bims-mibica Biomed News
on Mitochondrial bioenergetics in cancer
Issue of 2021‒03‒14
33 papers selected by
Kelsey Fisher-Wellman
East Carolina University

  1. Exp Hematol. 2021 Mar 06. pii: S0301-472X(21)00095-3. [Epub ahead of print]
      Mitochondria are not only essential for cell metabolism and energy supply but they are also engaged in calcium homeostasis, reactive oxygen species generation and play a key role in apoptosis. As a consequence, functional mitochondria disorders are involved in many human cancers including acute myeloid leukemia (AML). However, very little data are available about the deregulation of their number and/or shape in leukemic cells, despite the evident link between ultrastructure and function. In this context, we analyzed the ultrastructural mitochondrial parameters (number per cell, mitochondria area, number of cristae/mitochondria, cristae thickness) in five leukemia cell lines (HEL, HL60, K562, KG1 and OCI-AML3) together with the functional assay of their respiratory profile. First of all, we show significant differences within basal respiration, maximal respiration, ATP production and spare respiratory capacity between our cell lines, confirming the various respiratory profiles between leukemia subtypes. Second, we highlight that these variations were obviously associated with significant inter-leukemia heterogeneity of the number and/or shape of mitochondria. For instance, KG1 characterized by the lowest number of mitochondria together with reduced cristae diameter displayed a very particularly deficient respiratory profile. In comparison, HEL and K562, both cell lines with high respiratory profiles, harbored the highest number of mitochondria/cells with high cristae diameters. Moreover, we show that K562, carrying ASXL1 mutation, presents significant mitochondria-endoplasmic reticulum (ER) deficiency by the decrease of the number of matrix granules, Mitochondria-associated Endoplasmic Reticulum membranes (MAMs) and Mitochondrial-derived vesicles (MDVs) precursors, which are implicated in the regulatory pathways of cell mortality via the process of mitophagy and of calcium homeostasis. On the opposite, HL60 carried high levels of matrix granules and MAMs together with a higher sensitivity to drug targeting mitochondria (Rotenone/Antimycine). We confirm the implication of ASXL1 mutation in this mitochondria dysregulation through the study of transcripts expression (from 415 patients coming from public data) involved in three mitochondria pathways i) the ER-mitochondria contacts (MAM), ii) matrix granules homeostasis, iii) MDVs precursors production. Altogether, our study offers new and original data on mitochondria structural alterations linked to deregulation of respiration profiles in AMLs and some genetic characteristics, suggesting that modifications of mitochondria shape and/or number in leukemic cells participate in chemoresistance and could be a targeted mechanism to regulate their proliferative potential.
    Keywords:  ASXL1 mutation; Mitochondria; endoplasmic reticulum stress; leukemia cell lines; matrix granules; mitochondria-associated endoplasmic reticulum membrane; mitochondrial respiration; mitochondrial-derived vesicles; transmission electron microscopy
  2. Cancer Res. 2021 Mar 08. pii: canres.1628.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      Deferoxamine (DFO) represents a widely used iron chelator for the treatment of iron overload. Here we describe the use of mitochondrially targeted deferoxamine (mitoDFO) as a novel approach to preferentially target cancer cells. The agent showed marked cytostatic, cytotoxic, and migrastatic properties in vitro, and it significantly suppressed tumor growth and metastasis in vivo. The underlying molecular mechanisms included (I) impairment of [Fe-S] cluster/heme biogenesis, leading to destabilization and loss of activity of [Fe-S] cluster/heme containing enzymes, (II) inhibition of mitochondrial respiration leading to mitochondrial ROS production, resulting in dysfunctional mitochondria with markedly reduced supercomplexes, and (III) fragmentation of the mitochondrial network and induction of mitophagy. Mitochondrial targeting of DFO represents a way to deprive cancer cells of biologically active iron, which is incompatible with their proliferation and invasion, without disrupting systemic iron metabolism. Our findings highlight the importance of mitochondrial iron metabolism for cancer cells and demonstrate repurposing deferoxamine into an effective anti-cancer drug via mitochondrial targeting.
  3. J Am Chem Soc. 2021 Mar 12.
      Mitochondria are the site of aerobic respiration, producing ATP via oxidative phosphorylation as protons flow down their electrochemical gradient through ATP synthase. This negative membrane potential across the inner mitochondrial membrane (ΔΨm) represents a fundamental biophysical parameter central to cellular life. Traditional, electrode-based methods for recording membrane potential are impossible to implement on mitochondria within intact cells. Fluorescent ΔΨm indicators based on cationic, lipophilic dyes are a common alternative, but these indicators are complicated by concentration-dependent artifacts and the requirement to maintain dye in the extracellular solution to visualize reversible ΔΨm dynamics. Here, we report the first example of a fluorescent ΔΨm reporter that does not rely on ΔΨm-dependent accumulation. We redirected the localization of a photoinduced electron transfer (PeT)-based indicator, Rhodamine Voltage Reporter (RhoVR), to mitochondria by masking the carboxylate of RhoVR 1 as an acetoxymethyl (AM) ester. Once within mitochondria, esterases remove the AM ester, trapping RhoVR inside of the mitochondrial matrix, where it can incorporate within the inner membrane and reversibly report on changes in ΔΨm. We show that this Small molecule, Permeable, Internally Redistributing for Inner membrane Targeting Rhodamine Voltage Reporter, or SPIRIT RhoVR, localizes to mitochondria across a number of different cell lines and responds reversibly to changes in ΔΨm induced by exceptionally low concentrations of the uncoupler FCCP without the need for exogenous pools of dye (unlike traditional, accumulation-based rhodamine esters). SPIRIT RhoVR is compatible with multi-color imaging, enabling simultaneous, real-time observation of cytosolic Ca2+, plasma membrane potential, and reversible ΔΨm dynamics.
  4. FASEB J. 2021 Apr;35(4): e21394
      Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) has a variety of biological functions. However, rare attention has been paid to its effects on exercise-induced damage. Here, we assessed the potential protective effects of PQQ against the fatigue and oxidative damage caused by repeated exhaustive exercise, and studied the underlying mechanism. The models for exercise-induced fatigue were established, and the parameters were measured, including the time to exhaustion (TTE), biochemical indicators, the expression of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) and inflammatory cytokines and so on. Besides, the mitochondrial function was evaluated by the morphology, membrane potential, respiratory function, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels, and the application of the mitochondrial complex I inhibitor. The results demonstrate that PQQ prolongs TTE, causes the decrease in the activity of serum creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase, increases the activity of antioxidant enzymes, inhibits the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and malondialdehyde (MDA), and diminishes the over expression of NF-κB (p65) and inflammatory mediators. Furthermore, PQQ preserves normal mitochondrial function. Particularly, PQQ reduces the accumulation of ROS triggered by the mitochondrial complex I inhibitor. These data suggest that PQQ can significantly protect mice from exercise-induced fatigue and oxidative damage by improving mitochondrial function. These data also suggest that PQQ controls mitochondrial activity through directly affecting the NADH dehydrogenase.
    Keywords:  PQQ; damage; exercise; fatigue; mitochondria
  5. Cell Rep. 2021 Mar 09. pii: S2211-1247(21)00145-5. [Epub ahead of print]34(10): 108831
      Although T cell expansion depends on glycolysis, T effector cell differentiation requires signaling via the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Because the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) regulates ROS by generating nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH), we examined how PPP blockade affects T cell differentiation and function. Here, we show that genetic ablation or pharmacologic inhibition of the PPP enzyme 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase (6PGD) in the oxidative PPP results in the generation of superior CD8+ T effector cells. These cells have gene signatures and immunogenic markers of effector phenotype and show potent anti-tumor functions both in vitro and in vivo. In these cells, metabolic reprogramming occurs along with increased mitochondrial ROS and activated antioxidation machinery to balance ROS production against oxidative damage. Our findings reveal a role of 6PGD as a checkpoint for T cell effector differentiation/survival and evidence for 6PGD as an attractive metabolic target to improve tumor immunotherapy.
    Keywords:  6PGD; effector T cells; metabolism; pentose phosphate pathway; reactive oxygen species; tumor immunotherapy
  6. Nat Cancer. 2021 Feb;2(2): 141-156
      The transcriptomic classification of glioblastoma (GBM) has failed to predict survival and therapeutic vulnerabilities. A computational approach for unbiased identification of core biological traits of single cells and bulk tumors uncovered four tumor cell states and GBM subtypes distributed along neurodevelopmental and metabolic axes, classified as proliferative/progenitor, neuronal, mitochondrial and glycolytic/plurimetabolic. Each subtype was enriched with biologically coherent multiomic features. Mitochondrial GBM was associated with the most favorable clinical outcome. It relied exclusively on oxidative phosphorylation for energy production, whereas the glycolytic/plurimetabolic subtype was sustained by aerobic glycolysis and amino acid and lipid metabolism. Deletion of the glucose-proton symporter SLC45A1 was the truncal alteration most significantly associated with mitochondrial GBM, and the reintroduction of SLC45A1 in mitochondrial glioma cells induced acidification and loss of fitness. Mitochondrial, but not glycolytic/plurimetabolic, GBM exhibited marked vulnerability to inhibitors of oxidative phosphorylation. The pathway-based classification of GBM informs survival and enables precision targeting of cancer metabolism.
  7. Nat Commun. 2021 03 11. 12(1): 1589
      Glutathione peroxidase 4 (GPX4) utilizes glutathione (GSH) to detoxify lipid peroxidation and plays an essential role in inhibiting ferroptosis. As a selenoprotein, GPX4 protein synthesis is highly inefficient and energetically costly. How cells coordinate GPX4 synthesis with nutrient availability remains unclear. In this study, we perform integrated proteomic and functional analyses to reveal that SLC7A11-mediated cystine uptake promotes not only GSH synthesis, but also GPX4 protein synthesis. Mechanistically, we find that cyst(e)ine activates mechanistic/mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) and promotes GPX4 protein synthesis at least partly through the Rag-mTORC1-4EBP signaling axis. We show that pharmacologic inhibition of mTORC1 decreases GPX4 protein levels, sensitizes cancer cells to ferroptosis, and synergizes with ferroptosis inducers to suppress patient-derived xenograft tumor growth in vivo. Together, our results reveal a regulatory mechanism to coordinate GPX4 protein synthesis with cyst(e)ine availability and suggest using combinatorial therapy of mTORC1 inhibitors and ferroptosis inducers in cancer treatment.
  8. Acta Biochim Biophys Sin (Shanghai). 2021 Mar 12. pii: gmab017. [Epub ahead of print]
      Emerging evidence suggests that aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) promotes the initiation, invasion, progression, and metastasis of cancer cells. However, its effects in patients with myelodysplastic syndrome/acute myeloid leukemia (MDS/AML) remain undefined. In this study, we aimed to investigate the effects of AHR activation on malignant cells in patients with MDS/AML. We found that AHR was expressed aberrantly in patients with MDS/AML. Further studies demonstrated that inhibiting AHR decreased the mitochondrial dehydrogenase content and the mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) in MDS/AML cells. Activating AHR with L-kynurenine (Kyn) increased AHR expression, which was accompanied by an increase in mitochondrial dehydrogenase content and MMP in MDS/AML cells. Moreover, the expression level of mitochondria-associated mitochondrial transcription factor A was increased after activating AHR with L-Kyn when compared with that in the control group but decreased after inhibiting the AHR signal. Activating AHR in MDS/AML cells enhanced the resistance to cytarabine. These findings indicated that activating the AHR signaling pathway reshaped the metabolism in MDS/AML cells, thus contributing to the resistance to cytarabine.
    Keywords:  AHR; AML; MDS; mitochondrial metabolism; resistance
  9. Mol Metab. 2021 Mar 03. pii: S2212-8778(21)00043-0. [Epub ahead of print] 101203
      OBJECTIVE: The mitochondrial aconitase (ACO2) is an essential enzyme that bridges TCA cycle and lipid metabolism. However, its role in cancer development remains to be elucidated. The metabolic subtype of colorectal cancer (CRC) has recently been established. We aim to investigate the potential role of ACO2 in CRC progression through mediating metabolic alterations.METHODS: We compared the mRNA and protein expression of ACO2 between paired CRC and non-tumor tissues from 353 patients. Correlation between ACO2 level and clinicopathological features was examined. CRC cell lines with knockdown or overexpression of ACO2 were analyzed for cell proliferation and tumor growth. Metabolomics and stable isotope tracing analysis were used to study the metabolic alterations induced by loss of ACO2.
    RESULTS: ACO2 was decreased in >50% of CRC samples compared with matched non-tumor tissues. Decreased ACO2 level was correlated with advanced disease stage (P<0.001) and shorter patient survival (P<0.001). Knockdown of ACO2 in CRC cells promoted cell proliferation and tumor formation, while ectopic expression of ACO2 restrained tumor growth. Specifically, blockade of ACO2 caused reduction in TCA cycle intermediates and suppression of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, resulting in increase of glycolysis and elevated citrate flux for fatty acid and lipid synthesis. Increased citrate flux was able to induce upregulation of stearoyl-CoA desaturase (SCD1), which enhanced lipid desaturation in ACO2-deficent cells to favor colorectal cancer growth. Pharmacological inhibition of SCD selectively reduced tumor formation of CRC with ACO2 deficiency.
    CONCLUSIONS: Our study uncovers the rewiring metabolic pathway to maintain CRC survival during compromised TCA cycle and characterizes the therapeutic vulnerability of lipid desaturation in a meaningful subset of CRC with mitochondrial dysfunction.
    Keywords:  Colon cancer; Lipogenesis; Mitochondrial aconitase; Tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle; stearoyl-CoA desaturase
  10. Cell Calcium. 2021 Feb 22. pii: S0143-4160(21)00036-1. [Epub ahead of print]96 102382
      Mitochondrial Ca2+ transport is essential for regulating cell bioenergetics, Ca2+ signaling and cell death. Mitochondria accumulate Ca2+ via the mitochondrial Ca2+ uniporter (MCU), whereas Ca2+ is extruded by the mitochondrial Na+/Ca2+ (mtNCX) and H+/Ca2+ exchangers. The balance between these processes is essential for preventing toxic mitochondrial Ca2+ overload. Recent work demonstrated that MCU activity varies significantly among tissues, likely reflecting tissue-specific Ca2+ signaling and energy needs. It is less clear whether this diversity in MCU activity is matched by tissue-specific diversity in mitochondrial Ca2+ extrusion. Here we compared properties of mitochondrial Ca2+ extrusion in three tissues with prominent mitochondria function: brain, heart and liver. At the transcript level, expression of the Na+/Ca2+/Li+ exchanger (NCLX), which has been proposed to mediate mtNCX transport, was significantly greater in liver than in brain or heart. At the functional level, Na+ robustly activated Ca2+ efflux from brain and heart mitochondria, but not from liver mitochondria. The mtNCX inhibitor CGP37157 blocked Ca2+ efflux from brain and heart mitochondria but had no effect in liver mitochondria. Replacement of Na+ with Li+ to test the involvement of NCLX, resulted in a slowing of mitochondrial Ca2+ efflux by ∼70 %. Collectively, our findings suggest that mtNCX is responsible for Ca2+ extrusion from the mitochondria of the brain and heart, but plays only a small, if any, role in mitochondria of the liver. They also reveal that Li+ is significantly less effective than Na+ in driving mitochondrial Ca2+ efflux.
    Keywords:  Ca(2+) transport; Hippocampal neurons; Mitochondria; NCLX; NCX
  11. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2021 ;9 625020
      The most common aging-associated diseases are cardiovascular diseases which affect 40% of elderly people. Elderly people are prone to suffer aging-associated diseases which are not only related to health and medical cost but also to labor, household productivity and mortality cost. Aging is becoming a world problem and it is estimated that 21.8% of global population will be older than 65 years old in 2050; and for the first time in human history, there will be more elderly people than children. It is well accepted that the origin of aging-associated cardiovascular diseases is mitochondrial dysfunction. Mitochondria have their own genome (mtDNA) that is circular, double-stranded, and 16,569 bp long in humans. There are between 500 to 6000 mtDNA copies per cell which are tissue-specific. As a by-product of ATP production, reactive oxygen species (ROS) are generated which damage proteins, lipids, and mtDNA. ROS-mutated mtDNA co-existing with wild type mtDNA is called mtDNA heteroplasmy. The progressive increase in mtDNA heteroplasmy causes progressive mitochondrial dysfunction leading to a loss in their bioenergetic capacity, disruption in the balance of mitochondrial fusion and fission events (mitochondrial dynamics, MtDy) and decreased mitophagy. This failure in mitochondrial physiology leads to the accumulation of depolarized and ROS-generating mitochondria. Thus, besides attenuated ATP production, dysfunctional mitochondria interfere with proper cellular metabolism and signaling pathways in cardiac cells, contributing to the development of aging-associated cardiovascular diseases. In this context, there is a growing interest to enhance mitochondrial function by decreasing mtDNA heteroplasmy. Reduction in mtDNA heteroplasmy is associated with increased mitophagy, proper MtDy balance and mitochondrial biogenesis; and those processes can delay the onset or progression of cardiovascular diseases. This has led to the development of mitochondrial therapies based on the application of nutritional, pharmacological and genetic treatments. Those seeking to have a positive impact on mtDNA integrity, mitochondrial biogenesis, dynamics and mitophagy in old and sick hearts. This review covers the current knowledge of mitochondrial physiopathology in aging, how disruption of OXPHOS or mitochondrial life cycle alter mtDNA and cardiac cell function; and novel mitochondrial therapies to protect and rescue our heart from cardiovascular diseases.
    Keywords:  OXPHOS; ROS; aging; biogenesis; cardiac; heart failure; mitophagy; mtDNA heteroplasmy
  12. Elife. 2021 Mar 09. pii: e62585. [Epub ahead of print]10
      Little is known about the molecular changes that take place in the kidney during the aging process. In order to better understand these changes, we measured mRNA and protein levels in genetically diverse mice at different ages. We observed distinctive change in mRNA and protein levels as a function of age. Changes in both mRNA and protein are associated with increased immune infiltration and decreases in mitochondrial function. Proteins show a greater extent of change and reveal changes in a wide array of biological processes including unique, organ-specific features of aging in kidney. Most importantly, we observed functionally important age-related changes in protein that occur in the absence of corresponding changes in mRNA. Our findings suggest that mRNA profiling alone provides an incomplete picture of molecular aging in the kidney and that examination of changes in proteins is essential to understand aging processes that are not transcriptionally regulated.
    Keywords:  computational biology; mouse; systems biology
  13. JCI Insight. 2021 Mar 09. pii: 147193. [Epub ahead of print]
      Liver regeneration is critical to survival after traumatic injuries, exposure to hepatotoxins, or surgical interventions, yet the underlying signaling and metabolic pathways remain unclear. Here we show that hepatocyte-specific loss of the mitochondrial deacetylase SIRT3 drastically impairs regeneration and worsens mitochondrial function after partial hepatectomy. Sirtuins, including SIRT3, require nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) as a cosubstrate. We previously showed that the NAD precursor nicotinamide riboside (NR) promotes liver regeneration, but whether this involves sirtuins has not been tested. Here we show that despite their NAD-dependence and critical roles in regeneration, neither SIRT3 nor its nuclear counterpart SIRT1 is required for NR to enhance liver regeneration. NR improves mitochondrial respiration in regenerating wild type or mutant livers and rapidly increases oxygen consumption and glucose output in cultured hepatocytes. Our data support a direct enhancement of mitochondrial redox metabolism as the mechanism mediating improved liver regeneration after NAD supplementation and exclude signaling via SIRT1 and SIRT3. Thus, we provide the first evidence for an essential role for a mitochondrial sirtuin during liver regeneration and insight into the beneficial effects of NR.
    Keywords:  Fatty acid oxidation; Hepatology; Metabolism; Mitochondria; Molecular pathology
  14. Neurooncol Adv. 2021 Jan-Dec;3(1):3(1): vdaa149
      Background: Metabolic reprogramming is a common feature in cancer, and it is critical to facilitate cancer cell growth. Isocitrate Dehydrogenase 1/2 (IDH1 and IDH2) mutations (IDHmut) are the most common genetic alteration in glioma grade II and III and secondary glioblastoma and these mutations increase reliance on glutamine metabolism, suggesting a potential vulnerability. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that the brain penetrant glutamine antagonist prodrug JHU-083 reduces glioma cell growth.Material and Methods: We performed cell growth, cell cycle, and protein expression in glutamine deprived or Glutaminase (GLS) gene silenced glioma cells. We tested the effect of JHU-083 on cell proliferation, metabolism, and mTOR signaling in cancer cell lines. An orthotopic IDH1R132H glioma model was used to test the efficacy of JHU-083 in vivo.
    Results: Glutamine deprivation and GLS gene silencing reduced glioma cell proliferation in vitro in glioma cells. JHU-083 reduced glioma cell growth in vitro, modulated cell metabolism, and disrupted mTOR signaling and downregulated Cyclin D1 protein expression, through a mechanism independent of TSC2 modulation and glutaminolysis. IDH1R132H isogenic cells preferentially reduced cell growth and mTOR signaling downregulation. In addition, guanine supplementation partially rescued IDHmut glioma cell growth, mTOR signaling, and Cyclin D1 protein expression in vitro. Finally, JHU-083 extended survival in an intracranial IDH1 mut glioma model and reduced intracranial pS6 protein expression.
    Conclusion: Targeting glutamine metabolism with JHU-083 showed efficacy in preclinical models of IDHmut glioma and measurably decreased mTOR signaling.
    Keywords:  IDH mutation; cell cycle; glioma; glutamine metabolism; mTOR signaling
  15. Cell Rep. 2021 Mar 09. pii: S2211-1247(21)00141-8. [Epub ahead of print]34(10): 108827
      Calcium transfer from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to mitochondria is a critical contributor to apoptosis. B cell lymphoma 2 (BCL-2) ovarian killer (BOK) localizes to the ER and binds the inositol 1,4,5-trisphosophate receptor (IP3R). Here, we show that BOK is necessary for baseline mitochondrial calcium levels and stimulus-induced calcium transfer from the ER to the mitochondria. Murine embryonic fibroblasts deficient for BOK have decreased proximity of the ER to the mitochondria and altered protein composition of mitochondria-associated membranes (MAMs), which form essential calcium microdomains. Rescue of the ER-mitochondrial juxtaposition with drug-inducible interorganelle linkers reveals a kinetic disruption, which when overcome in Bok-/- cells is still insufficient to rescue thapsigargin-induced calcium transfer and apoptosis. Likewise, a BOK mutant unable to interact with IP3R restores ER-mitochondrial proximity, but not ER-mitochondrial calcium transfer, MAM protein composition, or apoptosis. This work identifies the dynamic coordination of ER-mitochondrial contact by BOK as an important control point for apoptosis.
    Keywords:  BCL-2 family; BOK; IP3R; MAMs; MERCs; apoptosis; calcium; endoplasmic reticulum; mitochondria-ER contact sites; mitochondria-associated membranes
  16. Sci Adv. 2021 Mar;pii: eabd6280. [Epub ahead of print]7(11):
      How metabolic status controls the fates of different types of leukemia cells remains elusive. Using a SoNar-transgenic mouse line, we demonstrated that B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) cells had a preference in using oxidative phosphorylation. B-ALL cells with a low SoNar ratio (SoNar-low) had enhanced mitochondrial respiration capacity, mainly resided in the vascular niche, and were enriched with more functional leukemia-initiating cells than that of SoNar-high cells in a murine B-ALL model. The SoNar-low cells were more resistant to cytosine arabinoside (Ara-C) treatment. cyclic adenosine 3',5'-monophosphate response element-binding protein transactivated pyruvate dehydrogenase complex component X and cytidine deaminase to maintain the oxidative phosphorylation level and Ara-C-induced resistance. SoNar-low human primary B-ALL cells also had a preference for oxidative phosphorylation. Suppressing oxidative phosphorylation with several drugs sufficiently attenuated Ara-C-induced resistance. Our study provides a unique angle for understanding the potential connections between metabolism and B-ALL cell fates.
  17. Oncogene. 2021 Mar 08.
      Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer, which is attributed to lack of effective treatment options and drug resistance. Mitochondrial inhibitors have emerged as a promising class of anticancer drugs, and several inhibitors of the electron transport chain (ETC) are being clinically evaluated. We hypothesized that resistance to ETC inhibitors from the biguanide class could be induced by inactivation of SMAD4, an important tumor suppressor involved in transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) signaling, and associated with altered mitochondrial activity. Here we show that, paradoxically, both TGFβ-treatment and the loss of SMAD4, a downstream member of TGFβ signaling cascade, induce resistance to biguanides, decrease mitochondrial respiration, and fragment the mitochondrial network. Mechanistically, the resistance of SMAD4-deficient cells is mediated by increased mitophagic flux driven by MAPK/ERK signaling, whereas TGFβ-induced resistance is autophagy-independent and linked to epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Interestingly, mitochondria-targeted tamoxifen, a complex I inhibitor under clinical trial, overcomes resistance mediated by SMAD4-deficiency or TGFβ signaling. Our data point to differential mechanisms underlying the resistance to treatment in PDAC arising from TGFβ signaling and SMAD4 loss, respectively. The findings will help the development of mitochondria-targeted therapy for pancreatic cancer patients with SMAD4 as a plausible predictive marker.
  18. Cell Metab. 2021 Mar 03. pii: S1550-4131(21)00071-1. [Epub ahead of print]
      Understanding the mechanisms underlying how T cells become dysfunctional in a tumor microenvironment (TME) will greatly benefit cancer immunotherapy. We found that increased CD36 expression in tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T cells, which was induced by TME cholesterol, was associated with tumor progression and poor survival in human and murine cancers. Genetic ablation of Cd36 in effector CD8+ T cells exhibited increased cytotoxic cytokine production and enhanced tumor eradication. CD36 mediated uptake of fatty acids by tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T cells in TME, induced lipid peroxidation and ferroptosis, and led to reduced cytotoxic cytokine production and impaired antitumor ability. Blocking CD36 or inhibiting ferroptosis in CD8+ T cells effectively restored their antitumor activity and, more importantly, possessed greater antitumor efficacy in combination with anti-PD-1 antibodies. This study reveals a new mechanism of CD36 regulating the function of CD8+ effector T cells and therapeutic potential of targeting CD36 or inhibiting ferroptosis to restore T cell function.
    Keywords:  CD36; CD8(+) T cells; ferroptosis; lipid peroxidation
  19. Cell Calcium. 2021 Feb 25. pii: S0143-4160(21)00038-5. [Epub ahead of print]96 102384
      BACKGROUND: Colorectal cancer (CRC) metastases are the main cause of CRC mortality. Intracellular Ca2+ regulates cell migration and invasion, key factors for metastases. Ca2+ also activates Ca2+-dependent potassium channels which in turn affect Ca2+ driving force. We have previously reported that the expression of the Ca2+ activated potassium channel KCNN4 (SK4) is higher in CRC primary tumors compared to normal tissues. Here, we aimed to investigate the role of SK4 in the physiology of CRC.RESULTS: SK4 protein expression is enhanced in CRC tissues compared to normal colon tissues, with a higher level of KCNN4 in CRC patients with KRAS mutations. At the cellular level, we found that SK4 regulates the membrane potential of HCT116 cells. We also found that its inhibition reduced store operated Ca2+ entry (SOCE) and constitutive Ca2+ entry (CCE), while reducing cell migration. We also found that the activity of SK4 is linked to resistance pathways such as KRAS mutation and the expression of NRF2 and HIF-1α. In addition, the pharmacological inhibition of SK4 reduced intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, NRF2 expression and HIF1α stabilization.
    CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that SK4 contributes to colorectal cancer cell migration and invasion by modulating both Ca2+ entry and ROS regulation. Therefore, SK4 could be a potential target to reduce metastasis in KRAS-mutated CRC.
    Keywords:  Calcium signaling; Colorectal cancer; KCa3.1; KRAS; Migration; SK4
  20. Biophys J. 2021 Mar 08. pii: S0006-3495(21)00206-X. [Epub ahead of print]
      The microenvironment provides both active and passive mechanical cues that regulate cell morphology, adhesion, migration, and metabolism. While the cellular response to those mechanical cues often requires energy-intensive actin cytoskeletal remodeling and actomyosin contractility, it remains unclear how cells dynamically adapt their metabolic activity to altered mechanical cues to support migration. Here, we investigated the changes in cellular metabolic activity in response to different 2D and 3D microenvironmental conditions, and how these changes relate to cytoskeletal activity and migration. Utilizing collagen micropatterning on polyacrylamide gels, intracellular energy levels and oxidative phosphorylation were found to be correlated with cell elongation and spreading and necessary for membrane ruffling. To determine whether this relationship holds in more physiological 3D matrices, collagen matrices were used to show that intracellular energy state was also correlated with protrusive activity and increased with matrix density. Pharmacological inhibition of oxidative phosphorylation revealed that cancer cells rely on oxidative phosphorylation to meet the elevated energy requirements for protrusive activity and migration in denser matrices. Together, these findings suggest that mechanical regulation of cytoskeletal activity during spreading and migration by the physical microenvironment is driven by an altered metabolic profile.
    Keywords:  cell metabolism; cell migration; collagen density; micropatterns; oxidative phosphorylation
  21. Free Radic Biol Med. 2021 Mar 09. pii: S0891-5849(21)00126-X. [Epub ahead of print]
      Gas plasma is a partially ionized gas increasingly recognized for targeting cancer. Several hypotheses attempt to explain the link between plasma treatment and cytotoxicity in cancer cells, all focusing on cellular membranes that are the first to be exposed to plasma-generated reactive oxygen species (ROS). One proposes high levels of aquaporins, membrane transporters of water and hydrogen peroxide, to mark tumor cell line sensitivity to plasma treatment. A second focuses on membrane-expression of redox-related enzymes such as NADPH oxidases (NOX) that may modify or amplify the effects of plasma-derived ROS, fueling plasma-induced cancer cell death. Another hypothesis is that the decreased cholesterol content of tumor cell membranes sensitizes these to plasma-mediated oxidation and subsequently, cytotoxicity. Screening 33 surface molecules in 36 tumor cell lines in correlation to their sensitivity to plasma treatment, the expression of aquaporins or NOX members could not explain the sensitivity but were rather associated with treatment resistance. Correlation with transporter or enzyme activity was not tested. Analysis of cholesterol content confirmed the proposed positive correlation with treatment resistance. Strikingly, the strongest correlation was found for baseline metabolic activity (Spearman r = 0.76). Altogether, these data suggest tumor cell metabolism as a novel testable hypothesis to explain cancer cell resistance to gas plasma treatment for further elucidating this innovative field's chances and limitations in oncology.
    Keywords:  NADPH oxidase; aquaporin; catalase; cholesterol; flow cytometry; heat-shock protein; kINPen; plasma medicine; reactive oxygen species
  22. Blood Adv. 2021 Mar 23. 5(6): 1594-1604
      Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) undergo self-renewal or differentiation to sustain lifelong hematopoiesis. HSCs are preserved in quiescence with low mitochondrial activity. Recent studies indicate that autophagy contributes to HSC quiescence through suppressing mitochondrial metabolism. However, it remains unclear whether autophagy is involved in the regulation of neonatal HSCs, which proliferate actively. In this study, we clarified the role of autophagy in neonatal HSCs using 2 types of autophagy-related gene 7 (Atg7)-conditional knockout mice: Mx1-Cre inducible system and Vav-Cre system. Atg7-deficient HSCs exhibited excess cell divisions with enhanced mitochondrial metabolism, leading to bone marrow failure at adult stage. However, Atg7 deficiency minimally affected hematopoiesis and metabolic state in HSCs at neonatal stage. In addition, Atg7-deficient neonatal HSCs exhibited long-term reconstructing activity, equivalent to wild-type neonatal HSCs. Taken together, autophagy is dispensable for stem cell function and hematopoietic homeostasis in neonates and provide a novel aspect into the role of autophagy in the HSC regulation.
  23. Sci Rep. 2021 Mar 11. 11(1): 5749
      Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are implicated in triggering cell signalling events and pathways to promote and maintain tumorigenicity. Chemotherapy and radiation can induce ROS to elicit cell death allows for targeting ROS pathways for effective anti-cancer therapeutics. Coenzyme Q10 is a critical cofactor in the electron transport chain with complex biological functions that extend beyond mitochondrial respiration. This study demonstrates that delivery of oxidized Coenzyme Q10 (ubidecarenone) to increase mitochondrial Q-pool is associated with an increase in ROS generation, effectuating anti-cancer effects in a pancreatic cancer model. Consequent activation of cell death was observed in vitro in pancreatic cancer cells, and both human patient-derived organoids and tumour xenografts. The study is a first to demonstrate the effectiveness of oxidized ubidecarenone in targeting mitochondrial function resulting in an anti-cancer effect. Furthermore, these findings support the clinical development of proprietary formulation, BPM31510, for treatment of cancers with high ROS burden with potential sensitivity to ubidecarenone.
  24. J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2021 Mar 11. 40(1): 94
      BACKGROUND: In the last decades, the concept of metabolic rewiring as a cancer hallmark has been expanded beyond the "Warburg effect" and the importance of other metabolic routes, including lipid metabolism, has emerged. In cancer, lipids are not only a source of energy but are also required for the formation of membranes building blocks, signaling and post-translational modification of proteins. Since lipid metabolism contributes to the malignancy of cancer cells, it is an attractive target for therapeutic strategies.METHODS: Over-expression of the adipose triglyceride lipase (ATGL) was used to boost lipid catabolism in cervical cancer cells. The cervical cancer cell line HeLa was employed as the primary experimental model for all subsequent studies. The lipolytic activity of ATGL was mimicked by caproate, a short-chain fatty acid that is efficiently oxidized in mitochondria.
    RESULTS: Here, we provide evidence of the association between boosted lipid catabolism and the increased proliferation and migration capability of cervical cancer cells. These pro-tumoral effects were ascribed to the reactive oxygen species (ROS)-mediated induction of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF1α) triggered by the increased mitochondrial fatty acids (FAs) oxidation. HIF1α activation increases glycolytic flux and lactate production, promoting cell proliferation. At the same time, HIF1α increases protein and mRNA levels of its known target BCL2 and adenovirus E1B 19-kDa-interacting protein 3 (BNIP3), which in turn activates mitophagy as a pro-survival process, as demonstrated by the induction of apoptosis upon inhibition of mitophagy. These effects were mimicked by the short-chain fatty acid caproate, confirming that forcing lipid catabolism results in HIF1α induction.
    CONCLUSIONS: Boosting lipid catabolism by ATGL over-expression has a pro-tumor role in cervical cancer cells, dependent on ROS production and HIF1α induction. Together with the bioinformatics evidence of the correlation of ATGL activity with the aggressiveness of cervical cancer cells, our data suggest that ATGL could be a promising prognostic marker for cervical cancer and highlight the need of further investigations on the role of this lipase in cancer cells. This evidence could be exploited to develop new personalized therapy, based on the functionality of the antioxidant equipment of cancer cells, considering that ROS content could affect ATGL role.
    Keywords:  ATGL; HIF1α; Lipid catabolism; Mitophagy; Pseudo-hypoxia; ROS
  25. Sci Rep. 2021 Mar 12. 11(1): 5862
      Treatment of multiple myeloma (MM) aims at inducing cell apoptosis by surpassing the limited capacity of MM cells to cope with oxidative stress. MM cell survival may further be suppressed by limiting cellular cholesterol. Long-chain fatty acid analogs of the MEDICA series promote mitochondrial stress and inhibit cholesterol biosynthesis, thus prompting us to verify their efficacy and mode-of-action in suppressing MM cell survival, in comparison to bortezomib. MEDICA analog is shown here to effectively suppress survival of MM cells, and to inhibit growth of MM xenograft. Suppression of MM cell survival by MEDICA is accompanied by inhibition of the STAT3, MAPK and the mTORC1 transduction pathways due to mitochondrial oxidative stress. MEDICA-induced oxidative stress is abrogated by added exogenous cholesterol. Suppression of MM cell survival by bortezomib is similarly driven by bortezomib-induced oxidative stress, being abrogated by added cholesterol. In line with that, the time-to-best-response of MM patients to bortezomib-based treatment protocols is shown to be positively correlated with their plasma cholesterol level. MEDICA profile may indicate novel therapeutic potential in the management of MM.
  26. Leukemia. 2021 Mar 11.
      Folate-mediated one carbon (1C) metabolism supports a series of processes that are essential for the cell. Through a number of interlinked reactions happening in the cytosol and mitochondria of the cell, folate metabolism contributes to de novo purine and thymidylate synthesis, to the methionine cycle and redox defence. Targeting the folate metabolism gave rise to modern chemotherapy, through the introduction of antifolates to treat paediatric leukaemia. Since then, antifolates, such as methotrexate and pralatrexate have been used to treat a series of blood cancers in clinic. However, traditional antifolates have many deleterious side effects in normal proliferating tissue, highlighting the urgent need for novel strategies to more selectively target 1C metabolism. Notably, mitochondrial 1C enzymes have been shown to be significantly upregulated in various cancers, making them attractive targets for the development of new chemotherapeutic agents. In this article, we present a detailed overview of folate-mediated 1C metabolism, its importance on cellular level and discuss how targeting folate metabolism has been exploited in blood cancers. Additionally, we explore possible therapeutic strategies that could overcome the limitations of traditional antifolates.
  27. Biochemistry (Mosc). 2020 Dec;85(12): 1570-1577
      The mechanism of oxidative phosphorylation and its regulation remain one of the main problems of bioenergetics. Efficiency of the mitochondrial energization is determined by the relationship between the rate of generation of electrochemical potential of hydrogen ions and the rate of its expenditure on the synthesis of ATP and the use of ATP in endergonic reactions. Uncoupling (partial or complete), which occurs in the process of uncontrolled and controlled leakage of ions through the inner mitochondrial membrane, on the one hand leads to the decrease in the relative synthesis of ATP, and on the other, being consistent with the law of conservation of energy, leads to the formation of heat, generation of which is an essential function of the organism. In addition to increased thermogenesis, the increase of non-phosphorylating oxidation of various substrates is accompanied by the decrease in transmembrane potential, production of reactive oxygen species, and activation of oxygen consumption, water and carbon dioxide production, increase in the level of intracellular ADP and acidification of the cytosol. In this analysis, each of these factors will be considered separately for its role in regulating metabolism.
  28. Blood Adv. 2021 Mar 23. 5(6): 1605-1616
      Hematopoietic cell transplantation is a critical curative approach for many blood disorders. However, obtaining grafts with sufficient numbers of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) that maintain long-term engraftment remains challenging; this is due partly to metabolic modulations that restrict the potency of HSCs outside of their native environment. To address this, we focused on mitochondria. We found that human HSCs are heterogeneous in their mitochondrial activity as measured by mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) even within the highly purified CD34+CD38-CD45RA-CD90+CD49f+ HSC population. We further found that the most potent HSCs exhibit the lowest mitochondrial activity in the population. We showed that the frequency of long-term culture initiating cells in MMP-low is significantly greater than in MMP-high CD34+CD38-CD45RA-CD90+ (CD90+) HSCs. Notably, these 2 populations were distinct in their long-term repopulating capacity when transplanted into immunodeficient mice. The level of chimerism 7 months posttransplantation was >50-fold higher in the blood of MMP-low relative to MMP-high CD90+ HSC recipients. Although more than 90% of both HSC subsets were in G0, MMP-low CD90+ HSCs exhibited delayed cell-cycle priming profile relative to MMP-high HSCs. These functional differences were associated with distinct mitochondrial morphology; MMP-low in contrast to MMP-high HSCs contained fragmented mitochondria. Our findings suggest that the lowest MMP level selects for the most potent, likely dormant, stem cells within the highly purified HSC population. These results identify a new approach for isolating highly potent human HSCs for further clinical applications. They also implicate mitochondria in the intrinsic regulation of human HSC quiescence and potency.
  29. Cancer Res. 2021 Mar 09. pii: canres.1954.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      Hepatic fat accumulation is associated with diabetes and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Here we characterize the metabolic response that high fat availability elicits in livers prior to disease development. After a short term on a high fat diet, otherwise healthy mice showed elevated hepatic glucose uptake and increased glucose contribution to serine and pyruvate carboxylase activity compared to control diet mice. This glucose phenotype occurred independently from transcriptional or proteomic programming, which identifies increased peroxisomal and lipid metabolism pathways. High fat diet-fed mice exhibited increased lactate production when challenged with glucose. Consistently, administration of an oral glucose bolus to healthy individuals revealed a correlation between waist circumference and lactate secretion in a human cohort. In vitro, palmitate exposure stimulated production of reactive oxygen species and subsequent glucose uptake and lactate secretion in hepatocytes and liver cancer cells. Furthermore, high fat diet enhanced the formation of HCC compared to control diet in mice exposed to a hepatic carcinogen. Regardless of the dietary background, all murine tumors showed similar alterations in glucose metabolism to those identified in fat exposed non-transformed mouse livers; however, particular lipid species were elevated in high fat diet tumor and non-tumor-bearing high fat diet liver tissue. These findings suggest that fat can induce glucose-mediated metabolic changes in non-transformed liver cells similar to those found in HCC.
  30. Oncogene. 2021 Mar 08.
      Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) is the first and rate-limiting enzyme in pentose phosphate pathway (PPP), excessive activation of which has been considered to be involved in tumorigenesis. Here, we show that tyrosine kinase c-Src interacts with and phosphorylates G6PD at Tyr 112. This phosphorylation enhances catalytic activity of G6PD by dramatically decreasing its Km value and increasing its Kcat value for substrate glucose-6-phosphate. Activated G6PD therefore augments the PPP flux for NADPH and ribose-5-phosphate production which is required for detoxification of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) and biosynthesis of cancer cells, and eventually contributes to tumorigenesis. Consistently, c-Src activation is closely correlated with tyrosine phosphorylation and activity of G6PD in clinical colorectal cancer samples. We thus uncover another aspect of c-Src in promoting cell proliferation and tumorigenesis, deepening our understanding of c-Src as a proto-oncogene.
  31. Mitochondrion. 2021 Mar 09. pii: S1567-7249(21)00033-7. [Epub ahead of print]
      Targeting mitochondrial oxidative stress during initial stages of hepatocarcinogenesis can be an effective and promising strategy to prevent hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In the present study, mitochondria targeted antioxidant, mito-TEMPO was administered to male BALB/c mice at a dosage 0.1 mg/kg b.w. (intraperitoneal) twice a week, followed by single N-Nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA) intraperitoneal injection (10 mg/kg b.w.). After 24 h of NDEA administration, animals were sacrificed, blood and liver tissue were collected. Liver injury markers, histoarchitecture, antioxidant defence status, mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS), lipid peroxidation (LPO), mitochondrial dysfunction analysis, and mitochondrial membrane potential were investigated. Mito-TEMPO pre-treatment protected animals from the damaging effects of NDEA as observed by normalization of liver injury markers. NDEA metabolism resulted in a significantly increased intracellular and mitochondrial ROS generation with concomitant increase in LPO formation. The activity of mitochondrial complex I, complex II, malate dehydrogenase were significantly reduced and mitochondrial membrane potential was increased. Mito-TEMPO effectively scavenged NDEA-induced ROS generation and reduced LPO formation. A significant improvement was also observed in the activity of mitochondrial complex I, complex II, malate dehydrogenase and normalisation of mitochondrial membrane potential. Results suggested that mito-TEMPO had significant impact on the initiation phase of hepatocarcinogensis which could be one of the reason for its reported chemopreventive effect.
    Keywords:  Mito-TEMPO; Mitochondria; N-Nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA); Oxidative stress
  32. Nat Commun. 2021 Mar 12. 12(1): 1661
      CRISPR-Cas9 viability screens are increasingly performed at a genome-wide scale across large panels of cell lines to identify new therapeutic targets for precision cancer therapy. Integrating the datasets resulting from these studies is necessary to adequately represent the heterogeneity of human cancers and to assemble a comprehensive map of cancer genetic vulnerabilities. Here, we integrated the two largest public independent CRISPR-Cas9 screens performed to date (at the Broad and Sanger institutes) by assessing, comparing, and selecting methods for correcting biases due to heterogeneous single-guide RNA efficiency, gene-independent responses to CRISPR-Cas9 targeting originated from copy number alterations, and experimental batch effects. Our integrated datasets recapitulate findings from the individual datasets, provide greater statistical power to cancer- and subtype-specific analyses, unveil additional biomarkers of gene dependency, and improve the detection of common essential genes. We provide the largest integrated resources of CRISPR-Cas9 screens to date and the basis for harmonizing existing and future functional genetics datasets.
  33. Nat Commun. 2021 03 09. 12(1): 1502
      It is unclear how genetic aberrations impact the state of nascent tumour cells and their microenvironment. BRCA1 driven triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) has been shown to arise from luminal progenitors yet little is known about how BRCA1 loss-of-function (LOF) and concomitant mutations affect the luminal progenitor cell state. Here we demonstrate how time-resolved single-cell profiling of genetically engineered mouse models before tumour formation can address this challenge. We found that perturbing Brca1/p53 in luminal progenitors induces aberrant alveolar differentiation pre-malignancy accompanied by pro-tumourigenic changes in the immune compartment. Unlike alveolar differentiation during gestation, this process is cell autonomous and characterised by the dysregulation of transcription factors driving alveologenesis. Based on our data we propose a model where Brca1/p53 LOF inadvertently promotes a differentiation program hardwired in luminal progenitors, highlighting the deterministic role of the cell-of-origin and offering a potential explanation for the tissue specificity of BRCA1 tumours.