bims-cagime Biomed News
on Cancer, aging and metabolism
Issue of 2024‒03‒17
thirty-six papers selected by
Kıvanç Görgülü, Technical University of Munich

  1. Gastroenterology. 2024 Mar 09. pii: S0016-5085(24)00288-9. [Epub ahead of print]
      BACKGROUND & AIMS: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) has a desmoplastic tumor stroma and immunosuppressive microenvironment. Galectin-3 (GAL3) is enriched in PDAC, highly expressed by cancer cells and myeloid cells. However, the functional roles of GAL3 in the PDAC microenvironment remain elusive.METHODS: We generated a novel transgenic mouse model (KPPC;Lgals3-/-) that allows the genetic depletion of GAL3 from both cancer cells and myeloid cells in spontaneous PDAC formation. Single-cell RNA-sequencing analysis was used to identify the alterations in the tumor microenvironment upon GAL3 depletion. We investigated both the cancer cell-intrinsic function and immunosuppressive function of GAL3. We also evaluated the therapeutic efficacy of GAL3 inhibition in combination with immunotherapy.
    RESULTS: Genetic deletion of GAL3 significantly inhibited the spontaneous pancreatic tumor progression and prolonged the survival of KPPC;Lgals3-/- mice. Single-cell analysis revealed that genetic deletion of GAL3 altered the phenotypes of immune cells, cancer cells, and other cell populations. GAL3 deletion significantly enriched the anti-tumor myeloid cell subpopulation with high major histocompatibility complex class II (MHCII) expression. We also identified that GAL3 depletion resulted in CXCL12 upregulation, which could act as a potential compensating mechanism upon GAL3 deficiency. Combined inhibition of CXCL12-CXCR4 axis and GAL3 enhanced the efficacy of anti-PD-1 immunotherapy, leading to significantly inhibited PDAC progression. In addition, deletion of GAL3 also inhibited the basal/mesenchymal-like phenotype of pancreatic cancer cells.
    CONCLUSIONS: GAL3 promotes PDAC progression and immunosuppression via both cancer cell-intrinsic and immune-related mechanisms. Combined treatment targeting GAL3, CXCL12-CXCR4 axis, and PD-1 represents a novel therapeutic strategy for PDAC.
    Keywords:  Galectin-3; Genetically engineered mouse models; Pancreatic cancer; Single-cell RNA-sequencing; Tumor microenvironment
  2. Cancer Res. 2024 Mar 12.
      The tumor microenvironment in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) plays a key role in tumor progression and response to therapy. The dense PDAC stroma causes hypovascularity, which leads to hypoxia. Here, we showed that hypoxia drives long-lasting epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in PDAC primarily through a positive-feedback histone methylation-MAPK signaling axis. Transformed cells preferentially underwent EMT in hypoxic tumor regions in multiple model systems. Hypoxia drove a cell-autonomous EMT in PDAC cells which, unlike EMT in response to growth factors, could last for weeks. Furthermore, hypoxia reduced histone demethylase KDM2A activity, suppressed PP2 family phosphatase expression, and activated MAPKs to post-translationally stabilize histone methyltransferase NSD2, leading to an H3K36me2-dependent EMT in which hypoxia-inducible factors played only a supporting role. Hypoxia-driven EMT could be antagonized in vivo by combinations of MAPK inhibitors. Collectively, these results suggest hypoxia promotes durable EMT in PDAC by inducing a histone methylation-MAPK axis that can be effectively targeted with multi-drug therapies, providing a potential strategy for overcoming chemoresistance.
  3. Sci Adv. 2024 Mar 15. 10(11): eadd9342
      Tumors represent ecosystems where subclones compete during tumor growth. While extensively investigated, a comprehensive picture of the interplay of clonal lineages during dissemination is still lacking. Using patient-derived pancreatic cancer cells, we created orthotopically implanted clonal replica tumors to trace clonal dynamics of unperturbed tumor expansion and dissemination. This model revealed the multifaceted nature of tumor growth, with rapid changes in clonal fitness leading to continuous reshuffling of tumor architecture and alternating clonal dominance as a distinct feature of cancer growth. Regarding dissemination, a large fraction of tumor lineages could be found at secondary sites each having distinctive organ growth patterns as well as numerous undescribed behaviors such as abortive colonization. Paired analysis of primary and secondary sites revealed fitness as major contributor to dissemination. From the analysis of pro- and nonmetastatic isogenic subclones, we identified a transcriptomic signature able to identify metastatic cells in human tumors and predict patients' survival.
  4. Sci Signal. 2024 Mar 12. 17(827): eade0580
      Intercellular communication between different cell types in solid tumors contributes to tumor growth and metastatic dissemination. The secretome of cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) plays major roles in these processes. Using human mammary CAFs, we showed that CAFs with a myofibroblast phenotype released extracellular vesicles that transferred proteins to endothelial cells (ECs) that affected their interaction with immune cells. Mass spectrometry-based proteomics identified proteins transferred from CAFs to ECs, which included plasma membrane receptors. Using THY1 as an example of a transferred plasma membrane-bound protein, we showed that CAF-derived proteins increased the adhesion of a monocyte cell line to ECs. CAFs produced high amounts of matrix-bound EVs, which were the primary vehicles of protein transfer. Hence, our work paves the way for future studies that investigate how CAF-derived matrix-bound EVs influence tumor pathology by regulating the function of neighboring cancer, stromal, and immune cells.
  5. Cell Stress. 2024 ;8 21-50
      The eight biological hallmarks of health that we initially postulated (Cell. 2021 Jan 7;184(1):33-63) include features of spatial compartmentalization (integrity of barriers, containment of local perturbations), maintenance of homeostasis over time (recycling & turnover, integration of circuitries, rhythmic oscillations) and an array of adequate responses to stress (homeostatic resilience, hormetic regulation, repair & regeneration). These hallmarks affect all eight somatic strata of the human body (molecules, organelles, cells, supracellular units, organs, organ systems, systemic circuitries and meta-organism). Here we postulate that mental and socioeconomic factors must be added to this 8×8 matrix as an additional hallmark of health ("psychosocial adaptation") and as an additional stratum ("psychosocial interactions"), hence building a 9×9 matrix. Potentially, perturbation of each of the somatic hallmarks and strata affects psychosocial factors and vice versa. Finally, we discuss the (patho)physiological bases of these interactions and their implications for mental health improvement.
    Keywords:  aging; mental health; psychiatry; psychology
  6. Biophys J. 2024 Mar 09. pii: S0006-3495(24)00180-2. [Epub ahead of print]
      Membrane-associated protein phase separation plays critical roles in cell biology, driving essential cellular phenomena from immune signaling to membrane traffic. Importantly, by reducing dimensionality from three to two dimensions, lipid bilayers can nucleate phase separation at far lower concentrations compared to those required for phase separation in solution. How might other intracellular lipid substrates, such as lipid droplets, contribute to nucleation of phase separation? Distinct from bilayer membranes, lipid droplets consist of a phospholipid monolayer surrounding a core of neutral lipids, and they are energy storage organelles that protect cells from lipotoxicity and oxidative stress. Here, we show that intrinsically disordered proteins can undergo phase separation on the surface of synthetic and cell-derived lipid droplets. Specifically, we find that model disordered domains, FUS LC and LAF1-RGG, separate into protein-rich and protein-depleted phases on the surfaces of lipid droplets. Owing to the hydrophobic nature of interactions between FUS LC proteins, increasing ionic strength drives an increase in its phase separation on droplet surfaces. The opposite is true for LAF1-RGG, owing to the electrostatic nature of its interprotein interactions. In both cases, protein-rich phases on the surfaces of synthetic and cell-derived lipid droplets demonstrate molecular mobility indicative of a liquid-like state. Our results show that lipid droplets can nucleate protein condensates, suggesting that protein phase separation could be key in organizing biological processes involving lipid droplets.
  7. Cancer Cell. 2024 Mar 11. pii: S1535-6108(24)00058-8. [Epub ahead of print]42(3): 330-332
      The histologic transformation of adenocarcinoma (ADC) to squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), known as adeno-squamous transition or AST, is frequently observed in patients with lung cancer undergoing cancer therapy. In this issue, Tong and colleagues investigate genetic and epigenetic mechanisms that drive AST to confer resistance to KRAS inhibitors in preclinical models and patients.
  8. Cancer Res. 2024 Mar 15.
      The National Cancer Institute (NCI) Cancer Research Data Commons (CRDC) is a collection of data commons, analysis platforms, and tools that make existing cancer data more findable and accessible by the cancer research community. In practice, the two biggest hurdles to finding and using data for discovery are the wide variety of models and ontologies used to describe data, and the dispersed storage of that data. Here, we outline core CRDC services to aggregate descriptive information from multiple studies for findability via a single interface, and to provide a single access method that spans multiple data commons.
  9. EMBO J. 2024 Mar 14.
      Adaptation to chronic hypoxia occurs through changes in protein expression, which are controlled by hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF1α) and are necessary for cancer cell survival. However, the mechanisms that enable cancer cells to adapt in early hypoxia, before the HIF1α-mediated transcription programme is fully established, remain poorly understood. Here we show in human breast cancer cells, that within 3 h of hypoxia exposure, glycolytic flux increases in a HIF1α-independent manner but is limited by NAD+ availability. Glycolytic ATP maintenance and cell survival in early hypoxia rely on reserve lactate dehydrogenase A capacity as well as the activity of glutamate-oxoglutarate transaminase 1 (GOT1), an enzyme that fuels malate dehydrogenase 1 (MDH1)-derived NAD+. In addition, GOT1 maintains low α-ketoglutarate levels, thereby limiting prolyl hydroxylase activity to promote HIF1α stabilisation in early hypoxia and enable robust HIF1α target gene expression in later hypoxia. Our findings reveal that, in normoxia, multiple enzyme systems maintain cells in a primed state ready to support increased glycolysis and HIF1α stabilisation upon oxygen limitation, until other adaptive processes that require more time are fully established.
    Keywords:  Glycolysis; HIF1α; Hypoxia; Metabolism; α-Ketoglutarate
  10. Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2024 Mar 12. pii: S0955-0674(24)00024-3. [Epub ahead of print]88 102345
      Cell migration plays a pivotal role in various biological processes including cancer dissemination and successful metastasis, where the role of mechanical signals is increasingly acknowledged. This review focuses on the intricate mechanisms through which cancer cells modulate their migratory strategies via organelle adaptations in response to the extracellular matrix (ECM). Specifically, the nucleus and mitochondria emerge as pivotal mediators in this process. These organelles serve as sensors, translating mechanical stimuli into rapid metabolic alterations that sustain cell migration. Importantly, prolonged exposure to such stimuli can induce transcriptional or epigenetic changes, ultimately enhancing metastatic traits. Deciphering the intricate interplay between ECM properties and organelle adaptations not only advances our understanding of cytoskeletal dynamics but also holds promise for the development of innovative anti-metastatic therapeutic strategies.
  11. Cell Rep. 2024 Mar 07. pii: S2211-1247(24)00263-8. [Epub ahead of print]43(3): 113935
      Autophagy and ribonucleoprotein granules, such as P-bodies (PBs) and stress granules, represent vital stress responses to maintain cellular homeostasis. SQSTM1/p62 phase-separated droplets are known to play critical roles in selective autophagy; however, it is unknown whether p62 can exist as another form in addition to its autophagic droplets. Here, we found that, under stress conditions, including proteotoxicity, endotoxicity, and oxidation, autophagic p62 droplets are transformed to a type of enlarged PBs, termed p62-dependent P-bodies (pd-PBs). p62 phase separation is essential for the nucleation of pd-PBs. Mechanistically, pd-PBs are triggered by enhanced p62 droplet formation upon stress stimulation through the interactions between p62 and DDX6, a DEAD-box ATPase. Functionally, pd-PBs recruit the NLRP3 inflammasome adaptor ASC to assemble the NLRP3 inflammasome and induce inflammation-associated cytotoxicity. Our study shows that p62 droplet-to-PB transformation acts as a stress response to activate the NLRP3 inflammasome process, suggesting that persistent pd-PBs lead to NLRP3-dependent inflammation toxicity.
    Keywords:  ASC/PYCARD; CP: Molecular biology; LLPS; NLRP3 inflammasome; P-bodies; RNP granules; SQSTM1/p62; autophagy; liquid-liquid phase separation; stress granules
  12. Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 2024 Mar 14.
      Copper, an essential trace element that exists in oxidized and reduced forms, has pivotal roles in a variety of biological processes, including redox chemistry, enzymatic reactions, mitochondrial respiration, iron metabolism, autophagy and immune modulation; maintaining copper homeostasis is crucial as both its deficiency and its excess are deleterious. Dysregulated copper metabolism has a dual role in tumorigenesis and cancer therapy. Specifically, cuproplasia describes copper-dependent cell growth and proliferation, including hyperplasia, metaplasia and neoplasia, whereas cuproptosis refers to a mitochondrial pathway of cell death triggered by excessive copper exposure and subsequent proteotoxic stress (although complex interactions between cuproptosis and other cell death mechanisms, such as ferroptosis, are likely and remain enigmatic). In this Review, we summarize advances in our understanding of copper metabolism, the molecular machineries underlying cuproplasia and cuproptosis, and their potential targeting for cancer therapy. These new findings advance the rapidly expanding field of translational cancer research focused on metal compounds.
  13. Pancreatology. 2024 Mar 07. pii: S1424-3903(24)00063-2. [Epub ahead of print]
      Exocrine pancreatic dysfunction (EPD) is a malabsorptive complication of pancreatic disorders that can lead to a host of symptoms ranging from flatulence to diarrhea and contribute to weight loss and metabolic bone disease. It is increasingly recognized to occur after acute pancreatitis (AP), including episodes with mild severity. The risk of developing EPD after AP is influenced by a range of factors, including the degree of acinar cell destruction and inflammation during AP, and persistent structural derangements following AP. In this article, we discuss the epidemiology, pathophysiology, and clinical management of EPD after AP while highlighting key knowledge gaps.
    Keywords:  Exocrine pancreatic dysfunction; Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency; Pancreatic enzymes
  14. Nat Commun. 2024 Mar 11. 15(1): 2203
      The ability of CD8+ T cells to infiltrate solid tumors and reach cancer cells is associated with improved patient survival and responses to immunotherapy. Thus, identifying the factors controlling T cell migration in tumors is critical, so that strategies to intervene on these targets can be developed. Although interstitial motility is a highly energy-demanding process, the metabolic requirements of CD8+ T cells migrating in a 3D environment remain unclear. Here, we demonstrate that the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle is the main metabolic pathway sustaining human CD8+ T cell motility in 3D collagen gels and tumor slices while glycolysis plays a more minor role. Using pharmacological and genetic approaches, we report that CD8+ T cell migration depends on the mitochondrial oxidation of glucose and glutamine, but not fatty acids, and both ATP and ROS produced by mitochondria are required for T cells to migrate. Pharmacological interventions to increase mitochondrial activity improve CD8+ T cell intratumoral migration and CAR T cell recruitment into tumor islets leading to better control of tumor growth in human xenograft models. Our study highlights the rationale of targeting mitochondrial metabolism to enhance the migration and antitumor efficacy of CAR T cells in treating solid tumors.
  15. bioRxiv. 2024 Feb 28. pii: 2023.08.18.553810. [Epub ahead of print]
      Metabolism has emerged as a key factor in homeostasis and disease including cancer. Yet, little is known about the heterogeneity of metabolic activity of cancer cells due to the lack of tools to directly probe it. Here, we present a novel method, 13 C-SpaceM for spatial single-cell isotope tracing of glucose-dependent de novo lipogenesis. The method combines imaging mass spectrometry for spatially-resolved detection of 13 C 6 -glucose-derived 13 C label incorporated into esterified fatty acids with microscopy and computational methods for data integration and analysis. We validated 13 C-SpaceM on a spatially-heterogeneous normoxia-hypoxia model of liver cancer cells. Investigating cultured cells, we revealed single-cell heterogeneity of lipogenic acetyl-CoA pool labelling degree upon ACLY knockdown that is hidden in the bulk analysis and its effect on synthesis of individual fatty acids. Next, we adapted 13 C-SpaceM to analyze tissue sections of mice harboring isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH)-mutant gliomas. We found a strong induction of de novo fatty acid synthesis in the tumor tissue compared to the surrounding brain. Comparison of fatty acid isotopologue patterns revealed elevated uptake of mono-unsaturated and essential fatty acids in the tumor. Furthermore, our analysis uncovered substantial spatial heterogeneity in the labelling of the lipogenic acetyl-CoA pool indicative of metabolic reprogramming during microenvironmental adaptation. Overall, 13 C-SpaceM enables novel ways for spatial probing of metabolic activity at the single cell level. Additionally, this methodology provides unprecedented insight into fatty acid uptake, synthesis and modification in normal and cancerous tissues.
  16. bioRxiv. 2024 Feb 28. pii: 2024.02.25.581907. [Epub ahead of print]
      Isotope tracing is a widely used technique to study metabolic activities by introducing heavy labeled nutrients into living cells and organisms. However, interpreting isotope tracing data is often heuristic, and application of automated methods using artificial intelligence is limited due to the paucity of evaluative knowledge. Our study developed a new pipeline that efficiently predicts metabolic activity in expansive metabolic networks and systematically quantifies flux uncertainty of traditional computational methods. We further developed an algorithm adept at significantly reducing this uncertainty, enabling robust evaluations of metabolic activity with limited data. Using this technology, we discovered highly reprogrammed mitochondria-cytosol exchange cycles in tumor tissue of patients, and observed similar metabolic patterns influenced by nutritional conditions in cancer cells. Thus, our refined methodology provides robust automated quantification of metabolism allowing for new insight into metabolic network activity.
  17. Nat Commun. 2024 Mar 11. 15(1): 2192
      Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) has the worst prognosis of all cancers. To improve PDAC therapy, we establish screening systems based on organoid and co-culture technologies and find a payload of antibody-drug conjugate (ADC), a bromodomain and extra-terminal (BET) protein degrader named EBET. We select CEACAM6/CD66c as an ADC target and developed an antibody, #84.7, with minimal reactivity to CEACAM6-expressing normal cells. EBET-conjugated #84.7 (84-EBET) has lethal effects on various PDAC organoids and bystander efficacy on CEACAM6-negative PDAC cells and cancer-associated fibroblasts. In mouse studies, a single injection of 84-EBET induces marked tumor regression in various PDAC-patient-derived xenografts, with a decrease in the inflammatory phenotype of stromal cells and without significant body weight loss. Combination with standard chemotherapy or PD-1 antibody induces more profound and sustained regression without toxicity enhancement. Our preclinical evidence demonstrates potential efficacy by delivering BET protein degrader to PDAC and its microenvironment via CEACAM6-targeted ADC.
  18. Sci Adv. 2024 Mar 15. 10(11): eadk0785
      Cell migration is a critical contributor to metastasis. Cytokine production and its role in cancer cell migration have been traditionally associated with immune cells. We find that the histone methyltransferase Mixed-Lineage Leukemia 1 (MLL1) controls 3D cell migration via cytokines, IL-6, IL-8, and TGF-β1, secreted by the cancer cells themselves. MLL1, with its scaffold protein Menin, controls actin filament assembly via the IL-6/8/pSTAT3/Arp3 axis and myosin contractility via the TGF-β1/Gli2/ROCK1/2/pMLC2 axis, which together regulate dynamic protrusion generation and 3D cell migration. MLL1 also regulates cell proliferation via mitosis-based and cell cycle-related pathways. Mice bearing orthotopic MLL1-depleted tumors exhibit decreased lung metastatic burden and longer survival. MLL1 depletion leads to lower metastatic burden even when controlling for the difference in primary tumor growth rates. Combining MLL1-Menin inhibitor with paclitaxel abrogates tumor growth and metastasis, including preexistent metastasis. These results establish MLL1 as a potent regulator of cell migration and highlight the potential of targeting MLL1 in patients with metastatic disease.
  19. Res Sq. 2024 Feb 20. pii: [Epub ahead of print]
      BACKGROUND: The immune microenvironment impacts tumor growth, invasion, metastasis, and patient survival and may provide opportunities for therapeutic intervention in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Although never studied as a potential modulator of the immune response in most cancers, Keratin 17 (K17), a biomarker of the most aggressive (basal) molecular subtype of PDAC, is intimately involved in the histogenesis of the immune response in psoriasis, basal cell carcinoma, and cervical squamous cell carcinoma. Thus, we hypothesized that K17 expression could also impact the immune cell response in PDAC, and that uncovering this relationship could provide insight to guide the development of immunotherapeutic opportunities to extend patient survival.METHODS: Multiplex immunohistochemistry (mIHC) and automated image analysis based on novel computational imaging technology were used to decipher the abundance and spatial distribution of T cells, macrophages, and tumor cells, relative to K17 expression in 235 PDACs.
    RESULTS: K17 expression had profound effects on the exclusion of intratumoral CD8 + T cells and was also associated with decreased numbers of peritumoral CD8 + T cells, CD16 + macrophages, and CD163 + macrophages (p < 0.0001). The differences in the intratumor and peritumoral CD8 + T cell abundance were not impacted by neoadjuvant therapy, tumor stage, grade, lymph node status, histologic subtype, nor KRAS, p53, SMAD4, or CDKN2A mutations.
    CONCLUSIONS: Thus, K17 expression correlates with major differences in the immune microenvironment that are independent of any tested clinicopathologic or tumor intrinsic variables, suggesting that targeting K17-mediated immune effects on the immune system could restore the innate immunologic response to PDAC and might provide novel opportunities to restore immunotherapeutic approaches for this most deadly form of cancer.
  20. Cancer Res. 2024 Mar 15.
      The NCI's Cloud Resources (CRs) are the analytical components of the Cancer Research Data Commons (CRDC) ecosystem. This review describes how the three CRs (Broad Institute FireCloud, Institute for Systems Biology Cancer Gateway in the Cloud, and Seven Bridges Cancer Genomics Cloud) provide access and availability to large, cloud-hosted, multi-modal cancer datasets, as well as offer tools and workspaces for performing data analysis where the data resides, without download or storage. In addition, users can upload their own data and tools into their workspaces, allowing researchers to create custom analysis workflows and integrate CRDC-hosted data with their own.
  21. Cancer Res. 2024 Mar 15.
      Since 2014, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has launched a series of data commons as part of the Cancer Research Data Commons (CRDC) ecosystem housing genomic, proteomic, imaging, and clinical data to support cancer research and promote data sharing of NCI-funded studies. This review describes each data commons (Genomic Data Commons, Proteomic Data Commons, Integrated Canine Data Commons, Cancer Data Service, Imaging Data Commons, and Clinical and Translational Data Commons), including their unique and shared features, accomplishments, and challenges. Also discussed is how the CRDC data commons implement Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable (FAIR) principles and promote data sharing in support of the new NIH Data Management and Sharing Policy.
  22. Front Aging. 2023 ;4 1327833
      According to current views the major hallmarks of physiological aging may be subdivided into three categories, primary causes of cellular damage (genomic instability, telomere attrition, loss of proteostasis, epigenetic alterations and compromised macroautophagy), antagonistic hallmarks that represent response to damage (deregulated nutrient sensing, cellular senescence, mitochondrial dysfunction) and integrative hallmarks that represent culprits of the phenotype (stem cell exhaustion, altered intercellular communication, chronic inflammation, dysbiosis). In contrast to physiological aging, premature aging diseases are driven by one or two distinct primary causes of aging, such as genomic instability in the case of Werner syndrome (WS), each displaying other hallmarks of aging to a variable extent. In this review we will focus on primary causes of well-investigated premature aging diseases Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS), WS, and Cockayne syndrome (CS) and for each provide an overview of reported aging hallmarks to elucidate resemblance to physiological aging on the mechanistic level and in the context of characteristic age-related diseases. Ubiquitous and tissue specific animal models of premature aging diseases will be discussed as useful tools to decipher fundamental aging-related mechanisms and develop intervention strategies to combat premature aging and age-related diseases.
    Keywords:  HGPS; aging; cockayne syndrome; premature aging; progeroid; senescence; werner syndrome
  23. Nat Aging. 2024 Mar 12.
      Melanoma, the most lethal form of skin cancer, often has worse outcomes in older patients. We previously demonstrated that an age-related decrease in the secreted extracellular matrix (ECM) protein HAPLN1 has a role in slowing melanoma progression. Here we show that HAPLN1 in the dermal ECM is sufficient to maintain the integrity of melanoma-associated blood vessels, as indicated by increased collagen and VE-cadherin expression. Specifically, we show that HAPLN1 in the ECM increases hyaluronic acid and decreases endothelial cell expression of ICAM1. ICAM1 phosphorylates and internalizes VE-cadherin, a critical determinant of vascular integrity, resulting in permeable blood vessels. We found that blocking ICAM1 reduces tumor size and metastasis in older mice. These results suggest that HAPLN1 alters endothelial ICAM1expression in an indirect, matrix-dependent manner. Targeting ICAM1 could be a potential treatment strategy for older patients with melanoma, emphasizing the role of aging in tumorigenesis.
  24. Res Sq. 2024 Feb 22. pii: [Epub ahead of print]
      Skin has been shown to be a regulatory hub for energy expenditure and metabolism: mutations of skin lipid metabolism enzymes can change the rate of thermogenesis and susceptibility to diet-induced obesity. However, little is known about the physiological basis for this function. Here we show that the thermal properties of skin are highly reactive to diet: within three days, a high fat diet reduces heat transfer through skin. In contrast, a dietary manipulation that prevents obesity accelerates energy loss through skins. We found that skin was the largest target in a mouse body for dietary fat delivery, and that fat was assimilated both by epidermis and by dermal white adipose tissue. Dietary triglyceride acyl groups persist in skin for weeks after feeding. Using multi-modal lipid profiling, we have implicated both keratinocytes and sebocytes in the altered lipids which correlate with thermal function. In response to high fat feeding, wax diesters and ceramides accumulate, and triglycerides become more saturated. In contrast, in response to the dramatic loss of adipose tissue that accompanies restriction of the branched chain amino acid isoleucine, skin becomes highly heat-permeable: skins shows limited uptake of dietary lipids and editing of wax esters, and acquires a signature of depleted signaling lipids, which include the acyl carnitines and lipid ethers. We propose that skin should be routinely included in physiological studies of lipid metabolism, given the size of the skin lipid reservoir and its adaptable functionality.
  25. bioRxiv. 2024 Feb 27. pii: 2024.02.25.581925. [Epub ahead of print]
      Transmembrane signalling receptors, such as integrins, organise as nanoclusters that are thought to provide several advantages including, increasing avidity, sensitivity (increasing the signal-to-noise ratio) and robustness (signalling above a threshold rather than activation by a single receptor) of the signal compared to signalling by single receptors. Compared to large micron-sized clusters, nanoclusters offer the advantage of rapid turnover for the disassembly of the signal. However, if nanoclusters function as signalling hubs remains poorly understood. Here, we employ fluorescence nanoscopy combined with photoactivation and photobleaching at sub-diffraction limited resolution of ∼100nm length scale within a focal adhesion to examine the dynamics of diverse focal adhesion proteins. We show that (i) subregions of focal adhesions are enriched in immobile population of integrin β3 organised as nanoclusters, which (ii) in turn serve to organise nanoclusters of associated key adhesome proteins-vinculin, focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and paxillin, demonstrating that signalling proceeds by formation of nanoclusters rather than through individual proteins. (iii) Distinct focal adhesion protein nanoclusters exhibit distinct dynamics dependent on function. (iv) long-lived nanoclusters function as signalling hubs-wherein phosphorylated FAK and paxillin formed stable nanoclusters in close proximity to immobile integrin nanoclusters which are disassembled in response to inactivation signal by phosphatase PTPN12 (v) signalling takes place in response to an external signal such as force or geometric arrangement of the nanoclusters and when the signal is removed, these nanoclusters disassemble. Taken together, these results demonstrate that signalling downstream of transmembrane receptors is organised as hubs of signalling proteins (FAK, paxillin, vinculin) seeded by nanoclusters of the transmembrane receptor (integrin).
  26. Sci Adv. 2024 Mar 15. 10(11): eadj1512
      Endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-plasma membrane (PM) tethering is crucial for the non-vesicular lipid transport between the ER membrane and the PM. However, the PM-associated ER can impede the PM binding of cytoskeletons and other organelles. It is poorly understood how the competition between the ER and cytoskeletons/organelles on the PM is resolved. Here, we show that, upon septin collar assembly, ER-PM tethering proteins are excluded from the yeast bud sites, and the PM-associated ER is locally detached from the PM. Our results suggest that PM flows by polarized exocytosis extrude PM proteins, including ER-PM tethering proteins, from the bud sites. When the reorganization of the ER-PM tethering was inhibited by exocytosis repression, septin localization was restricted to the PM sites poor in ER-PM tethering proteins. This study proposes machinery reconciling ER-septin competition on the PM, providing mechanistic insights into the spatial organization of PM-associated organelles and cytoskeletons.
  27. bioRxiv. 2024 Feb 28. pii: 2024.02.25.581948. [Epub ahead of print]
      OBJECTIVE: Intraductal Papillary Mucinous Neoplasms (IPMNs) are cystic lesions and bona fide precursors for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Recently, we showed that acinar to ductal metaplasia, an injury repair program, is characterized by a transcriptomic program similar to gastric spasmolytic polypeptide expressing metaplasia (SPEM), suggesting common mechanisms of reprogramming between the stomach and pancreas. The aims of this study were to assay IPMN for pyloric markers and to identify molecular drivers of this program.DESIGN: We analyzed RNA-seq studies of IPMN for pyloric markers, which were validated by immunostaining in patient samples. Cell lines expressing Kras G12D +/- GNAS R201C were manipulated to identify distinct and overlapping transcriptomic programs driven by each oncogene. A PyScenic-based regulon analysis was performed to identify molecular drivers in the pancreas. Expression of candidate drivers was evaluated by RNA-seq and immunostaining.
    RESULTS: Pyloric markers were identified in human IPMN. GNAS R201C drove expression of these markers in cell lines and siRNA targeting of GNAS R201C or Kras G12D demonstrates that GNAS R201C amplifies a mucinous, pyloric phenotype. Regulon analysis identified a role for transcription factors SPDEF, CREB3L1, and CREB3L4, which are expressed in patient samples. siRNA-targeting of Spdef inhibited mucin production.
    CONCLUSION: De novo expression of a SPEM phenotype has been identified in pancreatitis and a pyloric phenotype in Kras G12D -driven PanIN and Kras G12D ;GNAS R201C -driven IPMN, suggesting common mechanisms of reprogramming between these lesions and the stomach. A transition from a SPEM to pyloric phenotype may reflect disease progression and/or oncogenic mutation. IPMN-specific GNAS R201C amplifies a mucinous phenotype, in part, through SPDEF.
  28. Res Sq. 2024 Feb 22. pii: [Epub ahead of print]
      Oncogenic KRAS mutations are prevalent in colorectal cancer (CRC) and are associated with poor prognosis and resistance to therapy. There is a substantial diversity of KRAS mutant alleles observed in CRC. Emerging clinical and experimental analysis of common KRAS mutations suggest that each mutation differently influences the clinical properties of a disease and response to therapy. Although there is some evidence to suggest biological differences between mutant KRAS alleles, these are yet to be fully elucidated. One approach to study allelic variation involves the use of isogenic cell lines that express different endogenous Kras mutants. Here, we generated Kras isogenic Apc -/- mouse colon epithelial cell lines using CRISPR-driven genome editing by altering the original G12D Kras allele to G12V, G12R, or G13D. We utilized these cell lines to perform transcriptomic and proteomic analysis to compare different signaling properties between these mutants. Both screens indicate significant differences in pathways relating to cholesterol and lipid regulation that we validated with targeted metabolomic measurements and isotope tracing. We found that these processes are upregulated in G12V lines through increased expression of nuclear SREBP1 and higher activation of mTORC1. G12V cells showed higher expression of ACSS2 and ACSS2 inhibition sensitized G12V cells to MEK inhibition. Finally, we found that ACSS2 plays a crucial role early in the development of G12V mutant tumors, in contrast to G12D mutant tumors. These observations highlight differences between KRAS mutant cell lines in their signaling properties. Further exploration of these pathways may prove to be valuable for understanding how specific KRAS mutants function, and identification of novel therapeutic opportunities in CRC.
  29. Cell Death Discov. 2024 Mar 09. 10(1): 124
      Pancreatic cancer is a malignant tumor of the digestive system. It is highly aggressive, easily metastasizes, and extremely difficult to treat. This study aimed to analyze the genes that might regulate pancreatic cancer migration to provide an essential basis for the prognostic assessment of pancreatic cancer and individualized treatment. A CRISPR knockout library directed against 915 murine genes was transfected into TB 32047 cell line to screen which gene loss promoted cell migration. Next-generation sequencing and analysis was performed to identify candidate genes. We then assessed the effect of serine/threonine kinase 11 (STK11) knockout on pancreatic cancer by wound-healing assay, chick agnosia (CAM) assay, and orthotopic mouse pancreatic cancer model. We performed RNA sequence and Western blotting for mechanistic studies to identify and verify the pathways. After accelerated Transwell migration screening, STK11 was identified as one of the top candidate genes. Further experiments showed that targeted knockout of STK11 promoted the cell migration and increased liver metastasis in mice. Mechanistic analyses revealed that STK11 knockout influences blood vessel morphogenesis and is closely associated with the enhanced expression of phosphodiesterases (PDEs), especially PDE4D, PDE4B, and PDE10A. PDE4 inhibitor Roflumilast inhibited STK11-KO cell migration and tumor size, further demonstrating that PDEs are essential for STK11-deficient cell migration. Our findings support the adoption of therapeutic strategies, including Roflumilast, for patients with STK11-mutated pancreatic cancer in order to improve treatment efficacy and ultimately prolong survival.
  30. bioRxiv. 2024 Mar 01. pii: 2024.02.26.582218. [Epub ahead of print]
      In this protocol, we describe steps to design, fabricate and use the Device for Axon and Cancer cell Interaction Testing (DACIT) in 2D and in 3D. In the first section, we detail steps to generate the mask, the master and the smooth-on mold. Next, we describe the step-by-step protocol for fabricating the DACIT, loading sensory neurons and cancer cells in 2D or 3D. We compare axonogenesis using PC-12 cell line and primary embryonic or adult sensory neurons, demonstrating the superior neurite growth in primary cells. We demonstrate DACIT can be used to compartmentalize neuronal soma and axons and expose them to different conditions, or to form a temporary gradient of neurotransmitter. Finally, we show that DACIT can be used to measure spheroid invasion in 3D in the presence of axons.
  31. Endosc Int Open. 2024 Mar;12(3): E361-E366
      Background and study aims The prognosis for pancreatic cancer remains poor. Molecular diagnostics and customized therapies are becoming increasingly important in clinical routine. Patient-derived, predictive model systems such as organoids have the potential to substantially increase the depth of information from biopsy material by functional and molecular characterization. We compared the extent to which the use of fine-needle aspiration needles (FNA, 22G) or fine-needle biopsy needles (FNB, 22G) influences the generation of pancreatic cancer patient-derived organoids (PDOs) to establish endoscopic standards of organoid technology. Patients and methods Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)-guided punctures by EUS-FNA and EUS-FNB of pancreatic masses highly suspicious for adenocarcinoma (detected by computed tomography and/or magnetic resonance imaging) were prospectively evaluated. Consecutive patients received EUS-FNA and EUS-FNB in a randomized order without the need to exchange the needle shaft (only the inner needle type (FNA/-B) was exchanged) between the passes. With each needle type, the specimens for histological analysis and for PDOs were obtained separately. Results Fifty patients were enrolled in the study. Histology revealed malignancy in 42 of 50 cases (84%). In total PDOs were generated from 17 patients (34%). Of these, nine were established by FNB only, two by FNA only, and six by both FNA and FNB. Histology revealed malignancy in 13 of 17 PDO cases (76%). In two histologically false-negative cases, PDOs could be established. Conclusions EUS-FNB was superior to EUS-FNA in terms of successful generation of PDOs, although it failed to show statistical significance.
    Keywords:  Endoscopic ultrasonography; Fine-needle aspiration/biopsy; Pancreas; Tissue diagnosis
  32. Biol Imaging. 2023 ;3 e11
    CRUK IMAXT Grand Challenge Team
      With the aim of producing a 3D representation of tumors, imaging and molecular annotation of xenografts and tumors (IMAXT) uses a large variety of modalities in order to acquire tumor samples and produce a map of every cell in the tumor and its host environment. With the large volume and variety of data produced in the project, we developed automatic data workflows and analysis pipelines. We introduce a research methodology where scientists connect to a cloud environment to perform analysis close to where data are located, instead of bringing data to their local computers. Here, we present the data and analysis infrastructure, discuss the unique computational challenges and describe the analysis chains developed and deployed to generate molecularly annotated tumor models. Registration is achieved by use of a novel technique involving spherical fiducial marks that are visible in all imaging modalities used within IMAXT. The automatic pipelines are highly optimized and allow to obtain processed datasets several times quicker than current solutions narrowing the gap between data acquisition and scientific exploitation.
    Keywords:  Data management; data processing and analysis; fluorescence microscopy; imaging mass cytometry
  33. Nat Commun. 2024 Mar 11. 15(1): 2207
      The spatial and temporal distributions of proteins are critical to protein function, but cannot be directly assessed by measuring protein bundance. Here we describe a mass spectrometry-based proteomics strategy, Simultaneous Proteome Localization and Turnover (SPLAT), to measure concurrently protein turnover rates and subcellular localization in the same experiment. Applying the method, we find that unfolded protein response (UPR) has different effects on protein turnover dependent on their subcellular location in human AC16 cells, with proteome-wide slowdown but acceleration among stress response proteins in the ER and Golgi. In parallel, UPR triggers broad differential localization of proteins including RNA-binding proteins and amino acid transporters. Moreover, we observe newly synthesized proteins including EGFR that show a differential localization under stress than the existing protein pools, reminiscent of protein trafficking disruptions. We next applied SPLAT to an induced pluripotent stem cell derived cardiomyocyte (iPSC-CM) model of cancer drug cardiotoxicity upon treatment with the proteasome inhibitor carfilzomib. Paradoxically, carfilzomib has little effect on global average protein half-life, but may instead selectively disrupt sarcomere protein homeostasis. This study provides a view into the interactions of protein spatial and temporal dynamics and demonstrates a method to examine protein homeostasis regulations in stress and drug response.
  34. Diagnostics (Basel). 2024 Feb 28. pii: 514. [Epub ahead of print]14(5):
      Pancreatic cystic disease, including duct dilation, represents precursor states towards the development of pancreatic cancer, a form of malignancy with relatively low incidence but high mortality. While most of these cysts (>85%) are benign, the remainder can progress over time, leading to malignant transformation, invasion, and metastasis. Cytologic diagnosis is challenging, limited by the paucity or complete absence of cells representative of cystic lesions and fibrosis. Molecular analysis of fluids collected from endoscopic-guided fine-needle aspiration of pancreatic cysts and dilated duct lesions can be used to evaluate the risk of progression to malignancy. The basis for the enhanced diagnostic utility of molecular approaches is the ability to interrogate cell-free nucleic acid of the cyst/duct and/or extracellular fluid. The allelic imbalances at tumor suppressor loci and the selective oncogenic drivers are used clinically to help differentiate benign stable pancreatic cysts from those progressing toward high-grade dysplasia. Methods are discussed and used to determine the efficacy for diagnostic implementation. Here, we report the analytical validation of methods to detect causally associated molecular changes integral to the pathogenesis of pancreatic cancer from pancreatic cyst fluids.
    Keywords:  allelic imbalance; capillary electrophoresis (CE); long-read sequencing; loss of heterozygosity (LOH); next-generation sequencing (NGS); pancreatic cancer; sanger sequencing
  35. Res Sq. 2024 Mar 01. pii: [Epub ahead of print]
      Skin fibrosis is a clinical problem with devastating impacts but limited treatment options. In the setting of diabetes, insulin administration often causes local dermal fibrosis, leading to a range of clinical sequelae including impeded insulin absorption. Mechanical forces are important drivers of fibrosis and, clinically, physical tension offloading at the skin level using an elastomeric patch significantly reduces wound scarring. However, it is not known whether tension offloading could similarly prevent skin fibrosis in the setting of pro-fibrotic injections. Here, we develop a porcine model using repeated local injections of bleomycin to recapitulate key features of insulin-induced skin fibrosis. Using histologic, tissue ultrastructural, and biomechanical analyses, we show that application of a tension-offloading patch both prevents and rescues existing skin fibrosis from bleomycin injections. By applying single-cell transcriptomic analysis, we find that the fibrotic response to bleomycin involves shifts in myeloid cell dynamics from favoring putatively pro-regenerative to pro-fibrotic myeloid subtypes; in a mechanomodulatory in vitro platform, we show that these shifts are mechanically driven and reversed by exogenous IL4. Finally, using a human foreskin xenograft model, we show that IL4 treatment mitigates bleomycin-induced dermal fibrosis. Overall, this study highlights that skin tension offloading, using an FDA cleared, commercially available patch, could have significant potential clinical benefit for the millions of patients dependent on insulin.
    Keywords:  Fibrosis; bleomycin; diabetes; injection; insulin; tension offloading
  36. Adv Sci (Weinh). 2024 Mar 11. e2309721
      High-resolution spatio-temporal monitoring of the cell membrane lipid order provides visual insights into the complex and sophisticated systems that control cellular physiological functions. Solvatochromic fluorescent probes are highly promising noninvasive visualization tools for identifying the ordering of the microenvironment of plasma membrane microdomains. However, conventional probes, although capable of structural analysis, lack the necessary long-term photostability required for live imaging at the cellular level. Here, an ultra-high-light-resistant solvatochromic fluorescence probe, 2-N,N-diethylamino-7-(4-methoxycarbonylphenyl)-9,9-dimethylfluorene (FπCM) is reported, which enables live lipid order imaging of cell division. This probe and its derivatives exhibit sufficient fluorescence wavelengths, brightness, polarity responsiveness, low phototoxicity, and remarkable photostability under physiological conditions compared to conventional solvatochromic probes. Therefore, these probes have the potential to overcome the limitations of fluorescence microscopy, particularly those associated with photobleaching. FπCM probes can serve as valuable tools for elucidating mechanisms of cellular processes at the bio-membrane level.
    Keywords:  biological chemistry; biological techniques; biophysics; membrane organization; membrane probes; photostability; solvatochromic fluorescent dyes