefore, using a combination of metabolic labeling techniques, here we closely examined lactate production of cultured and primary mammalian adipocytes. Insulin treatment increased glucose uptake and conversion to lactate, with the latter responding more to insulin than did other metabolic fates of glucose. However, lactate production did not just serve as a mechanism to dispose of excess glucose, because we also observed that lactate production in adipocytes did not solely depend on glucose availability and even occurred independently of glucose metabolism. This suggests that lactate production is prioritized in adipocytes. Furthermore, knocking down lactate dehydrogenase specifically in the fat body of Drosophila flies lowered circulating lactate and improved whole-body glucose disposal. These results emphasize that lactate production is an additional metabolic role of adipose tissue beyond lipid storage and release.
    Keywords:  Drosophila; adipocyte; cell metabolism; fat tissue; glucose disposal; insulin; insulin resistance; lactate; metabolic regulation; whole-body glucose homeostasis
  30. Elife. 2021 Feb 05. pii: e59067. [Epub ahead of print]10
      Genetic variants associated with type 2 diabetes (T2D) risk affect gene regulation in metabolically relevant tissues, such as pancreatic islets. Here, we investigated contributions of regulatory programs active during pancreatic development to T2D risk. Generation of chromatin maps from developmental precursors throughout pancreatic differentiation of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) identifies enrichment of T2D variants in pancreatic progenitor-specific stretch enhancers that are not active in islets. Genes associated with progenitor-specific stretch enhancers are predicted to regulate developmental processes, most notably tissue morphogenesis. Through gene editing in hESCs, we demonstrate that progenitor-specific enhancers harboring T2D-associated variants regulate cell polarity genes LAMA1 and CRB2. Knockdown of lama1 or crb2 in zebrafish embryos causes a defect in pancreas morphogenesis and impairs islet cell development. Together, our findings reveal that a subset of T2D risk variants specifically affects pancreatic developmental programs, suggesting that dysregulation of developmental processes can predispose to T2D.
    Keywords:  GWAS; Type 2 diabetes; Zebrafish; chromatin; developmental biology; genetics; genomics; hESC; human; pancreas; zebrafish
  31. Trends Cancer. 2021 Jan 27. pii: S2405-8033(20)30301-0. [Epub ahead of print]
      Cancer of unknown primary (CUP) is a rare malignancy that presents with metastatic disease and no identifiable site of origin. Most patients have unfavorable features and attempts to treat based on tissue-of-origin identification have not yielded a survival advantage compared with empiric chemotherapy. Next-generation sequencing has revealed genomic alterations that can be targeted in selected cases, suggesting that CUP represents a unique malignancy in which the genomic aberrations may be integral to the diagnosis. Recent trials focusing on tailored combination therapy matched to the genomic alterations in each cancer are providing new avenues of clinical investigation. Here, we discuss recent findings on molecular aberrations in CUP and how the genomic and immune landscape can be leveraged to optimize therapy.
    Keywords:  cancer of unknown primary; genomic; targeted therapy
  32. Cell Metab. 2021 Feb 02. pii: S1550-4131(21)00003-6. [Epub ahead of print]33(2): 334-349.e6
      Low-grade mitochondrial stress can promote health and longevity, a phenomenon termed mitohormesis. Here, we demonstrate the opposing metabolic effects of low-level and high-level mitochondrial ribosomal (mitoribosomal) stress in hypothalamic proopiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons. POMC neuron-specific severe mitoribosomal stress due to Crif1 homodeficiency causes obesity in mice. By contrast, mild mitoribosomal stress caused by Crif1 heterodeficiency in POMC neurons leads to high-turnover metabolism and resistance to obesity. These metabolic benefits are mediated by enhanced thermogenesis and mitochondrial unfolded protein responses (UPRmt) in distal adipose tissues. In POMC neurons, partial Crif1 deficiency increases the expression of β-endorphin (β-END) and mitochondrial DNA-encoded peptide MOTS-c. Central administration of MOTS-c or β-END recapitulates the adipose phenotype of Crif1 heterodeficient mice, suggesting these factors as potential mediators. Consistently, regular running exercise at moderate intensity stimulates hypothalamic MOTS-c/β-END expression and induces adipose tissue UPRmt and thermogenesis. Our findings indicate that POMC neuronal mitohormesis may underlie exercise-induced high-turnover metabolism.
    Keywords:  adipose; exercise; hypothalamus; metabolism; mitochondria; obesity; proopiomelanocortin; ribosome; stress; thermogenesis
  33. Cell. 2021 Feb 04. pii: S0092-8674(21)00006-4. [Epub ahead of print]184(3): 566-570
      Complex datasets provide opportunities for discoveries beyond their initial scope. Effective and rapid data sharing and management practices are crucial to realize this potential; however, they are harder to implement than post-publication access. Here, we introduce the concept of a "data sharing trust" to maximize the value of large datasets.
  34. Nat Genet. 2021 Feb;53(2): 215-229
      Naive epiblast and embryonic stem cells (ESCs) give rise to all cells of adults. Such developmental plasticity is associated with genome hypomethylation. Here, we show that LIF-Stat3 signaling induces genomic hypomethylation via metabolic reconfiguration. Stat3-/- ESCs show decreased α-ketoglutarate production from glutamine, leading to increased Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b expression and DNA methylation. Notably, genome methylation is dynamically controlled through modulation of α-ketoglutarate availability or Stat3 activation in mitochondria. Alpha-ketoglutarate links metabolism to the epigenome by reducing the expression of Otx2 and its targets Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b. Genetic inactivation of Otx2 or Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b results in genomic hypomethylation even in the absence of active LIF-Stat3. Stat3-/- ESCs show increased methylation at imprinting control regions and altered expression of cognate transcripts. Single-cell analyses of Stat3-/- embryos confirmed the dysregulated expression of Otx2, Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b as well as imprinted genes. Several cancers display Stat3 overactivation and abnormal DNA methylation; therefore, the molecular module that we describe might be exploited under pathological conditions.
  35. Elife. 2021 Feb 01. pii: e59529. [Epub ahead of print]10
      Robustness of biological systems is crucial for their survival, however, for many systems its origin is an open question. Here we analyze one sub-cellular level system, the microtubule cytoskeleton. Microtubules self-organize into a network, along which cellular components are delivered to their biologically relevant locations. While the dynamics of individual microtubules is sensitive to the organism's environment and genetics, a similar sensitivity of the overall network would result in pathologies. Our large-scale stochastic simulations show that the self-organization of microtubule networks is robust in a wide parameter range in individual cells. We confirm this robustness in vivo on the tissue-scale using genetic manipulations of Drosophila epithelial cells. Finally, our minimal mathematical model shows that the origin of robustness is the separation of time-scales in microtubule dynamics rates. Altogether, we demonstrate that the tissue-scale self-organization of a microtubule network depends only on cell geometry and the distribution of the microtubule minus-ends.
    Keywords:  cell biology
  36. Nature. 2021 Jan 27.
      Resistance to insulin and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) in pancreatic β-cells causes overt diabetes in mice; thus, therapies that sensitize β-cells to insulin may protect patients with diabetes against β-cell failure1-3. Here we identify an inhibitor of insulin receptor (INSR) and IGF1 receptor (IGF1R) signalling in mouse β-cells, which we name the insulin inhibitory receptor (inceptor; encoded by the gene Iir). Inceptor contains an extracellular cysteine-rich domain with similarities to INSR and IGF1R4, and a mannose 6-phosphate receptor domain that is also found in the IGF2 receptor (IGF2R)5. Knockout mice that lack inceptor (Iir-/-) exhibit signs of hyperinsulinaemia and hypoglycaemia, and die within a few hours of birth. Molecular and cellular analyses of embryonic and postnatal pancreases from Iir-/- mice showed an increase in the activation of INSR-IGF1R in Iir-/- pancreatic tissue, resulting in an increase in the proliferation and mass of β-cells. Similarly, inducible β-cell-specific Iir-/- knockout in adult mice and in ex vivo islets led to an increase in the activation of INSR-IGF1R and increased proliferation of β-cells, resulting in improved glucose tolerance in vivo. Mechanistically, inceptor interacts with INSR-IGF1R to facilitate clathrin-mediated endocytosis for receptor desensitization. Blocking this physical interaction using monoclonal antibodies against the extracellular domain of inceptor resulted in the retention of inceptor and INSR at the plasma membrane to sustain the activation of INSR-IGF1R in β-cells. Together, our findings show that inceptor shields insulin-producing β-cells from constitutive pathway activation, and identify inceptor as a potential molecular target for INSR-IGF1R sensitization and diabetes therapy.
  37. J Clin Invest. 2021 Feb 01. pii: 146210. [Epub ahead of print]131(3):
      Due to progressive inflammation, chronic pancreatitis destroys both the exocrine and endocrine pancreas and sensitizes pancreatic nerves, leading to unremitting pain. Unfortunately, there are no treatments for pancreatic inflammation and approaches to ameliorate pain are suboptimal. Pancreatic inflammation is particularly problematic because damage to acinar cells causes local release of digestive enzymes, which initiate pancreatic autodigestion. The combination of autodigestion and inflammation is unique to pancreatitis and undoubtedly contributes to the difficulty in devising effective treatments. In this issue of the JCI, Saleh et al. describe a nonsurgical technique to ablate pancreatic acinar cells, thus eliminating the source of digestive enzymes and preventing autodigestion. In mice and a nonhuman primate model, this approach effectively reduced inflammation and pain while preserving islet cell function. These findings support the concept that ongoing acinar cell damage is at the root of chronic pancreatitis and provide a possible strategy for clinical treatment.
  38. J Biol Chem. 2020 Jan 03. pii: S0021-9258(17)49565-2. [Epub ahead of print]295(1): 263-274
      Mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) promotes cell growth and proliferation in response to nutrients and growth factors. Amino acids induce lysosomal translocation of mTORC1 via the Rag GTPases. Growth factors activate Ras homolog enriched in brain (Rheb), which in turn activates mTORC1 at the lysosome. Amino acids and growth factors also induce the phospholipase D (PLD)-phosphatidic acid (PA) pathway, required for mTORC1 signaling through mechanisms that are not fully understood. Here, using human and murine cell lines, along with immunofluorescence, confocal microscopy, endocytosis, PLD activity, and cell viability assays, we show that exogenously supplied PA vesicles deliver mTORC1 to the lysosome in the absence of amino acids, Rag GTPases, growth factors, and Rheb. Of note, pharmacological or genetic inhibition of endogenous PLD prevented mTORC1 lysosomal translocation. We observed that precancerous cells with constitutive Rheb activation through loss of tuberous sclerosis complex subunit 2 (TSC2) exploit the PLD-PA pathway and thereby sustain mTORC1 activation at the lysosome in the absence of amino acids. Our findings indicate that sequential inputs from amino acids and growth factors trigger PA production required for mTORC1 translocation and activation at the lysosome.
    Keywords:  amino acid; cancer biology; cancer therapy; growth factor; lysosome; mTOR complex (mTORC); phosphatidic acid; phospholipase D; phospholipid vesicle
  39. Nature. 2021 Feb;590(7844): 57-66
      Mitochondria form dynamic networks in the cell that are balanced by the flux of iterative fusion and fission events of the organelles. It is now appreciated that mitochondrial fission also represents an end-point event in a signalling axis that allows cells to sense and respond to external cues. The fission process is orchestrated by membrane-associated adaptors, influenced by organellar and cytoskeletal interactions and ultimately executed by the dynamin-like GTPase DRP1. Here we invoke the framework of the 'mitochondrial divisome', which is conceptually and operationally similar to the bacterial cell-division machinery. We review the functional and regulatory aspects of the mitochondrial divisome and, within this framework, parse the core from the accessory machinery. In so doing, we transition from a phenomenological to a mechanistic understanding of the fission process.
  40. J Biol Chem. 2020 Jan 03. pii: S0021-9258(17)49553-6. [Epub ahead of print]295(1): 111-124
      Aerobic glycolysis or the Warburg effect (WE) is characterized by increased glucose uptake and incomplete oxidation to lactate. Although the WE is ubiquitous, its biological role remains controversial, and whether glucose metabolism is functionally different during fully oxidative glycolysis or during the WE is unknown. To investigate this question, here we evolved resistance to koningic acid (KA), a natural product that specifically inhibits glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH), a rate-controlling glycolytic enzyme, during the WE. We found that KA-resistant cells lose the WE but continue to conduct glycolysis and surprisingly remain dependent on glucose as a carbon source and also on central carbon metabolism. Consequently, this altered state of glycolysis led to differential metabolic activity and requirements, including emergent activities in and dependences on fatty acid metabolism. These findings reveal that aerobic glycolysis is a process functionally distinct from conventional glucose metabolism and leads to distinct metabolic requirements and biological functions.
    Keywords:  Warburg effect; cancer; glucose metabolism; glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase GAPDH; glycolysis; mass spectrometry (MS); metabolic regulation; metabolic reprogramming; metabolomics; oxidative metabolism
  41. FASEB J. 2021 Feb;35(2): e21335
      Muscle wasting in cancer is associated with deficits in protein synthesis, yet, the mechanisms underlying this anabolic impairment remain poorly understood. The capacity for protein synthesis is mainly determined by the abundance of muscle ribosomes, which is in turn regulated by transcription of the ribosomal (r)RNA genes (rDNA). In this study, we investigated whether muscle loss in a preclinical model of ovarian cancer is associated with a reduction in ribosomal capacity and was a consequence of impaired rDNA transcription. Tumor bearing resulted in a significant loss in gastrocnemius muscle weight and protein synthesis capacity, and was consistent with a significant reduction in rDNA transcription and ribosomal capacity. Despite the induction of the ribophagy receptor NUFIP1 mRNA and the loss of NUFIP1 protein, in vitro studies revealed that while inhibition of autophagy rescued NUFIP1, it did not prevent the loss of rRNA. Electrophoretic analysis of rRNA fragmentation from both in vivo and in vitro models showed no evidence of endonucleolytic cleavage, suggesting that rRNA degradation may not play a major role in modulating muscle ribosome abundance. Our results indicate that in this model of ovarian cancer-induced cachexia, the ability of skeletal muscle to synthesize protein is compromised by a reduction in rDNA transcription and consequently a lower ribosomal capacity. Thus, impaired ribosomal production appears to play a key role in the anabolic deficits associated with muscle wasting in cancer cachexia.
    Keywords:  RNA Polymerase 1; anabolic deficit; cancer cachexia; muscle wasting; rDNA transcription; ribosome biogenesis
  42. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Feb 09. pii: e2010075118. [Epub ahead of print]118(6):
      Many organs have internal structures with spatially differentiated and sometimes temporally synchronized groups of cells. The mechanisms leading to such differentiation and coordination are not well understood. Here we design a diffusion-limited microfluidic system to mimic a multicellular organ structure with peripheral blood flow and test whether a group of individually oscillating yeast cells could form subpopulations of spatially differentiated and temporally synchronized cells. Upon substrate addition, the dynamic response at single-cell level shows glycolytic oscillations, leading to wave fronts traveling through the monolayered population and to synchronized communities at well-defined positions in the cell chamber. A detailed mechanistic model with the architectural structure of the flow chamber incorporated successfully predicts the spatial-temporal experimental data, and allows for a molecular understanding of the observed phenomena. The intricate interplay of intracellular biochemical reaction networks leading to the oscillations, combined with intercellular communication via metabolic intermediates and fluid dynamics of the reaction chamber, is responsible for the generation of the subpopulations of synchronized cells. This mechanism, as analyzed from the model simulations, is experimentally tested using different concentrations of cyanide stress solutions. The results are reproducible and stable, despite cellular heterogeneity, and the spontaneous community development is reminiscent of a zoned cell differentiation often observed in multicellular organs.
    Keywords:  cell–cell communication; glycolytic oscillations; synchronization waves
  43. Elife. 2021 Feb 05. pii: e63341. [Epub ahead of print]10
      Phosphates are ubiquitous molecules that enable critical intracellular biochemical reactions. Therefore, cells have elaborate responses to phosphate limitation. Our understanding of long-term transcriptional responses to phosphate limitation is extensive. Contrastingly, a systems-level perspective presenting unifying biochemical concepts to interpret how phosphate balance is critically coupled to (and controls) metabolic information flow is missing. To conceptualize such processes, utilizing yeast metabolic networks we categorize phosphates utilized in metabolism into cycles, sources and sinks. Through this, we identify metabolic reactions leading to putative phosphate sources or sinks. With this conceptualization, we illustrate how mass action driven flux towards sources and sinks enable cells to manage phosphate availability during transient/immediate phosphate limitations. We thereby identify how intracellular phosphate availability will predictably alter specific nodes in carbon metabolism, and determine signature cellular metabolic states. Finally, we identify a need to understand intracellular phosphate pools, in order to address mechanisms of phosphate regulation and restoration.
    Keywords:  ; carbon metabolism; computational biology; gene expression; mass action; metabolic flux; metabolic networks; phosphate; systems biology
  44. Cancer Res. 2021 Feb 05. pii: canres.2352.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      Signaling between cancer and nonmalignant (stromal) cells in the tumor microenvironment (TME) is key to tumor progression. Here we deconvoluted bulk tumor transcriptomes to infer crosstalk between ligands and receptors on cancer and stromal cells in the TME of 20 solid tumor types. This approach recovered known transcriptional hallmarks of cancer and stromal cells and was concordant with single-cell, in-situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry data. Inferred autocrine cancer cell interactions varied between tissues but often converged on Ephrin, BMP, and FGFR-signaling pathways. Analysis of immune checkpoints nominated interactions with high levels of cancer-to-immune crosstalk across distinct tumor types. Strikingly, PD-L1 was found to be highly expressed in stromal rather than cancer cells. Overall, our study presents a new resource for hypothesis generation and exploration of crosstalk in the TME.
  45. JAMA Surg. 2021 Feb 03.
      Importance: Although margin-negative (R0) resection is the gold standard for surgical management of localized pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), the question of how to manage the patient with a microscopically positive intraoperative neck margin (IONM) during pancreaticoduodenectomy remains controversial.Observations: In the absence of randomized clinical trials, we critically evaluated high-quality retrospective studies examining the oncologic utility of re-resecting positive IONMs during pancreaticoduodenectomy for PDAC (2000-2019). Several studies have concluded that additional pancreatic resection to achieve an R0 margin in IONM-positive cases does not influence survival. The largest is a multi-institutional study of 1399 patients undergoing pancreaticoduodenectomy, which demonstrated that in comparison with patients undergoing R0 resection (n = 1196; median survival, 21 months), those with either final R1 resections (n = 131) or undergoing margin conversion from IONM-positive to R0 resection on permanent section (n = 72) demonstrated similar median survival times (13.7 and 11.9 months, respectively). Conversely, recent reports suggest that the conversion of IONM to R0 resection with additional resection or even total pancreatectomy may be associated with improved survival. The discordance between these conflicting studies could be explained in part by the influence of biologic and physiologic selection on the association of IONM re-resection and survival. Since most studies did not include patients receiving modern combination chemotherapy regimens, the intersection between margin status, tumor biology, and chemoresponsiveness remains unclear. Furthermore, there are no dedicated data to guide surgical management in IONM-positive pancreaticoduodenectomy for patients receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
    Conclusions and Relevance: Although data regarding the oncologic utility of additional resection to achieve a tumor-free margin following initial IONM positivity during pancreaticoduodenectomy for PDAC are conflicting, they suggest that IONM positivity may be a surrogate for biologic aggressiveness that is unlikely to be mitigated by the extent of surgical resection. The complex relationship between margin status and chemoresponsiveness warrants exploration in studies including patients receiving increasingly effective neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
  46. Nat Metab. 2021 Feb 03.
      Infection-related diabetes can arise as a result of virus-associated β-cell destruction. Clinical data suggest that the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), causing the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), impairs glucose homoeostasis, but experimental evidence that SARS-CoV-2 can infect pancreatic tissue has been lacking. In the present study, we show that SARS-CoV-2 infects cells of the human exocrine and endocrine pancreas ex vivo and in vivo. We demonstrate that human β-cells express viral entry proteins, and SARS-CoV-2 infects and replicates in cultured human islets. Infection is associated with morphological, transcriptional and functional changes, including reduced numbers of insulin-secretory granules in β-cells and impaired glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. In COVID-19 full-body postmortem examinations, we detected SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid protein in pancreatic exocrine cells, and in cells that stain positive for the β-cell marker NKX6.1 and are in close proximity to the islets of Langerhans in all four patients investigated. Our data identify the human pancreas as a target of SARS-CoV-2 infection and suggest that β-cell infection could contribute to the metabolic dysregulation observed in patients with COVID-19.
  47. Ageing Res Rev. 2021 Jan 27. pii: S1568-1637(21)00006-4. [Epub ahead of print] 101259
      Adipose tissue has a variety of diverse functions that maintain energy homeostasis. In conditions of excess energy availability, adipose tissue increases its lipid storage and communicates the nutritional abundance to various organs in the body. In conditions of energy depletion, such as fasting, cold exposure, or prolonged exercise, triglycerides stored in adipose tissue are released as free fatty acids to support the shift to catabolic metabolism. These diverse functions of storage, communication, and energy homeostasis are shared between numerous adipose depots including subcutaneous, visceral, brown, beige, intramuscular, marrow, and dermal adipose tissue. As organisms age, the cellular composition of these depots shifts to facilitate increased inflammatory cell infiltration, decreased vasculature, and increased adipocyte quantity and lipid droplet size. The purpose of this review is to give a comprehensive overview of the molecular and cellular changes that occur in various aged adipose depots and discuss their impact on physiology. The molecular signature of aged adipose leads to higher prevalence of metabolic disease in aged populations including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease, and certain types of cancer.
    Keywords:  White adipose tissue; brown adipose tissue; osteoporosis; sarcopenia; senescence
  48. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Feb 03. pii: 601. [Epub ahead of print]13(4):
      Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), also known as pancreatic cancer (PC), is characterized by an overall poor prognosis and a five-year survival that is less than 10%. Characteristic features of the tumor are the presence of a prominent desmoplastic stromal response, an altered metabolism, and profound resistance to cancer drugs including gemcitabine, the backbone of PDAC chemotherapy. The pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs) constitute the major cellular component of PDAC stroma. PSCs are essential for extracellular matrix assembly and form a supportive niche for tumor growth. Various cytokines and growth factors induce activation of PSCs through autocrine and paracrine mechanisms, which in turn promote overall tumor growth and metastasis and induce chemoresistance. To maintain growth and survival in the nutrient-poor, hypoxic environment of PDAC, tumor cells fulfill their high energy demands via several unconventional ways, a process generally referred to as metabolic reprogramming. Accumulating evidence indicates that activated PSCs not only contribute to the therapy-resistant phenotype of PDAC but also act as a nutrient supplier for the tumor cells. However, the precise molecular links between metabolic reprogramming and an acquired therapy resistance in PDAC remain elusive. This review highlights recent findings indicating the importance of PSCs in aiding growth-permissive metabolic reprogramming and gemcitabine chemoresistance in PDAC.
    Keywords:  gemcitabine chemoresistance; metabolic reprogramming; pancreatic cancer; pancreatic stellate cell
  49. Oncotarget. 2021 Jan 19. 12(2): 106-124
      Cancer cells accumulate iron to supplement their aberrant growth and metabolism. Depleting cells of iron by iron chelators has been shown to be selectively cytotoxic to cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. Iron chelators are effective at combating a range of cancers including those which are difficult to treat such as androgen insensitive prostate cancer and cancer stem cells. This review will evaluate the impact of iron chelation on cancer cell survival and the underlying mechanisms of action. A plethora of studies have shown iron chelators can reverse some of the major hallmarks and enabling characteristics of cancer. Iron chelators inhibit signalling pathways that drive proliferation, migration and metastasis as well as return tumour suppressive signalling. In addition to this, iron chelators stimulate apoptotic and ER stress signalling pathways inducing cell death even in cells lacking a functional p53 gene. Iron chelators can sensitise cancer cells to PARP inhibitors through mimicking BRCAness; a feature of cancers trademark genomic instability. Iron chelators target cancer cell metabolism, attenuating oxidative phosphorylation and glycolysis. Moreover, iron chelators may reverse the major characteristics of oncogenic transformation. Iron chelation therefore represent a promising selective mode of cancer therapy.
    Keywords:  NDRG1; hallmarks of cancer; iron chelator; oncogenesis; selective cytotoxicity
  50. Endocrinology. 2021 Mar 01. pii: bqaa225. [Epub ahead of print]162(3):
      This Perspective presents comments intended for junior researchers by Carol A. Lange, Editor-in-Chief, Endocrinology, and Stephen R. Hammes, former Editor-in-Chief, Molecular Endocrinology, and former co-Editor-in-Chief, Endocrinology.PRINCIPAL POINTS: 1. Know when you are ready and identify your target audience.2. Select an appropriate journal.3. Craft your title and abstract to capture your key words and deliver your message.4. Tell a clear and impactful story.5. Review, polish, and perfect your manuscript.
    Keywords:  abstract; editing; impact factor; manuscript; peer-review; publish; title
  51. Ageing Res Rev. 2021 Feb 01. pii: S1568-1637(21)00011-8. [Epub ahead of print] 101264
      The metazoan nucleus is a highly structured organelle containing several well-defined sub-organelles. It is the largest organelle inside a cell taking up from one tenth to half of entire cell volume. This makes it one of the easiest organelles to identify and study under the microscope. Abnormalities in the nuclear morphology and architecture are commonly observed in an aged and senescent cell. For example, the nuclei enlarge, loose their shape, appear lobulated, harbour nuclear membrane invaginations, carry enlarged/fragmented nucleolus, loose heterochromatin, etc. In this review we discuss about the age-related changes in nuclear features and elaborate upon the molecular reasons driving the change. Many of these changes can be easily imaged under a microscope and analysed in silico. Thus, computational image analysis of nuclear features appears to be a promising tool to evaluate physiological age of a cell and offers to be a legitimate biomarker. It can be used to examine progression of age-related diseases and evaluate therapies.
    Keywords:  Biomarker; Nuclear architecture; Nuclear integrity; Nuclear morphology; Senescence
  52. STAR Protoc. 2021 Mar 19. 2(1): 100296
      Quantification of nuclear stiffness is challenging for cells encapsulated within a 3D extracellular matrix (ECM). Here, we describe an experimental setup for measuring microenvironment-dependent tuning of nuclear stiffness using an atomic force microscope (AFM). In our setup, ECM-coated polyacrylamide hydrogels mimic the stiffness of the microenvironment, enabling the measurement of nuclear stiffness using an AFM probe in live cancer cells. For complete details on the use and execution of this protocol, please refer to Das et al. (2019) (
    Keywords:  Atomic force microscopy (AFM); Biophysics; Cancer; Cell biology
  53. J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle. 2021 Feb 01.
      BACKGROUND: Skeletal muscle wasting is a devastating consequence of cancer that affects up to 80% of cancer patients and associates with reduced survival. Herein, we investigated the biological significance of Forkhead box P1 (FoxP1), a transcriptional repressor that we demonstrate is up-regulated in skeletal muscle in multiple models of cancer cachexia and in cachectic cancer patients.METHODS: Inducible, skeletal muscle-specific FoxP1 over-expressing (FoxP1iSkmTg/Tg ) mice were generated through crossing conditional Foxp1a transgenic mice with HSA-MCM mice that express tamoxifen-inducible Cre recombinase under control of the skeletal muscle actin promoter. To determine the requirement of FoxP1 for cancer-induced skeletal muscle wasting, FoxP1-shRNA was packaged and targeted to muscles using AAV9 delivery prior to inoculation of mice with Colon-26 Adenocarcinoma (C26) cells.
    RESULTS: Up-regulation of FoxP1 in adult skeletal muscle was sufficient to induce features of cachexia, including 15% reduction in body mass (P < 0.05), and a 16-27% reduction in skeletal muscle mass (P < 0.05) that was characterized by a 20% reduction in muscle fibre cross-sectional area of type IIX/B muscle fibres (P = 0.020). Skeletal muscles from FoxP1iSkmTg/Tg mice also showed significant damage and myopathy characterized by the presence of centrally nucleated myofibres, extracellular matrix expansion, and were 19-26% weaker than controls (P < 0.05). Transcriptomic analysis revealed FoxP1 as a potent transcriptional repressor of skeletal muscle gene expression, with enrichment of pathways related to skeletal muscle structure and function, growth signalling, and cell quality control. Because FoxP1 functions, at least in part, as a transcriptional repressor through its interaction with histone deacetylase proteins, we treated FoxP1iSkmTg/Tg mice with Trichostatin A, and found that this completely prevented the loss of muscle mass (p = 0.007) and fibre atrophy (P < 0.001) in the tibialis anterior. In the context of cancer, FoxP1 knockdown blocked the cancer-induced repression of myocyte enhancer factor 2 (MEF2)-target genes critical to muscle differentiation and repair, improved muscle ultrastructure, and attenuated muscle fibre atrophy by 50% (P < 0.05).
    CONCLUSIONS: In summary, we identify FoxP1 as a novel repressor of skeletal muscle gene expression that is increased in cancer cachexia, whose up-regulation is sufficient to induce skeletal muscle wasting and weakness, and required for the normal wasting response to cancer.
    Keywords:  Cancer cachexia; Muscle atrophy; Muscle regeneration; Muscle weakness; Pancreatic cancer
  54. Semin Cancer Biol. 2021 Feb 02. pii: S1044-579X(21)00013-4. [Epub ahead of print]
      Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are increasingly recognised as a pivotal player in cell-cell communication, an attribute of EVs that derives from their ability to transport bioactive cargoes between cells, resulting in complex intercellular signalling mediated by EVs, which occur under both physiological and pathological conditions. In the context of cancer, recent studies have demonstrated the versatile and crucial roles of EVs in the tumour microenvironment (TME). Here, we revisit EV biology, and focus on EV-mediated interactions between cancer cells and stromal cells, including fibroblast, immune cells, endothelial cells and neurons. In addition, we focus on recent reports indicating interactions between EVs and non-cell constituents within the TME, including the extracellular matrix. We also review and summarise the intricate cancer-associated network modulated by EVs, which promotes metabolic reprogramming, horizontal transfer of neoplastic traits, and therapeutic resistance in the TME. We aim to provide a comprehensive and updated landscape of EVs in the TME, focusing on oncogenesis, cancer progression and therapeutic resistance, together with our future perspectives on the field.
    Keywords:  cancer; extracellular vesicles; metabolism; metastasis; resistance; tumour microenvironment
  55. Elife. 2021 Feb 01. pii: e64779. [Epub ahead of print]10
      Heterogeneity in physical and functional characteristics of cells (e.g. size, cycle time, growth rate, protein concentration) proliferates within an isogenic population due to stochasticity in intracellular biochemical processes and in the distribution of resources during divisions. Conversely, it is limited in part by the inheritance of cellular components between consecutive generations. Here we introduce a new experimental method for measuring proliferation of heterogeneity in bacterial cell characteristics, based on measuring how two sister cells become different from each other over time. Our measurements provide the inheritance dynamics of different cellular properties, and the 'inertia' of cells to maintain these properties along time. We find that inheritance dynamics are property-specific, and can exhibit long-term memory (~10 generations) that works to restrain variation among cells. Our results can reveal mechanisms of non-genetic inheritance in bacteria and help understand how cells control their properties and heterogeneity within isogenic cell populations.
    Keywords:  E. coli; cell biology; physics of living systems
  56. FEBS J. 2021 Feb 05.
      The appropriate coordination between epigenetic regulators is essential for spatial and temporal regulation of gene expression and maintenance of cell identity. Cancer is a disease driven by both genetic and epigenetic alterations. The widespread dysregulation and reversible nature of epigenetic alterations confer cancer cells with vulnerabilities for therapeutic interventions. Over the past decades, remarkable progress has been made in developing drugs that target epigenetic regulators, with many drugs under evaluation in clinical trials. Here, we summarize the epigenetic drugs currently in clinical investigations and highlight the potentials and challenges in their implication to treat cancer. We also discuss the preclinical and clinical results of combination therapies with epigenetic drugs and other therapies such as targeted and immune-based therapies.
    Keywords:  DNA methylation; Epigenetic therapy; cancer therapy; histone modification
  57. STAR Protoc. 2021 Mar 19. 2(1): 100279
      Advances in omics technologies have generated exponentially larger volumes of biological data; however, their analyses and interpretation are limited to computationally proficient scientists. We created OmicsVolcano, an interactive open-source software tool to enable visualization and exploration of high-throughput biological data, while highlighting features of interest using a volcano plot interface. In contrast to existing tools, our software and user-interface design allow it to be used without requiring any programming skills to generate high-quality and presentation-ready images.
    Keywords:  Bioinformatics; Genomics; Proteomics; RNA-seq
  58. Sci Signal. 2021 Feb 02. pii: eabc6178. [Epub ahead of print]14(668):
      Necroptosis is a lytic, proinflammatory cell death pathway, which has been implicated in host defense and, when dysregulated, the pathology of many human diseases. The central mediators of this pathway are the receptor-interacting serine/threonine protein kinases RIPK1 and RIPK3 and the terminal executioner, the pseudokinase mixed lineage kinase domain-like (MLKL). Here, we review the chronology of signaling along the RIPK1-RIPK3-MLKL axis and highlight how the subcellular compartmentalization of signaling events controls the initiation and execution of necroptosis. We propose that a network of modulators surrounds the necroptotic signaling core and that this network, rather than acting universally, tunes necroptosis in a context-, cell type-, and species-dependent manner. Such a high degree of mechanistic flexibility is likely an important property that helps necroptosis operate as a robust, emergency form of cell death.
  59. Genome Med. 2021 Feb 01. 13(1): 15
      BACKGROUND: Pancreatic cancer (PC) is a complex disease in which both non-genetic and genetic factors interplay. To date, 40 GWAS hits have been associated with PC risk in individuals of European descent, explaining 4.1% of the phenotypic variance.METHODS: We complemented a new conventional PC GWAS (1D) with genome spatial autocorrelation analysis (2D) permitting to prioritize low frequency variants not detected by GWAS. These were further expanded via Hi-C map (3D) interactions to gain additional insight into the inherited basis of PC. In silico functional analysis of public genomic information allowed prioritization of potentially relevant candidate variants.
    RESULTS: We identified several new variants located in genes for which there is experimental evidence of their implication in the biology and function of pancreatic acinar cells. Among them is a novel independent variant in NR5A2 (rs3790840) with a meta-analysis p value = 5.91E-06 in 1D approach and a Local Moran's Index (LMI) = 7.76 in 2D approach. We also identified a multi-hit region in CASC8-a lncRNA associated with pancreatic carcinogenesis-with a lowest p value = 6.91E-05. Importantly, two new PC loci were identified both by 2D and 3D approaches: SIAH3 (LMI = 18.24), CTRB2/BCAR1 (LMI = 6.03), in addition to a chromatin interacting region in XBP1-a major regulator of the ER stress and unfolded protein responses in acinar cells-identified by 3D; all of them with a strong in silico functional support.
    CONCLUSIONS: This multi-step strategy, combined with an in-depth in silico functional analysis, offers a comprehensive approach to advance the study of PC genetic susceptibility and could be applied to other diseases.
    Keywords:  3D genomic structure; Genetic susceptibility; Genome-wide association analysis; Local indices of genome spatial autocorrelation; Pancreatic cancer risk
  60. Sci Adv. 2021 Jan;pii: eabd8215. [Epub ahead of print]7(1):
      Recent work has revealed that both plants and animals transfer genomes between cells. In plants, horizontal transfer of entire plastid, mitochondrial, or nuclear genomes between species generates new combinations of nuclear and organellar genomes, or produces novel species that are allopolyploid. The mechanisms of genome transfer between cells are unknown. Here, we used grafting to identify the mechanisms involved in plastid genome transfer from plant to plant. We show that during proliferation of wound-induced callus, plastids dedifferentiate into small, highly motile, amoeboid organelles. Simultaneously, new intercellular connections emerge by localized cell wall disintegration, forming connective pores through which amoeboid plastids move into neighboring cells. Our work uncovers a pathway of organelle movement from cell to cell and provides a mechanistic framework for horizontal genome transfer.
  61. Nature. 2021 Feb 03.
      Strong connections exist between R-loops (three-stranded structures harbouring an RNA:DNA hybrid and a displaced single-strand DNA), genome instability and human disease1-5. Indeed, R-loops are favoured in relevant genomic regions as regulators of certain physiological processes through which homeostasis is typically maintained. For example, transcription termination pause sites regulated by R-loops can induce the synthesis of antisense transcripts that enable the formation of local, RNA interference (RNAi)-driven heterochromation6. Pause sites are also protected against endogenous single-stranded DNA breaks by BRCA17. Hypotheses about how DNA repair is enacted at pause sites include a role for RNA, which is emerging as a normal, albeit unexplained, regulator of genome integrity8. Here we report that a species of single-stranded, DNA-damage-associated small RNA (sdRNA) is generated by a BRCA1-RNAi protein complex. sdRNAs promote DNA repair driven by the PALB2-RAD52 complex at transcriptional termination pause sites that form R-loops and are rich in single-stranded DNA breaks. sdRNA repair operates in both quiescent (G0) and proliferating cells. Thus, sdRNA repair can occur in intact tissue and/or stem cells, and may contribute to tumour suppression mediated by BRCA1.
  62. STAR Protoc. 2021 Mar 19. 2(1): 100300
      Anti-cancer drugs kill only a fraction of cells within a population at any given time. Here, we describe a protocol to quantify drug-induced fractional killing over time using high-throughput imaging. This protocol can be used to compare the effect of hundreds of conditions in parallel. We show how this protocol can be used to examine fractional killing in response to inhibitors of the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway. For complete details on the use and execution of this protocol, please refer to Inde et al. (2020).
    Keywords:  Cancer; Cell biology; Cell-based assays; High-throughput screening; Microscopy
  63. Pancreatology. 2021 Jan 27. pii: S1424-3903(21)00038-7. [Epub ahead of print]
      BACKGROUND: The aims of this study were to compare the metastatic patterns of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) of head and body/tail and to determine the prognostic factors.METHODS: Data of metastatic PDAC (MPC) between 2004 and 2015 from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database was extracted and analyzed. The correlation analyses of metastatic patterns were also conducted. Multivariate Cox regression analyses were used to analyze prognosis.
    RESULTS: A total of 27470 eligible MPC patients were collected from SEER database. Patients in the head group had a higher proportion of single-metastasis while those in the body/tail group had a higher proportion of two-site metastases. Similar distributions of metastatic sites were observed in cases with single-metastasis between two groups. Patients with liver and peritoneum metastases in the head group had significantly higher overall survival (OS) rates than those in the body/tail group. Also, the OS rates stratified by varied tumor sites did not differ significantly in patients with bone, brain, and lung metastases. Chemotherapy could prolong survival in almost all MPC patients while radiotherapy or surgery could only benefit certain types of metastases. Tumor site, therapy and vascular invasion were independent prognostic factors of OS in MPC patients.
    CONCLUSIONS: MPC of the head and body/tail presented with different metastatic patterns. Chemotherapy benefited patients with metastases while surgery and radiotherapy could only prolong survival in patients with liver and peritoneum metastases. Our findings may provide more details for the precise management of patients with MPC in clinical practice.
    Keywords:  Metastasis; Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma; Prognosis; SEER; Tumor site
  64. Elife. 2021 Jan 28. pii: e65286. [Epub ahead of print]10
      eLife is publishing a special issue on aging, geroscience and longevity to mark the rapid progress made in this field over the past decade, both in terms of mechanistic understanding and translational approaches that are poised to have clinical impact on age-related diseases.
    Keywords:  aging; cell biology; geroscience; longevity; medicine
  65. Cell Metab. 2021 Feb 02. pii: S1550-4131(21)00005-X. [Epub ahead of print]
      The haploinsufficiency of C9orf72 is implicated in the most common forms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD), but the full spectrum of C9orf72 functions remains to be established. Here, we report that C9orf72 is a mitochondrial inner-membrane-associated protein regulating cellular energy homeostasis via its critical role in the control of oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS). The translocation of C9orf72 from the cytosol to the inter-membrane space is mediated by the redox-sensitive AIFM1/CHCHD4 pathway. In mitochondria, C9orf72 specifically stabilizes translocase of inner mitochondrial membrane domain containing 1 (TIMMDC1), a crucial factor for the assembly of OXPHOS complex I. C9orf72 directly recruits the prohibitin complex to inhibit the m-AAA protease-dependent degradation of TIMMDC1. The mitochondrial complex I function is impaired in C9orf72-linked ALS/FTD patient-derived neurons. These results reveal a previously unknown function of C9orf72 in mitochondria and suggest that defective energy metabolism may underlie the pathogenesis of relevant diseases.
    Keywords:  ALS; C9orf72; FTD; OXPHOS; TIMMDC1; complex I; mitochondrial import; mitochondrion; neurodegeneration; oxidative phosphorylation
  66. J Clin Med. 2021 Feb 03. pii: 566. [Epub ahead of print]10(4):
      Pancreatic cancer is a devastating disease with very poor prognosis. Currently, surgery followed by adjuvant chemotherapy represents the only curative option which, unfortunately, is only available for a small group of patients. The majority of pancreatic cancer cases are diagnosed at advanced or metastatic stage when surgical resection is not possible and treatment options are limited. Thus, novel and more effective therapeutic strategies are urgently needed. Molecular profiling together with targeted therapies against key hallmarks of pancreatic cancer appear as a promising approach that could overcome the limitations of conventional chemo- and radio-therapy. In this review, we focus on the latest personalised and multimodal targeted therapies currently undergoing phase II or III clinical trials. We discuss the most promising findings of agents targeting surface receptors, angiogenesis, DNA damage and cell cycle arrest, key signalling pathways, immunotherapies, and the tumour microenvironment.
    Keywords:  PDAC; cancer vaccines; clinical trials; immunotherapy; pancreatic cancer; targeted therapies; tumour microenvironment
  67. Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2021 Jan 31.
      Objectives Pancreatic exocrine insufficiency (PEI) is frequent in unresectable and metastatic pancreatic cancer (advanced pancreatic cancer, APC) but the effect of pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT) on short- and long-term outcomes is not clear. We analysed randomised controlled trials (RCTs) to assess the impact of PERT on weight change, quality of life and overall survival (OS). Methods All RCTs indexed in PubMed, Medline, Scopus, and Cochrane databases reporting PEI in APC and the effect of PERT were included up to August 2020. The primary outcome measure was OS and secondary outcome measures were weight change and quality of life. Standard mean differences (SMD) were calculated for each outcome. Results Four RCTs including 194 patients (107 males) were analysed. 98 (50.5%) patients received PERT treatment. Treatment with PERT in APC did not show a significant effect on OS (SMD 0.12, 95% confidence interval -0.46 - 0.70, p=0.46). There was also no difference in change in body weight (SMD 0.53, 95% confidence interval -0.72 - 1.77, p=0.21). Quality of life was not significantly different in those taking PERT compared to controls. Conclusions The present meta-analysis found no significant difference in OS, change in weight or quality of life with use of PERT in APC. However, non-uniform designs and different end points of these studies, along with smaller number of patients limits a more in-depth analysis of outcomes. Further RCT's including larger numbers of patients are warranted to support evidence of routine use of PERT in APC.
    Keywords:  Pancreatic Enzyme Replacement Therapy; Pancreatic cancer; pancreatic exocrine insufficiency; survival; weight
  68. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Feb 02. pii: 1476. [Epub ahead of print]22(3):
      The metabolic microenvironment, comprising all soluble and insoluble nutrients and co-factors in the extracellular milieu, has a major impact on cancer cell proliferation and survival. A large body of evidence from recent studies suggests that tumor cells show a high degree of metabolic flexibility and adapt to variations in nutrient availability. Insufficient vascular networks and an imbalance of supply and demand shape the metabolic tumor microenvironment, which typically contains a lower concentration of glucose compared to normal tissues. The present review sheds light on the recent literature on adaptive responses in cancer cells to nutrient deprivation. It focuses on the utilization of alternative nutrients in anabolic metabolic pathways in cancer cells, including soluble metabolites and macromolecules and outlines the role of central metabolic enzymes conferring metabolic flexibility, like gluconeogenesis enzymes. Moreover, a conceptual framework for potential therapies targeting metabolically flexible cancer cells is presented.
    Keywords:  adaptability; cancer; gluconeogenesis; heterogeneity; metabolic microenvironment