bims-mibica Biomed News
on Mitochondrial bioenergetics in cancer
Issue of 2020‒12‒20
forty-five papers selected by
Kelsey Fisher-Wellman
East Carolina University

  1. EMBO Rep. 2020 Dec 13. e50827
      Many cancer cells maintain enhanced aerobic glycolysis due to irreversible defective mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS). This phenomenon, known as the Warburg effect, is recently challenged because most cancer cells maintain OXPHOS. However, how cancer cells coordinate glycolysis and OXPHOS remains largely unknown. Here, we demonstrate that OMA1, a stress-activated mitochondrial protease, promotes colorectal cancer development by driving metabolic reprogramming. OMA1 knockout suppresses colorectal cancer development in AOM/DSS and xenograft mice models of colorectal cancer. OMA1-OPA1 axis is activated by hypoxia, increasing mitochondrial ROS to stabilize HIF-1α, thereby promoting glycolysis in colorectal cancer cells. On the other hand, under hypoxia, OMA1 depletion promotes accumulation of NDUFB5, NDUFB6, NDUFA4, and COX4L1, supporting that OMA1 suppresses OXPHOS in colorectal cancer. Therefore, our findings support a role for OMA1 in coordination of glycolysis and OXPHOS to promote colorectal cancer development and highlight OMA1 as a potential target for colorectal cancer therapy.
    Keywords:  OMA1; colorectal cancer; glycolysis; hypoxia; oxidative phosphorylation
  2. Nature. 2020 Dec 16.
      Altered expression of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) occurs in ageing and a range of human pathologies (for example, inborn errors of metabolism, neurodegeneration and cancer). Here we describe first-in-class specific inhibitors of mitochondrial transcription (IMTs) that target the human mitochondrial RNA polymerase (POLRMT), which is essential for biogenesis of the oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) system1-6. The IMTs efficiently impair mtDNA transcription in a reconstituted recombinant system and cause a dose-dependent inhibition of mtDNA expression and OXPHOS in cell lines. To verify the cellular target, we performed exome sequencing of mutagenized cells and identified a cluster of amino acid substitutions in POLRMT that cause resistance to IMTs. We obtained a cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) structure of POLRMT bound to an IMT, which further defined the allosteric binding site near the active centre cleft of POLRMT. The growth of cancer cells and the persistence of therapy-resistant cancer stem cells has previously been reported to depend on OXPHOS7-17, and we therefore investigated whether IMTs have anti-tumour effects. Four weeks of oral treatment with an IMT is well-tolerated in mice and does not cause OXPHOS dysfunction or toxicity in normal tissues, despite inducing a strong anti-tumour response in xenografts of human cancer cells. In summary, IMTs provide a potent and specific chemical biology tool to study the role of mtDNA expression in physiology and disease.
  3. Front Physiol. 2020 ;11 543962
      Tumor cells without mitochondrial (mt) DNA (ρ0 cells) are auxotrophic for uridine, and their growth is supported by pyruvate. While ATP synthesis in ρ0 cells relies on glycolysis, they fail to form tumors unless they acquire mitochondria from stromal cells. Mitochondrial acquisition restores respiration that is essential for de novo pyrimidine biosynthesis and for mitochondrial ATP production. The physiological processes that underpin intercellular mitochondrial transfer to tumor cells lacking mtDNA and the metabolic remodeling and restored tumorigenic properties of cells that acquire mitochondria are not well understood. Here, we investigated the changes in mitochondrial and nuclear gene expression that accompany mtDNA deletion and acquisition in metastatic murine 4T1 breast cancer cells. Loss of mitochondrial gene expression in 4T1ρ0 cells was restored in cells recovered from subcutaneous tumors that grew from 4T1ρ0 cells following acquisition of mtDNA from host cells. In contrast, the expression of most nuclear genes that encode respiratory complex subunits and mitochondrial ribosomal subunits was not greatly affected by loss of mtDNA, indicating ineffective mitochondria-to-nucleus communication systems for these nuclear genes. Further, analysis of nuclear genes whose expression was compromised in 4T1ρ0 cells showed that immune- and stress-related genes were the most highly differentially expressed, representing over 70% of those with greater than 16-fold higher expression in 4T1 compared with 4T1ρ0 cells. The monocyte recruiting chemokine, Ccl2, and Psmb8, a subunit of the immunoproteasome that generates MHCI-binding peptides, were the most highly differentially expressed. Early monocyte/macrophage recruitment into the tumor mass was compromised in 4T1ρ0 cells but recovered before mtDNA could be detected. Taken together, our results show that mitochondrial acquisition by tumor cells without mtDNA results in bioenergetic remodeling and re-expression of genes involved in immune function and stress adaptation.
    Keywords:  4T1 model; breast cancer; gene expression; mitochondrial DNA; tumor macrophages
  4. FEBS Lett. 2020 Dec 12.
      Most of the genetic information has been lost or transferred to the nucleus during the evolution of mitochondria. Neverthelss, mitochondria have retained their own genome that is essential for oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS). In mammals, a gene-dense circular mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of about 16.5kb encodes 13 proteins, which constitute only 1% of the mitochondrial proteome. Mammalian mtDNA is present in thousands of copies per cell and mutations often affect only a fraction of them. Most pathogenic human mtDNA mutations are recessive and only cause OXPHOS defects if present above a certain critical threshold. However, emerging evidence strongly suggests that the proportion of mutated mtDNA copies is not the only determinant of disease but that also the absolute copy number matters. In this review, we critically discuss current knowledge of the role of mtDNA copy number regulation in various types of human diseases, including mitochondrial disorders, neurodegenerative disorders, and cancer, and during ageing. We also provide an overview of new exciting therapeutic strategies to directly manipulate mtDNA to restore OXPHOS in mitochondrial diseases.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer; Parkinson; TFAM; ageing; cancer; mitochondria; mitochondrial diseases; mtDNA; mtDNA copy number; neurodegenerative disorders; s disease
  5. Cell Metab. 2020 Dec 10. pii: S1550-4131(20)30657-4. [Epub ahead of print]
      Folate metabolism supplies one-carbon (1C) units for biosynthesis and methylation and has long been a target for cancer chemotherapy. Mitochondrial serine catabolism is considered the sole contributor of folate-mediated 1C units in proliferating cancer cells. Here, we show that under physiological folate levels in the cell environment, cytosolic serine-hydroxymethyltransferase (SHMT1) is the predominant source of 1C units in a variety of cancers, while mitochondrial 1C flux is overly repressed. Tumor-specific reliance on cytosolic 1C flux is associated with poor capacity to retain intracellular folates, which is determined by the expression of SLC19A1, which encodes the reduced folate carrier (RFC). We show that silencing SHMT1 in cells with low RFC expression impairs pyrimidine biosynthesis and tumor growth in vivo. Overall, our findings reveal major diversity in cancer cell utilization of the cytosolic versus mitochondrial folate cycle across tumors and SLC19A1 expression as a marker for increased reliance on SHMT1.
    Keywords:  SHMT; cancer metabolism; folate cycle; in vivo; isotope tracing; metabolomics; mitochondria; one-carbon flux; physiologic medium; reduced folate carrier; serine hydroxymethyltransferase
  6. Cell Stress. 2020 Nov 25. 4(12): 273-277
      Cancer represents the leading public health problem throughout the world. Globally, about one out of six deaths is related to cancer, which is largely due to the metastatic lesions. However, there are no effective strategies for targeting cancer metastasis. Identification of the key druggable targets maintaining metastasis is crucial for cancer treatment. In our recent study (Cai et al. (2020), Mol Cell, doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2020.09.018), we found that activity of AMPK was enriched in metastatic tumors compared to primary tumors. Depletion of AMPK rendered cancer cells more sensitive to metabolic and oxidative stress, leading to the impairment of breast cancer lung metastasis. Activation of AMPK rewired cancer metabolism towards TCA cycle, which protects disseminated cancer cells from both metabolic and oxidative stress-induced cell death, and facilitates cancer metastasis. Further, AMPK critically maintained the activity of pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDH), the rate limiting enzyme involved in TCA cycle, thus favoring the pyruvate metabolism towards TCA cycle rather than converting it to lactate. Mechanistically, AMPK was shown to co-localize with PDHA, the catalytic subunit of PDH, in the mitochondrial matrix and directly triggered the phosphorylation of PDHA on Ser295 and Ser314. Hyper-phosphorylation of Ser295 and Ser314 of PDHA promotes lung metastasis through elevating activity of PDH. Of note, PDHA Ser314 phosphorylation abrogated the interaction between PDHA and PDHKs leading to the dephosphorylation on previously reported S293 site, whose phosphorylation serves as a negative signal for PDH activation, while S295 phosphorylation serves as an intrinsic catalytic site required for pyruvate metabolism. Our study presented the first evidence for the pro-metastatic property of the AMPK-PDH axis and advance our current understanding of how PDH is activated under physiological and pathological conditions.
    Keywords:  AMPK; PDHA; TCA cycle; cancer metastasis; metabolic stress; oxidative stress
  7. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2020 Dec 18.
      Creatine kinase (CK) is considered the main phosphotransfer system in the heart, important for overcoming diffusion restrictions and regulating mitochondrial respiration. It is substrate limited in creatine-deficient mice lacking L-arginine:glycine amidinotransferase (AGAT) or guanidinoacetate methyltranferase (GAMT). Our aim was to determine the expression, activity and mitochondrial coupling of hexokinase (HK) and adenylate kinase (AK), as these represent alternative energy transfer systems. In permeabilized cardiomyocytes, we assessed how much endogenous ADP generated by HK, AK or CK stimulated mitochondrial respiration and how much was channeled to mitochondria. In whole heart homogenates, and cytosolic and mitochondrial fractions, we measured the activities of AK, CK and HK. Lastly, we assessed the expression of the major HK, AK and CK isoforms. Overall, respiration stimulated by HK, AK and CK was ~25, 90 and 80%, respectively, of the maximal respiration rate, and ~20, 0 and 25%, respectively, was channeled to the mitochondria. The activity, distribution and expression of HK, AK and CK did not change in GAMT KO mice. In AGAT KO mice, we found no changes in AK, but we found a higher HK activity in the mitochondrial fraction, greater expression of HK I, but a lower stimulation of respiration by HK. Our findings suggest that mouse hearts depend less on phosphotransfer systems to facilitate ADP flux across the mitochondrial membrane. In AGAT KO mice, which are a model of pure creatine-deficiency, the changes in HK may reflect changes in metabolism as well as influence mitochondrial regulation and reactive oxygen species production.
    Keywords:  Adenylate kinase; Cardiac energetics; Creatine kinase; Creatine-deficient mice; Hexokinase
  8. Hepatology. 2020 Dec 17.
      Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is among the most common cancer types worldwide; yet, patients with HCC have limited treatment options. There is an urgent need to identify new drug targets that specifically inhibit the growth of HCC cells. Here, we used a newly-engineered CRISPR library targeting ~2,000 druggable genes to perform a high throughput screen, and identified adenylosuccinate lyase (ADSL) - a key enzyme involved in the de novo purine synthesis pathway - as a potential drug target for HCC. ADSL has been implicated as a potential oncogenic driver in some cancers, but its role in liver cancer progression remains unknown. CRISPR-mediated knockout of ADSL impaired colony formation of liver cancer cells by affecting adenosine monophosphate (AMP) production. In the absence of ADSL, the growth of liver tumors is retarded in vivo. Mechanistically, we found that ADSL knockout caused S-phase cell cycle arrest, not by inducing DNA damage, but by impairing mitochondrial function. Using HCC patient data, we also revealed that high ADSL expression occurs during tumorigenesis and is linked to poor survival rate. In conclusion, our findings uncover the role of ADSL-mediated de novo purine synthesis in fueling mitochondrial ATP production to promote liver cancer cell growth. Targeting ADSL may be a therapeutic approach for HCC patients.
    Keywords:  ATP; CRISPR; Cell Cycle; Hepatocellular Carcinoma; Mitochondria
  9. Elife. 2020 12 15. pii: e60827. [Epub ahead of print]9
      Aging-associated diseases, including cardiac dysfunction, are increasingly common in the population. However, the mechanisms of physiologic aging in general, and cardiac aging in particular, remain poorly understood. Age-related heart impairment is lacking a clinically effective treatment. Using the model of naturally aging mice and rats, we show direct evidence of increased proton leak in the aged heart mitochondria. Moreover, our data suggested ANT1 as the most likely site of mediating increased mitochondrial proton permeability in old cardiomyocytes. Most importantly, the tetra-peptide SS-31 prevents age-related excess proton entry, decreases the mitochondrial flash activity and mitochondrial permeability transition pore opening, rejuvenates mitochondrial function by direct association with ANT1 and the mitochondrial ATP synthasome, and leads to substantial reversal of diastolic dysfunction. Our results uncover the excessive proton leak as a novel mechanism of age-related cardiac dysfunction and elucidate how SS-31 can reverse this clinically important complication of cardiac aging.
    Keywords:  SS-31; aging; cardiomyocyte; cell biology; mitochondria; mouse; proton leak; rat
  10. Cell Death Differ. 2020 Dec 16.
      The BCL2 family of proteins regulate apoptosis by controlling mitochondrial outer membrane permeability. However, the effects on mitochondrial structure and bioenergetics have also been reported. Here we comprehensively characterized the effects of BCL2 and BCL(X)L on cellular energetics in MCF7 breast cancer cells using time-lapse confocal single-cell imaging and mitochondrial and cytosolic FRET reporters. We found that BCL2 and BCL(X)L increase the metabolic robustness of MCF7 cells, and that this was associated with increased mitochondrial NAD(P)H and ATP levels. Experiments with the F1F0 synthase inhibitor oligomycin demonstrated that BCL2 and in particular BCL(X)L, while not affecting ATP synthase activity, more efficiently coupled the mitochondrial proton motive force with ATP production. This metabolic advantage was associated with an increased resistance to nutrient deprivation and enhanced clonogenic survival in response to metabolic stress, in the absence of profound effects on cell death. Our data suggest that a primary function of BCL(X)L and BCL2 overexpression in tumor cells is to increase their resistance to metabolic stress in the tumor microenvironment, independent of cell death signaling.
  11. Sci Rep. 2020 Dec 14. 10(1): 21940
      Most cancer cells primarily produce their energy through a high rate of glycolysis followed by lactic acid fermentation even in the presence of abundant oxygen. Pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK) 1, an enzyme responsible for aerobic glycolysis via phosphorylating and inactivating pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) complex, is commonly overexpressed in tumors and recognized as a therapeutic target in colorectal cancer. Hemistepsin A (HsA) is a sesquiterpene lactone isolated from Hemistepta lyrata Bunge (Compositae). Here, we report that HsA is a PDK1 inhibitor can reduce the growth of colorectal cancer and consequent activation of mitochondrial ROS-dependent apoptotic pathway both in vivo and in vitro. Computational simulation and biochemical assays showed that HsA directly binds to the lipoamide-binding site of PDK1, and subsequently inhibits the interaction of PDK1 with the E2 subunit of PDH complex. As a result of PDK1 inhibition, lactate production was decreased, but oxygen consumption was increased. Mitochondrial ROS levels and mitochondrial damage were also increased. Consistent with these observations, the apoptosis of colorectal cancer cells was promoted by HsA with enhanced activation of caspase-3 and -9. These results suggested that HsA might be a potential candidate for developing a novel anti-cancer drug through suppressing cancer metabolism.
  12. J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2020 Dec 14. 39(1): 286
      BACKGROUND: Increasing evidence has revealed the close link between mitochondrial dynamic dysfunction and cancer. MIEF2 (mitochondrial elongation factor 2) is mitochondrial outer membrane protein that functions in the regulation of mitochondrial fission. However, the expression, clinical significance and biological functions of MIEF2 are still largely unclear in human cancers, especially in ovarian cancer (OC).METHODS: The expression and clinical significance of MIEF2 were determined by qRT-PCR, western blot and immunohistochemistry analyses in tissues and cell lines of OC. The biological functions of MIEF2 in OC were determined by in vitro and in vivo cell growth and metastasis assays. Furthermore, the effect of MIEF2 on metabolic reprogramming of OC was determined by metabolomics and glucose metabolism analyses.
    RESULTS: MIEF2 expression was significantly increased in OC mainly due to the down-regulation of miR-424-5p, which predicts poor survival for patients with OC. Knockdown of MIEF2 significantly suppressed OC cell growth and metastasis both in vitro and in vivo by inhibiting G1-S cell transition, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and inducing cell apoptosis, while forced expression of MIEF2 had the opposite effects. Mechanistically, mitochondrial fragmentation-suppressed cristae formation and thus glucose metabolism switch from oxidative phosphorylation to glycolysis was found to be involved in the promotion of growth and metastasis by MIEF2 in OC cells.
    CONCLUSIONS: MIEF2 plays a critical role in the progression of OC and may serve as a valuable prognostic biomarker and therapeutic target in the treatment of this malignancy.
    Keywords:  Glycolysis; Growth; Metastasis; Mitochondrial elongation factor 2; OC
  13. Cell Metab. 2020 Dec 11. pii: S1550-4131(20)30658-6. [Epub ahead of print]
      The metabolic rewiring of cardiomyocytes is a widely accepted hallmark of heart failure (HF). These metabolic changes include a decrease in mitochondrial pyruvate oxidation and an increased export of lactate. We identify the mitochondrial pyruvate carrier (MPC) and the cellular lactate exporter monocarboxylate transporter 4 (MCT4) as pivotal nodes in this metabolic axis. We observed that cardiac assist device-induced myocardial recovery in chronic HF patients was coincident with increased myocardial expression of the MPC. Moreover, the genetic ablation of the MPC in cultured cardiomyocytes and in adult murine hearts was sufficient to induce hypertrophy and HF. Conversely, MPC overexpression attenuated drug-induced hypertrophy in a cell-autonomous manner. We also introduced a novel, highly potent MCT4 inhibitor that mitigated hypertrophy in cultured cardiomyocytes and in mice. Together, we find that alteration of the pyruvate-lactate axis is a fundamental and early feature of cardiac hypertrophy and failure.
    Keywords:  LVAD; MCT4; MPC; VB124; cardiac metabolism; heart failure; hypertrophy; lactate; mitochondria; pyruvate
  14. ChemMedChem. 2020 Dec 16.
      Mitochondrial respiratory complex II (CII), also known as succinate dehydrogenase, plays a critical role in mitochondrial metabolism. Known but low potency CII inhibitors are selectively cytotoxic to cancer cells including the benzothiadiazine-based anti-hypoglycemic diazoxide. Herein, we study the structure-activity relationship of benzothiadiazine derivatives for CII inhibition and their effect on cancer cells for the first time. A 15-fold increase in complex II inhibition was achieved over diazoxide, albeit with micromolar IC 50 values. Cytotoxicity evaluation of the novel derivatives resulted in the identification of compounds with much greater antineoplastic effect than diazoxide, the most potent of which possesses an IC 50 of 2.93 ±0.07 µM in a cellular model of triple negative breast cancer, with high selectivity over non-malignant cells and more than double the potency of the clinical agent 5-fluorouracil. No correlation between cytotoxicity and CII inhibition was found, indicating an as yet undefined mechanism of action of this scaffold. The derivatives described herein represent valuable hit compounds for therapeutic discovery in triple negative breast cancer.
    Keywords:  Drug Discovery * Diazoxide * Mitochondrial Complex II * Prostate Cancer * Triple Negative Breast Cancer
  15. J Biol Chem. 2020 Dec 17. pii: jbc.RA120.014885. [Epub ahead of print]
      Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) were the first drugs used to treat human immunodeficiency virus infection, and their use can cause mitochondrial toxicity, including mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) depletion in several cases. The first generation NRTIs, including 2',3'-dideoxycytidine (ddC), were originally and are still pursued as anticancer agents. NRTI-sensitive DNA polymerases localizing to mitochondria allow for the opportunity to poison proliferating cancer cell mtDNA replication as certain cancers rely heavily on mitochondrial functions. However, mtDNA replication is independent of the cell cycle creating a significant concern that toxicants such as ddC impair mtDNA maintenance in both proliferating and non-proliferating cells. To examine this possibility, we tested the utility of the HepaRG cell line to study ddC-induced toxicity in isogenic proliferating (undifferentiated) and non-proliferating (differentiated) cells. Following ddC exposures, we measured cell viability, mtDNA copy number, and mitochondrial bioenergetics utilizing trypan blue, Southern blotting, and extracellular flux analysis, respectively. After 13 days of 1 μM ddC exposure, proliferating and differentiated HepaRG harbored mtDNA levels of 0.9% and 17.9% compared to control cells, respectively. Cells exposed to 12 μM ddC contained even less mtDNA. By day 13, differentiated cell viability was maintained but declined for proliferating cells. Proliferating HepaRG bioenergetic parameters were severely impaired by day 8, with 1 and 12 μM ddC, while differentiated cells displayed defects of spare and maximal respiratory capacities (day 8) and proton-leak linked respiration (day 14) with 12 μM ddC. These results indicate HepaRG is a useful model to study proliferating and differentiated cell mitochondrial toxicant exposures.
    Keywords:  2′-3′-dideoxycytidine (ddC, zalcitabine); HepaRG; bioenergetics; cell biology; drug action; human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA); mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) maintenance; mitochondrial toxicity; nucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI); toxicity
  16. Elife. 2020 Dec 15. pii: e58053. [Epub ahead of print]9
      Aging is characterized by extensive metabolic reprogramming. To identify metabolic pathways associated with aging, we analyzed age-dependent changes in the metabolomes of long-lived Drosophila melanogaster. Among the metabolites that changed, levels of tyrosine were increased with age in long-lived flies. We demonstrate that the levels of enzymes in the tyrosine degradation pathway increase with age in wild-type flies. Whole-body and neuronal-specific downregulation of enzymes in the tyrosine degradation pathway significantly extends Drosophila lifespan, causes alterations of metabolites associated with increased lifespan, and upregulates the levels of tyrosine-derived neuromediators. Moreover, feeding wild-type flies with tyrosine increased their lifespan. Mechanistically, we show that suppression of ETC complex I drives the upregulation of enzymes in the tyrosine degradation pathway, an effect that can be rescued by tigecycline, an FDA-approved drug that specifically suppresses mitochondrial translation. In addition, tyrosine supplementation partially rescued lifespan of flies with ETC complex I suppression. Altogether, our study highlights the tyrosine degradation pathway as a regulator of longevity.
    Keywords:  D. melanogaster; ETC Complex I; TAT; genetics; genomics; mitochondria; neurotransmitters; tigecycline; tyrosine aminotransferase
  17. PLoS Genet. 2020 Dec 14. 16(12): e1009242
      Deletions and duplications in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) cause mitochondrial disease and accumulate in conditions such as cancer and age-related disorders, but validated high-throughput methodology that can readily detect and discriminate between these two types of events is lacking. Here we establish a computational method, MitoSAlt, for accurate identification, quantification and visualization of mtDNA deletions and duplications from genomic sequencing data. Our method was tested on simulated sequencing reads and human patient samples with single deletions and duplications to verify its accuracy. Application to mouse models of mtDNA maintenance disease demonstrated the ability to detect deletions and duplications even at low levels of heteroplasmy.
  18. Redox Biol. 2020 Dec 01. pii: S2213-2317(20)31029-6. [Epub ahead of print]38 101824
      Sestrin2 (Sesn2) is a stress-inducible protein that declines with aging in the heart. We reported that rescue Sesn2 levels in aged mouse hearts through gene therapy improves the resistance of aged hearts to ischemia and reperfusion (I/R) insults. We hypothesize that Sesn2 as a scaffold protein maintains mitochondrial integrity to protect heart from ischemic injury during I/R. Young C57BL/6 J (3-6 months), aged C57BL/6 J (24-26 months), and young Sesn2 KO (3-6 months, C57BL/6 J background) mice were subjected to in vivo regional ischemia and reperfusion. The left ventricle was collected for transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics analysis. The results demonstrated that Sesn2 deficiency leads to aging-like cardiac diastolic dysfunction and intolerance to ischemia reperfusion stress. Seahorse analysis demonstrated that Sesn2 deficiency in aged and young Sesn2 KO versus young hearts lead to impaired mitochondrial respiration rate with defects in Complex I and Complex II activity. The Sesn2 targeted proteomics analysis revealed that Sesn2 plays a critical role in maintaining mitochondrial functional integrity through modulating mitochondria biosynthesis and assembling of oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) complexes. The RNA-Seq data showed that alterations in the expression of mitochondrial compositional and functional genes and substrate metabolism related genes in young Sesn2 KO and aged versus young hearts. Further immunofluorescence and immunoprecipitation analysis demonstrated that Sesn2 is translocated into mitochondria and interacts with OXPHOS components to maintain mitochondrial integrity in response to I/R stress. Biochemical analysis revealed that Sesn2 is associated with citrate cycle components to modulate pyruvate dehydrogenase and isocitrate dehydrogenase activities during I/R stress. Thus, Sesn2 serves as a scaffold protein interacting with OXPHOS components to maintain mitochondrial integrity under I/R stress. Age-related downregulation of cardiac Sesn2 fragilizes mitochondrial functional integrity in response to ischemic stress.
    Keywords:  Aging; Ischemia reperfusion injury; Metabolism; Mitochondria; Sestrin2
  19. Anal Chem. 2020 Dec 15.
      Assessment of activities of mitochondrial electron transport enzymes is important for understanding mechanisms of metabolic diseases, but structural organization of mitochondria and low sample availability pose distinctive challenges for in situ functional studies. We report the development of a tandem microfluidic respirometer that simultaneously tracks both the reduction of mediators on the electrode and the ensuing reduction of O2 by complex IV in the inner mitochondrial membrane. The response time of O2 consumption to multiple alternating potential steps is of approximately 10 s for a 150 μm-thick sample. Steady O2 depletion shows good quantitative correlation with the supplied electric charge, Pearson's r = 0.994. Reduction of mediators on biocompatible gold electrodes modified with carbon ink or fumed silica can compete with the oxidation of mediators by mitochondria, yielding an overall respiratory activity comparable to that upon chemical reduction by ascorbate. The dependence of O2 consumption on mediator and mitochondrial suspension concentrations shows that mass transport between the electrode and mitochondria does not limit biological activity of the latter. The mediated electrochemical approach is validated by the radiometric measurements of simulated changes in the intrinsic mitochondrial activity upon partial inhibition of complex IV by NaN3. This approach enables the development of O2-independent, biomimetic electrochemical assays narrowly targeting components of the electron transport chains in their native environments.
  20. World J Stem Cells. 2020 Nov 26. 12(11): 1410-1428
      BACKGROUND: Cellular metabolism regulates stemness in health and disease.  A reduced redox state is essential for self-renewal of normal and cancer stem cells (CSCs). However, while stem cells rely on glycolysis, different CSCs, including pancreatic CSCs, favor mitochondrial metabolism as their dominant energy-producing pathway. This suggests that powerful antioxidant networks must be in place to detoxify mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) and maintain stemness in oxidative CSCs. Since glutathione metabolism is critical for normal stem cell function and CSCs from breast, liver and gastric cancer show increased glutathione content, we hypothesized that pancreatic CSCs also rely on this pathway for ROS detoxification.AIM: To investigate the role of glutathione metabolism in pancreatic CSCs.
    METHODS: Primary pancreatic cancer cells of patient-derived xenografts (PDXs) were cultured in adherent or CSC-enriching sphere conditions to determine the role of glutathione metabolism in stemness. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was used to validate RNAseq results involving glutathione metabolism genes in adherent vs spheres, as well as the expression of pluripotency-related genes following treatment. Public TCGA and GTEx RNAseq data from pancreatic cancer vs normal tissue samples were analyzed using the webserver GEPIA2. The glutathione-sensitive fluorescent probe monochlorobimane was used to determine glutathione content by fluorimetry or flow cytometry. Pharmacological inhibitors of glutathione synthesis and recycling [buthionine-sulfoximine (BSO) and 6-Aminonicotinamide (6-AN), respectively] were used to investigate the impact of glutathione depletion on CSC-enriched cultures. Staining with propidium iodide (cell cycle), Annexin-V (apoptosis) and CD133 (CSC content) were determined by flow cytometry. Self-renewal was assessed by sphere formation assay and response to gemcitabine treatment was used as a readout for chemoresistance.
    RESULTS: Analysis of our previously published RNAseq dataset E-MTAB-3808 revealed up-regulation of genes involved in the KEGG (Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes) Pathway Glutathione Metabolism in CSC-enriched cultures compared to their differentiated counterparts. Consistently, in pancreatic cancer patient samples the expression of most of these up-regulated genes positively correlated with a stemness signature defined by NANOG, KLF4, SOX2 and OCT4 expression (P < 10-5). Moreover, 3 of the upregulated genes (MGST1, GPX8, GCCT) were associated with reduced disease-free survival in patients [Hazard ratio (HR) 2.2-2.5; P = 0.03-0.0054], suggesting a critical role for this pathway in pancreatic cancer progression. CSC-enriched sphere cultures also showed increased expression of different glutathione metabolism-related genes, as well as enhanced glutathione content in its reduced form (GSH). Glutathione depletion with BSO induced cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in spheres, and diminished the expression of stemness genes. Moreover, treatment with either BSO or the glutathione recycling inhibitor 6-AN inhibited self-renewal and the expression of the CSC marker CD133. GSH content in spheres positively correlated with intrinsic resistance to gemcitabine treatment in different PDXs r = 0.96, P = 5.8 × 1011). Additionally, CD133+ cells accumulated GSH in response to gemcitabine, which was abrogated by BSO treatment (P < 0.05). Combined treatment with BSO and gemcitabine-induced apoptosis in CD133+ cells to levels comparable to CD133- cells and significantly diminished self-renewal (P < 0.05), suggesting that chemoresistance of CSCs is partially dependent on GSH metabolism.
    CONCLUSION: Our data suggest that pancreatic CSCs depend on glutathione metabolism. Pharmacological targeting of this pathway showed that high GSH content is essential to maintain CSC functionality in terms of self-renewal and chemoresistance.
    Keywords:  Cancer stem cells; Chemoresistance; Glutathione; Pancreatic cancer; Redox; Self-renewal
  21. Nat Metab. 2020 12;2(12): 1472-1481
      Leigh syndrome is a fatal neurometabolic disorder caused by defects in mitochondrial function. Mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibition with rapamycin attenuates disease progression in a mouse model of Leigh syndrome (Ndufs4 knock-out (KO) mouse); however, the mechanism of rescue is unknown. Here we identify protein kinase C (PKC) downregulation as a key event mediating the beneficial effects of rapamycin treatment of Ndufs4 KO mice. Assessing the impact of rapamycin on the brain proteome and phosphoproteome of Ndufs4 KO mice, we find that rapamycin restores mitochondrial protein levels, inhibits signalling through both mTOR complexes and reduces the abundance and activity of multiple PKC isoforms. Administration of PKC inhibitors increases survival, delays neurological deficits, prevents hair loss and decreases inflammation in Ndufs4 KO mice. Thus, PKC may be a viable therapeutic target for treating severe mitochondrial disease.
  22. Curr Protoc Cell Biol. 2020 Dec;89(1): e116
      Measuring oxygen consumption allows for the role of mitochondrial function in biological phenomena and mitochondrial diseases to be determined. Although respirometry has become a common approach in disease research, current methods are limited by the necessity to process and measure tissue samples within 1 hr of acquisition. Detailed by Acin-Perez and colleagues, a new respirometry approach designed for previously frozen tissue samples eliminates these hurdles for mitochondrial study. This technique allows for the measurement of maximal respiratory capacity in samples frozen for long-term storage before testing. This protocol article describes the optimal tissue isolation methods and the combination of substrates to define electron transport chain function at high resolution in previously frozen tissue samples. © 2020 The Authors. Basic Protocol 1: Sample collection, storage, and homogenization for previously frozen tissue respirometry Basic Protocol 2: Running a Seahorse respirometry assay using previously frozen tissue samples Basic Protocol 3: Normalization to mitochondrial content for previously frozen tissue respirometry.
    Keywords:  OCR; frozen; mitochondria; respirometry
  23. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Dec 14. pii: E9502. [Epub ahead of print]21(24):
      Albanol B (ABN-B), an arylbenzofuran derivative isolated from mulberries, has been shown to have anti-Alzheimer's disease, anti-bacterial and antioxidant activities. The aim of this study was to investigate the anti-cancer effect of this compound against lung cancer cells. The results show that ABN-B inhibited the proliferation of four human lung cancer cell lines (A549, BZR, H1975, and H226) and induced apoptosis, based on the cleavage of caspase-7 and PARP (poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase), as well as the downregulation of Bcl-2. ABN-B also induced cell cycle arrest at G2/M by down-regulating the expression of CKD1 (cyclin-dependent kinase 1) and cyclin B1, but up-regulating p21 (cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 1) expression. Notably, ABN-B increased the production of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS); however, treatment with mito-TEMPO (a specific mitochondrial antioxidant) blocked ABN-B-induced cell cycle arrest at G2/M and apoptosis, as well as the up-regulation of p21 and down-regulation of CDK1 and cyclin B1 induced by ABN-B. At the molecular level, ABN-B-induced mitochondrial ROS production increased the phosphorylation levels of AKT (protein kinase B) and ERK1/2 (extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2), while the inhibition of these kinases blocked the ABN-B-induced up-regulation of p21 and down-regulation of CDK1 and cyclin B1. Moreover, ABN-B significantly suppressed tumor growth in Ex-3LL (Lewis lung carcinoma) tumor-bearing mice. Taken together, these results suggest that ABN-B can exert an anti-cancer effect by inducing apoptosis and cell cycle arrest at G2/M through mitochondrial ROS production in lung cancer cells.
    Keywords:  Albanol B; apoptosis; cell cycle arrest; lung cancer; mitochondrial reactive oxygen species
  24. Med Hypotheses. 2020 Nov 10. pii: S0306-9877(20)33249-7. [Epub ahead of print] 110358
      Mucosal associated invariant T (MAIT) cells have captured the attention of immunologists and clinicians in recent years due to their abundance in humans, especially in human liver and mucosal tissue. Colorectal cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in mucosal tissue. Recent evidence reveal activated MAIT cells within the microenvironment of colorectal tumors. The increased tumor infiltration with MAIT cells correlates with poor survival in the colorectal cancer patients, suggesting MAIT cells are promising immunotherapeutic targets in colorectal cancer. Besides well-known role in anti-microbial immunity, MAIT cells have been associated with various forms of cancer. The Th1-biased MAIT cells are proposed to mediate anti-tumor immunity, while IL-17-producing subsets have been implicated in promoting malignancy. Reduced IFN-γ production and elevated IL-17 production of MAIT cells have been found in colorectal tumor tissue and shown to promote tumor growth and metastases. Although the mechanism(s) driving the increase in Th17-biased MAIT cells with reduced IFN-γ production in tumor is not fully understood, recent studies have linked IL-17 response to dysfunctional mitochondria and reactive oxygen species (ROS) from the mitochondria. Therefore, we hypothesize that mitochondrial dysfunction contributes to Th17-skewed MAIT cell responses with decreased IFN-γ production. Mitochondrial targeted antioxidants are supposed to be beneficial for recovering Th1-baised antitumor immunity and inhibiting IL-17 production of MAIT by improving mitochondrial function.
  25. Cell Rep. 2020 Dec 15. pii: S2211-1247(20)31489-3. [Epub ahead of print]33(11): 108500
      Immune cell function is influenced by metabolic conditions. Low-glucose, high-lactate environments, such as the placenta, gastrointestinal tract, and the tumor microenvironment, are immunosuppressive, especially for glycolysis-dependent effector T cells. We report that nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), which is reduced to NADH by lactate dehydrogenase in lactate-rich conditions, is a key point of metabolic control in T cells. Reduced NADH is not available for NAD+-dependent enzymatic reactions involving glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) and 3-phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase (PGDH). We show that increased lactate leads to a block at GAPDH and PGDH, leading to the depletion of post-GAPDH glycolytic intermediates, as well as the 3-phosphoglycerate derivative serine that is known to be important for T cell proliferation. Supplementing serine rescues the ability of T cells to proliferate in the presence of lactate-induced reductive stress. Directly targeting the redox state may be a useful approach for developing novel immunotherapies in cancer and therapeutic immunosuppression.
    Keywords:  3-phosphoglycerate; T cell metabolism; glycolysis; immunometabolism; lactate metabolism; nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide; redox metabolism; serine
  26. Sci Adv. 2020 Dec;pii: eabc5629. [Epub ahead of print]6(51):
      Circadian gene expression driven by transcription activators CLOCK and BMAL1 is intimately associated with dynamic chromatin remodeling. However, how cellular metabolism directs circadian chromatin remodeling is virtually unexplored. We report that the S-adenosylhomocysteine (SAH) hydrolyzing enzyme adenosylhomocysteinase (AHCY) cyclically associates to CLOCK-BMAL1 at chromatin sites and promotes circadian transcriptional activity. SAH is a potent feedback inhibitor of S-adenosylmethionine (SAM)-dependent methyltransferases, and timely hydrolysis of SAH by AHCY is critical to sustain methylation reactions. We show that AHCY is essential for cyclic H3K4 trimethylation, genome-wide recruitment of BMAL1 to chromatin, and subsequent circadian transcription. Depletion or targeted pharmacological inhibition of AHCY in mammalian cells markedly decreases the amplitude of circadian gene expression. In mice, pharmacological inhibition of AHCY in the hypothalamus alters circadian locomotor activity and rhythmic transcription within the suprachiasmatic nucleus. These results reveal a previously unappreciated connection between cellular metabolism, chromatin dynamics, and circadian regulation.
  27. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020 Dec 14. pii: 201922392. [Epub ahead of print]
      Mitochondrial and metabolic dysfunction are often implicated in neurological disease, but effective mechanism-based therapies remain elusive. We performed a genome-scale forward genetic screen in a Drosophila model of tauopathy, a class of neurodegenerative disorders characterized by the accumulation of the protein tau, and identified manipulation of the B-vitamin biotin as a potential therapeutic approach in tauopathy. We show that tau transgenic flies have an innate biotin deficiency due to tau-mediated relaxation of chromatin and consequent aberrant expression of multiple biotin-related genes, disrupting both carboxylase and mitochondrial function. Biotin depletion alone causes mitochondrial pathology and neurodegeneration in both flies and human neurons, implicating mitochondrial dysfunction as a mechanism in biotin deficiency. Finally, carboxylase biotin levels are reduced in mammalian tauopathies, including brains of human Alzheimer's disease patients. These results provide insight into pathogenic mechanisms of human biotin deficiency, the resulting effects on neuronal health, and a potential therapeutic pathway in the treatment of tau-mediated neurotoxicity.
    Keywords:  Drosophila; biotin; mitochondria; screen; tau
  28. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2020 Dec 11. pii: S0006-291X(20)32174-4. [Epub ahead of print]534 94-98
      Proguanil in combination with its synergistic partner atovaquone has been used for malaria treatment and prophylaxis for decades. However its mode of action is not fully understood. Here we used yeast to investigate its activity. Proguanil inhibits yeast growth, causes cell death and acts in synergy with atovaquone. It was previously proposed that the drug would target the system that maintains the mitochondrial membrane potential when the respiratory chain is inhibited. However our data did not seem to validate that hypothesis. We proposed that proguanil would not have a specific target but accumulate in the mitochondrial to concentrations that impair multiple mitochondrial functions leading to cell death. Selection and study of proguanil resistant mutants pointed towards an unexpected resistance mechanism: the decrease of CoQ level, which possibly alters the mitochondrial membrane properties and lowers proguanil intramitochondrial level.
    Keywords:  Antimalarial drug; Drug mode of action; Drug resistance; Mitochondrial function; Yeast model
  29. PLoS One. 2020 ;15(12): e0244255
      Reactive oxygen species are bona fide intracellular second messengers that influence cell metabolism and aging by mechanisms that are incompletely resolved. Mitochondria generate superoxide that is dis-mutated to hydrogen peroxide, which in turn oxidises cysteine-based enzymes such as phosphatases, peroxiredoxins and redox-sensitive transcription factors to modulate their activity. Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 3 (Stat3) has been shown to participate in an oxidative relay with peroxiredoxin II but the impact of Stat3 oxidation on target gene expression and its biological consequences remain to be established. Thus, we created murine embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) that express either WT-Stat3 or a redox-insensitive mutant of Stat3 (Stat3-C3S). The Stat3-C3S cells differed from WT-Stat3 cells in morphology, proliferation and resistance to oxidative stress; in response to cytokine stimulation, they displayed elevated Stat3 tyrosine phosphorylation and Socs3 expression, implying that Stat3-C3S is insensitive to oxidative inhibition. Comparative analysis of global gene expression in WT-Stat3 and Stat3-C3S cells revealed differential expression (DE) of genes both under basal conditions and during oxidative stress. Using differential gene regulation pattern analysis, we identified 199 genes clustered into 10 distinct patterns that were selectively responsive to Stat3 oxidation. GO term analysis identified down-regulated genes to be enriched for tissue/organ development and morphogenesis and up-regulated genes to be enriched for cell-cell adhesion, immune responses and transport related processes. Although most DE gene promoters contain consensus Stat3 inducible elements (SIEs), our chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) and ChIP-seq analyses did not detect Stat3 binding at these sites in control or oxidant-stimulated cells, suggesting that oxidised Stat3 regulates these genes indirectly. Our further computational analysis revealed enrichment of hypoxia response elements (HREs) within DE gene promoters, implying a role for Hif-1. Experimental validation revealed that efficient stabilisation of Hif-1α in response to oxidative stress or hypoxia required an oxidation-competent Stat3 and that depletion of Hif-1α suppressed the inducible expression of Kcnb1, a representative DE gene. Our data suggest that Stat3 and Hif-1α cooperate to regulate genes involved in immune functions and developmental processes in response to oxidative stress.
  30. Life (Basel). 2020 Dec 14. pii: E348. [Epub ahead of print]10(12):
      Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a complex multifactorial disease of epidemic proportions. It involves genetic and lifestyle factors that lead to dysregulations in hormone secretion and metabolic homeostasis. Accumulating evidence indicates that altered mitochondrial structure, function, and particularly bioenergetics of cells in different tissues have a central role in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes mellitus. In the present study, we explore how mitochondrial dysfunction impairs the coupling between metabolism and exocytosis in the pancreatic alpha and beta cells. We demonstrate that reduced mitochondrial ATP production is linked with the observed defects in insulin and glucagon secretion by utilizing computational modeling approach. Specifically, a 30-40% reduction in alpha cells' mitochondrial function leads to a pathological shift of glucagon secretion, characterized by oversecretion at high glucose concentrations and insufficient secretion in hypoglycemia. In beta cells, the impaired mitochondrial energy metabolism is accompanied by reduced insulin secretion at all glucose levels, but the differences, compared to a normal beta cell, are the most pronounced in hyperglycemia. These findings improve our understanding of metabolic pathways and mitochondrial bioenergetics in the pathology of type 2 diabetes mellitus and might help drive the development of innovative therapies to treat various metabolic diseases.
    Keywords:  cellular bioenergetics; diabetes; glucagon; insulin; mathematical model; mitochondrial dysfunction; pancreatic endocrine cells
  31. Dev Cell. 2020 Dec 07. pii: S1534-5807(20)30925-4. [Epub ahead of print]
      Lysosomes promote cellular homeostasis through macromolecular hydrolysis within their lumen and metabolic signaling by the mTORC1 kinase on their limiting membranes. Both hydrolytic and signaling functions require precise regulation of lysosomal cholesterol content. In Niemann-Pick type C (NPC), loss of the cholesterol exporter, NPC1, causes cholesterol accumulation within lysosomes, leading to mTORC1 hyperactivation, disrupted mitochondrial function, and neurodegeneration. The compositional and functional alterations in NPC lysosomes and nature of aberrant cholesterol-mTORC1 signaling contribution to organelle pathogenesis are not understood. Through proteomic profiling of NPC lysosomes, we find pronounced proteolytic impairment compounded with hydrolase depletion, enhanced membrane damage, and defective mitophagy. Genetic and pharmacologic mTORC1 inhibition restores lysosomal proteolysis without correcting cholesterol storage, implicating aberrant mTORC1 as a pathogenic driver downstream of cholesterol accumulation. Consistently, mTORC1 inhibition ameliorates mitochondrial dysfunction in a neuronal model of NPC. Thus, cholesterol-mTORC1 signaling controls organelle homeostasis and is a targetable pathway in NPC.
    Keywords:  ESCRT; NPC1; autophagy; cholesterol; lysosome; mTORC1; mitochondria; proteolysis; proteomics
  32. Cancer Sci. 2020 Dec 14.
      Curcumin has a variety of anti-cancer properties, but low bioavailability prevents its use in chemotherapeutic applications. To address this problem, we tested the efficacy of the synthetic curcumin analog B14 in breast cancer cells and explored the mechanism by which B14 inhibits proliferation and metastasis of breast cancer cells. We used the breast cancer cell line MCF-7, MDA-MB-231 to study the anticancer effects of B14 and assessed cell viability, cell migration and invasion, cell cycle and apoptosis, in addition, the anti-tumor effect of B14 in vivo was examined in mice bearing MDA-MB-231 cells. We found that as the concentration of B14 increased, cell viability decreased in a dose-dependent manner. Compound B14 exerted the best antitumor activity and selectivity for MCF-7 and MDA-M-231 cells (IC50 = 8.84 μM and 8.33 μM, respectively), while its IC50 value for MCF-10A breast epithelial cells was 34.96 μM. B14 has been shown to be a multi-targeted drug that alters the expression of cyclin D1, cyclin E1 and cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (CDK2), and ultimately induces G1 phase cell cycle arrest. At the same time, B14 activates the mitochondrial apoptosis pathway in breast cancer cells. Further, B14 was more effective than curcumin in inhibiting cell migration, invasion, and colony formation. In tumor-bearing mice, analog B14 significantly reduced tumor growth and inhibited cell proliferation and angiogenesis. The pharmacokinetic test found that B14 was more stable than curcumin in vivo. Our data reveal the therapeutic potential of the curcumin analogue B14 and the underlying mechanisms to fight breast cancer cells.
    Keywords:  Anti-tumor; apoptosis; breast cancer; cell cycle arrest; curcumin analog
  33. Biochim Biophys Acta Bioenerg. 2020 Dec 15. pii: S0005-2728(20)30202-4. [Epub ahead of print] 148352
      The bc1 complex is a proton pump of the mitochondrial electron transport chain which transfers electrons from ubiquinol to cytochrome c. It operates via the modified Q cycle in which the two electrons from oxidation of ubiquinol at the Qo center are bifurcated such that the first electron is passed to Cytc via an iron sulfur center and c1 whereas the second electron is passed across the membrane by bL and bH to reduce ubiquinone at the Qi center. Proton pumping occurs because oxidation of ubiquinol at the Qo center releases protons to the P-side and reduction of ubiquinone at the Qi center takes up protons from the N-side. However, the mechanisms which prevent the thermodynamically more favorable short circuit reactions and so ensure precise bifurcation and proton pumping are not known. Here we use statistical thermodynamics to show that reaction steps that originate from high energy states cannot support high flux even when they have large rate constants. We show how the chemistry of ubiquinol oxidation and the structure of the Qo site can result in free energy profiles that naturally suppress flux through the short circuit pathways while allowing high rates of bifurcation. These predictions are confirmed through in-silico simulations using a Markov state model.
    Keywords:  Free energy; Proton pumping; Short-circuit; Turnover; bc(1) complex
  34. Nature. 2020 Dec 16.
      Extensive tumour inflammation, which is reflected by high levels of infiltrating T cells and interferon-γ (IFNγ) signalling, improves the response of patients with melanoma to checkpoint immunotherapy1,2. Many tumours, however, escape by activating cellular pathways that lead to immunosuppression. One such mechanism is the production of tryptophan metabolites along the kynurenine pathway by the enzyme indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1), which is induced by IFNγ3-5. However, clinical trials using inhibition of IDO1 in combination with blockade of the PD1 pathway in patients with melanoma did not improve the efficacy of treatment compared to PD1 pathway blockade alone6,7, pointing to an incomplete understanding of the role of IDO1 and the consequent degradation of tryptophan in mRNA translation and cancer progression. Here we used ribosome profiling in melanoma cells to investigate the effects of prolonged IFNγ treatment on mRNA translation. Notably, we observed accumulations of ribosomes downstream of tryptophan codons, along with their expected stalling at the tryptophan codon. This suggested that ribosomes bypass tryptophan codons in the absence of tryptophan. A detailed examination of these tryptophan-associated accumulations of ribosomes-which we term 'W-bumps'-showed that they were characterized by ribosomal frameshifting events. Consistently, reporter assays combined with proteomic and immunopeptidomic analyses demonstrated the induction of ribosomal frameshifting, and the generation and presentation of aberrant trans-frame peptides at the cell surface after treatment with IFNγ. Priming of naive T cells from healthy donors with aberrant peptides induced peptide-specific T cells. Together, our results suggest that IDO1-mediated depletion of tryptophan, which is induced by IFNγ, has a role in the immune recognition of melanoma cells by contributing to diversification of the peptidome landscape.
  35. Nat Commun. 2020 12 17. 11(1): 6410
      Immunotherapy fails to cure most cancer patients. Preclinical studies indicate that radiotherapy synergizes with immunotherapy, promoting radiation-induced antitumor immunity. Most preclinical immunotherapy studies utilize transplant tumor models, which overestimate patient responses. Here, we show that transplant sarcomas are cured by PD-1 blockade and radiotherapy, but identical treatment fails in autochthonous sarcomas, which demonstrate immunoediting, decreased neoantigen expression, and tumor-specific immune tolerance. We characterize tumor-infiltrating immune cells from transplant and primary tumors, revealing striking differences in their immune landscapes. Although radiotherapy remodels myeloid cells in both models, only transplant tumors are enriched for activated CD8+ T cells. The immune microenvironment of primary murine sarcomas resembles most human sarcomas, while transplant sarcomas resemble the most inflamed human sarcomas. These results identify distinct microenvironments in murine sarcomas that coevolve with the immune system and suggest that patients with a sarcoma immune phenotype similar to transplant tumors may benefit most from PD-1 blockade and radiotherapy.
  36. Cell Death Dis. 2020 Dec 11. 11(12): 1047
      SEMG1 and SEMG2 genes belong to the family of cancer-testis antigens (CTAs), whose expression normally is restricted to male germ cells but is often restored in various malignancies. High levels of SEMG1 and SEMG2 expression are detected in prostate, renal, and lung cancer as well as hemoblastosis. However, the functional importance of both SEMGs proteins in human neoplasms is still largely unknown. In this study, by using a combination of the bioinformatics and various cellular and molecular assays, we have demonstrated that SEMG1 and SEMG2 are frequently expressed in lung cancer clinical samples and cancer cell lines of different origins and are negatively associated with the survival rate of cancer patients. Using the pull-down assay followed by LC-MS/MS mass-spectrometry, we have identified 119 proteins associated with SEMG1 and SEMG2. Among the SEMGs interacting proteins we noticed two critical glycolytic enzymes-pyruvate kinase M2 (PKM2) and lactate dehydrogenase A (LDHA). Importantly, we showed that SEMGs increased the protein level and activity of both PKM2 and LDHA. Further, both SEMGs increased the membrane mitochondrial potential (MMP), glycolysis, respiration, and ROS production in several cancer cell lines. Taken together, these data provide first evidence that SEMGs can up-regulate the energy metabolism of cancer cells, exemplifying their oncogenic features.
  37. Front Physiol. 2020 ;11 543564
      A metabolic hallmark of many cancers is the increase in glucose consumption coupled to excessive lactate production. Mindful that L-lactate originates only from pyruvate, the question arises as to how can this be sustained in those tissues where pyruvate kinase activity is reduced due to dimerization of PKM2 isoform or inhibited by oxidative/nitrosative stress, posttranslational modifications or mutations, all widely reported findings in the very same cells. Hereby 17 pathways connecting glucose to lactate bypassing pyruvate kinase are reviewed, some of which transit through the mitochondrial matrix. An additional 69 converging pathways leading to pyruvate and lactate, but not commencing from glucose, are also examined. The minor production of pyruvate and lactate by glutaminolysis is scrutinized separately. The present review aims to highlight the ways through which L-lactate can still be produced from pyruvate using carbon atoms originating from glucose or other substrates in cells with kinetically impaired pyruvate kinase and underscore the importance of mitochondria in cancer metabolism irrespective of oxidative phosphorylation.
    Keywords:  Warburg effect; cancer; glycolysis; lactate dehydrogenase; metabolomics; mitochondria; oncometabolism
  38. Nature. 2020 Dec 16.
      FAT1, which encodes a protocadherin, is one of the most frequently mutated genes in human cancers1-5. However, the role and the molecular mechanisms by which FAT1 mutations control tumour initiation and progression are poorly understood. Here, using mouse models of skin squamous cell carcinoma and lung tumours, we found that deletion of Fat1 accelerates tumour initiation and malignant progression and promotes a hybrid epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) phenotype. We also found this hybrid EMT state in FAT1-mutated human squamous cell carcinomas. Skin squamous cell carcinomas in which Fat1 was deleted presented increased tumour stemness and spontaneous metastasis. We performed transcriptional and chromatin profiling combined with proteomic analyses and mechanistic studies, which revealed that loss of function of FAT1 activates a CAMK2-CD44-SRC axis that promotes YAP1 nuclear translocation and ZEB1 expression that stimulates the mesenchymal state. This loss of function also inactivates EZH2, promoting SOX2 expression, which sustains the epithelial state. Our comprehensive analysis identified drug resistance and vulnerabilities in FAT1-deficient tumours, which have important implications for cancer therapy. Our studies reveal that, in mouse and human squamous cell carcinoma, loss of function of FAT1 promotes tumour initiation, progression, invasiveness, stemness and metastasis through the induction of a hybrid EMT state.
  39. Am J Transl Res. 2020 ;12(11): 7603-7619
      Sclerosis variant in carotid body tumor (CBT) is characterized by extensive stromal sclerosis, which results in an uncommon pattern of growth that closely resembles that of an invasive malignant neoplasm. However, the clinical significance and the mechanism remains unclear. In this study, we provide evidence that SS-31 exerts protective effects against SDHB suppression-mitochondrial dysfunction-EndMT axis-modulated CBT sclerosis and progression. In human CBT specimens, sclerosis extent was consistently related to decreased recurrence-, death-, systematic metastasis-, and major adverse event-free survival, decreased SDHB expression, and aggravated EndMT. In human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs), SDHB KD aggravated hypoxia-induced EndMT, mitochondrial dysfunction and metabolic switch, while SS-31 treatment could significantly attenuate these changes caused by SDHB KD and hypoxia. In patient-derived xenograft (PDX) mice models of CBT, we also observed increased tumor growth speed and extent of EndMT, mitochondrial dysfunction, and metabolic switch in sclerosing carotid body tumor (SCBT) group than in conventional carotid body tumor (CCBT) group. And treating with SS-31 could significantly retard SCBT progression by rescuing the mitochondrial dysfunction-induced EndMT. Altogether, these results show that SDHB suppression-mitochondrial dysfunction-EndMT axis is a critical part of the CBT sclerosis and progression, while mitochondria-targeted drug SS-31 exerts an inhibitive effect on the above-mentioned axis, which opens new strategies to prevent and treat malignancies of CBT.
    Keywords:  Carotid body tumor; SS-31; endothelial-mesenchymal transition; mitochondrial dysfunction; sclerosis
  40. Nat Phys. 2020 Dec;16(12): 1232-1237
      Most physical and other natural systems are complex entities composed of a large number of interacting individual elements. It is a surprising fact that they often obey the so-called scaling laws relating an observable quantity with a measure of the size of the system. Here we describe the discovery of universal superlinear metabolic scaling laws in human cancers. This dependence underpins increasing tumour aggressiveness, due to evolutionary dynamics, which leads to an explosive growth as the disease progresses. We validated this dynamic using longitudinal volumetric data of different histologies from large cohorts of cancer patients. To explain our observations we put forward increasingly-complex biologically-inspired mathematical models that captured the key processes governing tumor growth. Our models predicted that the emergence of superlinear allometric scaling laws is an inherently three-dimensional phenomenon. Moreover, the scaling laws thereby identified allowed us to define a set of metabolic metrics with prognostic value, thus providing added clinical utility to the base findings.
  41. Sci Rep. 2020 Dec 18. 10(1): 22334
      Even though K63-linked polyubiquitin chains do not target proteins for proteasomal degradation, they play nevertheless a complementary protective role in maintaining protein homeostasis by directing malfunctioning proteins and organelles to inclusion bodies or autophagosomes. A paradigm for this process is the sequestration and autophagic degradation of dysfunctional mitochondria. Although studies have shown that K63-ubiquitylation of mitochondrial proteins by the ubiquitin ligase Parkin is important in this process, it is presently not clear if this modification also suffices to initiate this cascade of events. To address this question, we have engineered the ubiquitin ligase ProxE3, which in an inducible manner synthesizes K63-linked ubiquitin chains on the surface of mitochondria. We found that the presence of K63-linked ubiquitin chains on mitochondria resulted in the recruitment of the ubiquitin adaptor p62 and induced a dramatic redistribution of mitochondria, which was reminiscent to the Parkin-facilitated sequestration in response to mitochondrial uncoupler. However, ProxE3 did not induce autophagic degradation of mitochondria. Our data show that K63-linked ubiquitin chains at the mitochondrial membrane are sufficient for the induction of mitochondrial sequestration, but not mitophagy, without the need of extrinsically inflicting mitochondrial dysfunction.
  42. Cancer Metab. 2020 Dec 11. 8(1): 29
      BACKGROUND: Overexpression of c-Myc is required for the progression of pre-malignant plasma cells in monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) to malignant plasma cells in multiple myeloma (MM). c-Myc also increases glutamine anaplerosis into the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle within cancer cells. Whether increased glutamine anaplerosis is associated with the progression of pre-malignant to malignant plasma cells is unknown.METHODS: Human volunteers (N = 7) and patients with MGUS (N = 11) and MM (N = 12) were prospectively recruited to undergo an intravenous infusion of 13C-labeled glutamine followed by a bone marrow aspiration to obtain bone marrow cells and plasma.
    RESULTS: Despite notable heterogeneity, stable isotope-resolved metabolomics (SIRM) revealed that the mean 13C-labeled glutamine anaplerosis into the TCA cycle was higher in malignant compared to pre-malignant bone marrow plasma cells relative to the remainder of their paired bone marrow mononuclear cells. RNA sequencing demonstrated a higher relative mRNA expression of c-Myc and glutamine transporters such as ASCT2 and SN2 in malignant compared to pre-malignant bone marrow plasma cells. Finally, higher quantitative levels of TCA cycle intermediates in the bone marrow plasma differentiated MM from MGUS patients.
    CONCLUSION: Measurement of the in vivo activity of glutamine anaplerosis into the TCA cycle provides novel insight into the metabolic changes associated with the transformation of pre-malignant plasma cells in MGUS to malignant plasma cells in MM.
    TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT03384108 and NCT03119883.
    Keywords:  Glutamine; Myeloma; Plasma cell malignancies; Stable isotope metabolomics
  43. Ann Transl Med. 2020 Nov;8(21): 1346
      Background: Bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) are known to promote chemoresistance in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells. However, the molecular basis for BMSC-associated AML chemoresistance remains largely unexplored.Methods: The mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) levels of AML cells were measured by a Seahorse XFe24 cell metabolic analyzer. The activity of total or mitochondrial signal transducer and transcription activator 3 (STAT3) in AML cells was explored by flow cytometry and Western blotting. Real-time quantitative PCR, Western blotting and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) were used to analyze expression of interleukin 6 (IL-6) in the human BMSC line HS-5, and IL-6 was knocked out in HS-5 cells by CRISPR/Cas9 system.
    Results: In this study, we observed that co-culturing with BMSCs heightened OXPHOS levels in AML cells, thus promoting chemoresistance in these cells. HS-5 cell-induced upregulation of OXPHOS is dependent on the activation of STAT3, especially on that of mitochondrial serine phosphorylated STAT3 (pS-STAT3) in AML cells. The relationship among pS-STAT3, OXPHOS, and chemosensitivity of AML cells induced by BMSCs was demonstrated by the STAT3 activator and inhibitor, which upregulated and downregulated the levels of mitochondrial pS-STAT3 and OXPHOS, respectively. Intriguingly, AML cells remodeled HS-5 cells to secrete more IL-6, which augmented mitochondrial OXPHOS in AML cells and stimulated their chemoresistance. IL-6 knockout in HS-5 cells impaired the ability of these cells to activate STAT3, to increase OXPHOS, or to promote chemoresistance in AML cells.
    Conclusions: BMSCs promoted chemoresistance in AML cells via the activation of the IL-6/STAT3/OXPHOS pathway. These findings exhibit a novel mechanism of chemoresistance in AML cells in the bone marrow microenvironment from a metabolic perspective.
    Keywords:  IL-6/STAT3/OXPHOS axis; acute myeloid leukemia (AML); chemosensitivity; stromal cells
  44. Nat Commun. 2020 12 11. 11(1): 6339
      Ferroptosis is a more recently recognized form of cell death that relies on iron-mediated oxidative damage. Here, we evaluate the impact of high-iron diets or depletion of Gpx4, an antioxidant enzyme reported as an important ferroptosis suppressor, in the pancreas of mice with cerulean- or L-arginine-induced pancreatitis, and in an oncogenic Kras murine model of spontaneous pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). We find that either high-iron diets or Gpx4 depletion promotes 8-OHG release and thus activates the TMEM173/STING-dependent DNA sensor pathway, which results in macrophage infiltration and activation during Kras-driven PDAC in mice. Consequently, the administration of liproxstatin-1 (a ferroptosis inhibitor), clophosome-mediated macrophage depletion, or pharmacological and genetic inhibition of the 8-OHG-TMEM173 pathway suppresses Kras-driven pancreatic tumorigenesis in mice. GPX4 is also a prognostic marker in patients with PDAC. These findings provide pathological and mechanistic insights into ferroptotic damage in PDAC tumorigenesis in mice.
  45. J Clin Invest. 2020 Dec 17. pii: 139542. [Epub ahead of print]
      Mutant isocitrate-dehydrogenase-1 (IDH1-R132H; mIDH1) is a hallmark of adult gliomas. Lower grade mIDH1 gliomas are classified into two molecular subgroups: (i) 1p/19q co-deletion/TERT-promoter mutations or (ii) inactivating mutations in α-thalassemia/mental retardation syndrome X-linked (ATRX) and TP53. This work, focuses on gliomas' subtype harboring mIDH1, TP53 and ATRX inactivation. IDH1-R132H is a gain-of-function mutation that converts α-ketoglutarate into 2-hydroxyglutarate (D-2HG). The role of D-2HG within the tumor microenvironment of mIDH1/mATRX/mTP53 gliomas remains unexplored. Inhibition of D-2HG, when used as monotherapy or in combination with radiation and temozolomide (IR/TMZ), led to increased median survival (MS) of mIDH1 glioma bearing mice. Also, D-2HG inhibition elicited anti-mIDH1 glioma immunological memory. In response to D-2HG inhibition, PD-L1 expression levels on mIDH1-glioma cells increased to similar levels as observed in wild-type-IDH1 gliomas. Thus, we combined D-2HG inhibition/IR/TMZ with anti-PDL1 immune checkpoint-blockade and observed complete tumor regression in 60% of mIDH1 glioma bearing mice. This combination strategy reduced T-cell exhaustion and favored the generation of memory CD8+ T-cells. Our findings demonstrate that metabolic reprogramming elicits anti-mIDH1 glioma immunity, leading to increased MS and immunological memory. Our preclinical data supports the testing of IDH-R132H inhibitors in combination with IR/TMZ and anti-PDL1 as targeted therapy for mIDH1/mATRX/mTP53 glioma patients.
    Keywords:  Adaptive immunity; Brain cancer; Immunology; Immunotherapy; Neuroscience