bims-cagime Biomed News
on Cancer, aging and metabolism
Issue of 2021‒07‒25
twenty papers selected by
Kıvanç Görgülü
Technical University of Munich

  1. Cancer Discov. 2021 Jul 19. pii: candisc.0209.2021. [Epub ahead of print]
      Biliary tract cancer ranks among the most lethal human malignancies, representing an unmet clinical need. Its abysmal prognosis is tied to an increasing incidence and a fundamental lack of mechanistic knowledge regarding the molecular basis of the disease. Here, we show that the Pdx1-positive extrahepatic biliary epithelium is highly susceptible towards transformation by activated Pik3caH1047R, but refractory to oncogenic KrasG12D. Using genome-wide transposon screens and genetic loss-of-function experiments, we discover context-dependent genetic interactions that drive extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ECC) and show that PI3K-signaling output strength and repression of the tumor-suppressor p27Kip1 are critical context-specific determinants of tumor formation. This contrasts the pancreas, where oncogenic Kras in concert with Trp53-loss are key cancer-drivers. Notably, inactivation of p27Kip1 permits KrasG12D-driven ECC development. These studies provide a mechanistic link between PI3K-signaling, tissue-specific tumor suppressor barriers, and ECC pathogenesis, and present a novel genetic model of autochthonous ECC and genes driving this highly lethal tumor-subtype.
  2. Autophagy. 2021 Jul 18. 1-3
      Mitophagy, the clearance of surplus or damaged mitochondria or mitochondrial parts by autophagy, is important for maintenance of cellular homeostasis. Whereas knowledge on programmed and stress-induced mitophagy is increasing, much less is known about mechanisms of basal mitophagy. Recently, we identified SAMM50 (SAMM50 sorting and assembly machinery component) as a receptor for piecemeal degradation of components of the sorting and assembly machinery (SAM) complex and mitochondrial contact site and cristae organizing system (MICOS) complexes. SAMM50 interacts directly with Atg8-family proteins through a canonical LIR motif and with SQSTM1/p62 to mediate basal piecemeal mitophagy. During a metabolic switch to oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS), SAMM50 cooperates with SQSTM1 to mediate efficient piecemeal mitophagy.
    Keywords:  Atg8; MICOS; OXPHOS; SAMM50; SQSTM1; basal; metabolic switch; p62; piecemeal mitophagy
  3. Cancer Cell. 2021 Jul 14. pii: S1535-6108(21)00339-1. [Epub ahead of print]
      Fibroblasts display extensive transcriptional heterogeneity, yet functional annotation and characterization of their heterocellular relationships remains incomplete. Using mass cytometry, we chart the stromal composition of 18 murine tissues and 5 spontaneous tumor models, with an emphasis on mesenchymal phenotypes. This analysis reveals extensive stromal heterogeneity across tissues and tumors, and identifies coordinated relationships between mesenchymal and immune cell subsets in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Expression of CD105 demarks two stable and functionally distinct pancreatic fibroblast lineages, which are also identified in murine and human healthy tissues and tumors. Whereas CD105-positive pancreatic fibroblasts are permissive for tumor growth in vivo, CD105-negative fibroblasts are highly tumor suppressive. This restrictive effect is entirely dependent on functional adaptive immunity. Collectively, these results reveal two functionally distinct pancreatic fibroblast lineages and highlight the importance of mesenchymal and immune cell interactions in restricting tumor growth.
    Keywords:  CAF; CD105; CyTOF; Eng; cancer-associated fibroblast lineages; mass cytometry; pancreatic cancer; tumor microenvironment; tumor-restrictive fibroblasts
  4. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Jul 27. pii: e2023112118. [Epub ahead of print]118(30):
      In mammals, the KRAS locus encodes two protein isoforms, KRAS4A and KRAS4B, which differ only in their C terminus via alternative splicing of distinct fourth exons. Previous studies have shown that whereas KRAS expression is essential for mouse development, the KRAS4A isoform is expendable. Here, we have generated a mouse strain that carries a terminator codon in exon 4B that leads to the expression of an unstable KRAS4B154 truncated polypeptide, hence resulting in a bona fide Kras4B-null allele. In contrast, this terminator codon leaves expression of the KRAS4A isoform unaffected. Mice selectively lacking KRAS4B expression developed to term but died perinatally because of hypertrabeculation of the ventricular wall, a defect reminiscent of that observed in embryos lacking the Kras locus. Mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) obtained from Kras4B-/- embryos proliferated less than did wild-type MEFs, because of limited expression of KRAS4A, a defect that can be compensated for by ectopic expression of this isoform. Introduction of the same terminator codon into a Kras FSFG12V allele allowed expression of an endogenous KRAS4AG12V oncogenic isoform in the absence of KRAS4B. Exposure of Kras +/FSF4AG12V4B- mice to Adeno-FLPo particles induced lung tumors with complete penetrance, albeit with increased latencies as compared with control Kras +/FSFG12V animals. Moreover, a significant percentage of these mice developed proximal metastasis, a feature seldom observed in mice expressing both mutant isoforms. These results illustrate that expression of the KRAS4AG12V mutant isoform is sufficient to induce lung tumors, thus suggesting that selective targeting of the KRAS4BG12V oncoprotein may not have significant therapeutic consequences.
    Keywords:  KRAS isoforms; alternative splicing; gene editing; hypertrabeculation; lung tumors
  5. Autophagy. 2021 Jul 19. 1-2
      Macroautophagy/autophagy is primarily considered as a degradative pathway via the lysosome, yet the secretory functions of autophagy proteins have recently been unveiled. Autophagy proteins have been implicated in metabolic organ development, homeostasis and function, and deficiency in autophagy is associated with metabolic disorders. However, the molecular mechanisms by which autophagy proteins regulate energy metabolism and insulin sensitivity were unclear. We previously showed that systemic activation of autophagy by a hyperactive BECN1F121A mutant reduces insulin storage in islets but improves insulin sensitivity systemically. In our recent study, we found that BECN1 functions in adipose tissue to systemically regulate energy metabolism. Adipose-specific expression of BECN1F121A is sufficient to improve systemic insulin sensitivity without negatively affecting pancreatic insulin storage. We demonstrated that BECN1 interacts with exocyst subunit proteins and facilitates the secretion of an adipokine, ADIPOQ (adiponectin, C1Q and collagen domain containing), in adipose tissue. Thus, our findings suggest that BECN1 regulates insulin sensitivity in a non-degradative and non-cell autonomous manner by facilitating ADIPOQ secretion. Our study also highlighted the distinct functions of autophagy proteins in different metabolic tissues.
    Keywords:  AMPK; Adiponectin; BECN1; SEC6-SEC8; adipose tissue; exocyst; glucose tolerance; insulin sensitivity; secretory pathway
  6. Nat Cancer. 2020 Nov;1(11): 1097-1112
      Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) is characterized by an immune-suppressive tumor microenvironment that renders it largely refractory to immunotherapy. We implemented a multimodal analysis approach to elucidate the immune landscape in PDA. Using a combination of CyTOF, single-cell RNA sequencing, and multiplex immunohistochemistry on patient tumors, matched blood, and non-malignant samples, we uncovered a complex network of immune-suppressive cellular interactions. These experiments revealed heterogeneous expression of immune checkpoint receptors in individual patient's T cells and increased markers of CD8+ T cell dysfunction in advanced disease stage. Tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T cells had an increased proportion of cells expressing an exhausted expression profile that included upregulation of the immune checkpoint TIGIT, a finding that we validated at the protein level. Our findings point to a profound alteration of the immune landscape of tumors, and to patient-specific immune changes that should be taken into account as combination immunotherapy becomes available for pancreatic cancer.
    Keywords:  CD8+ T cells; Single-cell RNA sequencing; TIGIT; immune checkpoints; pancreatic cancer; tumor immunology
  7. Sci Rep. 2021 Jul 22. 11(1): 14951
      Combination chemotherapy, either modified FOLFIRINOX (mFFX) or gemcitabine-nabpaclitaxel, are used in the treatment of most patients with advanced pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), yet robust biomarkers of outcome are currently lacking to guide regimen selection. Here, we tested GATA6 immunohistochemistry (IHC) as a putative biomarker in advanced PDAC. GATA6 is a transcription factor in normal pancreas development. Two pathologists, blinded to clinical and molecular data, independently assessed GATA6 IHC in biopsy specimens of 130 patients with advanced PDAC, in 2 distinct phases (without and with computer assistance using the open source software QuPath). Low GATA6 IHC expression was associated with shorter overall survival [median OS 6.2 months for patients with GATA6 low tumors vs. 11.5 months for patients with GATA6 high tumors, HR 1.66 (95% CI 1.15-2.40), P = 0.007]. Progression appears to be higher in GATA6-low tumors compared to GATA6-high tumors in patients treated with mFFX (P = 0.024) but not in patients treated with gemcitabine regimens. GATA6 IHC expression was significantly associated with molecular subtypes (P = 0.0003). Digital assistance markedly improved interrater concordance (Cohen's kappa scores of 0.32 vs. 0.95). Our results provide strong evidence that GATA6 IHC can be used as a single biomarker in the clinic to predict clinical outcome in advanced PDAC, warranting further investigation in prospective clinical trials. These results provide the basis for an improved classification of PDAC and future biomarker design using digital pathology workflow.
  8. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2021 ;9 655731
      The mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR), master regulator of cellular metabolism, exists in two distinct complexes: mTOR complex 1 and mTOR complex 2 (mTORC1 and 2). MTORC1 is a master switch for most energetically onerous processes in the cell, driving cell growth and building cellular biomass in instances of nutrient sufficiency, and conversely, allowing autophagic recycling of cellular components upon nutrient limitation. The means by which the mTOR kinase blocks autophagy include direct inhibition of the early steps of the process, and the control of the lysosomal degradative capacity of the cell by inhibiting the transactivation of genes encoding structural, regulatory, and catalytic factors. Upon inhibition of mTOR, autophagic recycling of cellular components results in the reactivation of mTORC1; thus, autophagy lies both downstream and upstream of mTOR. The functional relationship between the mTOR pathway and autophagy involves complex regulatory loops that are significantly deciphered at the cellular level, but incompletely understood at the physiological level. Nevertheless, genetic evidence stemming from the use of engineered strains of mice has provided significant insight into the overlapping and complementary metabolic effects that physiological autophagy and the control of mTOR activity exert during fasting and nutrient overload.
    Keywords:  autophagy; lysosome; mechanistic target of rapamycin; metabolism; nutrients
  9. Mol Diagn Ther. 2021 Jul 21.
      Metastasis is the main cause of cancer death. Metastatic foci are derived from tumor cells that detach from the primary tumor and then enter the circulation. Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are generally associated with a high probability of distant metastasis and a negative prognosis. Most CTCs die in the bloodstream, and only a few cells form metastases. Such metastatic CTCs have a stem-like and hybrid epithelial-mesenchymal phenotype, can avoid immune surveillance, and show increased therapy resistance. Targeting metastatic CTCs and their progenitors in primary tumors and their descendants, particularly disseminated tumor cells, represents an attractive strategy for metastasis prevention. However, current therapeutic strategies mainly target the primary tumor and only indirectly affect metastasis-initiating cells. Here, we consider potential methods for preventing metastasis based on targeting molecular and cellular features of metastatic CTCs, including CTC clusters. Also, we emphasize current knowledge gaps in CTC biology that should be addressed to develop highly effective therapeutics and strategies for metastasis suppression.
  10. Life Sci Alliance. 2021 Sep;pii: e202000875. [Epub ahead of print]4(9):
      CRISPR/Cas9 is a promising technology for gene editing. To date, intracellular delivery vehicles for CRISPR/Cas9 are limited by issues of immunogenicity, restricted packaging capacity, and low tolerance. Here, we report an alternative, nonviral delivery system for CRISPR/Cas9 based on engineered exosomes. We show that non-autologous exosomes can encapsulate CRISPR/Cas9 plasmid DNA via commonly available transfection reagents and can be delivered to recipient cancer cells to induce targeted gene deletion. As a proof-of-principle, we demonstrate that exosomes loaded with CRISPR/Cas9 can target the mutant Kras G12D oncogenic allele in pancreatic cancer cells to suppress proliferation and inhibit tumor growth in syngeneic subcutaneous and orthotopic models of pancreatic cancer. Exosomes may thus be a promising delivery platform for CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing for targeted therapies.
  11. Cell. 2021 Jul 22. pii: S0092-8674(21)00792-3. [Epub ahead of print]184(15): 3852-3872
      Fibroblasts are diverse mesenchymal cells that participate in tissue homeostasis and disease by producing complex extracellular matrix and creating signaling niches through biophysical and biochemical cues. Transcriptionally and functionally heterogeneous across and within organs, fibroblasts encode regional positional information and maintain distinct cellular progeny. We summarize their development, lineages, functions, and contributions to fibrosis in four fibroblast-rich organs: skin, lung, skeletal muscle, and heart. We propose that fibroblasts are uniquely poised for tissue repair by easily reentering the cell cycle and exhibiting a reversible plasticity in phenotype and cell fate. These properties, when activated aberrantly, drive fibrotic disorders in humans.
  12. J Natl Compr Canc Netw. 2021 Jul 21. pii: jnccn20407. [Epub ahead of print]
      BACKGROUND: A prediction model for overall survival (OS) in metastatic pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) including patient and treatment characteristics is currently not available, but it could be valuable for supporting clinicians in patient communication about expectations and prognosis. We aimed to develop a prediction model for OS in metastatic PDAC, called SOURCE-PANC, based on nationwide population-based data.MATERIALS AND METHODS: Data on patients diagnosed with synchronous metastatic PDAC in 2015 through 2018 were retrieved from the Netherlands Cancer Registry. A multivariate Cox regression model was created to predict OS for various treatment strategies. Available patient, tumor, and treatment characteristics were used to compose the model. Treatment strategies were categorized as systemic treatment (subdivided into FOLFIRINOX, gemcitabine/nab-paclitaxel, and gemcitabine monotherapy), biliary drainage, and best supportive care only. Validation was performed according to a temporal internal-external cross-validation scheme. The predictive quality was assessed with the C-index and calibration.
    RESULTS: Data for 4,739 patients were included in the model. Sixteen predictors were included: age, sex, performance status, laboratory values (albumin, bilirubin, CA19-9, lactate dehydrogenase), clinical tumor and nodal stage, tumor sublocation, presence of distant lymph node metastases, liver or peritoneal metastases, number of metastatic sites, and treatment strategy. The model demonstrated a C-index of 0.72 in the internal-external cross-validation and showed good calibration, with the intercept and slope 95% confidence intervals including the ideal values of 0 and 1, respectively.
    CONCLUSIONS: A population-based prediction model for OS was developed for patients with metastatic PDAC and showed good performance. The predictors that were included in the model comprised both baseline patient and tumor characteristics and type of treatment. SOURCE-PANC will be incorporated in an electronic decision support tool to support shared decision-making in clinical practice.
  13. Development. 2021 Jul 21. pii: dev.199381. [Epub ahead of print]
      Because both dearth and overabundance of histones result in cellular defects, histone synthesis and demand are typically tightly coupled. In Drosophila embryos, histones H2B/H2A/H2Av accumulate on lipid droplets (LDs), cytoplasmic fat storage organelles. Without LD-binding, maternally provided H2B/H2A/H2Av are absent, but how LDs ensure histone storage is unclear. Using quantitative imaging, we uncover when during oogenesis these histones accumulate, and which step of accumulation is LD-dependent. LDs originate in nurse cells (NCs) and are transported to the oocyte. Although H2Av accumulates on LDs in NCs, the majority of the final H2Av pool is synthesized in oocytes. LDs promote intercellular transport of the histone-anchor Jabba and thus its presence in the ooplasm. Ooplasmic Jabba then prevents H2Av degradation, safeguarding the H2Av stockpile. Our findings provide insight into the mechanism for establishing histone stores during Drosophila oogenesis and shed light on the function of LDs as protein-sequestration sites.
    Keywords:  Drosophila oogenesis; Histones; Lipid droplets; Proteasome; Protein sequestration; Protein turnover
  14. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Jul 19. pii: 3615. [Epub ahead of print]13(14):
      Cancer cachexia is a debilitating multi-factorial wasting syndrome characterised by severe skeletal muscle wasting and dysfunction (i.e., myopathy). In the oncology setting, cachexia arises from synergistic insults from both cancer-host interactions and chemotherapy-related toxicity. The majority of studies have surrounded the cancer-host interaction side of cancer cachexia, often overlooking the capability of chemotherapy to induce cachectic myopathy. Accumulating evidence in experimental models of cachexia suggests that some chemotherapeutic agents rapidly induce cachectic myopathy, although the underlying mechanisms responsible vary between agents. Importantly, we highlight the capacity of specific chemotherapeutic agents to induce cachectic myopathy, as not all chemotherapies have been evaluated for cachexia-inducing properties-alone or in clinically compatible regimens. Furthermore, we discuss the experimental evidence surrounding therapeutic strategies that have been evaluated in chemotherapy-induced cachexia models, with particular focus on exercise interventions and adjuvant therapeutic candidates targeted at the mitochondria.
    Keywords:  cachexia; chemotherapy; exercise therapy; mitoprotection; muscle wasting; myopathy; pharmaceutical adjuvants; skeletal muscle
  15. Ageing Res Rev. 2021 Jul 17. pii: S1568-1637(21)00158-6. [Epub ahead of print] 101411
      Telomeres protect genomic stability and shortening is one of the hallmarks of ageing. Telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) is the major protein component of telomerase, which elongates telomeres. Given that short telomeres are linked to a host of chronic diseases and the therapeutic potential of telomerase-based therapies as treatments and a strategy to extend lifespan, lifestyle factors that increase TERT gene expression and telomerase activity could attenuate telomere attrition and contribute to healthy biological ageing. Physical activity and maximal aerobic fitness are associated with telomere maintenance, yet the molecular mechanisms remain unclear. Therefore, the purpose of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to identify the influence of a single bout of exercise and long-term exercise training on TERT expression and telomerase activity. A search of human and rodent trials using the PubMed, Scopus, Science Direct and Embase databases was performed. Based on findings from the identified and eligible trials, both a single bout of exercise (n; standardised mean difference [95%CI]: 5; SMD: 1.19 [0.41-1.97], p = 0.003) and long-term exercise training (10; 0.31 [0.03-0.60], p = 0.03) up-regulates TERT and telomerase activity in non-cancerous somatic cells. As human and rodent studies were included in both meta-analyses both exhibited heterogeneity (I2 = 55-87%, p < 0.05). Endurance athletes also exhibited increased leukocyte TERT and telomerase activity compared to their inactive counterparts. These findings suggest exercise training as an inexpensive lifestyle factor that increases TERT expression and telomerase activity. Regular exercise training could attenuate telomere attrition through a telomerase-dependent mechanism and ultimately extend health-span and longevity.
    Keywords:  TERT; Telomere; biological ageing; senescence
  16. Oncogene. 2021 Jul 22.
      K-RAS mutation and molecular alterations of its surrogates function essentially in lung tumorigenesis and malignant progression. However, it remains elusive how tumor-promoting and deleterious events downstream of K-RAS signaling are coordinated in lung tumorigenesis. Here, we show that USP16, a deubiquitinase involved in various biological processes, functions as a promoter for the development of K-RAS-driven lung tumor. Usp16 deletion significantly attenuates K-rasG12D-mutation-induced lung tumorigenesis in mice. USP16 upregulation upon RAS activation averts reactive oxygen species (ROS)-induced p38 activation that would otherwise detrimentally influence the survival and proliferation of tumor cells. In addition, USP16 interacts with and deubiquitinates JAK1, and thereby promoting lung tumor growth by augmenting JAK1 signaling. Therefore, our results reveal that USP16 functions critically in the K-RAS-driven lung tumorigenesis through modulating the strength of p38 and JAK1 signaling.
  17. Sci Rep. 2021 Jul 21. 11(1): 14922
      The GNA15 gene is ectopically expressed in human pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma cancer cells. The encoded Gα15 protein can promiscuously redirect GPCR signaling toward pathways with oncogenic potential. We sought to describe the distribution of GNA15 in adenocarcinoma from human pancreatic specimens and to analyze the mechanism driving abnormal expression and the consequences on signaling and clinical follow-up. We detected GNA15 expression in pre-neoplastic pancreatic lesions and throughout progression. The analysis of biological data sets, primary and xenografted human tumor samples, and clinical follow-up shows that elevated expression is associated with poor prognosis for GNA15, but not any other GNA gene. Demethylation of the 5' GNA15 promoter region was associated with ectopic expression of Gα15 in pancreatic neoplastic cells, but not in adjacent dysplastic or non-transformed tissue. Down-modulation of Gα15 by shRNA or CRISPR/Cas9 affected oncogenic signaling, and reduced adenocarcimoma cell motility and invasiveness. We conclude that de novo expression of wild-type GNA15 characterizes transformed pancreatic cells. The methylation pattern of GNA15 changes in preneoplastic lesions coincident with the release a transcriptional blockade that allows ectopic expression to persist throughout PDAC progression. Elevated GNA15 mRNA correlates with poor prognosis. In addition, ectopic Gα15 signaling provides an unprecedented mechanism in the early steps of pancreas carcinogenesis distinct from classical G protein oncogenic mutations described previously in GNAS and GNAQ/GNA11.
  18. Biochim Biophys Acta Rev Cancer. 2021 Jul 16. pii: S0304-419X(21)00089-5. [Epub ahead of print]1876(2): 188592
      Patients with pancreatic cancer have an abysmal survival rate. The poor prognosis of pancreatic cancer is due to the difficulty of making an early diagnosis, high rate of metastasis, and frequent chemoresistance. In recent years, as a self-regulatory procedure within cells, the effect and mechanism of autophagy have been explored. Dysregulated autophagy serves as a double-edged sword in cancer development in which autophagy inhibits cancer initiation but promotes cancer progression. After tumor formation, activation of autophagy can induce epithelial-mesenchymal transition, regulate metabolism, specifically glutamine usage and the glycolytic process, and mediate drug resistance in pancreatic cancer. Multiple genes, RNA molecules, proteins, and certain drugs exert antitumor effects by inhibiting autophagy-mediated drug resistance. Several clinical trials have combined autophagy inhibitors with chemotherapeutic drugs in pancreatic cancer treatment, some of which have shown promising results. In conclusion, autophagy plays a vital role in pancreatic cancer progression and deserves further study.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Chemoresistance; Epithelial-mesenchymal transition; Glucose metabolism; Immunotherapy; Pancreatic cancer
  19. Nat Biomed Eng. 2021 Jul 19.
      Strong and durable anticancer immune responses are associated with the generation of activated cancer-specific T cells in the draining lymph nodes. However, cancer cells can colonize lymph nodes and drive tumour progression. Here, we show that lymphocytes fail to penetrate metastatic lesions in lymph nodes. In tissue from patients with breast, colon, and head and neck cancers, as well as in mice with spontaneously developing breast-cancer lymph-node metastases, we found that lymphocyte exclusion from nodal lesions is associated with the presence of solid stress caused by lesion growth, that solid stress induces reductions in the number of functional high endothelial venules in the nodes, and that relieving solid stress in the mice increased the presence of lymphocytes in lymph-node lesions by about 15-fold. Solid-stress-mediated impairment of lymphocyte infiltration into lymph-node metastases suggests a therapeutic route for overcoming T-cell exclusion during immunotherapy.
  20. EMBO J. 2021 Jul 21. e109115
      The EMBO Journal highlights the multifaceted aspects of tumour biology in a series of complementary review articles published over the course of 2021.