bims-mibica Biomed News
on Mitochondrial bioenergetics in cancer
Issue of 2020‒12‒13
forty-five papers selected by
Kelsey Fisher-Wellman
East Carolina University

  1. Cell Rep Med. 2020 Nov 17. 1(8): 100143
      Mitochondrial respiration (oxidative phosphorylation, OXPHOS) is an emerging target in currently refractory cancers such as pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). However, the variability of energetic metabolic adaptations between PDAC patients has not been assessed in functional investigations. In this work, we demonstrate that OXPHOS rates are highly heterogeneous between patient tumors, and that high OXPHOS tumors are enriched in mitochondrial respiratory complex I at protein and mRNA levels. Therefore, we treated PDAC cells with phenformin (complex I inhibitor) in combination with standard chemotherapy (gemcitabine), showing that this treatment is synergistic specifically in high OXPHOS cells. Furthermore, phenformin cooperates with gemcitabine in high OXPHOS tumors in two orthotopic mouse models (xenografts and syngeneic allografts). In conclusion, this work proposes a strategy to identify PDAC patients likely to respond to the targeting of mitochondrial energetic metabolism in combination with chemotherapy, and that phenformin should be clinically tested in appropriate PDAC patient subpopulations.
    Keywords:  OXPHOS; cancer metabolism; energetic metabolism; metabolic heterogeneity; mitochondria; mitochondrial Complex I; pancreatic cancer; personalized medicine; phenformin; therapeutic strategy
  2. J Biol Chem. 2020 Dec 09. pii: jbc.RA120.016551. [Epub ahead of print]
      The transcription factor nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) regulates the expression of genes involved in antioxidant defenses to modulate fundamental cellular processes such as mitochondrial function and glutathione metabolism. Previous reports proposed that mitochondrial ROS production and disruption of the glutathione pool activate the Nrf2 pathway, suggesting that Nrf2 senses mitochondrial redox signals and/or oxidative damage and signals to the nucleus to respond appropriately. However, until now it has not been possible to disentangle the overlapping effects of mitochondrial superoxide/ hydrogen peroxide production as a redox signal from changes to mitochondrial thiol homeostasis on Nrf2. Recently, we developed mitochondria-targeted reagents that can independently induce mitochondrial superoxide and hydrogen peroxide production (MitoPQ), or selectively disrupt mitochondrial thiol homeostasis (MitoCDNB). Using these reagents, here we have determined how enhanced generation of mitochondrial superoxide and hydrogen peroxide, or disruption of mitochondrial thiol homeostasis affect activation of the Nrf2 system in cells, which was assessed by Nrf2 protein level, nuclear translocation and expression of its target genes. We found that selective disruption of the mitochondrial glutathione pool and inhibition of its thioredoxin system by MitoCDNB led to Nrf2 activation, while using MitoPQ to enhance production of mitochondrial superoxide and hydrogen peroxide alone did not. We further showed that Nrf2 activation by MitoCDNB requires cysteine sensors of Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1). These findings provide important information on how disruption to mitochondrial redox homeostasis is sensed in the cytoplasm and signaled to the nucleus.
    Keywords:  Nuclear factor 2 (erythroid-derived 2-like factor) (NFE2L2) (Nrf2); mitochondria; reactive oxygen species (ROS); superoxide ion; thiol
  3. Biochem Biophys Rep. 2020 Dec;24 100858
      Purpose: Cancer cells rapidly adjust their balance between glycolytic and mitochondrial ATP production in response to changes in their microenvironment and to treatments like radiation and chemotherapy. Reliable, simple, high throughput assays that measure the levels of mitochondrial energy metabolism in cells are useful determinants of treatment effects. Mitochondrial metabolism is routinely determined by measuring the rate of oxygen consumption (OCR). We have previously shown that indirect inhibition of plasma membrane electron transport (PMET) by the mitochondrial uncoupler, FCCP, may also be a reliable measure of mitochondrial energy metabolism. Here, we aimed to validate these earlier findings by exploring the relationship between stimulation of oxygen consumption by FCCP and inhibition of PMET.Methods: We measured PMET by reduction of the cell impermeable tetrazolium salt WST-1/PMS. We characterised the effect of different growth conditions on the extent of PMET inhibition by FCCP. Next, we compared FCCP-mediated PMET inhibition with FCCP-mediated stimulation of OCR using the Seahorse XF96e flux analyser, in a panel of cancer cell lines.
    Results: We found a strong inverse correlation between stimulation of OCR and PMET inhibition by FCCP. PMET and OCR were much more severely affected by FCCP in cells that rely on mitochondrial energy production than in cells with a more glycolytic phenotype.
    Conclusion: Indirect inhibition of PMET by FCCP is a reliable, simple and inexpensive high throughput assay to determine the level of mitochondrial energy metabolism in cancer cells.
    Keywords:  Oxygen consumption rates; Plasma membrane electron transport; Seahorse XF96 flux analyser; Tetrazolium salts; WST-1/PMS
  4. iScience. 2020 Dec 18. 23(12): 101822
      STAT3 is a transcription factor involved in several cellular activities including inflammation, proliferation, and survival, but it also plays a non-transcriptional role in modulating mitochondrial metabolism. Given its diverse functions in human cancers, it is an emerging therapeutic target. Here we show that OPB-51602, a small molecule inhibitor of STAT3, is highly toxic in a STAT3-dependent manner. Specifically, drug toxicity depends on mitochondrial STAT3 as tumor cells expressing only a mitochondrially restricted form of STAT3 are sensitive to the compound, whereas STAT3-null cells are protected. OPB-51602 inhibited complex I activity and led to increased ROS production, which in turn induced mitophagy, actin rearrangements, and cell death. Cells undergoing reduced oxidative phosphorylation or expressing NDI1 NADH dehydrogenase from Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which bypasses mammalian complex I, were resistant to OPB-51602 toxicity. These results show that targeting mitochondrial STAT3 function causes synthetic lethality through complex I inhibition that could be exploited for cancer chemotherapy.
    Keywords:  Cancer; Cell Biology
  5. Cells. 2020 Dec 04. pii: E2600. [Epub ahead of print]9(12):
      Tumors remodel their metabolism to support anabolic processes needed for replication, as well as to survive nutrient scarcity and oxidative stress imposed by their changing environment. In most healthy tissues, the shift from anabolism to catabolism results in decreased glycolysis and elevated fatty acid oxidation (FAO). This change in the nutrient selected for oxidation is regulated by the glucose-fatty acid cycle, also known as the Randle cycle. Briefly, this cycle consists of a decrease in glycolysis caused by increased mitochondrial FAO in muscle as a result of elevated extracellular fatty acid availability. Closing the cycle, increased glycolysis in response to elevated extracellular glucose availability causes a decrease in mitochondrial FAO. This competition between glycolysis and FAO and its relationship with anabolism and catabolism is conserved in some cancers. Accordingly, decreasing glycolysis to lactate, even by diverting pyruvate to mitochondria, can stop proliferation. Moreover, colorectal cancer cells can effectively shift to FAO to survive both glucose restriction and increases in oxidative stress at the expense of decreasing anabolism. However, a subset of B-cell lymphomas and other cancers require a concurrent increase in mitochondrial FAO and glycolysis to support anabolism and proliferation, thus escaping the competing nature of the Randle cycle. How mitochondria are remodeled in these FAO-dependent lymphomas to preferably oxidize fat, while concurrently sustaining high glycolysis and increasing de novo fatty acid synthesis is unclear. Here, we review studies focusing on the role of mitochondrial FAO and mitochondrial-driven lipid synthesis in cancer proliferation and survival, specifically in colorectal cancer and lymphomas. We conclude that a specific metabolic liability of these FAO-dependent cancers could be a unique remodeling of mitochondrial function that licenses elevated FAO concurrent to high glycolysis and fatty acid synthesis. In addition, blocking this mitochondrial remodeling could selectively stop growth of tumors that shifted to mitochondrial FAO to survive oxidative stress and nutrient scarcity.
    Keywords:  ATF4; ISR; cancer; fatty acid oxidation; glycolysis; lipogenesis; mitochondria
  6. Cell. 2020 Dec 07. pii: S0092-8674(20)31526-9. [Epub ahead of print]
      Obesity is a major cancer risk factor, but how differences in systemic metabolism change the tumor microenvironment (TME) and impact anti-tumor immunity is not understood. Here, we demonstrate that high-fat diet (HFD)-induced obesity impairs CD8+ T cell function in the murine TME, accelerating tumor growth. We generate a single-cell resolution atlas of cellular metabolism in the TME, detailing how it changes with diet-induced obesity. We find that tumor and CD8+ T cells display distinct metabolic adaptations to obesity. Tumor cells increase fat uptake with HFD, whereas tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T cells do not. These differential adaptations lead to altered fatty acid partitioning in HFD tumors, impairing CD8+ T cell infiltration and function. Blocking metabolic reprogramming by tumor cells in obese mice improves anti-tumor immunity. Analysis of human cancers reveals similar transcriptional changes in CD8+ T cell markers, suggesting interventions that exploit metabolism to improve cancer immunotherapy.
    Keywords:  CD8+ T cells; anti-tumor immunity; colorectal cancer; fat oxidation; metabolism; obesity; tumor microenvironment
  7. Sci Rep. 2020 Dec 09. 10(1): 21595
      The development of targeted drugs for the treatment of cancer remains an unmet medical need. This study was designed to investigate the mechanism underlying breast cancer cell growth suppression caused by fused isoselenazolium salts. The ability to suppress the proliferation of malignant and normal cells in vitro as well as the effect on NAD homeostasis (NAD+, NADH, and NMN levels), NAMPT inhibition and mitochondrial functionality were studied. The interactions of positively charged isoselenazolium salts with the negatively charged mitochondrial membrane model were assessed. Depending on the molecular structure, fused isoselenazolium salts display nanomolar to high micromolar cytotoxicities against MCF-7 and 4T1 breast tumor cell lines. The studied compounds altered NMN, NAD+, and NADH levels and the NAD+/NADH ratio. Mitochondrial functionality experiments showed that fused isoselenazolium salts inhibit pyruvate-dependent respiration but do not directly affect complex I of the electron transfer system. Moreover, the tested compounds induce an immediate dramatic increase in the production of reactive oxygen species. In addition, the isoselenazolothiazolium derivative selectively binds to cardiolipin in a liposomal model. Isoselenazolium salts may be a promising platform for the development of potent drug candidates for anticancer therapy that impact mitochondrial pyruvate-dependent metabolism in breast cancer cells.
  8. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2020 Dec 08. pii: S0003-9861(20)30730-X. [Epub ahead of print] 108721
      5-Aminolevulinic acid (ALA) is the rate-limiting intermediate in heme biosynthesis in vertebrate species; a reaction catalyzed by the mitochondrial ALA synthase 1 (ALAS1) enzyme. Previously we reported that knockdown of the ubiquitously expressed ALAS1 gene in mice disrupts normal glucose metabolism, attenuates mitochondrial function and results in a prediabetic like phenotype when animals pass 20-weeks of age (Saitoh et al., 2018). Contrary to our expectations, the cytosolic and mitochondrial heme content of ALAS1 heterozygous (A1+/-) mice were similar to WT animals. Therefore, we speculated that regulatory "free heme" may be reduced in an age dependent manner in A1 ± mice, but not total heme. Here, we examine free and total heme from the skeletal muscle and liver of WT and A1 ± mice using a modified acetone extraction method and examine the effects of aging on free heme by comparing the amounts at 8-12 weeks and 30-36 weeks of age, in addition to the mRNA abundance of ALAS1. We found an age-dependent reduction in free heme in the skeletal muscle and liver of A1 ± mice, while WT mice showed only a slight decrease in the liver. Total heme levels showed no significant difference between young and aged WT and A1 ± mice. ALAS1 mRNA levels showed an age-dependent reduction similar to that of free heme levels, indicating that ALAS1 mRNA expression levels are a major determinant for free heme levels. The free heme pools in skeletal muscle tissue were almost 2-fold larger than that of liver tissue, suggesting that the heme pool varies across different tissue types. The expression of heme oxygenase 1 (HO-1) mRNA, which is expressed proportionally to the amount of free heme, were similar to those of free heme levels. Taken together, this study demonstrates that the free heme pool differs across tissues, and that an age-dependent reduction in free heme levels is accelerated in mice heterozygous for ALAS1, which could account for the prediabetic phenotype and mitochondrial abnormality observed in these animals.
    Keywords:  5-Aminolevulinate synthase 1 (ALAS1); 5-Aminolevulinic acid (ALA); Aging; Free heme; Liver; Skeletal muscle
  9. Cancer Metab. 2020 Dec 10. 8(1): 28
      BACKGROUND: Of the genes that control mitochondrial biogenesis and function, ERRα emerges as a druggable metabolic target to be exploited for cancer therapy. Of the genes mutated in cancer, TP53 remains the most elusive to target. A clear understanding of how mitochondrial druggable targets can be accessed to exploit the underlying mechanism(s) explaining how p53-deficient tumors promote cell survival remains elusive.METHODS: We performed protein-protein interaction studies to demonstrate that ERRα binds to p53. Moreover, we used gene silencing and pharmacological approaches in tandem with quantitative proteomics analysis by SWATH-MS to investigate the role of the ERRα/p53 complex in mitochondrial biogenesis and function in colon cancer. Finally, we designed in vitro and in vivo studies to investigate the possibility of targeting colon cancers that exhibit defects in p53.
    RESULTS: Here, we are the first to identify a direct protein-protein interaction between the ligand-binding domain (LBD) of ERRα and the C-terminal domain (CTD) of p53. ERRα binds to p53 regardless of p53 mutational status. Furthermore, we show that the ERRα and p53 complex cooperatively control mitochondrial biogenesis and function. Targeting ERRα creates mitochondrial metabolic stresses, such as production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and mitochondrial membrane permeabilization (MMP), leading to a greater cytotoxic effect that is dependent on the presence of p53. Pharmacological inhibition of ERRα impairs the growth of p53-deficient cells and of p53 mutant patient-derived colon xenografts (PDX).
    CONCLUSIONS: Therefore, our data suggest that by using the status of the p53 protein as a selection criterion, the ERRα/p53 transcriptional axis can be exploited as a metabolic vulnerability.
    Keywords:  Apoptosis; ERRα; Mitochondrial biogenesis; Mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (mtOxPhos); PDX colon cancer model; p53-deficient
  10. Cell Metab. 2020 Nov 26. pii: S1550-4131(20)30603-3. [Epub ahead of print]
      Recent studies suggest that mitochondria can be transferred between cells to support the survival of metabolically compromised cells. However, whether intercellular mitochondria transfer occurs in white adipose tissue (WAT) or regulates metabolic homeostasis in vivo remains unknown. We found that macrophages acquire mitochondria from neighboring adipocytes in vivo and that this process defines a transcriptionally distinct macrophage subpopulation. A genome-wide CRISPR-Cas9 knockout screen revealed that mitochondria uptake depends on heparan sulfates (HS). High-fat diet (HFD)-induced obese mice exhibit lower HS levels on WAT macrophages and decreased intercellular mitochondria transfer from adipocytes to macrophages. Deletion of the HS biosynthetic gene Ext1 in myeloid cells decreases mitochondria uptake by WAT macrophages, increases WAT mass, lowers energy expenditure, and exacerbates HFD-induced obesity in vivo. Collectively, this study suggests that adipocytes and macrophages employ intercellular mitochondria transfer as a mechanism of immunometabolic crosstalk that regulates metabolic homeostasis and is impaired in obesity.
    Keywords:  beige adipose tissue; brown adipose tissue; horizontal mitochondria transfer; immunometabolism; intercellular mitochondria transfer; macrophage; metabolism; mitochondria; obesity; white adipose tissue
  11. Free Radic Biol Med. 2020 Dec 03. pii: S0891-5849(20)31657-9. [Epub ahead of print]
      Melanoma, the most severe form of skin cancer, has poor prognosis and is resistant to chemotherapy. Targeting cancer metabolism is a promising approach in cancer therapeutics. Dihydrolipoyl dehydrogenase (DLD) is a mitochondrial enzyme with diaphorase activity. Here we report a pivotal role of DLD in melanoma cell progression and proliferation. Suppression DLD expression by low intensity UVA (125 mJ/cm2) increased intracellular ROS production and decreased mitochondrial membrane potential thereby inducing autophagy cell death which were confirmed by increased LC3BII and decreased p62 expression in melanoma cells. Knockdown of DLD in melanoma cells also showed similar results. More so, suppression of DLD significantly inhibits in vivo melanoma growth and tumor proliferation. In addition, suppression of DLD increased the NAD+/NADH ratio in melanoma cells and also inhibits TCA cycle related metabolites. DLD downregulation markedly increased α-ketoglutarate and decreased succinic acid suggesting that DLD suppression may have decreased TCA cycle downstream metabolites, resulting in the alteration of mitochondrial energy metabolism Thus the downregulation of DLD induced autophagic cell death in melanoma cells and inhibits in vivo tumor growth and proliferation by increasing ROS production and altering energy metabolism. Our findings suggest that DLD plays a pivotal role in melanoma progression and proliferation.
    Keywords:  A375; Dihydrolipoyl dehydrogenase; MNT1; NAD(+)/NADH; ROS; UVA; autophagy; melanoma
  12. Sci Rep. 2020 Dec 10. 10(1): 21673
      The AMP-activated kinase (AMPK) is a major energy sensor metabolic enzyme that is activated early during T cell immune responses but its role in the generation of effector T cells is still controversial. Using both in vitro and in vivo models of T cell proliferation, we show herein that AMPK is dispensable for early TCR signaling and short-term proliferation but required for sustained long-term T cell proliferation and effector/memory T cell survival. In particular, AMPK promoted accumulation of effector/memory T cells in competitive homeostatic proliferation settings. Transplantation of AMPK-deficient hematopoïetic cells into allogeneic host recipients led to a reduced graft-versus-host disease, further bolstering a role for AMPK in the expansion and pathogenicity of effector T cells. Mechanistically, AMPK expression enhances the mitochondrial membrane potential of T cells, limits reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, and resolves ROS-mediated toxicity. Moreover, dampening ROS production alleviates the proliferative defect of AMPK-deficient T cells, therefore indicating a role for an AMPK-mediated ROS control of T cell fitness.
  13. J Clin Invest. 2020 Dec 08. pii: 139333. [Epub ahead of print]
      Novel approaches are needed to boost the efficacy of immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) therapy. Ataxia Telangiectasia Mutated (ATM) protein plays a central role in sensing DNA double strand breaks and coordinating their repair. Recent data indicated that ATM might be a promising target to enhance immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) therapy. However, the molecular mechanism involved is not clearly elucidated. Here we show that ATM inhibition could potentiate ICB therapy by promoting cytoplasmic leakage of mitochondrial DNA and activation of the cGAS/STING pathway. Genetic depletion of ATM in murine cancer cells significantly delayed tumor growth in syngeneic mouse hosts in a T-cell dependent manner. Furthermore, chemical inhibition of ATM significantly potentiated anti-PD1 therapy of mouse tumors. ATM inhibition potently activated the cGAS/STING pathway and enhanced lymphocyte infiltration into the tumor microenvironment by downregulating TFAM, which led to mitochondrial DNA leakage into the cytoplasm. Moreover, our analysis of data from a large patient cohort indicated that ATM mutations, especially nonsense mutations, predicted for clinical benefits for ICB therapy. Our study therefore provides strong evidence that ATM may serve both as a therapeutic target and a biomarker to enable ICB therapy.
    Keywords:  Cancer immunotherapy; Cytokines; DNA repair; Oncology
  14. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2020 ;2020 4830418
      Drug resistance remains a barrier in the clinical treatment of ovarian cancer. Proteasomal and antioxidant activities play important roles in tumor drug resistance, and increasing evidence suggests the existence of an interaction between antioxidant and proteasomal activities. However, the mechanism of the synergistic effects of proteasomal activity and antioxidation on tumor drug resistance is not completely clear. In this study, we compared two ovarian cancer cells, A2780 and SKOV3 cells. Among them, SKOV3 cell is a human clear cell carcinoma cell line that is resistant to platinum. We found that compared with the findings in A2780 cells, SKOV3 cells were less sensitive to both proteasomal inhibitor and cisplatin. Proteasomal inhibition enhanced the sensitivity of A2780 cells, but not SKOV3 cells, to cisplatin. Notably, the Nrf2-mediated antioxidant pathway was identified as a resistance mechanism in proteasome inhibitor-resistant cells, but this was not the only factor identified in our research. In SKOV3 cells, PGC1α regulated the antioxidant activity of Nrf2 by increasing the phosphorylation of GSK3β, and in turn, Nrf2 regulated the transcriptional activity of PGC1α. Thus, Nrf2 and PGC1α synergistically participate in the regulation of proteasomal activity. Furthermore, the Nrf2/PGC1α pathway participated in the regulation of mitochondrial function and homeostasis, further regulating proteasomal activity in SKOV3 cells. Therefore, exploring the roles of PGC1α and Nrf2 in the regulation of proteasomal activity by antioxidant and mitochondrial functions may provide new avenues for reversing drug resistance in ovarian cancer.
  15. Cancer Metab. 2020 Dec 04. 8(1): 27
      BACKGROUND: Protein synthesis is regulated by the availability of amino acids, the engagement of growth factor signaling pathways, and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels sufficient to support translation. Crosstalk between these inputs is extensive, yet other regulatory mechanisms remain to be characterized. For example, the translation initiation inhibitor rocaglamide A (RocA) induces thioredoxin-interacting protein (TXNIP). TXNIP is a negative regulator of glucose uptake; thus, its induction by RocA links translation to the availability of glucose. MondoA is the principal regulator of glucose-induced transcription, and its activity is triggered by the glycolytic intermediate, glucose 6-phosphate (G6P). MondoA responds to G6P generated by cytoplasmic glucose and mitochondrial ATP (mtATP), suggesting a critical role in the cellular response to these energy sources. TXNIP expression is entirely dependent on MondoA; therefore, we investigated how protein synthesis inhibitors impact its transcriptional activity.METHODS: We investigated how translation regulates MondoA activity using cell line models and loss-of-function approaches. We examined how protein synthesis inhibitors effect gene expression and metabolism using RNA-sequencing and metabolomics, respectively. The biological impact of RocA was evaluated using cell lines and patient-derived xenograft organoid (PDxO) models.
    RESULTS: We discovered that multiple protein synthesis inhibitors, including RocA, increase TXNIP expression in a manner that depends on MondoA, a functional electron transport chain and mtATP synthesis. Furthermore, RocA and cycloheximide increase mtATP and G6P levels, respectively, and TXNIP induction depends on interactions between the voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC) and hexokinase (HK), which generates G6P. RocA treatment impacts the regulation of ~ 1200 genes, and ~ 250 of those genes are MondoA-dependent. RocA treatment is cytotoxic to triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) cell lines and shows preferential cytotoxicity against estrogen receptor negative (ER-) PDxO breast cancer models. Finally, RocA-driven cytotoxicity is partially dependent on MondoA or TXNIP.
    CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that protein synthesis inhibitors rewire metabolism, resulting in an increase in mtATP and G6P, the latter driving MondoA-dependent transcriptional activity. Further, MondoA is a critical component of the cellular transcriptional response to RocA. Our functional assays suggest that RocA or similar translation inhibitors may show efficacy against ER- breast tumors and that the levels of MondoA and TXNIP should be considered when exploring these potential treatment options.
  16. Cancer Metab. 2020 Nov 26. 8(1): 26
      BACKGROUND: Aspartate biosynthesis and its delivery to the cytosol can be crucial for tumor growth in vivo. However, the impact of intracellular aspartate levels on metastasis has not been studied. We previously described that loss-of-aspartate glutamate carrier 1 (SLC25A12 or AGC1), an important component of the malate-aspartate shuttle, impairs cytosolic aspartate levels, NAD+/NADH ratio, mitochondrial respiration, and tumor growth. Here, we report the impact of AGC1-knockdown on metastasis.RESULTS: Low AGC1 expression correlates with worse patient prognosis in many cancers. AGC1-knockdown in mouse lung carcinoma and melanoma cell lines leads to increased pulmonary metastasis following subcutaneous or intravenous injections, respectively. On the other hand, conventional in vitro metastasis assays show no indication of increased metastasis capacity of AGC1-knockdown cells.
    CONCLUSION: This study highlights that certain branches of metabolism impact tumor growth and tumor metastasis differently. In addition, it also argues that commonly known metastasis indicators, including EMT genes, cell migration, or colony formation, do not always reflect metastatic capacity in vivo.
    Keywords:  AGC1; Aralar; Aspartate; Malate-Aspartate Shuttle; Metastasis; SLC25A12
  17. Sci Rep. 2020 Dec 09. 10(1): 21592
      Cancer stem cells (CSCs) define a subpopulation of cancer cells that are resistant to therapy. However, little is known of how CSC characteristics are regulated. We previously showed that dormant cancer stem cells are enriched with a CD274low fraction of cholangiocarcinoma cells. Here we found that BEX2 was highly expressed in CD274low cells, and that BEX2 knockdown decreased the tumorigenicity and G0 phase of cholangiocarcinoma cells. BEX2 was found to be expressed predominantly in G0 phase and starvation induced the USF2 transcriptional factor, which induced BEX2 transcription. Comprehensive screening of BEX2 binding proteins identified E3 ubiquitin ligase complex proteins, FEM1B and CUL2, and a mitochondrial protein TUFM, and further demonstrated that knockdown of BEX2 or TUFM increased mitochondria-related oxygen consumption and decreased tumorigenicity in cholangiocarcinoma cells. These results suggest that BEX2 is essential for maintaining dormant cancer stem cells through the suppression of mitochondrial activity in cholangiocarcinoma.
  18. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2020 Dec 09.
      Calcium (Ca2+) signaling is critical for cell function and cell survival. Mitochondria play a major role in regulating the intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i). Mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake is an important determinant of cell fate and governs respiration, mitophagy/autophagy, and mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis. Mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake occurs via the mitochondrial Ca2+ uniporter (MCU) complex. This review summarizes the current knowledge on the function of MCU complex, regulation of MCU channel, and the role of MCU in Ca2+ homeostasis and human disease pathogenesis. The channel core consists of four MCU subunits and EMRE. Regulatory proteins that interact with them include mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake 1/2 (MICU1/2), MCU dominant negative beta subunit (MCUb), MCU regu-lator 1 (MCUR1) and solute carrier 25A23 (SLC25A23). In addition to these proteins, cardiolipin, a mito-chondrial mem-brane-specific phospholipid, has been shown to interact with the channel core. The dynamic interplay between the core and regu-latory proteins modulates MCU channel activity after sensing local changes in [Ca2+]i, reactive oxygen species, and other environmental factors. Here, we highlight the structural details of the human MCU heteromeric assemblies and their known roles in regulating mitochondrial Ca2+ homeostasis. MCU dysfunction has been shown to alter mitochondrial Ca2+ dynamics, in turn eliciting cell apoptosis. Changes in mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake have been implicated in pathological con-ditions af-fecting multiple organs, including the heart, skeletal muscle, and brain. However, our structural and functional knowledge of this vital protein complex remains incomplete and under-standing the precise role for MCU-mediated mito-chondrial Ca2+ signaling in disease requires further research ef-forts.
    Keywords:  Calcium; Channel; MCU; mitochondria; uniporter
  19. BMB Rep. 2020 Dec 11. pii: 5135. [Epub ahead of print]
      The N-myc downstream regulated gene (NDRG) family members are dysregulated in several tumors. Functionally, NDRGs play an important role in the malignant progression of cancer cells. However, little is known about the potential implications of NDRG4 in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). The aim of the current study was to elucidate the expression pattern of NDRG4 in PDAC and evaluate its potential cellular biological effects. Here, we firstly report that epigenetic-mediated silencing of NDRG4 promotes PDAC by regulating mitochondrial function. Data mining demonstrated that NDRG4 was significantly down-regulated in PDAC tissues and cells. PDAC patients with low NDRG4 expression showed poor prognosis. Epigenetic regulation by DNA methylation was closely associated with NDRG4 down-regulation. NDRG4 overexpression dramatically suppressed PDAC cell growth and metastasis. Further functional analysis demonstrated that up-regulated NDRG4 in SW1990 and Canpan1 cells resulted in attenuated mitochondrial function, including reduced ATP production, decreased mitochondrial membrane potential, and increased fragmented mitochondria. However, opposite results were obtained for HPNE cells with NDRG4 knockdown. These results indicate that hypermethylation-driven silencing of NDRG4 can promote PDAC by regulating mitochondrial function and that NDRG4 could be as a potential biomarker for PDAC patients.
  20. Mitochondrial DNA A DNA Mapp Seq Anal. 2020 Dec 07. 1-14
      Mutations in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) are important causes for type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). To investigate the association between mtDNA mutations/variants and diabetes, we reported here clinical, genetic and biochemical characterization of a Chinese pedigree with maternally transmitted T2DM. Using PCR and direct sequencing analysis of mitochondrial genomes from the matrilineal relatives, we identified two potential pathogenic mutations, m.T4216C (p.Y304H) and m.C5178A (p.L237M) in the ND1 and ND2 genes, respectively, together with a set of genetic polymorphisms belonging to the human mitochondrial haplogroup D4b. Moreover, by isolating and analyzing polymononuclear leukocytes generated from the T2DM patients and controls, we identified lower levels of mitochondrial membrane potential and ATP production in T2DM patients than in the controls, in contrast, a significantly higher level of reactive oxygen species was observed in the T2DM patients carrying both of the m.T4216C and m.C5178A mutations (p < 0.05 for all). In addition, the plasma levels of malondialdehyde and 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine in the T2DM patients markedly increased, while the level of superoxide dismutase decreased (p < 0.05 for all). Taken together, our data indicated that the ND1 T4216C and ND2 C5178A mutations may lead to oxidative stress and impair the mitochondrial function, and this, in turn, might have been involved in the pathogenesis and progression of T2DM in this pedigree. Thus, our study provides novel insight into the pathophysiology of T2DM that is manifested by mitochondrial dysfunction.
    Keywords:  C5178A; T2DM; T4216C; mitochondrial dysfunction; oxidative stress
  21. FEBS J. 2020 Dec 07.
      Most phospholipids are synthesized in the endoplasmic reticulum and distributed to other cellular membranes. Although the vesicle transport contributes to the phospholipid distribution among the endomembrane system, exactly how phospholipids are transported to, from and between mitochondrial membranes remains unclear. To gain insights into phospholipid transport routes into mitochondria, we expressed the Escherichia coli phosphatidylserine synthase PssA in various membrane compartments with distinct membrane topologies in yeast cells lacking a sole phosphatidylserine synthase (Cho1). Interestingly, PssA could complement loss of Cho1 when targeted to the ER, peroxisome, or lipid droplet membranes. Synthesized phosphatidylserine could be converted to phosphatidylethanolamine by Psd1, the mitochondrial PS decarboxylase, suggesting that phospholipids synthesized in the peroxisomes and LDs can efficiently reach mitochondria. Furthermore, we found that PssA integrated into the mitochondrial inner membrane from the matrix side could partially complement the loss of Cho1. The phosphatidylserine synthesized in the mitochondrial inner membrane was also converted to phosphatidylethanolamine, indicating that phosphatidylserine flops across the mitochondrial inner membrane to become phosphatidylethanolamine. These findings expand our understanding of the intracellular phospholipid transport routes via mitochondria.
    Keywords:  PssA; mitochondria; phosphatidylserine synthase; phospholipid
  22. Oncol Lett. 2021 Jan;21(1): 49
      Gastric cancer is a common malignancy in China, with the second highest mortality rate worldwide. Advanced gastric cancer usually exhibits a poor prognosis with a low 5-year survival rate. Therefore, developing novel drugs for the treatment of this cancer will be beneficial for patients. Demethylzeylasteral, an extract of tripterygium wilfordii, has shown positive anticancer activities. However, the possible antitumor effect of demethylzeylasteral on gastric cancer cells and its underlying molecular mechanism remain to be determined. In the present study, the Cell Counting Kit-8 and colony formation assays revealed that demethylzeylasteral impeded the proliferation of human gastric cancer cells in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, the Transwell assay identified an inhibitory effect of demethylzeylasteral on the migration of MKN-45 cells, while flow cytometry found that treatment with demethylzeylasteral induced apoptosis and decreased the mitochondrial membrane potential in the cancer cells. Further investigation revealed that demethylzeylasteral downregulated the phosphorylation of ERK1/2, AKT, and GSK-3β in MKN-45 cells. Notably, decreased expression of Bcl-2 and increased expression of Bax, cleaved caspase-3, cleaved caspase-9 and cleaved PARP were detected in the cancer cells treated with demethylzeylasteral. The present study demonstrated that demethylzeylasteral exhibits therapeutic potential for gastric cancer.
    Keywords:  AKT/GSK-3β; ERK1/2; apoptosis; demethylzeylasteral; gastric cancer
  23. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2020 ;8 573747
      Calcium ion (Ca2+) signaling is critical to many physiological processes, and its kinetics and subcellular localization are tightly regulated in all cell types. All Ca2+ flux perturbations impact cell function and may contribute to various diseases, including cancer. Several modulators of Ca2+ signaling are attractive pharmacological targets due to their accessibility at the plasma membrane. Despite this, the number of specific inhibitors is still limited, and to date there are no anticancer drugs in the clinic that target Ca2+ signaling. Ca2+ dynamics are impacted, in part, by modifications of cellular metabolic pathways. Conversely, it is well established that Ca2+ regulates cellular bioenergetics by allosterically activating key metabolic enzymes and metabolite shuttles or indirectly by modulating signaling cascades. A coordinated interplay between Ca2+ and metabolism is essential in maintaining cellular homeostasis. In this review, we provide a snapshot of the reciprocal interaction between Ca2+ and metabolism and discuss the potential consequences of this interplay in cancer cells. We highlight the contribution of Ca2+ to the metabolic reprogramming observed in cancer. We also describe how the metabolic adaptation of cancer cells influences this crosstalk to regulate protumorigenic signaling pathways. We suggest that the dual targeting of these processes might provide unprecedented opportunities for anticancer strategies. Interestingly, promising evidence for the synergistic effects of antimetabolites and Ca2+-modulating agents is emerging.
    Keywords:  calcium; cancer; interplay; metabolism; signaling
  24. JCI Insight. 2020 Dec 08. pii: 139826. [Epub ahead of print]
      Chronic kidney disease (CKD) results in a progressive skeletal myopathy involving atrophy, weakness, and fatigue. Mitochondria have been thought to contribute to skeletal myopathy, however, the molecular mechanisms underlying changes in muscle metabolism in CKD are unknown. This study employed a comprehensive mitochondrial phenotyping platform to elucidate the mechanisms of skeletal muscle mitochondrial impairment in mice with adenine-induced CKD. CKD mice displayed significant reductions in mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS), which was strongly correlated with glomerular filtration rate, suggesting a link between kidney function and muscle mitochondrial health. Biochemical assays uncovered that OXPHOS dysfunction was driven principally by reduced activity of matrix dehydrogenases. Untargeted metabolomics analyses in skeletal muscle revealed a distinct metabolite profile in CKD muscle including accumulation of uremic toxins that strongly associated with the degree of mitochondrial impairment. Additional muscle phenotyping found that CKD mice experienced muscle atrophy and increased muscle protein degradation, but only male CKD mice had lower maximal contractile force. CKD mice also had morphological changes indicative of destabilization in the neuromuscular junction. This study provides the first comprehensive evaluation of mitochondrial health in murine CKD muscle and uncovers several unknown uremic metabolites that are strongly associated with the degree of mitochondrial impairment.
    Keywords:  Bioenergetics; Mitochondria; Muscle Biology; Nephrology; Skeletal muscle
  25. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2020 Dec 10. pii: canprevres.0425.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      Cancer chemoprevention is the most effective approach to control cancer in the population. Despite significant progress, chemoprevention has not been widely adopted because agents that are safe tend to be less effective and those that are highly effective tend to be toxic. Thus, there is an urgent need to develop novel and effective chemopreventive agents, such as mitochondria-targeted agents, that can prevent cancer and prolong survival. Mitochondria, the central site for cellular energy production, have important functions in cell survival and death. Several studies have revealed a significant role for mitochondrial metabolism in promoting cancer development and progression, making mitochondria a promising new target for cancer prevention. Conjugating delocalized lipophilic cations such triphenylphosphonium cation (TPP+) to compounds of interest is an effective approach for mitochondrial targeting. The hyperpolarized tumor cell membrane and mitochondrial membrane potential allow for selective accumulation of TPP+ conjugates in tumor cell mitochondria versus those in normal cells. This could enhance direct killing of pre-cancerous, dysplastic, and tumor cells while minimizing potential toxicities to normal cells.
  26. Cancer Res. 2020 Dec 07. pii: canres.1010.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      Cisplatin chemotherapy is standard care for many cancers but is toxic to the kidneys. How this toxicity occurs is uncertain. In this study, we identified apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease 2 (APE2) as a critical molecule upregulated in the proximal tubule cells (PTC) following cisplatin-induced nuclear DNA and mitochondrial DNA damage in cisplatin-treated C57B6J mice. The APE2 transgenic mouse phenotype recapitulated the pathophysiological features of C-AKI in the absence of cisplatin treatment. APE2 pulldown-MS analysis revealed that APE2 binds myosin heavy-Chain 9 (MYH9) protein in mitochondria after cisplatin treatment. Human MYH9-related disorder is caused by mutations in MYH9 that eventually lead to nephritis, macrothrombocytopenia, and deafness, a constellation of symptoms similar to the toxicity profile of cisplatin. Moreover, cisplatin-induced C-AKI was attenuated in APE2-knockout mice. Taken together, these findings suggest that cisplatin promotes AKI development by upregulating APE2, which leads to subsequent MYH9 dysfunction in PTC mitochondria due to an unrelated role of APE2 in DNA damage repair. This postulated mechanism and the availability of an engineered transgenic mouse model based on the mechanism of C-AKI provides an opportunity to identify novel targets for prophylactic treatment of this serious disease.
  27. Nucleic Acids Res. 2020 Dec 09. pii: gkaa1165. [Epub ahead of print]
      Mammalian mitochondria have their own dedicated protein synthesis system, which produces 13 essential subunits of the oxidative phosphorylation complexes. We have reconstituted an in vitro translation system from mammalian mitochondria, utilizing purified recombinant mitochondrial translation factors, 55S ribosomes from pig liver mitochondria, and a tRNA mixture from either Escherichia coli or yeast. The system is capable of translating leaderless mRNAs encoding model proteins (DHFR and nanoLuciferase) or some mtDNA-encoded proteins. We show that a leaderless mRNA, encoding nanoLuciferase, is faithfully initiated without the need for any auxiliary factors other than IF-2mt and IF-3mt. We found that the ribosome-dependent GTPase activities of both the translocase EF-G1mt and the recycling factor EF-G2mt are insensitive to fusidic acid (FA), the translation inhibitor that targets bacterial EF-G homologs, and consequently the system is resistant to FA. Moreover, we demonstrate that a polyproline sequence in the protein causes 55S mitochondrial ribosome stalling, yielding ribosome nascent chain complexes. Analyses of the effects of the Mg concentration on the polyproline-mediated ribosome stalling suggested the unique regulation of peptide elongation by the mitoribosome. This system will be useful for analyzing the mechanism of translation initiation, and the interactions between the nascent peptide chain and the mitochondrial ribosome.
  28. Pharmacol Res. 2020 Dec 08. pii: S1043-6618(20)31675-3. [Epub ahead of print] 105367
      Accelerated glucose metabolism is a common feature of cancer cells. Hexokinase 2 (HK2) as the rate-limiting enzyme catalyzes the first step of glucose metabolism. It is overexpressed in most of the human cancers and has been a promising target for cancer therapy. Here, we report a novel selective HK2 inhibitor Benitrobenrazide (BNBZ), with nanomolar inhibitory potency. In vitro, BNBZ directly binds to HK2, induces apoptosis, and inhibits proliferation of HK2-overexpressed cancer cells. BNBZ also significantly inhibits the glycolysis of SW1990 cells by targeting HK2. The knockdown or knockout of HK2 expression in SW1990 cells can reduce their sensitivity to BNBZ. Additionally, oral administration of BNBZ can effectively inhibit tumor growth in SW1990 and SW480 xenograft models. In general, BNBZ significantly inhibited glycolysis and cancer cell proliferation in vitro and in vivo by directly targeting HK2 with high potency and low toxicity, and can be developed as a novel HK2 small-molecule candidate drug for future cancer therapeutics.
    Keywords:  Cancer metabolism; Cancer therapeutics; Glycolysis; Hexokinase 2
  29. Mitochondrion. 2020 Dec 03. pii: S1567-7249(20)30221-X. [Epub ahead of print]
      Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) employs diverse strategies to survive inside the host macrophages. In this study, we have identified a conserved hypothetical protein of Mtb; Rv0674, which is present in the mitochondria of the host cell. The genetic knock-out of rv0674 (Mtb-KO) showed increased growth of Mtb. The intracellular infection with recombinant Mycobacterium smegmatis (MSMEG) expressing Rv0674 (MS_Rv0674), established that the protein is involved in promoting the apoptotic cell death of the macrophage. To investigate the mechanism incurred in mitochondria, we observed that the protein physically interacts with the control region (D-loop) of the mitochondrial DNA (LSP and HSP promoters of the loop) of the macrophages and facilitates the increased expression of mRNA in all the complexes of mitochondrial encoded OXPHOS subunits. The changes in OXPHOS levels corroborated with the ATP synthesis, mitochondrial membrane potential and superoxide production. The infection with MS_Rv0674 confirmed the role of this protein in effecting the intracellular infection. The fluorescent and confocal microscopy confirmed that the protein is localized in the mitochondria of infected macrophages and in the cells of BAL of TB patients. Together these findings indicate towards the novel function of the protein which is unlike to the earlier established mechanisms of mycobacterial physiology.
    Keywords:  Apoptosis; Intracellular survival; Mitochondria; Mycobacteria; OXPHOS; Rv0674
  30. Nature. 2020 Dec 09.
      Linker histone H1 proteins bind to nucleosomes and facilitate chromatin compaction1, although their biological functions are poorly understood. Mutations in the genes that encode H1 isoforms B-E (H1B, H1C, H1D and H1E; also known as H1-5, H1-2, H1-3 and H1-4, respectively) are highly recurrent in B cell lymphomas, but the pathogenic relevance of these mutations to cancer and the mechanisms that are involved are unknown. Here we show that lymphoma-associated H1 alleles are genetic driver mutations in lymphomas. Disruption of H1 function results in a profound architectural remodelling of the genome, which is characterized by large-scale yet focal shifts of chromatin from a compacted to a relaxed state. This decompaction drives distinct changes in epigenetic states, primarily owing to a gain of histone H3 dimethylation at lysine 36 (H3K36me2) and/or loss of repressive H3 trimethylation at lysine 27 (H3K27me3). These changes unlock the expression of stem cell genes that are normally silenced during early development. In mice, loss of H1c and H1e (also known as H1f2 and H1f4, respectively) conferred germinal centre B cells with enhanced fitness and self-renewal properties, ultimately leading to aggressive lymphomas with an increased repopulating potential. Collectively, our data indicate that H1 proteins are normally required to sequester early developmental genes into architecturally inaccessible genomic compartments. We also establish H1 as a bona fide tumour suppressor and show that mutations in H1 drive malignant transformation primarily through three-dimensional genome reorganization, which leads to epigenetic reprogramming and derepression of developmentally silenced genes.
  31. Nat Commun. 2020 12 08. 11(1): 6268
      Cancer immunotherapy has revolutionized cancer treatment, and it relies heavily on the comprehensive understanding of the immune landscape of the tumor microenvironment (TME). Here, we obtain a detailed immune cell atlas of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) at single-cell resolution. Exhausted T and NK cells, regulatory T cells (Tregs), alternatively activated macrophages and tolerogenic dendritic cells are dominant in the TME. Transcriptional profiling coupled with T cell receptor (TCR) sequencing reveal lineage connections in T cell populations. CD8 T cells show continuous progression from pre-exhausted to exhausted T cells. While exhausted CD4, CD8 T and NK cells are major proliferative cell components in the TME, the crosstalk between macrophages and Tregs contributes to potential immunosuppression in the TME. Our results indicate several immunosuppressive mechanisms that may be simultaneously responsible for the failure of immuno-surveillance. Specific targeting of these immunosuppressive pathways may reactivate anti-tumor immune responses in ESCC.
  32. Nat Commun. 2020 12 08. 11(1): 6290
      Mitochondria-lysosome interactions are essential for maintaining intracellular homeostasis. Although various fluorescent probes have been developed to visualize such interactions, they remain unable to label mitochondria and lysosomes simultaneously and dynamically track their interaction. Here, we introduce a cell-permeable, biocompatible, viscosity-responsive, small organic molecular probe, Coupa, to monitor the interaction of mitochondria and lysosomes in living cells. Through a functional fluorescence conversion, Coupa can simultaneously label mitochondria with blue fluorescence and lysosomes with red fluorescence, and the correlation between the red-blue fluorescence intensity indicates the progress of mitochondria-lysosome interplay during mitophagy. Moreover, because its fluorescence is sensitive to viscosity, Coupa allowed us to precisely localize sites of mitochondria-lysosome contact and reveal increases in local viscosity on mitochondria associated with mitochondria-lysosome contact. Thus, our probe represents an attractive tool for the localization and dynamic tracking of functional mitochondria-lysosome interactions in living cells.
  33. Nat Commun. 2020 12 08. 11(1): 6298
      Immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment (TME) and ascites-derived spheroids in ovarian cancer (OC) facilitate tumor growth and progression, and also pose major obstacles for cancer therapy. The molecular pathways involved in the OC-TME interactions, how the crosstalk impinges on OC aggression and chemoresistance are not well-characterized. Here, we demonstrate that tumor-derived UBR5, an E3 ligase overexpressed in human OC associated with poor prognosis, is essential for OC progression principally by promoting tumor-associated macrophage recruitment and activation via key chemokines and cytokines. UBR5 is also required to sustain cell-intrinsic β-catenin-mediated signaling to promote cellular adhesion/colonization and organoid formation by controlling the p53 protein level. OC-specific targeting of UBR5 strongly augments the survival benefit of conventional chemotherapy and immunotherapies. This work provides mechanistic insights into the novel oncogene-like functions of UBR5 in regulating the OC-TME crosstalk and suggests that UBR5 is a potential therapeutic target in OC treatment for modulating the TME and cancer stemness.
  34. Mol Cancer Ther. 2020 Dec 09. pii: molcanther.0619.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM; grade IV glioma) is the most malignant type of primary brain tumor and is characterized by rapid proliferation and invasive growth. Intermedin (IMD) is an endogenous peptide belonging to the calcitonin gene-related peptide family and has been reported to play important roles in cell survival and invasiveness in several types of cancers. In this study, we found that the expression level of IMD was positively related to the malignancy grade of gliomas. The highest expression of IMD was found in GBM, indicating that IMD may play important roles in glioma malignancy. IMD increased the invasive ability of glioma cells by promoting filopodia formation, which is dependent on ERK1/2 activation. IMD-induced ERK1/2 phosphorylation also promoted GBM cell proliferation. In addition, IMD enhanced mitochondrial function and hypoxia-induced responses in GBM cells. Treatment with anti-IMD monoclonal antibodies not only inhibited tumor growth in both ectopic and orthotopic models of GBM but also significantly enhanced the antitumor activity of temozolomide (TMZ). Our study may provide novel insights into the mechanism of GBM cell invasion and proliferation and provide an effective strategy to improve the therapeutic effect of GBM treatments.
  35. Sci Adv. 2020 Dec;pii: eabc3013. [Epub ahead of print]6(50):
      Live cells have been vastly engineered into drug delivery vehicles to leverage their targeting capability and cargo release behavior. Here, we describe a simple method to obtain therapeutics-containing "dead cells" by shocking live cancer cells in liquid nitrogen to eliminate pathogenicity while preserving their major structure and chemotaxis toward the lesion site. In an acute myeloid leukemia (AML) mouse model, we demonstrated that the liquid nitrogen-treated AML cells (LNT cells) can augment targeted delivery of doxorubicin (DOX) toward the bone marrow. Moreover, LNT cells serve as a cancer vaccine and promote antitumor immune responses that prolong the survival of tumor-bearing mice. Preimmunization with LNT cells along with an adjuvant also protected healthy mice from AML cell challenge.
  36. Oncol Lett. 2021 Jan;21(1): 61
      Crizotinib, an inhibitor of the hepatocyte growth factor receptor oncogene, has been studied extensively regarding its antitumor and clinically beneficial effects in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, crizotinib's effects on cancer cell energy metabolism, which is linked with tumor proliferation and migration, in NSCLC are unclear. Therefore, the present study focused on crizotinib's effect on NSCLC glucose metabolism. Crizotinib's effects on glucose metabolism, proliferation, migration and apoptosis in A549 cells were explored. Several other inhibitors, including 2-DG, rotenone and MG132, were used to define the mechanism of action in further detail. Data showed that crizotinib treatment reduced A549 cell viability, increased glucose consumption and lactate production, while decreased mitochondrial transmembrane potential (Δψm) and ATP production. Crizotinib treatment, combined with rotenone and MG132 treatment, further inhibited ATP production and Δψm and increased reactive oxygen species content. However, crizotinib did not suppress cell proliferation, migration, ATP production, Δψm or mitochondrial-related apoptosis signals further following 2-DG-mediated inhibition of glycolysis. These results indicated that crizotinib induced low mitochondrial function and compensatory high anaerobic metabolism, but failed to maintain sufficient ATP levels. The alternation of metabolic pattern and insufficient ATP supply may serve important roles in the metabolic antitumor mechanism of crizotinib in A549 cells.
    Keywords:  ATP production; crizotinib; glycolysis; migration; proliferation
  37. Nat Commun. 2020 12 09. 11(1): 6311
      Blood-borne metastasis to the brain is a major complication of breast cancer, but cellular pathways that enable cancer cells to selectively grow in the brain microenvironment are poorly understood. We find that cultured circulating tumor cells (CTCs), derived from blood samples of women with advanced breast cancer and directly inoculated into the mouse frontal lobe, exhibit striking differences in proliferative potential in the brain. Derivative cell lines generated by serial intracranial injections acquire selectively increased proliferative competency in the brain, with reduced orthotopic tumor growth. Increased Hypoxia Inducible Factor 1A (HIF1A)-associated signaling correlates with enhanced proliferation in the brain, and shRNA-mediated suppression of HIF1A or drug inhibition of HIF-associated glycolytic pathways selectively impairs brain tumor growth while minimally impacting mammary tumor growth. In clinical specimens, brain metastases have elevated HIF1A protein expression, compared with matched primary breast tumors, and in patients with brain metastases, hypoxic signaling within CTCs predicts decreased overall survival. The selective activation of hypoxic signaling by metastatic breast cancer in the brain may have therapeutic implications.
  38. Am J Cancer Res. 2020 ;10(11): 3784-3800
      Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are a small population among cancer cells, defined as capable of self-renewal, and driving tumor growth, metastasis, and therapeutic relapse. The development of therapeutic strategies to target CSCs is of great importance to prevent tumor metastasis and relapse. Increasing evidence shows that shikonin has inhibiting effects on CSCs. This study was to determine the effect of shikonin on prostate CSCs, and on drug resistant cells. Sphere formation assay was used to enrich prostate CSCs. The effect of shikonin on viability, proliferation, migration, and invasion was studied. Typical CSCs markers were analyzed by flow cytometry and RT-qPCR. The cytotoxic mechanism of shikonin was analyzed by staining for annexin V, reactive oxygen species (ROS) and mitochondrial membrane potential. To study the effect of shikonin on drug-resistant cells a cabazitaxel resistant cell line was established. Shikonin inhibited the viability, proliferation, migration, and invasion of prostate CSCs. Shikonin enhanced the antitumor effect of cabazitaxel, which is a second-line chemotherapeutic drug in advanced prostate cancer. Shikonin induced apoptosis through generating ROS and disrupting the mitochondrial membrane potential. Furthermore, shikonin suppressed the expression of ALDH3A1 and ABCG2 in prostate CSCs, which are two markers related to drug-resistance. When inhibiting the expression of ABCG2 and ALDH3A1, the cabazitaxel resistant cells acquired more sensibility to cabazitaxel. Shikonin enhances the cytotoxic activity of cabazitaxel in prostate CSCs and reverses the cabazitaxel-resistant state.
    Keywords:  ABCG2; ALDH3A1; Prostate cancer; cabazitaxel; cancer stem cells; drug-resistance; shikonin
  39. Antioxidants (Basel). 2020 Dec 08. pii: E1248. [Epub ahead of print]9(12):
      NADPH oxidases (NOX) are commonly expressed ROS-producing enzymes that participate in the regulation of many signaling pathways, which influence cell metabolism, survival, and proliferation. Due to their high expression in several different types of cancer it was postulated that NOX promote tumor progression, growth, and survival. Thus, the inhibition of NOX activity was considered to have therapeutic potential. One of the possible outcomes of anticancer therapy, which has recently gained much interest, is cancer cell senescence. The induction of senescence leads to prolonged inhibition of proliferation and contributes to tumor growth restriction. The aim of our studies was to investigate the influence of low, non-toxic doses of diphenyleneiodonium chloride (DPI), a potent inhibitor of flavoenzymes including NADPH oxidases, on p53-proficient and p53-deficient HCT116 human colon cancer cells and MCF-7 breast cancer cells. We demonstrated that the temporal treatment of HCT116 and MCF-7 cancer cells (both p53 wild-type) with DPI caused induction of senescence, that was correlated with decreased level of ROS and upregulation of p53/p21 proteins. On the contrary, in the case of p53-/- HCT116 cells, apoptosis was shown to be the prevailing effect of DPI treatment. Thus, our studies provided a proof that inhibiting ROS production, and by this means influencing ROS sensitive pathways, remains an alternative strategy to facilitate so called therapy-induced senescence in cancers.
    Keywords:  DPI; NADPH oxidases; ROS; apoptosis; cancer; senescence
  40. J Clin Invest. 2020 Dec 10. pii: 140242. [Epub ahead of print]
      How particular bone marrow niche factors contribute to the leukemogenic activities of leukemia-initiating cells (LICs) remain largely unknown. Here, we showed that ATP levels were markedly increased in the bone marrow niches of mice with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and LICs preferred to localizing to the endosteal niche with relatively high ATP levels, as indicated by a sensitive ATP indicator. ATP could efficiently induce the influx of ions into LICs in an MLL-AF9-induced murine AML model via the ligand-gated ion channel P2X7. P2x7 deletion led to notably impaired homing and self-renewal capacities of LICs and contributed to an ~5-fold decrease in the number of functional LICs but had no effect on normal hematopoiesis. ATP-P2X7 signaling enhanced the calcium flux-mediated phosphorylation of CREB, which further transactivated the Phgdh expression to maintain serine metabolism and LIC fates. P2X7-knockdown resulted in a markedly extended survival of recipients transplanted with either human AML cell lines or primary leukemia cells. Blockade of ATP-P2X7 signaling could efficiently inhibit leukemogenesis. Here, we provide a unique perspective for understanding how ATP-P2X7 signaling sustains the LIC activities, which may benefit the development of specific strategies for targeting LICs or other types of cancer stem cells.
    Keywords:  Hematology; Leukemias; Stem cells
  41. J Biol Chem. 2020 Dec 10. pii: jbc.RA120.015285. [Epub ahead of print]
      BCR-Abl is a driver oncogene that causes chronic myeloid leukemia and a subset of acute lymphoid leukemias. Although tyrosine kinase inhibitors provide an effective treatment for these diseases, they generally do not kill leukemic stem cells, the cancer-initiating cells that compete with normal hematopoietic stem cells for the bone marrow niche. New strategies to target cancers driven by BCR-Abl are therefore urgently needed.  We performed a small molecule screen based on competition between isogenic untransformed cells and BCR-Abl-transformed cells, and identified several compounds that selectively impair the fitness of BCR-Abl-transformed cells. Interestingly, systems-level analysis of one of these novel compounds, DJ34, revealed that it induced depletion of c-Myc and activation of p53. DJ34-mediated c-Myc depletion occurred in a wide range of tumor cell types, including lymphoma, lung, glioblastoma, breast cancer, and several forms of leukemia, with primary leukemic stem cells being particularly sensitive to DJ34. Further analyses revealed that DJ34 interferes with c-Myc synthesis at the level of transcription, and we provide data showing that DJ34 is a DNA intercalator and topoisomerase II inhibitor. Physiologically, DJ34 induced apoptosis, cell cycle arrest and cell differentiation. Taken together, we have identified a novel compound that dually targets c-Myc and p53 in a wide variety of cancers, and with particularly strong activity against leukemic stem cells.
    Keywords:  ABL tyrosine kinase; Myc (c-Myc); anticancer drug; drug screening; leukemia; mRNA; p53; phosphoproteomics
  42. Mol Cancer Res. 2020 Dec 07. pii: molcanres.0586.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      Anti-apoptotic MCL1 is one of the most frequently amplified genes in human cancers and elevated expression confers resistance to many therapeutics including the BH3-mimetic agents ABT-199 and ABT-263. The anti-malarial, dihydroartemisinin (DHA) translationally represses MCL-1 and synergizes with BH3-mimetics. To explore how DHA represses MCL-1, a genome-wide CRISPR screen identified that loss of genes in the heme synthesis pathway renders mouse BCR-ABL+ B-ALL cells resistant to DHA-induced death. Mechanistically, DHA disrupts the interaction between heme and the eIF2α kinase heme regulated inhibitor (HRI) triggering the integrated stress response. Genetic ablation of Eif2ak1, which encodes HRI, blocks MCL-1 repression in response to DHA treatment and represses the synergistic killing of DHA and BH3-mimetics compared to wild-type leukemia. Furthermore, BTdCPU, a small-molecule activator of HRI, similarly triggers MCL-1 repression and synergizes with BH3-mimetics in mouse and human leukemia including both Ph+ and Ph-like B-ALL. Lastly, combinatorial treatment of leukemia bearing mice with both BTdCPU and a BH3-mimetic extended survival and repressed MCL-1 in vivo. These findings reveal for the first time that the HRI-dependent cellular heme-sensing pathway can modulate apoptosis in leukemic cells by repressing MCL-1 and increasing their responsiveness to BH3-mimetics. This signaling pathway could represent a generalizable mechanism for repressing MCL-1 expression in malignant cells and sensitizing them to available therapeutics. Implications: The HRI-dependent cellular heme-sensing pathway can modulate apoptotic sensitivity in leukemic cells by repressing anti-apoptotic MCL-1 and increasing their responsiveness to BH3-mimetics.
  43. Nature. 2020 Dec;588(7837): 331-336
      Most deaths from cancer are explained by metastasis, and yet large-scale metastasis research has been impractical owing to the complexity of in vivo models. Here we introduce an in vivo barcoding strategy that is capable of determining the metastatic potential of human cancer cell lines in mouse xenografts at scale. We validated the robustness, scalability and reproducibility of the method and applied it to 500 cell lines1,2 spanning 21 types of solid tumour. We created a first-generation metastasis map (MetMap) that reveals organ-specific patterns of metastasis, enabling these patterns to be associated with clinical and genomic features. We demonstrate the utility of MetMap by investigating the molecular basis of breast cancers capable of metastasizing to the brain-a principal cause of death in patients with this type of cancer. Breast cancers capable of metastasizing to the brain showed evidence of altered lipid metabolism. Perturbation of lipid metabolism in these cells curbed brain metastasis development, suggesting a therapeutic strategy to combat the disease and demonstrating the utility of MetMap as a resource to support metastasis research.
  44. Mol Cancer Ther. 2020 Dec 08. pii: molcanther.0567.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      LKB1-inactivated tumors are vulnerable to the disruption of pyrimidine metabolism, and leflunomide emerges as a therapeutic candidate because its active metabolite, A77-1726, inhibits dihydroorotate dehydrogenase, which is essential for de novo pyrimidine biosynthesis. However, it is unclear whether leflunomide inhibits LKB1-inactivated tumors in vivo, and whether its inhibitory effect on the immune system will promote tumor growth. Here, we carried out a comprehensive analysis of leflunomide treatment in various LKB1-inactivated murine xenograft, PDX, and genetically engineered mouse models. We also generated a mouse-tumor derived cancer cell line, WRJ388, that could metastasize to the lung within a month after subcutaneous implantation in all animals. This model was used to assess the ability of leflunomide to control distant metastasis. Leflunomide treatment shrank a HeLa xenograft and attenuated the growth of an H460 xenograft, a PDX, and lung adenocarcinoma in the immune-competent GEMM. Interestingly, leflunomide suppressed tumor growth through at least three different mechanisms. It caused apoptosis in HeLa cells, induced G1 cell cycle arrest in H460 cells, and promoted S-phase cell cycle arrest in WRJ388 cells. Finally, leflunomide treatment prevented lung metastasis in 78% of the animals in our novel lung cancer metastasis model. In combination, these results demonstrated that leflunomide utilizes different pathways to suppress the growth of LKB1-inactivated tumors, and it also prevents cancer metastasis at distant sites. Therefore, leflunomide should be evaluated as a therapeutic agent for tumors with LKB1-inactivation.
  45. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2020 Dec 10. ATVBAHA120314655
      OBJECTIVE: NFU1 is a mitochondrial iron-sulfur scaffold protein, involved in iron-sulfur assembly and transfer to complex II and LAS (lipoic acid synthase). Patients with the point mutation NFU1G208C and CRISPR/CAS9 (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats/clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat-associated 9)-generated rats develop mitochondrial dysfunction leading to pulmonary arterial hypertension. However, the mechanistic understanding of pulmonary vascular proliferation due to a single mutation in NFU1 remains unresolved. Approach and Results: Quantitative proteomics of isolated mitochondria showed the entire phenotypic transformation of NFU1G206C rats with a disturbed mitochondrial proteomic landscape, involving significant changes in the expression of 208 mitochondrial proteins. The NFU1 mutation deranged the expression pattern of electron transport proteins, resulting in a significant decrease in mitochondrial respiration. Reduced reliance on mitochondrial respiration amplified glycolysis in pulmonary artery smooth muscle cell (PASMC) and activated GPD (glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase), linking glycolysis to oxidative phosphorylation and lipid metabolism. Decreased PDH (pyruvate dehydrogenase) activity due to the lipoic acid shortage is compensated by increased fatty acid metabolism and oxidation. PASMC became dependent on extracellular fatty acid sources due to upregulated transporters such as CD36 and CPT (carnitine palmitoyltransferase)-1. Finally, the NFU1 mutation produced a dysregulated antioxidant system in the mitochondria, leading to increased reactive oxygen species levels. PASMC from NFU1 rats showed apoptosis resistance, increased anaplerosis, and attained a highly proliferative phenotype. Attenuation of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species by mitochondrial-targeted antioxidant significantly decreased PASMC proliferation.CONCLUSIONS: The alteration in iron-sulfur metabolism completely transforms the proteomic landscape of the mitochondria, leading toward metabolic plasticity and redistribution of energy sources to the acquisition of a proliferative phenotype by the PASMC.
    Keywords:  glycolysis; metabolism; mitochondria; myocytes, smooth muscle; pulmonary artery