bims-ectoca Biomed News
on Epigenetic control of tolerance in cancer
Issue of 2024‒04‒14
five papers selected by
Ankita Daiya, BITS Pilani

  1. Biophys J. 2024 Apr 10. pii: S0006-3495(24)00252-2. [Epub ahead of print]
      Controlling mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) differentiation remains a critical challenge in their therapeutic application. Numerous biophysical and mechanical stimuli influence stem cell fate, however, their relative efficacy and specificity in mechanically directed differentiation remain unclear. Yes-associated protein (YAP) is one key mechanosensitive protein that controls MSC differentiation. Previous studies have related nuclear mechanics with YAP activity, but we still lack an understanding of what nuclear deformation specifically regulates YAP, and its relationship with mechanical stimuli. Here we report that maximum nuclear curvature is the most precise biophysical determinant for YAP mechanotransduction mediated MSC differentiation, and is a relevant parameter for stem cell-based therapies. We employed traction force microscopy and confocal microscopy to characterize the causal relationships between contractility and nuclear deformation in regulating YAP activity in MSCs. We observed that an increase in contractility compresses nuclei anisotropically, where the degree of asymmetric compression increased the bending curvature of the nuclear membrane. We then examined membrane curvature and tension using thin micropatterned adhesive substrate lines and a FRET-based tension sensor, revealing the direct role of curvature in YAP activity driven by both active and passive nuclear import. Finally, we employed micropatterned lines to control nuclear curvature and precisely direct MSC differentiation. This work illustrates that nuclear curvature subsumes other biophysical aspects to control YAP-mediated differentiation in MSCs and may provide a deterministic solution to some of the challenges in mesenchymal stem cell therapies.
  2. Cells. 2024 Mar 22. pii: 564. [Epub ahead of print]13(7):
      Originally identified in Drosophila melanogaster in 1995, the Hippo signaling pathway plays a pivotal role in organ size control and tumor suppression by inhibiting proliferation and promoting apoptosis. Large tumor suppressors 1 and 2 (LATS1/2) directly phosphorylate the Yki orthologs YAP (yes-associated protein) and its paralog TAZ (also known as WW domain-containing transcription regulator 1 [WWTR1]), thereby inhibiting their nuclear localization and pairing with transcriptional coactivators TEAD1-4. Earnest efforts from many research laboratories have established the role of mis-regulated Hippo signaling in tumorigenesis, epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT), oncogenic stemness, and, more recently, development of drug resistances. Hippo signaling components at the heart of oncogenic adaptations fuel the development of drug resistance in many cancers for targeted therapies including KRAS and EGFR mutants. The first U.S. food and drug administration (US FDA) approval of the imatinib tyrosine kinase inhibitor in 2001 paved the way for nearly 100 small-molecule anti-cancer drugs approved by the US FDA and the national medical products administration (NMPA). However, the low response rate and development of drug resistance have posed a major hurdle to improving the progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) of cancer patients. Accumulating evidence has enabled scientists and clinicians to strategize the therapeutic approaches of targeting cancer cells and to navigate the development of drug resistance through the continuous monitoring of tumor evolution and oncogenic adaptations. In this review, we highlight the emerging aspects of Hippo signaling in cross-talk with other oncogenic drivers and how this information can be translated into combination therapy to target a broad range of aggressive tumors and the development of drug resistance.
    Keywords:  EGFR; KRAS; cancer; carcinogenesis; combination therapy; drug resistance; hippo signaling
  3. J Zhejiang Univ Sci B. 2024 Apr 15. pii: 1673-1581(2024)04-0280-13. [Epub ahead of print]25(4): 280-292
      Cells within tissues are subject to various mechanical forces, including hydrostatic pressure, shear stress, compression, and tension. These mechanical stimuli can be converted into biochemical signals through mechanoreceptors or cytoskeleton-dependent response processes, shaping the microenvironment and maintaining cellular physiological balance. Several studies have demonstrated the roles of Yes-associated protein (YAP) and its homolog transcriptional coactivator with PDZ-binding motif (TAZ) as mechanotransducers, exerting dynamic influence on cellular phenotypes including differentiation and disease pathogenesis. This regulatory function entails the involvement of the cytoskeleton, nucleoskeleton, integrin, focal adhesions (FAs), and the integration of multiple signaling pathways, including extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), wingless/integrated (WNT), and Hippo signaling. Furthermore, emerging evidence substantiates the implication of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) as mechanosensitive molecules in cellular mechanotransduction. In this review, we discuss the mechanisms through which YAP/TAZ and lncRNAs serve as effectors in responding to mechanical stimuli. Additionally, we summarize and elaborate on the crucial signal molecules involved in mechanotransduction.
    Keywords:  F-actin; Long non-coding RNA (lncRNA); Mechanotransduction; YAP/TAZ
  4. Epigenomics. 2024 Apr 08.
      Precise spatiotemporal regulations of gene expression are essential for determining cells' fates and functions. Enhancers are cis-acting DNA elements that act as periodic transcriptional thrusters and their activities are cell type specific. Clusters of enhancers, called super-enhancers, are more densely occupied by transcriptional activators than enhancers, driving stronger expression of their target genes, which have prominent roles in establishing and maintaining cellular identities. Here we review the current knowledge on the composition and structure of super-enhancers to understand how they robustly stimulate the expression of cellular identity genes. We also review their involvement in the development of various cell types and both noncancerous and cancerous disorders, implying the therapeutic interest of targeting them to fight against various diseases.
    Keywords:  cell identity; chromatin organization; epidrugs; histone marks; master transcription factors; multimolecular condensates; seRNAs; super-enhancers; topologically associated domains
  5. Int J Mol Sci. 2024 Apr 06. pii: 4087. [Epub ahead of print]25(7):
      Cellular survival hinges on a delicate balance between accumulating damages and repair mechanisms. In this intricate equilibrium, oxidants, currently considered physiological molecules, can compromise vital cellular components, ultimately triggering cell death. On the other hand, cells possess countermeasures, such as autophagy, which degrades and recycles damaged molecules and organelles, restoring homeostasis. Lysosomes and their enzymatic arsenal, including cathepsins, play critical roles in this balance, influencing the cell's fate toward either apoptosis and other mechanisms of regulated cell death or autophagy. However, the interplay between reactive oxygen species (ROS) and cathepsins in these life-or-death pathways transcends a simple cause-and-effect relationship. These elements directly and indirectly influence each other's activities, creating a complex web of interactions. This review delves into the inner workings of regulated cell death and autophagy, highlighting the pivotal role of ROS and cathepsins in these pathways and their intricate interplay.
    Keywords:  apoptosis; autophagy; cathepsins; cell death; oxidative stress; reactive oxygen species (ROS)