bims-mibica Biomed News
on Mitochondrial bioenergetics in cancer
Issue of 2021‒01‒31
sixty-two papers selected by
Kelsey Fisher-Wellman
East Carolina University

  1. Nat Commun. 2021 Jan 29. 12(1): 707
      Mitochondrial complex I is central to the pathological reactive oxygen species (ROS) production that underlies cardiac ischemia-reperfusion (IR) injury. ND6-P25L mice are homoplasmic for a disease-causing mtDNA point mutation encoding the P25L substitution in the ND6 subunit of complex I. The cryo-EM structure of ND6-P25L complex I revealed subtle structural changes that facilitate rapid conversion to the "deactive" state, usually formed only after prolonged inactivity. Despite its tendency to adopt the "deactive" state, the mutant complex is fully active for NADH oxidation, but cannot generate ROS by reverse electron transfer (RET). ND6-P25L mitochondria function normally, except for their lack of RET ROS production, and ND6-P25L mice are protected against cardiac IR injury in vivo. Thus, this single point mutation in complex I, which does not affect oxidative phosphorylation but renders the complex unable to catalyse RET, demonstrates the pathological role of ROS production by RET during IR injury.
  2. Exp Cell Res. 2021 Jan 21. pii: S0014-4827(21)00024-0. [Epub ahead of print] 112493
      Most cancer deaths are due to the colonization of tumor cells in distant organs. More evidence indicates that overexpression of RACGAP1 plays a critical role in cancer metastasis. However, the underlying mechanism still remains poorly understood. Here we found that RACGAP1 promoted breast cancer metastasis through regulating mitochondrial quality control. Overexpression of RACGAP1 in breast cancer cells led to the fragmentation of mitochondria, increased mitophagy intensity, mitochondrial turnover, and aerobic glycolysis ATP production. We showed that RACGAP1 promoted mitochondrial fission through recruiting ECT2 during anaphase and subsequently had activated ERK-DRP1 pathway. We further demonstrated the phosphorylation of RACGAP1 is essential for its ability of binding with ECT2 and its downstream effects. RACGAP1 overexpression also increased the expression of PGC-1a, a key mitochondrial biogenesis regulator, presumably by the increased mitophagy intensity induced by RACGAP1. PGC-1a increased the enrichment of DNMT1 in mitochondria, mitochondrial DNMT1 augmented mitochondrial DNA methylation and upregulated mitochondrial genome transcription. Our data indicated that RACGAP1 simultaneously facilitated mitophagy and mitochondrial biogenesis through regulating DRP1 phosphorylation and PGC-1a expression, eventually improved mitochondrial quality control in breast cancer cells. Our study provided a new angle in understanding the RACGAP1-overexpression related malignancy in breast cancer patients.
    Keywords:  Breast cancer; RACGAP1; mitochondrial dynamics; mitochondrial quality control; tumor metastasis
  3. Redox Biol. 2021 Jan 21. pii: S2213-2317(21)00018-5. [Epub ahead of print] 101870
      Cancer cells display abnormal metabolic activity as a result of activated oncogenes and loss of tumor suppressor genes. The Warburg Effect is a common metabolic feature of cancer that involves a preference for aerobic glycolysis over oxidative phosphorylation to generate ATP and building blocks for biosynthesis. However, emerging evidence indicates that mitochondrial metabolic pathways are also reprogrammed in cancer and play vital roles in bioenergetics, biosynthesis, and managing redox homeostasis. The mitochondria act a central hub for metabolic pathways that generate ATP and building blocks for lipid, nucleic acid and protein biosynthesis. However, mitochondrial respiration is also a leading source of reactive oxygen species that can damage cellular organelles and trigger cell death if levels become too high. In general, cancer cells are reported to have higher levels of reactive oxygen species than their non-cancerous cells of origin, and therefore must employ diverse metabolic strategies to prevent oxidative stress. However, mounting evidence indicates that the metabolic profiles between proliferative and disseminated cancer cells are not the same. In this review, we will examine mitochondrial metabolic pathways, such as glutaminolysis, that proliferative and disseminated cancer cells utilize to control their redox status.
    Keywords:  Cancer progression; Glutaminolysis; Mitochondria metabolism; Redox homeostasis
  4. J Hepatol. 2021 Jan 20. pii: S0168-8278(21)00024-6. [Epub ahead of print]
      BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Little is known about the metabolic regulation of cancer stem cells (CSC) in cholangiocarcinoma (CCA). We analyzed whether mitochondrial-dependent metabolism and related signaling pathways contribute to stem state in CCA.METHODS: The stem-like subset was enriched by sphere culture (SPH) in human intrahepatic CCA cells (HUCCT1 and CCLP1) and compared to cells cultured in monolayer. Extracellular flux analysis was examined by Seahorse technology and high-resolution respirometry. In patients with CCA, expression of factors related to mitochondrial metabolism was analyzed for possible correlation with clinical parameters.
    RESULTS: Metabolic analyses revealed a more efficient respiratory phenotype in CCA-SPH than in monolayers, due to mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation. CCA-SPH showed high mitochondrial membrane potential and elevated mitochondrial mass, and over-expressed peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator (PGC)-1α, a master regulator of mitochondrial biogenesis. Targeting mitochondrial complex I in CCA-SPH by metformin, or PGC-1α silencing or pharmacologic inhibition (SR-18292) impaired spherogenicity and expression of markers related to the CSC phenotype, pluripotency, and epithelial-mesenchymal transition. In mice with tumor xenografts generated by injection of CCA-SPH, administration of metformin or SR-18292 significantly reduced tumor growth and determined a phenotype more similar to tumors originated from cells grown in monolayer. In CCA patients, expression of PGC-1α was correlated to expression of mitochondrial complex II and of stem-like genes. Patients with higher PGC-1α expression by immunostaining had lower overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival, higher angioinvasion and faster recurrence. In GSEA analysis, CCA patients with high levels of mitochondrial Complex II had shorter OS and time to recurrence.
    CONCLUSIONS: The CCA stem-subset has a more efficient respiratory phenotype and depends on mitochondrial oxidative metabolism and PGC-1α to maintain CSC features.
    LAY SUMMARY: The growth of many cancers is sustained by a specific type of cells with more embryonic characteristics, termed as 'cancer stem cells'. These cells have been described in cholangiocarcinoma, a type of liver cancer with poor prognosis and limited therapeutic approaches. We demonstrate that cancer stem cells in cholangiocarcinoma have different metabolic features, and use mitochondria, an organelle located within the cells, as the major source of energy. We also identify PGC-1α, a molecule which regulates the biology of mitochondria, as a possible new target to be explored for developing new treatments for cholangiocarcinoma.
    Keywords:  CCLP1; HUCCT1; OXPHOS; PGC-1α; SR-18292
  5. Sci Rep. 2021 Jan 25. 11(1): 2157
      Bloom Syndrome (BS; OMIM #210900; ORPHA #125) is a rare genetic disorder that is associated with growth deficits, compromised immune system, insulin resistance, genome instability and extraordinary predisposition to cancer. Most efforts thus far have focused on understanding the role of the Bloom syndrome DNA helicase BLM as a recombination factor in maintaining genome stability and suppressing cancer. Here, we observed increased levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and DNA base damage in BLM-deficient cells, as well as oxidative-stress-dependent reduction in DNA replication speed. BLM-deficient cells exhibited increased mitochondrial mass, upregulation of mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM), higher ATP levels and increased respiratory reserve capacity. Cyclin B1, which acts in complex with cyclin-dependent kinase CDK1 to regulate mitotic entry and associated mitochondrial fission by phosphorylating mitochondrial fission protein Drp1, fails to be fully degraded in BLM-deficient cells and shows unscheduled expression in G1 phase cells. This failure to degrade cyclin B1 is accompanied by increased levels and persistent activation of Drp1 throughout mitosis and into G1 phase as well as mitochondrial fragmentation. This study identifies mitochondria-associated abnormalities in Bloom syndrome patient-derived and BLM-knockout cells and we discuss how these abnormalities may contribute to Bloom syndrome.
  6. Cell Rep Phys Sci. 2020 Dec 23. pii: 100270. [Epub ahead of print]1(12):
      Since mitochondria contribute to tumorigenesis and drug resistance in cancer, mitochondrial genetic engineering promises a new direction for cancer therapy. Here, we report the use of the perimitochondrial enzymatic noncovalent synthesis (ENS) of peptides for delivering genes selectively into the mitochondria of cancer cells for mitochondrial genetic engineering. Specifically, the micelles of peptides bind to the voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC) on mitochondria for the proteolysis by enterokinase (ENTK), generating perimitochondrial nanofibers in cancer cells. This process, facilitating selective delivery of nucleic acid or gene vectors into mitochondria of cancer cells, enables the mitochondrial transgene expression of CRISPR/Cas9, FUNDC1, p53, and fluorescent proteins. Mechanistic investigation indicates that the interaction of the peptide assemblies with the VDAC and mitochondrial membrane potential are necessary for mitochondria targeting. This local enzymatic control of intermolecular noncovalent interactions enables selective mitochondrial genetic engineering, thus providing a strategy for targeting cancer cells.
  7. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Jan 22. pii: 412. [Epub ahead of print]13(3):
      Amino acids are integral components of cancer metabolism. The non-essential amino acid asparagine supports the growth and survival of various cancer cell types. Here, different mass spectrometry approaches were employed to identify lower aspartate levels, higher aspartate/glutamine ratios and lower tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle metabolite levels in asparagine-deprived sarcoma cells. Reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+)/nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide hydride (NADH) ratios were consistent with redirection of TCA cycle flux and relative electron acceptor deficiency. Elevated lactate/pyruvate ratios may be due to compensatory NAD+ regeneration through increased pyruvate to lactate conversion by lactate dehydrogenase. Supplementation with exogenous pyruvate, which serves as an electron acceptor, restored aspartate levels, NAD+/NADH ratios, lactate/pyruvate ratios and cell growth in asparagine-deprived cells. Chemicals disrupting NAD+ regeneration in the electron transport chain further enhanced the anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic effects of asparagine depletion. We speculate that reductive stress may be a major contributor to the growth arrest observed in asparagine-starved cells.
    Keywords:  asparagine starvation; metabolomics; reductive stress; sarcoma
  8. Biochim Biophys Acta Bioenerg. 2021 Jan 26. pii: S0005-2728(21)00015-3. [Epub ahead of print] 148382
      Complex I functions as a primary redox-driven proton pump in aerobic respiratory chains, establishing proton motive force that powers ATP synthesis and active transport. Recent cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) experiments have resolved the mammalian complex I in the biomedically relevant active (A) and deactive (D) states(1-3) that could regulate enzyme turnover, but it still remains unclear how the conformational state and activity are linked. We show here how global motion along the A/D transition accumulates molecular strain at specific coupling regions important for both redox chemistry and proton pumping. Our data suggest that the A/D motion modulates force propagation pathways between the substrate-binding site and the proton pumping machinery that could alter electrostatic and conformational coupling across large distances. Our findings provide a molecular basis to understand how global protein dynamics can modulate the biological activity of large molecular complexes.
    Keywords:  NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase; active/deactive transition; bioenergetics; molecular strain; network models
  9. Antioxidants (Basel). 2021 Jan 22. pii: 163. [Epub ahead of print]10(2):
      Cancer cells produce high levels of mitochondria-associated reactive oxygen species (ROS) that can damage macromolecules, but also promote cell signaling and proliferation. Therefore, mitochondria-targeted antioxidants have been suggested to be useful in anti-cancer therapy, but no studies have convincingly addressed this question. Here, we administered the mitochondria-targeted antioxidants MitoQ and MitoTEMPO to mice with BRAF-induced malignant melanoma and KRAS-induced lung cancer, and found that these compounds had no impact on the number of primary tumors and metastases; and did not influence mitochondrial and nuclear DNA damage levels. Moreover, MitoQ and MitoTEMPO did not influence proliferation of human melanoma and lung cancer cell lines. MitoQ and its control substance dTPP, but not MitoTEMPO, increased glycolytic rates and reduced respiration in melanoma cells; whereas only dTPP produced this effect in lung cancer cells. Our results do not support the use of mitochondria-targeted antioxidants for anti-cancer monotherapy, at least not in malignant melanoma and lung cancer.
    Keywords:  lung cancer; melanoma; mitochondria-targeted antioxidants; mouse models
  10. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Jan 23. pii: 425. [Epub ahead of print]13(3):
      With most cancer-related deaths resulting from metastasis, the development of new therapeutic approaches against metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) is essential to increasing patient survival. The metabolic adaptations that support mCRC remain undefined and their elucidation is crucial to identify potential therapeutic targets. Here, we employed a strategy for the rational identification of targetable metabolic vulnerabilities. This strategy involved first a thorough metabolic characterisation of same-patient-derived cell lines from primary colon adenocarcinoma (SW480), its lymph node metastasis (SW620) and a liver metastatic derivative (SW620-LiM2), and second, using a novel multi-omics integration workflow, identification of metabolic vulnerabilities specific to the metastatic cell lines. We discovered that the metastatic cell lines are selectively vulnerable to the inhibition of cystine import and folate metabolism, two key pathways in redox homeostasis. Specifically, we identified the system xCT and MTHFD1 genes as potential therapeutic targets, both individually and combined, for combating mCRC.
    Keywords:  colorectal cancer; genome-scale metabolic models; metastasis; redox metabolism
  11. Aging Cell. 2021 Jan 26. e13299
      Age impacts alloimmunity. Effects of aging on T-cell metabolism and the potential to interfere with immunosuppressants have not been explored yet. Here, we dissected metabolic pathways of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in aging and offer novel immunosuppressive targets. Upon activation, CD4+ T cells from old mice failed to exhibit adequate metabolic reprogramming resulting into compromised metabolic pathways, including oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) and glycolysis. Comparable results were also observed in elderly human patients. Although glutaminolysis remained the dominant and age-independent source of mitochondria for activated CD4+ T cells, old but not young CD4+ T cells relied heavily on glutaminolysis. Treating young and old murine and human CD4+ T cells with 6-diazo-5-oxo-l-norleucine (DON), a glutaminolysis inhibitor resulted in significantly reduced IFN-γ production and compromised proliferative capacities specifically of old CD4+ T cells. Of translational relevance, old and young mice that had been transplanted with fully mismatched skin grafts and treated with DON demonstrated dampened Th1- and Th17-driven alloimmune responses. Moreover, DON diminished cytokine production and proliferation of old CD4+ T cells in vivo leading to a significantly prolonged allograft survival specifically in old recipients. Graft prolongation in young animals, in contrast, was only achieved when DON was applied in combination with an inhibition of glycolysis (2-deoxy-d-glucose, 2-DG) and OXPHOS (metformin), two alternative metabolic pathways. Notably, metabolic treatment had not been linked to toxicities. Remarkably, immunosuppressive capacities of DON were specific to CD4+ T cells as adoptively transferred young CD4+ T cells prevented immunosuppressive capacities of DON on allograft survival in old recipients. Depletion of CD8+ T cells did not alter transplant outcomes in either young or old recipients. Taken together, our data introduce an age-specific metabolic reprogramming of CD4+ T cells. Targeting those pathways offers novel and age-specific approaches for immunosuppression.
    Keywords:  T cell; aging; cellular immunology; cellular senescence; interleukin 2; metabolic rate; mitochondria; respiratory chains
  12. Free Radic Biol Med. 2021 Jan 21. pii: S0891-5849(21)00051-4. [Epub ahead of print]
      Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are responsible for life-long production of blood and immune cells. HSC transplantation (HSCT) is the original cell therapy which can cure hematological disorders but also has the potential to treat other diseases if technical and safety barriers are overcome. To maintain homeostatic hematopoiesis or to restore hematopoiesis during transplantation HSCs must perform both self-renewal, replication of themselves, and differentiation, generation of mature blood and immune cells. These are just two of the cell fate choices HSCs have; the transitional phases where HSCs undergo these cell fate decisions are regulated by reduction-oxidation (redox) signaling, mitochondrial activity, and cellular metabolism. Recent studies revealed that mitochondria, a key source of redox signaling components, are central to HSC cell fate decisions. Here we highlight how mitochondria serve as hubs in HSCs to manage redox signaling and metabolism and thus guide HSC fate choices. We focus on how mitochondrial activity is modulated by their clearance, biogenesis, dynamics, distribution, and quality control in HSCs. We also note how modulating mitochondria in HSCs can help overcome technical barriers limiting further use of HSCT.
    Keywords:  Aging; Hematopoietic Stem Cells (HSCs); mitochondrial quality control; rejuvenation; transplantation
  13. Trends Mol Med. 2021 Jan 21. pii: S1471-4914(20)30329-4. [Epub ahead of print]
      Genome editing holds great promise for treating a range of human genetic diseases. While emerging clustered regularly interspaced short-palindromic repeats (CRISPR) technologies allow editing of the nuclear genome, it is still not possible to precisely manipulate mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Here, we summarize past developments and recent advances in nuclear and mitochondrial genome editing.
    Keywords:  gene therapy; genome editing; mitochondria; translational medicine
  14. Cells. 2021 Jan 22. pii: 220. [Epub ahead of print]10(2):
      Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) has a long history as toxic gas and environmental hazard; inhibition of cytochrome c oxidase (mitochondrial Complex IV) is viewed as a primary mode of its cytotoxic action. However, studies conducted over the last two decades unveiled multiple biological regulatory roles of H2S as an endogenously produced mammalian gaseous transmitter. Cystathionine -lyase (CSE), cystathionine β-synthase (CBS) and 3-mercaptopyruvate sulfurtransferase (3-MST) are currently viewed as the principal mammalian H2S-generating enzymes. In contrast to its inhibitory (toxicological) mitochondrial effects, at lower (physiological) concentrations, H2S serves as a stimulator of electron transport in mammalian mitochondria, by acting as an electron donor-with sulfide:quinone oxidoreductase (SQR) being the immediate electron acceptor. The mitochondrial roles of H2S are significant in various cancer cells, many of which exhibit high expression and partial mitochondrial localization of various H2S producing enzymes. In addition to the stimulation of mitochondrial ATP production, the roles of endogenous H2S in cancer cells include the maintenance of mitochondrial organization (protection against mitochondrial fission) and the maintenance of mitochondrial DNA repair (via the stimulation of the assembly of mitochondrial DNA repair complexes). The current article overviews the state-of-the-art knowledge regarding the mitochondrial functions of endogenously produced H2S in cancer cells.
    Keywords:  ATP; DNA repair; bioenergetics; gasotransmitters
  15. PLoS One. 2021 ;16(1): e0245797
      Uptake of modified lipoproteins by macrophages turns them into foam cells, the hallmark of the atherosclerotic plaque. The initiation and progression of atherosclerosis have been associated with mitochondrial dysfunction. It is known that aggregated low-density lipoproteins (agLDL) induce massive cholesterol accumulation in macrophages in contrast with native LDL (nLDL) and oxidized LDL (oxLDL). In the present study we aimed to assess the effect of agLDL on the mitochondria and ER function in macrophage-derived foam cells, in an attempt to estimate the potential of these cells, known constituents of early fatty streaks, to generate atheroma in the absence of oxidative stress. Results show that agLDL induce excessive accumulation of free (FC) and esterified cholesterol in THP-1 macrophages and determine mitochondrial dysfunction expressed as decreased mitochondrial membrane potential and diminished intracellular ATP levels, without generating mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. AgLDL did not stimulate intracellular ROS (superoxide anion or hydrogen peroxide) production, and did not trigger endoplasmic reticulum stress (ERS) or apoptosis. In contrast to agLDL, oxLDL did not modify FC levels, but stimulated the accumulation of 7-ketocholesterol in the cells, generating oxidative stress which is associated with an increased mitochondrial dysfunction, ERS and apoptosis. Taken together, our results reveal that agLDL induce foam cells formation and mild mitochondrial dysfunction in human macrophages without triggering oxidative or ERS. These data could partially explain the early formation of fatty streaks in the intima of human arteries by interaction of monocyte-derived macrophages with non-oxidatively aggregated LDL generating foam cells, which cannot evolve into atherosclerotic plaques in the absence of the oxidative stress.
  16. Fertil Steril. 2021 Jan 21. pii: S0015-0282(20)30770-6. [Epub ahead of print]
      OBJECTIVE: To study the biological effects of resveratrol on the growth, electrophysiology, and mitochondrial function of human granulosa cells (h-GCs).DESIGN: Preclinical study.
    SETTING: Electrophysiology laboratory and in vitro fertilization unit.
    PATIENT(S): This study included h-GCs from seven infertile women undergoing assisted reproductive techniques.
    INTERVENTION(S): Human ovarian Granulosa Cell Tumor (GCT) cell line COV434 and h-GCs obtained after oocyte retrieval were cultured in the absence or presence of resveratrol.
    MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): Granulosa cells were evaluated for cell viability and mitochondrial activity. Electrophysiological recordings and evaluation of potassium current (IKur) and Ca2+ concentration were also performed.
    RESULT(S): Resveratrol induced mitochondrial activity in a bell-shaped, dose-effect-dependent manner. Specifically, resveratrol treatment (3 μM, 48 hours) increased ATP production and cell viability and promoted the induction of cellular differentiation. These biological changes were associated with mitochondrial biogenesis. Electrophysiological recordings showed that resveratrol reduced the functional expression of an ultra rapid activating, slow inactivating, delayed rectifier potassium current (IKur) that is associated with a plasma membrane depolarization and that promotes an increase in intracellular Ca2+. CONCLUSION(S): The effects of resveratrol on potassium current and mitochondrial biogenesis in h-GCs could explain the beneficial effects of this polyphenol on the physiology of the female reproductive system. These findings suggest there are therapeutic implications of resveratrol in a clinical setting.
    Keywords:  Resveratrol; granulosa cells; membrane potential; mitochondria; potassium current
  17. Antioxidants (Basel). 2021 01 20. pii: E150. [Epub ahead of print]10(2):
      A central hallmark of tumorigenesis is metabolic alterations that increase mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (mROS). In response, cancer cells upregulate their antioxidant capacity and redox-responsive signaling pathways. A promising chemotherapeutic approach is to increase ROS to levels incompatible with tumor cell survival. Mitochondrial peroxiredoxin 3 (PRX3) plays a significant role in detoxifying hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). PRX3 is a molecular target of thiostrepton (TS), a natural product and FDA-approved antibiotic. TS inactivates PRX3 by covalently adducting its two catalytic cysteine residues and crosslinking the homodimer. Using cellular models of malignant mesothelioma, we show here that PRX3 expression and mROS levels in cells correlate with sensitivity to TS and that TS reacts selectively with PRX3 relative to other PRX isoforms. Using recombinant PRXs 1-5, we demonstrate that TS preferentially reacts with a reduced thiolate in the PRX3 dimer at mitochondrial pH. We also show that partially oxidized PRX3 fully dissociates to dimers, while partially oxidized PRX1 and PRX2 remain largely decameric. The ability of TS to react with engineered dimers of PRX1 and PRX2 at mitochondrial pH, but inefficiently with wild-type decameric protein at cytoplasmic pH, supports a novel mechanism of action and explains the specificity of TS for PRX3. Thus, the unique structure and propensity of PRX3 to form dimers contribute to its increased sensitivity to TS-mediated inactivation, making PRX3 a promising target for prooxidant cancer therapy.
    Keywords:  mitochondrial reactive oxygen species; peroxiredoxin 3; pro-oxidant therapy; thiostrepton
  18. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2021 Jan 25.
      The research field of ferroptosis has seen exponential growth over the past few years, since the term was coined in 2012. This unique modality of cell death, driven by iron-dependent phospholipid peroxidation, is regulated by multiple cellular metabolic pathways, including redox homeostasis, iron handling, mitochondrial activity and metabolism of amino acids, lipids and sugars, in addition to various signalling pathways relevant to disease. Numerous organ injuries and degenerative pathologies are driven by ferroptosis. Intriguingly, therapy-resistant cancer cells, particularly those in the mesenchymal state and prone to metastasis, are exquisitely vulnerable to ferroptosis. As such, pharmacological modulation of ferroptosis, via both its induction and its inhibition, holds great potential for the treatment of drug-resistant cancers, ischaemic organ injuries and other degenerative diseases linked to extensive lipid peroxidation. In this Review, we provide a critical analysis of the current molecular mechanisms and regulatory networks of ferroptosis, the potential physiological functions of ferroptosis in tumour suppression and immune surveillance, and its pathological roles, together with a potential for therapeutic targeting. Importantly, as in all rapidly evolving research areas, challenges exist due to misconceptions and inappropriate experimental methods. This Review also aims to address these issues and to provide practical guidelines for enhancing reproducibility and reliability in studies of ferroptosis. Finally, we discuss important concepts and pressing questions that should be the focus of future ferroptosis research.
  19. J Lipid Res. 2020 Jan;pii: S0022-2275(20)30012-2. [Epub ahead of print]61(1): 10-19
      Excessive circulating FAs have been proposed to promote insulin resistance (IR) of glucose metabolism by increasing the oxidation of FAs over glucose. Therefore, inhibition of FA oxidation (FAOX) has been suggested to ameliorate IR. However, prolonged inhibition of FAOX would presumably cause lipid accumulation and thereby promote lipotoxicity. To understand the glycemic consequences of acute and prolonged FAOX inhibition, we treated mice with the carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1 (CPT-1) inhibitor, etomoxir (eto), in combination with short-term 45% high fat diet feeding to increase FA availability. Eto acutely increased glucose oxidation and peripheral glucose disposal, and lowered circulating glucose, but this was associated with increased circulating FAs and triacylglycerol accumulation in the liver and heart within hours. Several days of FAOX inhibition by daily eto administration induced hepatic steatosis and glucose intolerance, specific to CPT-1 inhibition by eto. Lower whole-body insulin sensitivity was accompanied by reduction in brown adipose tissue (BAT) uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) protein content, diminished BAT glucose clearance, and increased hepatic glucose production. Collectively, these data suggest that pharmacological inhibition of FAOX is not a viable strategy to treat IR, and that sufficient rates of FAOX are required for maintaining liver and BAT metabolic function.
    Keywords:  brown adipose tissue; carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1; hepatic glucose production; hyperglycemia; insulin resistance; lipotoxicity; liver; mitochondrial long-chain fatty acid import
  20. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jan 23. pii: 1119. [Epub ahead of print]22(3):
      Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations are highly associated with cancer progression. The poor prognosis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is largely due to high rates of tumor metastasis. This emphasizes the urgency of identifying these patients in advance and developing new therapeutic targets for successful intervention. However, the issue of whether mtDNA influences tumor metastasis in hepatoma remains unclear. In the current study, multiple mutations in mtDNA were identified by sequencing HCC samples. Among these mutations, mitochondrially encoded 12S rRNA (MT-RNR1) G709A was identified as a novel potential candidate. The MT-RNR1 G709A polymorphism was an independent risk factor for overall survival and distant metastasis-free survival. Subgroup analysis showed that in patients with cirrhosis, HBV-related HCC, α-fetoprotein ≥ 400 ng/mL, aspartate transaminase ≥ 31 IU/L, tumor number > 1, tumor size ≥ 5 cm, and histology grade 3-4, MT-RNR1 G709A was associated with both shorter overall survival and distant metastasis-free survival. Mechanistically, MT-RNR1 G709A was clearly associated with hexokinase 2 (HK2) expression and unfavorable prognosis in HCC patients. Our data collectively highlight that novel associations among MT-RNR1 G709A and HK2 are an important risk factor in HCC patients.
    Keywords:  MT-RNR1; hepatocellular carcinoma; hexokinase 2; mitochondrial DNA; prognostic predictor
  21. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2021 Jan 22. pii: S0003-9861(21)00025-4. [Epub ahead of print] 108775
      Ferroptosis is a type of iron-dependent, non-apoptotic cell death, which is typically induced by cysteine starvation or by the inhibition of glutathione peroxidase 4 (GPX4) activity with the accompanying elevation in lipid peroxidation product levels. Despite the central role of mitochondria in oxidative metabolism and hence, as main sources of superoxide, the issue of whether mitochondrial superoxide participates in the execution of ferroptosis remains unclear. To gain additional insights into this issue, we employed suppressors of the site IQ electron leak (S1QEL) and suppressors of the site IIIQo electron leak (S3QEL), small molecules that suppress mitochondrial superoxide production from complex I and III, respectively. The findings indicate that S3QEL, but not S1QEL, significantly protected mouse hepatoma Hepa 1-6 cells from lipid peroxidation and the subsequent ferroptosis induced by cysteine (Cys) starvation (cystine deprivation from culture media or xCT inhibition by erastin). The intracellular levels of Cys and GSH remained low irrespective of life or death. Moreover, S3QEL also suppressed ferroptosis in xCT-knockout mouse-derived embryonic fibroblasts, which usually die under conventional cultivating conditions due to the absence of intracellular Cys and GSH. Although it has been reported that erastin induces the hyperpolarization of the mitochondrial membrane potential, no correlation was observed between hyperpolarization and cell death in xCT-knockout cells. Collectively, these results indicate that superoxide production from complex III plays a pivotal role in the ferroptosis that is induced by Cys starvation, suggesting that protecting mitochondria is a promising therapeutic strategy for the treatment of multiple diseases featuring ferroptosis.
    Keywords:  Ferroptosis; Glutathione; Lipid peroxidation; Mitochondria; Superoxide
  22. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Feb 02. pii: e2020478118. [Epub ahead of print]118(5):
      Beclin 1, an autophagy and haploinsufficient tumor-suppressor protein, is frequently monoallelically deleted in breast and ovarian cancers. However, the precise mechanisms by which Beclin 1 inhibits tumor growth remain largely unknown. To address this question, we performed a genome-wide CRISPR/Cas9 screen in MCF7 breast cancer cells to identify genes whose loss of function reverse Beclin 1-dependent inhibition of cellular proliferation. Small guide RNAs targeting CDH1 and CTNNA1, tumor-suppressor genes that encode cadherin/catenin complex members E-cadherin and alpha-catenin, respectively, were highly enriched in the screen. CRISPR/Cas9-mediated knockout of CDH1 or CTNNA1 reversed Beclin 1-dependent suppression of breast cancer cell proliferation and anchorage-independent growth. Moreover, deletion of CDH1 or CTNNA1 inhibited the tumor-suppressor effects of Beclin 1 in breast cancer xenografts. Enforced Beclin 1 expression in MCF7 cells and tumor xenografts increased cell surface localization of E-cadherin and decreased expression of mesenchymal markers and beta-catenin/Wnt target genes. Furthermore, CRISPR/Cas9-mediated knockout of BECN1 and the autophagy class III phosphatidylinositol kinase complex 2 (PI3KC3-C2) gene, UVRAG, but not PI3KC3-C1-specific ATG14 or other autophagy genes ATG13, ATG5, or ATG7, resulted in decreased E-cadherin plasma membrane and increased cytoplasmic E-cadherin localization. Taken together, these data reveal previously unrecognized cooperation between Beclin 1 and E-cadherin-mediated tumor suppression in breast cancer cells.
    Keywords:  Beclin 1; E-cadherin; breast cancer
  23. Mol Cancer Res. 2021 Jan 29. pii: molcanres.0973.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      The ERBB2 proto-oncogene is associated with an aggressive phenotype in breast cancer. Its role in hematologic malignancies is incompletely defined, in part because ERBB2 is not readily detected on the surface of cancer cells. We demonstrate that truncated ERBB2, which lacks the extracellular domain, is overexpressed on primary CD34+ myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells compared to healthy hematopoietic cells. This overexpression of ERBB2 is associated with aberrant, oncogenic signaling with autophosphorylation of multiple tyrosine sites. Like in breast cancers, ERBB2 can exist as truncated isoforms p95ERBB2 and p110ERBB2 in MDS and AML. Neutralization of ERBB2 signaling with ERBB2 tyrosine kinase inhibitors (i.e., lapatinib, afatinib, and neratinib) increases apoptotic cell death and reduces human engraftment of MDS cells in mice at 21 weeks post-transplantation. Inhibition of ERBB2 modulates the expression of multiple pro- and anti-apoptotic mitochondrial proteins, including B-cell lymphoma 2 (BCL2). Dual blockade with ERBB2 and BCL2 inhibitors triggers additional reductions of BCL2 phosphorylation and myeloid cell leukemia protein 1 (MCL1) expression compared to single drug treatment. Dual therapy was synergistic at all tested doses, with a dose reduction index of up to 29 for lapatinib + venetoclax compared to venetoclax alone. Notably, these agents operated together and shifted cancer cells to a pro-apoptotic phenotype, resulting in increased mitochondrial cytochrome c release and activated caspase-3-mediated cell death. Implications: These findings warrant study of ERBB2 and BCL2 combination therapy in patients with MDS and AML.
  24. Mol Cell Biochem. 2021 Jan 30.
      Mitoapocynin is a triphenylphosphonium conjugated derivative of apocynin that specifically locates to the mitochondria. It has been developed as a mitochondrially targeted therapeutic antioxidant. We attempted to attenuate the mitochondrial ROS induced in H9c2 cardiac myoblast cells treated with norepinephrine. Mitoapocynin was a poor quencher of total ROS as detected by the fluoroprobe DCFH-DA. Using mitochondrial superoxide specific probe MitoSoxRed, we found that 5-10 µM mitoapocynin itself induces superoxide over and above that is generated by the norepinephrine treatment. A supposedly control molecule to mitoapocynin, the synthetic compound PhC11TPP, having the triphenylphosphonium group and a benzene moiety with C11 aliphatic chain spacer was also found to be a robust inducer of mitochondrial ROS. Subsequent assays with several cell lines viz., NIH3T3, HEK293, Neuro2A, MCF-7 and H9c2, showed that prolonged exposure to mitoapocynin induces cell death by apoptosis that can be partially prevented by the general antioxidant N-acetyl cysteine. Analyses of mitochondrial electron transport complexes by Blue Native Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis showed that both mitoapocynin and PhC11TPP disrupt the mitochondrial Complex I and V, and in addition, PhC11TPP also damages the Complex IV. Our data thus highlights the limitations of the therapeutic use of mitoapocynin as an antioxidant.
    Keywords:  Mitoapocynin; Mitochondria; NOX; Oxidative stress
  25. STAR Protoc. 2021 Mar 19. 2(1): 100275
      Targeted regulation of mitochondrial gene expression is challenging due to the lack of a mitochondria-specific delivery system. We have previously developed various stimuli-responsive nanoparticle (NP)-based delivery systems to transport nucleic acids for regulation of target gene expression. This protocol describes the design and preparation of an NP platform for mitochondria-specific gene delivery (mito-NP). We use mito-NP in primary liver fibroblasts that are transplanted into mice. Mito-NP can be used to deliver various nucleic acid therapeutics and to treat mitochondria-regulated diseases. For complete details on the use and execution of this protocol, please refer to Zhao et al. (2020).
    Keywords:  Gene Expression; Genetics; Molecular Biology
  26. Transl Oncol. 2021 Jan 21. pii: S1936-5233(21)00015-2. [Epub ahead of print]14(4): 101023
      BACKGROUND: Carnitine palmitoyltransferase 2 (CPT2) is a rate-limiting enzyme involved in fatty acid β-oxidation (FAO) regulation. Recently, it has been increasingly recognized that lipid metabolism dysregulation is closely implicated in tumorigenesis. However, the involvement of CPT2 in the progression of cancer is still largely unclear, especially in ovarian cancer (OC).METHODS: In the present study, CPT2 expression and its clinical significance were determined in OC tissues and cells. The biological functions and molecular mechanisms of CPT2 in OC growth and metastasis were determined by in vitro and in vivo assays.
    FINDINGS: We found that CPT2 was frequently down-regulated in primary ovarian serous carcinomas, which is significantly correlated with poor survival of ovarian cancer patients. Functional experiments revealed that CPT2 inhibited OC cell growth and metastasis via suppression of G1/S cell cycle transition and epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT), as well as induction of cell apoptosis. Mechanistically, suppression of ROS/NFκB signaling pathway by increasing fatty acid oxidation-derived NADPH production was involved in the anti-tumorigenic functions of CPT2 in OC cells.
    INTERPRETATION: Altogether, our findings demonstrate that CPT2 functions as a potential tumor suppressor in OC progression. CPT2 may serve as a novel prognostic marker and therapeutic target in OC.
    Keywords:  Carnitine palmitoyltransferase 2; Glycolysis; Growth; Metastasis; Ovarian cancer
  27. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Jan 27. pii: 483. [Epub ahead of print]13(3):
      Transcription factor EB (TFEB) is a master regulator of lysosomal function and autophagy. In addition, TFEB has various physiological roles such as nutrient sensing, cellular stress responses, and immune responses. However, the precise roles of TFEB in pancreatic cancer growth remain unclear. Here, we show that pancreatic cancer cells exhibit a significantly elevated TFEB expression compared with normal tissue samples and that the genetic inhibition of TFEB results in a significant inhibition in both glutamine and mitochondrial metabolism, which in turn suppresses the PDAC growth both in vitro and in vivo. High basal levels of autophagy are critical for pancreatic cancer growth. The TFEB knockdown had no significant effect on the autophagic flux under normal conditions but interestingly caused a profound reduction in glutaminase (GLS) transcription, leading to an inhibition of glutamine metabolism. We observed that the direct binding of TFEB to the GLS and TFEB gene promotors regulates the transcription of GLS. We also found that the glutamate supplementation leads to a significant recovery of the PDAC growth that had been reduced by a TFEB knockdown. Taken together, our current data demonstrate that TFEB supports the PDAC cell growth by regulating glutaminase-mediated glutamine metabolism.
    Keywords:  GLS; PDAC; TFEB; glutamine
  28. Cancer Metab. 2021 Jan 29. 9(1): 9
      BACKGROUND: Prostate cancer tissues are inherently heterogeneous, which presents a challenge for metabolic profiling using traditional bulk analysis methods that produce an averaged profile. The aim of this study was therefore to spatially detect metabolites and lipids on prostate tissue sections by using mass spectrometry imaging (MSI), a method that facilitates molecular imaging of heterogeneous tissue sections, which can subsequently be related to the histology of the same section.METHODS: Here, we simultaneously obtained metabolic and lipidomic profiles in different prostate tissue types using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) MSI. Both positive and negative ion mode were applied to analyze consecutive sections from 45 fresh-frozen human prostate tissue samples (N = 15 patients). Mass identification was performed with tandem MS.
    RESULTS: Pairwise comparisons of cancer, non-cancer epithelium, and stroma revealed several metabolic differences between the tissue types. We detected increased levels of metabolites crucial for lipid metabolism in cancer, including metabolites involved in the carnitine shuttle, which facilitates fatty acid oxidation, and building blocks needed for lipid synthesis. Metabolites associated with healthy prostate functions, including citrate, aspartate, zinc, and spermine had lower levels in cancer compared to non-cancer epithelium. Profiling of stroma revealed higher levels of important energy metabolites, such as ADP, ATP, and glucose, and higher levels of the antioxidant taurine compared to cancer and non-cancer epithelium.
    CONCLUSIONS: This study shows that specific tissue compartments within prostate cancer samples have distinct metabolic profiles and pinpoint the advantage of methodology providing spatial information compared to bulk analysis. We identified several differential metabolites and lipids that have potential to be developed further as diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers for prostate cancer. Spatial and rapid detection of cancer-related analytes showcases MALDI-TOF MSI as a promising and innovative diagnostic tool for the clinic.
    Keywords:  Mass spectrometry imaging; Metabolism; Prostate cancer; Tumor heterogeneity
  29. Biomedicines. 2021 Jan 21. pii: 103. [Epub ahead of print]9(2):
      Sideroflexins (SLC56 family) are highly conserved multi-spanning transmembrane proteins inserted in the inner mitochondrial membrane in eukaryotes. Few data are available on their molecular function, but since their first description, they were thought to be metabolite transporters probably required for iron utilization inside the mitochondrion. Such as numerous mitochondrial transporters, sideroflexins remain poorly characterized. The prototypic member SFXN1 has been recently identified as the previously unknown mitochondrial transporter of serine. Nevertheless, pending questions on the molecular function of sideroflexins remain unsolved, especially their link with iron metabolism. Here, we review the current knowledge on sideroflexins, their presumed mitochondrial functions and the sparse-but growing-evidence linking sideroflexins to iron homeostasis and iron-sulfur cluster biogenesis. Since an imbalance in iron homeostasis can be detrimental at the cellular and organismal levels, we also investigate the relationship between sideroflexins, iron and physiological disorders. Investigating Sideroflexins' functions constitutes an emerging research field of great interest and will certainly lead to the main discoveries of mitochondrial physio-pathology.
    Keywords:  ferritinophagy; ferroptosis; heme biosynthesis; iron homeostasis; iron-sulfur cluster; mitochondria; mitochondrial transporters; one-carbon metabolism; sideroflexin
  30. Nat Chem Biol. 2021 Jan 25.
      The adenosine monophosphate (AMP)-activated protein kinase (Ampk) is a central regulator of metabolic pathways, and increasing Ampk activity has been considered to be an attractive therapeutic target. Here, we have identified an orphan ubiquitin E3 ligase subunit protein, Fbxo48, that targets the active, phosphorylated Ampkα (pAmpkα) for polyubiquitylation and proteasomal degradation. We have generated a novel Fbxo48 inhibitory compound, BC1618, whose potency in stimulating Ampk-dependent signaling greatly exceeds 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide-1-β-ribofuranoside (AICAR) or metformin. This compound increases the biological activity of Ampk not by stimulating the activation of Ampk, but rather by preventing activated pAmpkα from Fbxo48-mediated degradation. We demonstrate that, consistent with augmenting Ampk activity, BC1618 promotes mitochondrial fission, facilitates autophagy and improves hepatic insulin sensitivity in high-fat-diet-induced obese mice. Hence, we provide a unique bioactive compound that inhibits pAmpkα disposal. Together, these results define a new pathway regulating Ampk biological activity and demonstrate the potential utility of modulating this pathway for therapeutic benefit.
  31. Clin Cancer Res. 2021 Jan 25. pii: clincanres.3715.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      PURPOSE: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a deadly disease characterized by an extensive fibroinflammatory stroma, which includes abundant cancer-associated fibroblast (CAF) populations. PDAC CAFs are heterogeneous, but the nature of this heterogeneity is incompletely understood. The Hedgehog (HH) pathway functions in PDAC in a paracrine manner, with ligands secreted by cancer cells signaling to stromal cells in the microenvironment. Previous reports investigating the role of HH signaling in PDAC have been contradictory, with HH signaling alternately proposed to promote or restrict tumor growth. In light of the newly discovered CAF heterogeneity, we investigated how HH pathway inhibition reprograms the PDAC microenvironment.EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: We used a combination of pharmacologic inhibition, gain- and loss- of-function genetic experiments, CyTOF, and single cell RNA-sequencing to study the roles of HH signaling in PDAC.
    RESULTS: We find that HH signaling is uniquely activated in fibroblasts and differentially elevated in myofibroblastic CAFs (myCAFs) compared to inflammatory CAFs (iCAFs). SHH overexpression promotes tumor growth, while HH pathway inhibition with the Smoothened antagonist LDE225 impairs tumor growth. Further, HH pathway inhibition reduces myCAF numbers and increases iCAF numbers, which correlates with a decrease in cytotoxic T cells and an expansion in regulatory T cells, consistent with increased immune suppression.
    CONCLUSIONS: HH pathway inhibition alters fibroblast composition and immune infiltration in the pancreatic cancer microenvironment.
  32. Mol Med. 2021 Jan 28. 27(1): 7
      BACKGROUND: Malignant glioma exerts a metabolic shift from oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOs) to aerobic glycolysis, with suppressed mitochondrial functions. This phenomenon offers a proliferation advantage to tumor cells and decrease mitochondria-dependent cell death. However, the underlying mechanism for mitochondrial dysfunction in glioma is not well elucidated. MTCH2 is a mitochondrial outer membrane protein that regulates mitochondrial metabolism and related cell death. This study aims to clarify the role of MTCH2 in glioma.METHODS: Bioinformatic analysis from TCGA and CGGA databases were used to investigate the association of MTCH2 with glioma malignancy and clinical significance. The expression of MTCH2 was verified from clinical specimens using real-time PCR and western blots in our cohorts. siRNA-mediated MTCH2 knockdown were used to assess the biological functions of MTCH2 in glioma progression, including cell invasion and temozolomide-induced cell death. Biochemical investigations of mitochondrial and cellular signaling alternations were performed to detect the mechanism by which MTCH2 regulates glioma malignancy.
    RESULTS: Bioinformatic data from public database and our cohort showed that MTCH2 expression was closely associated with glioma malignancy and poor patient survival. Silencing of MTCH2 expression impaired cell migration/invasion and enhanced temozolomide sensitivity of human glioma cells. Mechanistically, MTCH2 knockdown may increase mitochondrial OXPHOs and thus oxidative damage, decreased migration/invasion pathways, and repressed pro-survival AKT signaling.
    CONCLUSION: Our work establishes the relationship between MTCH2 expression and glioma malignancy, and provides a potential target for future interventions.
    Keywords:  Cell death; Cell migration/invasion; Glioma; MTCH2; Mitochondria; Temozolomide
  33. Aging (Albany NY). 2021 Jan 20. 12
      The inflammatory microenvironment plays an important role in the onset and progression of lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD), and the liver is a suitable site of metastasis for LUAD cells. However, whether the inflammatory microenvironment of the liver is conducive to the proliferation, invasion, and metastasis of LUAD cells remains unclear. In this study, we confirmed that the hepatic inflammatory microenvironment stimulated by IL-6 promoted the proliferation, migration, invasion, and epithelial-mesenchymal transition of LUAD cells, increased the m6A methylation of total RNA, and transcriptionally activated METTL3 expression. Additionally, METTL3 activated the YAP1/TEAD signaling pathway by increasing the m6A modification and expression of YAP1 mRNA. These results indicate that the hepatic inflammatory microenvironment plays a role in regulating the biological functions of LUAD cells. Further, our study identifies a molecular mechanism that may provide a new strategy for the early diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of liver metastasis in LUAD patients.
    Keywords:  METTL3; YAP1; adenocarcinoma; liver inflammatory microenvironment; m6A
  34. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jan 24. pii: 1140. [Epub ahead of print]22(3):
      Tissue nonspecific alkaline phosphatase (TNAP/Alpl) is associated with cell stemness; however, the function of TNAP in mesenchymal progenitor cells remains largely unknown. In this study, we aimed to establish an essential role for TNAP in bone and muscle progenitor cells. We investigated the impact of TNAP deficiency on bone formation, mineralization, and differentiation of bone marrow stromal cells. We also pursued studies of proliferation, mitochondrial function and ATP levels in TNAP deficient bone and muscle progenitor cells. We find that TNAP deficiency decreases trabecular bone volume fraction and trabeculation in addition to decreased mineralization. We also find that Alpl-/- mice (global TNAP knockout mice) exhibit muscle and motor coordination deficiencies similar to those found in individuals with hypophosphatasia (TNAP deficiency). Subsequent studies demonstrate diminished proliferation, with mitochondrial hyperfunction and increased ATP levels in TNAP deficient bone and muscle progenitor cells, plus intracellular expression of TNAP in TNAP+ cranial osteoprogenitors, bone marrow stromal cells, and skeletal muscle progenitor cells. Together, our results indicate that TNAP functions inside bone and muscle progenitor cells to influence mitochondrial respiration and ATP production. Future studies are required to establish mechanisms by which TNAP influences mitochondrial function and determine if modulation of TNAP can alter mitochondrial respiration in vivo.
    Keywords:  bone; bone marrow stromal cell; mitochondria; muscle; nucleotide adenosine triphosphate; tissue nonspecific alkaline phosphatase
  35. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2021 ;2021 7689045
      Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a leading cause of death, resulting in over 700 thousand deaths annually worldwide. Chemotherapy is the primary therapeutic strategy for patients with late-stage HCC. Heteronemin is a marine natural product isolated from Hippospongia sp. that has been found to protect against carcinogenesis in cholangiocarcinoma, prostate cancer, and acute myeloid leukemia. In this study, heteronemin was found to inhibit the proliferation of the HCC cell lines HA22T and HA59T and induce apoptosis via the caspase pathway. Heteronemin treatment also induced the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are associated with heteronemin-induced cell death, and to trigger ROS removal by mitochondrial SOD2 rather than cytosolic SOD1. The mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway was associated with ROS-induced cell death, and heteronemin downregulated the expression of ERK, a MAPK that is associated with cell proliferation. Inhibitors of JNK and p38, which are MAPKs associated with apoptosis, restored heteronemin-induced cell death. In addition, heteronemin treatment reduced the expression of GPX4, a protein that inhibits ferroptosis, which is a novel form of nonapoptotic programmed cell death. Ferroptosis inhibitor treatment also restored heteronemin-induced cell death. Thus, with appropriate structural modification, heteronemin can act as a potent therapeutic against HCC.
  36. Sci Rep. 2021 Jan 26. 11(1): 2167
      Statins lower the risk of cardiovascular events but have been associated with mitochondrial functional changes in a tissue-dependent manner. We investigated tissue-specific modifications of mitochondrial function in liver, heart and skeletal muscle mediated by chronic statin therapy in a Göttingen Minipig model. We hypothesized that statins enhance the mitochondrial function in heart but impair skeletal muscle and liver mitochondria. Mitochondrial respiratory capacities, citrate synthase activity, coenzyme Q10 concentrations and protein carbonyl content (PCC) were analyzed in samples of liver, heart and skeletal muscle from three groups of Göttingen Minipigs: a lean control group (CON, n = 6), an obese group (HFD, n = 7) and an obese group treated with atorvastatin for 28 weeks (HFD + ATO, n = 7). Atorvastatin concentrations were analyzed in each of the three tissues and in plasma from the Göttingen Minipigs. In treated minipigs, atorvastatin was detected in the liver and in plasma. A significant reduction in complex I + II-supported mitochondrial respiratory capacity was seen in liver of HFD + ATO compared to HFD (P = 0.022). Opposite directed but insignificant modifications of mitochondrial respiratory capacity were seen in heart versus skeletal muscle in HFD + ATO compared to the HFD group. In heart muscle, the HFD + ATO had significantly higher PCC compared to the HFD group (P = 0.0323). In the HFD group relative to CON, liver mitochondrial respiration decreased whereas in skeletal muscle, respiration increased but these changes were insignificant when normalizing for mitochondrial content. Oral atorvastatin treatment in Göttingen Minipigs is associated with a reduced mitochondrial respiratory capacity in the liver that may be linked to increased content of atorvastatin in this organ.
  37. J Mater Chem B. 2021 Jan 29.
      Chemo/chemodynamic synergistic therapy is a promising strategy to improve the antitumor effect. However, hypoxia and a limited amount of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) in the tumor microenvironment (TME) severely restrict the therapeutic efficacy of this combined treatment. Herein, we report biodegradable doxorubicin (Dox)-loaded copper-metformin (Met) nanoscale coordination polymers (Dox@Cu-Met NPs), which exert a chemo/chemodynamic synergistic therapeutic effect by reducing oxygen (O2) consumption to promote H2O2 accumulation in the tumor. Inside tumor cells, Met can inhibit the consumption of O2 to relieve tumor hypoxia by suppressing mitochondrial respiration. The alleviated-tumor hypoxia can not only elevate H2O2 content via the Dox-activated cascade reaction of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidases (NOXs) and superoxide dismutase (SOD), but also improve the efficacy of Dox. More importantly, the depletion of glutathione (GSH) accompanies the whole treatment process, which can realize the conversion of Cu2+ to Cu+ and boost reactive oxygen species (ROS) accumulation to improve chemodynamic therapy (CDT) efficacy. Meanwhile, Met is expected to cut off the energy supply by inhibiting respiration, leading to starvation therapy. In vivo investigations demonstrate that tumor growth is significantly inhibited through the enhanced chemo/chemodynamic synergistic treatment. This work provides a new paradigm for cancer therapy using an economical and straightforward method to construct a synergistic nanomedicine platform.
  38. FEBS Lett. 2021 Jan 29.
      Mitochondrial diseases are clinically and genetically heterogeneous disorders, caused by pathogenic variants in either the nuclear or mitochondrial genome. This heterogeneity is particularly striking for disease caused by variants in mitochondrial DNA-encoded tRNA (mt-tRNA) genes, posing challenges for both the treatment of patients and for understanding the molecular pathology. In this review, we consider disease caused by the two most common pathogenic mt-tRNA variants: m.3243A>G (within MT-TL1, encoding mt-tRNALeu(UUR) ) and m.8344A>G (within MT-TK, encoding mt-tRNALys ), which together account for the vast majority of all mt-tRNA-related disease. We compare and contrast the clinical disease they are associated with, as well as their molecular pathologies and consider what is known about the likely molecular mechanisms of disease. Finally, we discuss the role of mitochondrial-nuclear cross-talk in the manifestation of mt-tRNA-associated disease and how research in this area has not only the potential to uncover molecular mechanisms responsible for the vast clinical heterogeneity associated with these variants but also pave the way to develop treatment options for these devastating diseases.
    Keywords:  MELAS; MERRF; Mitochondrial disease; heteroplasmy; m.3243A>G; m.8344A>G; mitochondrial DNA; mitochondrial tRNA
  39. Stem Cell Rev Rep. 2021 Jan 28.
      We present here the data showing, in standard cultures exposed to atmospheric O2 concentration, that alpha-tocopherol acetate (α-TOA) has a positive impact on primitive cells inside mesenchymal stromal cell (MstroC) population, by maintaining their proliferative capacity. α-TOA decreases the O2 consumption rate of MStroC probably by impacting respiratory chain complex II activity. This action, however, is not associated with a compensatory increase in glycolysis activity, in spite of the fact that the degradation of HIF-1α was decreased in presence of α-TOA. This is in line with a moderate enhancement of mtROS upon α-TOA treatment. However, the absence of glycolysis stimulation implies the inactivity of HIF-1α which might - if it were active - be related to the maintenance of stemness. It should be stressed that α-TOA might act directly on the gene expression as well as the mtROS themselves, which remains to be elucidated. Alpha-tocopherol acetate (α-TOA), a synthetic vitamin E ester, attenuates electron flow through electron transport chain (ETC) which is probably associated with a moderate increase in mtROS in Mesenchymal Stromal Cells. α-TOA action results in enhancement of the proliferative capacity and maintenance of the differentiation potential of the mesenchymal stem and progenitor cells.
    Keywords:  Alpha-tocopherol acetate; Electron transport chain; HIF-1α; MPC; MSC; MStroC; mtROS
  40. Life (Basel). 2021 Jan 20. pii: E76. [Epub ahead of print]11(2):
      The generally accepted theory of the genetic drift of mitochondrial alleles during mammalian ontogenesis is based on the presence of a selective bottleneck in the female germline. However, there is a variety of different theories on the pathways of genetic regulation of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) dynamics in oogenesis and adult somatic cells. The current review summarizes present knowledge on the natural mechanisms of mitochondrial genome elimination during mammalian development. We also discuss the variety of existing and developing methodologies for artificial manipulation of the mtDNA heteroplasmy level. Understanding of the basics of mtDNA dynamics will shed the light on the pathogenesis and potential therapies of human diseases associated with mitochondrial dysfunction.
    Keywords:  heteroplasmy; mitochondrial DNA segregation; mitochondrial engineered nucleases; mitophagy; selective elimination
  41. Immunity. 2021 Jan 20. pii: S1074-7613(21)00001-7. [Epub ahead of print]
      CRISPR-Cas9 genome engineering has increased the pace of discovery for immunology and cancer biology, revealing potential therapeutic targets and providing insight into mechanisms underlying resistance to immunotherapy. However, endogenous immune recognition of Cas9 has limited the applicability of CRISPR technologies in vivo. Here, we characterized immune responses against Cas9 and other expressed CRISPR vector components that cause antigen-specific tumor rejection in several mouse cancer models. To avoid unwanted immune recognition, we designed a lentiviral vector system that allowed selective CRISPR antigen removal (SCAR) from tumor cells. The SCAR system reversed immune-mediated rejection of CRISPR-modified tumor cells in vivo and enabled high-throughput genetic screens in previously intractable models. A pooled in vivo screen using SCAR in a CRISPR-antigen-sensitive renal cell carcinoma revealed resistance pathways associated with autophagy and major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC class I) expression. Thus, SCAR presents a resource that enables CRISPR-based studies of tumor-immune interactions and prevents unwanted immune recognition of genetically engineered cells, with implications for clinical applications.
    Keywords:  CRISPR; Natural Killer cells; antigen presentation; checkpoint blockade; immuno-oncology; immunotherapy; in vivo screen; lentiviral vectors; pooled screen; target discovery
  42. Biology (Basel). 2021 Jan 23. pii: 85. [Epub ahead of print]10(2):
      The pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) plays an essential role in the metabolism of breast cancer cells for the management of oxidative stress and the synthesis of nucleotides. 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase (6PGD) is one of the key enzymes of the oxidative branch of PPP and is involved in nucleotide biosynthesis and redox maintenance status. Here, we aimed to analyze the functional importance of 6PGD in a breast cancer cell model. Inhibition of 6PGD in MCF7 reduced cell proliferation and showed a significant decrease in glucose consumption and an increase in glutamine consumption, resulting in an important alteration in the metabolism of these cells. No difference in reactive oxygen species (ROS) production levels was observed after 6PGD inhibition, indicating that 6PGD, in contrast to glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase, is not involved in redox balance. We found that 6PGD inhibition also altered the stem cell characteristics and mammosphere formation capabilities of MCF7 cells, opening new avenues to prevent cancer recurrance after surgery or chemotherapy. Moreover, inhibition of 6PGD via chemical inhibitor S3 resulted in an induction of senescence, which, together with the cell cycle arrest and apoptosis induction, might be orchestrated by p53 activation. Therefore, we postulate 6PGD as a novel therapeutic target to treat breast cancer.
    Keywords:  6PGD; breast cancer; cancer metabolism; pentose phosphate pathway
  43. J Mol Neurosci. 2021 Jan 30.
      Mitochondria harbor small circular genomes (mtDNA) that encode 13 oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) proteins, and types of damage to mtDNA may contribute to neuronal damage. Recent studies suggested that regulation of mtDNA repair proteins may be a potential strategy for treating neuronal damage. The mtDNA repair system contains its own repair enzymes and is independent from the nuclear DNA repair system. Endo/exonuclease G-like(EXOG) is a mitochondria-specific 5-exo/endonuclease required for repairing endogenous single-strand breaks (SSBs) in mtDNA. However, whether EXOG plays a key role in neuronal damage induced by rotenone remains unknown. Thus, in this study, we aimed to investigate the effect of EXOG on mtDNA repair and mitochondrial functional maintenance in rotenone-induced neurotoxicity. Our results indicated that rotenone influenced the expression and location of EXOG in PC12 cells. Meanwhile, after rotenone exposure, the expression was reduced for proteins responsible for mtDNA repair, including DNA polymerase γ (POLG), high-temperature requirement protease A2 (HtrA2), and the heat-shock factor 1-single-stranded DNA-binding protein 1 (HSF1-SSBP1) complex. Further analysis demonstrated that EXOG knockdown led to reduced mtDNA copy number and mtDNA transcript level and increased mtDNA deletion, which further aggravated the mtDNA damage and mitochondrial dysfunction under rotenone stress. In turn, EXOG overexpression protected PC12 cells from mtDNA damage and mitochondrial dysfunction induced by rotenone. As a result, EXOG knockdown reduced cell viability and tyrosine hydroxylase expression, while EXOG overexpression alleviated rotenone's effect on cell viability and tyrosine hydroxylase expression in PC12 cells. Further, we observed that EXOG influenced mtDNA repair by regulating protein expression of the HSF1-SSBP1 complex and POLG. Furthermore, our study showed that PGC-1α upregulation with ZLN005 led to increased protein levels of EXOG, POLG, HSF1, and SSBP1, all of which contribute to mtDNA homeostasis. Therefore, PGC-1α may be involved in mtDNA repair through interacting with multiple mtDNA repair proteins, especially with the help of EXOG. In summary, EXOG regulation by PGC-1α plays an essential role in rotenone-induced neurotoxicity in PC12 cells. EXOG represents a protective effect strategy in PC12 cells exposed to rotenone.
    Keywords:  EXOG; Mitochondrial DNA; Mitochondrial homeostasis; PGC-1α; Rotenone
  44. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Jan 23. pii: 432. [Epub ahead of print]13(3):
      The Warburg effect has immensely succored the study of cancer biology, especially in highlighting the role of mitochondria in cancer stemness and their benefaction to the malignancy of oxidative and glycolytic cancer cells. Mitochondrial genetics have represented a focal point in cancer therapeutics due to the involvement of mitochondria in programmed cell death. The mitochondrion has been well established as a switch in cell death decisions. The mitochondrion's instrumental role in central bioenergetics, calcium homeostasis, and translational regulation has earned it its fame in metastatic dissemination in cancer cells. Here, we revisit and review mechanisms through which mitochondria influence oncogenesis and metastasis by underscoring the oncogenic mitochondrion that is capable of transferring malignant capacities to recipient cells.
    Keywords:  OXPHOS; Warburg effect; cancer; cancer therapeutics; metastasis; mitochondria
  45. Commun Biol. 2021 Jan 29. 4(1): 142
      The genetic and metabolic heterogeneity of RAS-driven cancers has confounded therapeutic strategies in the clinic. To address this, rapid and genetically tractable animal models are needed that recapitulate the heterogeneity of RAS-driven cancers in vivo. Here, we generate a Drosophila melanogaster model of Ras/Lkb1 mutant carcinoma. We show that low-level expression of oncogenic Ras (RasLow) promotes the survival of Lkb1 mutant tissue, but results in autonomous cell cycle arrest and non-autonomous overgrowth of wild-type tissue. In contrast, high-level expression of oncogenic Ras (RasHigh) transforms Lkb1 mutant tissue resulting in lethal malignant tumors. Using simultaneous multiview light-sheet microcopy, we have characterized invasion phenotypes of Ras/Lkb1 tumors in living larvae. Our molecular analysis reveals sustained activation of the AMPK pathway in malignant Ras/Lkb1 tumors, and demonstrate the genetic and pharmacologic dependence of these tumors on CaMK-activated Ampk. We further show that LKB1 mutant human lung adenocarcinoma patients with high levels of oncogenic KRAS exhibit worse overall survival and increased AMPK activation. Our results suggest that high levels of oncogenic KRAS is a driving event in the malignant transformation of LKB1 mutant tissue, and uncovers a vulnerability that may be used to target this aggressive genetic subset of RAS-driven tumors.
  46. Cancer Discov. 2021 Jan 26. pii: candisc.1375.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients frequently relapse after chemotherapy, yet the mechanism by which AML reemerges is not fully understood. Herein, we show that primary AML cells enter a senescence-like phenotype following chemotherapy in vitro and in vivo. This is accompanied by induction of senescence/inflammatory and embryonic diapause transcriptional programs, with downregulation of MYC and leukemia stem cell genes. Single-cell RNA-seq suggested depletion of leukemia stem cells in vitro and in vivo, and enrichment for subpopulations with distinct senescence-like cells. This senescence effect was transient and conferred superior colony forming and engraftment potential. Entry into this senescence-like phenotype was dependent on ATR, and persistence of AML cells was severely impaired by ATR inhibitors. Altogether, we propose that AML relapse is facilitated by a senescence-like resilience phenotype that occurs regardless of their stem cell status. Upon recovery, these post-senescence AML cells give rise to relapsed AMLs with increased stem cell potential.
  47. J Biol Chem. 2021 Jan 23. pii: S0021-9258(21)00106-X. [Epub ahead of print] 100335
      Lipid transfer proteins of the Ups1/PRELID1 family facilitate the transport of phospholipids across the intermembrane space of mitochondria in a lipid-specific manner. Heterodimeric complexes of yeast Ups1/Mdm35 or human PRELID1/TRIAP1 shuttle phosphatidic acid (PA) mainly synthesized in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to the inner membrane, where it is converted to cardiolipin (CL), the signature phospholipid of mitochondria. Loss of Ups1/PRELID1 proteins impairs the accumulation of CL and broadly affects mitochondrial structure and function. Unexpectedly and unlike yeast cells lacking the cardiolipin synthase Crd1, Ups1 deficient yeast cells exhibit glycolytic growth defects, pointing to functions of Ups1-mediated PA transfer beyond CL synthesis. Here, we show that the disturbed intramitochondrial transport of PA in ups1Δ cells leads to altered unfolded protein response (UPR) and mTORC1 signaling, independent of disturbances in CL synthesis. The impaired flux of PA into mitochondria is associated with the increased synthesis of phosphatidylcholine (PC) and a reduced phosphatidylethanolamine (PE)/PC ratio in the ER of ups1Δ cells which suppresses the UPR. Moreover, we observed inhibition of TORC1 signaling in these cells. Activation of either UPR by ER protein stress or of TORC1 signaling by disruption of its negative regulator, the SEACIT complex, increased cytosolic protein synthesis and restored glycolytic growth of ups1Δ cells. These results demonstrate that PA influx into mitochondria is required to preserve ER membrane homeostasis and that its disturbance is associated with impaired glycolytic growth and cellular stress signaling.
    Keywords:  Mitochondria; PRELID1; TORC1; Ups1; endoplasmic reticulum (ER); lipid transfer; phospholipid; unfolded protein response (UPR); yeast
  48. Nat Commun. 2021 01 25. 12(1): 565
      Accumulating evidence indicates that obesity with its associated metabolic dysregulation, including hyperinsulinemia and aberrant circadian rhythms, increases the risk for a variety of cancers including postmenopausal breast cancer. Caloric restriction can ameliorate the harmful metabolic effects of obesity and inhibit cancer progression but is difficult to implement and maintain outside of the clinic. In this study, we aim to test a time-restricted feeding (TRF) approach on mouse models of obesity-driven postmenopausal breast cancer. We show that TRF abrogates the obesity-enhanced mammary tumor growth in two orthotopic models in the absence of calorie restriction or weight loss. TRF also reduces breast cancer metastasis to the lung. Furthermore, TRF delays tumor initiation in a transgenic model of mammary tumorigenesis prior to the onset of obesity. Notably, TRF increases whole-body insulin sensitivity, reduces hyperinsulinemia, restores diurnal gene expression rhythms in the tumor, and attenuates tumor growth and insulin signaling. Importantly, inhibition of insulin secretion with diazoxide mimics TRF whereas artificial elevation of insulin through insulin pumps implantation reverses the effect of TRF, suggesting that TRF acts through modulating hyperinsulinemia. Our data suggest that TRF is likely to be effective in breast cancer prevention and therapy.
  49. Int J Oral Sci. 2021 Jan 29. 13(1): 3
      Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) become a heavy burden of public health, with approximately 300 000 newly diagnosed cases and 145 000 deaths worldwide per year. Nucleotide metabolism fuel DNA replication and RNA synthesis, which is indispensable for cell proliferation. But how tumor cells orchestrate nucleotide metabolic enzymes to support their rapid growth is largely unknown. Here we show that expression of pyrimidine metabolic enzyme dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH) is upregulated in OSCC tissues, compared to non-cancerous adjacent tissues. Enhanced expression of DHODH is correlated with a shortened patient survival time. Inhibition of DHODH by either shRNA or selective inhibitors impairs proliferation of OSCC cells and growth of tumor xenograft. Further, loss of functional DHODH imped de novo pyrimidine synthesis, and disrupt mitochondrial respiration probably through destabilizing the MICOS complex. Mechanistic study shows that transcriptional factor SOX2 plays an important role in the upregulation of DHODH in OSCC. Our findings add to the knowledge of how cancer cells co-opt nucleotide metabolism to support their rapid growth, and thereby highlight DHODH as a potential prognostic and therapeutic target for OSCC treatment.
  50. Trends Cancer. 2021 Jan 23. pii: S2405-8033(21)00016-9. [Epub ahead of print]
      The molecular elements that govern cellular transformation and tumorigenic competence remain poorly understood. Metabolic reprogramming has emerged as a hallmark of malignant transformation. Recently in Cell Metabolism, Zhang et al. showed that an increase of cellular antioxidant capacity and nucleotide availability is sufficient to induce oncogenic transformation and tumorigenesis.
  51. Clin Transl Oncol. 2021 Jan 27.
      PURPOSE: The activation of stimulator of interferon genes (STING) pathway triggers the antitumor immunity by CD8 + T cells. However, the differentiated antitumor effects of STING activation in different cell types is still unclear. We aimed to investigate the expression and potential prognostic value of cancer cell-intrinsic STING in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), and whether STING could be a potential immunotherapeutic target of HCC was then evaluated.METHODS: We separately assessed the expression of STING in cancer cells and infiltrating immune cells in HCC tissues. The independent clinicopathological factors associated with survival outcomes were evaluated by the multivariable analysis. The HCC orthotopic mice model were used to confirm the immunotherapeutic effects of STING agonists, and CD8 + T-cell infiltration level was analyzed through immunofluorescence and flow cytometry.
    RESULTS: The expression of cancer cell-intrinsic STING was significantly reduced in HCC compared with adjacent tissues. Patients with low levels of cancer cell-intrinsic STING expression was associated with increased tumor volume (P = 0.009), higher serum AFP levels (P = 0.028), and decreased CD8 + T-cell infiltration (P = 0.002). Low levels of cancer cell-intrinsic STING expression indicated a poor overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS). Multivariate analysis demonstrated that low levels of cancer cell-intrinsic STING expression was an independent prognostic factor. Additionally, cancer cell-intrinsic STING expression was positively related with CD8 + T-cell infiltration levels in HCC patients (r = 0.308; P = 0.001). When mice with orthotopic HCC tumors treated with STING agonists, tumor growth was significantly reduced with enhanced levels of CD8 + T-cell infiltration.
    CONCLUSION: Cancer cell-intrinsic STING might affect HCC tumor progression through enhancing CD8 + T-cell infiltration and can be an immunotherapeutic target for HCC.
    Keywords:  CD8 + T cell; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Immunotherapy; Prognosis; STING
  52. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Jan 21. pii: 393. [Epub ahead of print]13(3):
      One of the major hallmarks of cancer is the derailment of a cell's metabolism. The multifaceted nature of cancer and different cancer types is transduced by both its transcriptomic and metabolomic landscapes. In this study, we re-purposed the publicly available transcriptomic and metabolomics data of eight cancer types (breast, lung, gastric, renal, liver, colorectal, prostate, and multiple myeloma) to find and investigate differences and commonalities on a pathway level among different cancer types. Topological analysis of inferred graphical Gaussian association networks showed that cancer was strongly defined in genetic networks, but not in metabolic networks. Using different statistical approaches to find significant differences between cancer and control cases, we highlighted the difficulties of high-level data-merging and in using statistical association networks. Cancer transcriptomics and metabolomics and landscapes were characterized by changed macro-molecule production, however, only major metabolic deregulations with highly impacted pathways were found in liver cancer. Cell cycle was enriched in breast, liver, and colorectal cancer, while breast and lung cancer were distinguished by highly enriched oncogene signaling pathways. A strong inflammatory response was observed in lung cancer and, to some extent, renal cancer. This study highlights the necessity of combining different omics levels to obtain a better description of cancer characteristics.
    Keywords:  association networks; biological networks analysis; cancer metabolism; gaussian graphical models; pathway analysis
  53. Aging (Albany NY). 2021 Jan 20. 12
      Lumican (LUM), a small leucine-rich proteoglycan, is a component of the extracellular matrix. Abnormal LUM expression is potentially associated with cancer progression. In the present study, we confirmed high LUM mRNA expression in colorectal adenocarcinoma (COAD) through the UALCAN database. The Kaplan-Meier method, univariate, and multivariate COX analysis showed that high LUM expression is an independent determinant of poor prognosis in COAD. A COX regression model was constructed based on clinical information and LUM expression. The receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve indicated that this model was highly accurate in monitoring COAD prognosis. The co-expression network of LUM was determined by LinkedOmics, which showed that LUM expression was closely related to immune escape and the miR200 family. Furthermore, we studied the co-expression network of LUM and found that LUM could promote tumor metastasis and invasion. The Tumor Immune Estimation Resource website showed that LUM was closely related to immune infiltration and correlated with regulatory T cells, tumour-associated macrophages, and dendritic cells. We found that LUM cultivated cancer progression by targeting the miR200 family to promote epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. These findings suggest that LUM is a potential target for inhibiting immune escape and carcinogenic pathways.
    Keywords:  colorectal adenocarcinoma; immune infiltration; lumican; miR200 family
  54. Nat Med. 2021 Jan 25.
      Synovial sarcoma (SyS) is an aggressive neoplasm driven by the SS18-SSX fusion, and is characterized by low T cell infiltration. Here, we studied the cancer-immune interplay in SyS using an integrative approach that combines single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq), spatial profiling and genetic and pharmacological perturbations. scRNA-seq of 16,872 cells from 12 human SyS tumors uncovered a malignant subpopulation that marks immune-deprived niches in situ and is predictive of poor clinical outcomes in two independent cohorts. Functional analyses revealed that this malignant cell state is controlled by the SS18-SSX fusion, is repressed by cytokines secreted by macrophages and T cells, and can be synergistically targeted with a combination of HDAC and CDK4/CDK6 inhibitors. This drug combination enhanced malignant-cell immunogenicity in SyS models, leading to induced T cell reactivity and T cell-mediated killing. Our study provides a blueprint for investigating heterogeneity in fusion-driven malignancies and demonstrates an interplay between immune evasion and oncogenic processes that can be co-targeted in SyS and potentially in other malignancies.
  55. Cancer Metab. 2021 Jan 28. 9(1): 7
      BACKGROUND: Patients with lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD) have high mortality rate and poor prognosis. The LUAD cells display increased aerobic glycolysis, which generates energy required for their survival and proliferation. Deregulation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway induces the metabolism switching and oncogenesis in tumor cells. RING finger protein 115 (RNF115) is an E3 ligase for ubiquitin-mediated degradation. Although the oncogenic functions of RNF115 have been revealed in breast tumor cells, the effect of RNF115 on lung cancer is still not clear.METHODS: RNF115 expression and its correlation with the features of LUAD patients were analyzed by using public database and our own cohort. The functions of RNF115 in proliferation and energy metabolism in LUAD cells were explored by downregulating or upregulating RNF115 expression.
    RESULTS: We demonstrated that RNF115 was overexpressed in LUAD tissues and its expression was positively correlated with the poor overall survival of LUAD patients. Moreover, RNF115 overexpression inhibited LUAD cell apoptosis and promoted cellular proliferation and metabolism in LUAD cells. On the contrary, RNF115 knockdown displayed reverse effects. Furthermore, the underlying mechanism of the biological function of RNF115 in LUAD was through regulating Wnt/β-catenin pathway via ubiquitination of adenomatous polyposis coli (APC).
    CONCLUSION: The current study reveals a close association between RNF115 expression and prognostic conditions in LUAD patients and the oncogenic roles of RNF115 in LUAD at the first time. These findings may help establish the foundation for the development of therapeutics strategies and clinical management for lung cancer in future.
    Keywords:  Apoptosis; Cell proliferation; Glycolysis; Ubiquitination; Wnt pathway
  56. Nat Immunol. 2021 Jan 28.
      Mitochondrial abnormalities have been noted in lupus, but the causes and consequences remain obscure. Autophagy-related genes ATG5, ATG7 and IRGM have been previously implicated in autoimmune disease. We reasoned that failure to clear defective mitochondria via mitophagy might be a foundational driver in autoimmunity by licensing mitochondrial DNA-dependent induction of type I interferon. Here, we show that mice lacking the GTPase IRGM1 (IRGM homolog) exhibited a type I interferonopathy with autoimmune features. Irgm1 deletion impaired the execution of mitophagy with cell-specific consequences. In fibroblasts, mitochondrial DNA soiling of the cytosol induced cyclic GMP-AMP synthase (cGAS)-stimulator of interferon genes (STING)-dependent type I interferon, whereas in macrophages, lysosomal Toll-like receptor 7 was activated. In vivo, Irgm1-/- tissues exhibited mosaic dependency upon nucleic acid receptors. Whereas salivary and lacrimal gland autoimmune pathology was abolished and lung pathology was attenuated by cGAS and STING deletion, pancreatic pathology remained unchanged. These findings reveal fundamental connections between mitochondrial quality control and tissue-selective autoimmune disease.
  57. Elife. 2021 Jan 29. pii: e65041. [Epub ahead of print]10
      The risk of developing cancer is correlated with body size and lifespan within species. Between species, however, there is no correlation between cancer and either body size or lifespan, indicating that large, long-lived species have evolved enhanced cancer protection mechanisms. Elephants and their relatives (Proboscideans) are a particularly interesting lineage for the exploration of mechanisms underlying the evolution of augmented cancer resistance because they evolved large bodies recently within a clade of smaller bodied species (Afrotherians). Here, we explore the contribution of gene duplication to body size and cancer risk in Afrotherians. Unexpectedly, we found that tumor suppressor duplication was pervasive in Afrotherian genomes, rather than restricted to Proboscideans. Proboscideans, however, have duplicates in unique pathways that may underlie some aspects of their remarkable anti-cancer cell biology. These data suggest that duplication of tumor suppressor genes facilitated the evolution of increased body size by compensating for decreasing intrinsic cancer risk.
    Keywords:  cancer biology; evolutionary biology
  58. Cancer Res. 2021 Jan 26. pii: canres.3020.2019. [Epub ahead of print]
      Cancer-specific metabolic phenotypes and their vulnerabilities represent a viable area of cancer research. In this study, we explored the association of breast cancer subtypes with different metabolic phenotypes and identified isocitrate dehydrogenase 2 (IDH2) as a key player in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) and HER2. Functional assays combined with mass spectrometry-based analyses revealed the oncogenic role of IDH2 in cell proliferation, anchorage-independent growth, glycolysis, mitochondrial respiration, and antioxidant defense. Genome-scale metabolic modeling identified PHGDH and PSAT1 as the synthetic dosage lethal (SDL) partners of IDH2. In agreement, CRISPR-Cas9 knockout of PHGDH and PSAT1 showed the essentiality of serine biosynthesis proteins in IDH2-high cells. The clinical significance of the SDL interaction was supported by patients with IDH2-high/PHGDH-low tumors, who exhibited longer survival than patients with IDH2-high/PHGDH-high tumors. Furthermore, PHGDH inhibitors were effective in treating IDH2-high cells in vitro and in vivo. Altogether, our study creates a new link between two known cancer regulators and emphasizes PHGDH as a promising target for TNBC with IDH2 overexpression.
  59. Life (Basel). 2021 Jan 23. pii: 82. [Epub ahead of print]11(2):
      The major role of mitochondria is to provide cells with energy, but no less important are their roles in responding to various stress factors and the metabolic changes and pathological processes that might occur inside and outside the cells. The post-translational modification of proteins is a fast and efficient way for cells to adapt to ever changing conditions. Phosphorylation is a post-translational modification that signals these changes and propagates these signals throughout the whole cell, but it also changes the structure, function and interaction of individual proteins. In this review, we summarize the influence of kinases, the proteins responsible for phosphorylation, on mitochondrial biogenesis under various cellular conditions. We focus on their role in keeping mitochondria fully functional in healthy cells and also on the changes in mitochondrial structure and function that occur in pathological processes arising from the phosphorylation of mitochondrial proteins.
    Keywords:  disease; kinases; mitochondria; phosphorylation
  60. Cancer Drug Resist. 2020 ;3 762-774
      At the forefront of cancer research is the rapidly evolving understanding of metabolic reprogramming within cancer cells. The expeditious adaptation to metabolic inhibition allows cells to evolve and acquire resistance to targeted treatments, which makes therapeutic exploitation complex but achievable. 3-phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase (PHGDH) is the rate-limiting enzyme of de novo serine biosynthesis and is highly expressed in a variety of cancers, including breast cancer, melanoma, and Ewing's sarcoma. This review will investigate the role of PHGDH in normal biological processes, leading to the role of PHGDH in the progression of cancer. With an understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which PHGDH expression advances cancer growth, we will highlight the known mechanisms of resistance to cancer therapeutics facilitated by PHGDH biology and identify avenues for combatting PHGDH-driven resistance with inhibitors of PHGDH to allow for the development of effective metabolic therapies.
    Keywords:  PHGDH; cancer; drug resistance; folate cycle; metabolism; one-carbon metabolism; serine
  61. Aging (Albany NY). 2021 Jan 20. 12
      Emerging evidence shows that type II protein arginine methyltransferase 5 (PRMT5) serves as an oncoprotein and plays a critical role in many types of human cancer. However, the precise role and function of PRMT5 in human colorectal cancer (CRC) growth and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) are still unclear, and the related molecular mechanism and signaling axis remains largely obscure. Here, we show that PRMT5 is highly expressed in CRC cell lines and tissues. Using PRMT5 stable depletion cell lines and specific inhibitor, we discover that down-regulation of PRMT5 by shRNA or inhibition of PRMT5 activity by specific inhibitor GSK591 markedly suppresses CRC cell proliferation and cell cycle progression, which is closely associated with PRMT5 enzyme activity. Moreover, PRMT5 regulates CRC cell growth and cycle progression via activation of Akt, but not through ERK1/2, PTEN, and mTOR signaling pathway. Further study shows that PRMT5 controls EMT of CRC cells by activation of EGFR/Akt/GSK3β signaling cascades. Collectively, our results reveal that PRMT5 promotes CRC cell proliferation, cell cycle progression, and EMT via regulation of EGFR/Akt/GSK3β signaling cascades. Most importantly, our findings also suggest that PRMT5 may be a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of human colorectal cancer.
    Keywords:  Akt; EGFR; EMT; GSK3β; PRMT5
  62. Nat Metab. 2021 Jan 28.
      Cancer cells reprogramme their metabolism to support unrestrained proliferation and survival in nutrient-poor conditions. Whereas non-transformed cells often have lower demands for serine and glycine, several cancer subtypes hyperactivate intracellular serine and glycine synthesis and become addicted to de novo production. Copy-number amplifications of serine- and glycine-synthesis genes and genetic alterations in common oncogenes and tumour-suppressor genes enhance serine and glycine synthesis, resulting in high production and secretion of these oncogenesis-supportive metabolites. In this Review, we discuss the contribution of serine and glycine synthesis to cancer progression. By relying on de novo synthesis pathways, cancer cells are able to enhance macromolecule synthesis, neutralize high levels of oxidative stress and regulate methylation and tRNA formylation. Furthermore, we discuss the immunosuppressive potential of serine and glycine, and the essentiality of both amino acids to promoting survival of non-transformed neighbouring cells. Finally, we point to the emerging data proposing moonlighting functions of serine- and glycine-synthesis enzymes and examine promising small molecules targeting serine and glycine synthesis.