bims-mibica Biomed News
on Mitochondrial bioenergetics in cancer
Issue of 2021‒06‒20
forty-six papers selected by
Kelsey Fisher-Wellman
East Carolina University

  1. Elife. 2021 Jun 16. pii: e63104. [Epub ahead of print]10
      Typified by oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS), mitochondria catalyze a wide variety of cellular processes seemingly critical for malignant growth. As such, there is considerable interest in targeting mitochondrial metabolism in cancer. However, notwithstanding the few drugs targeting mutant dehydrogenase activity, nearly all hopeful 'mito-therapeutics' cannot discriminate cancerous from non-cancerous OXPHOS and thus suffer from a limited therapeutic index. The present project was based on the premise that the development of efficacious mitochondrial-targeted anti-cancer compounds requires answering two fundamental questions: 1) is mitochondrial bioenergetics in fact different between cancer and non-cancer cells? and 2) If so, what are the underlying mechanisms? Such information is particularly critical for the subset of human cancers, including acute myeloid leukemia (AML), in which alterations in mitochondrial metabolism are implicated in various aspects of cancer biology (e.g., clonal expansion and chemoresistance). Herein, we leveraged an in-house diagnostic biochemical workflow to comprehensively evaluate mitochondrial bioenergetic efficiency and capacity in various hematological cell types, with a specific focus on OXPHOS dynamics in AML. Consistent with prior reports, clonal cell expansion, characteristic of leukemia, was universally associated with a hyper-metabolic phenotype which included increases in basal and maximal glycolytic and respiratory flux. However, despite having nearly 2-fold more mitochondria per cell, clonally expanding hematopoietic stem cells, leukemic blasts, as well as chemoresistant AML were all consistently hallmarked by intrinsic limitations in oxidative ATP synthesis (i.e., OXPHOS). Remarkably, by performing experiments across a physiological span of ATP free energy (i.e, ΔGATP), we provide direct evidence that, rather than contributing to cellular ΔGATP, leukemic mitochondria are particularly poised to consume ATP. Relevant to AML biology, acute restoration of OXPHOS kinetics proved highly cytotoxic to leukemic blasts, suggesting that active OXPHOS repression supports aggressive disease dissemination in AML. Taken together, these findings argue against ATP being the primary output of mitochondria in leukemia and provide proof-of-principle that restoring, rather than disrupting, OXPHOS and/or cellular ΔGATP in cancer may represent an untapped therapeutic avenue for combatting hematological malignancy and chemoresistance.
    Keywords:  biochemistry; cancer biology; chemical biology; human
  2. BMC Mol Cell Biol. 2021 Jun 12. 22(1): 35
      BACKGROUND: Succinate dehydrogenase (Complex II) plays a dual role in respiration by catalyzing the oxidation of succinate to fumarate in the mitochondrial Krebs cycle and transferring electrons from succinate to ubiquinone in the mitochondrial electron transport chain (ETC). Mutations in Complex II are associated with a number of pathologies. SDHD, one of the four subunits of Complex II, serves by anchoring the complex to the inner-membrane and transferring electrons from the complex to ubiquinone. Thus, modeling SDHD dysfunction could be a valuable tool for understanding its importance in metabolism and developing novel therapeutics, however no suitable models exist.RESULTS: Via CRISPR/Cas9, we mutated SDHD in HEK293 cells and investigated the in vitro role of SDHD in metabolism. Compared to the parent HEK293, the knockout mutant HEK293ΔSDHD produced significantly less number of cells in culture. The mutant cells predictably had suppressed Complex II-mediated mitochondrial respiration, but also Complex I-mediated respiration. SDHD mutation also adversely affected glycolytic capacity and ATP synthesis. Mutant cells were more apoptotic and susceptible to necrosis. Treatment with the mitochondrial therapeutic idebenone partially improved oxygen consumption and growth of mutant cells.
    CONCLUSIONS: Overall, our results suggest that SDHD is vital for growth and metabolism of mammalian cells, and that respiratory and growth defects can be partially restored with treatment of a ubiquinone analog. This is the first report to use CRISPR/Cas9 approach to construct a knockout SDHD cell line and evaluate the efficacy of an established mitochondrial therapeutic candidate to improve bioenergetic capacity.
    Keywords:  ATP synthesis; Apoptosis; CRISPR/Cas9; Complex II; Electron transport chain; Glycolysis; Idebenone; Krebs cycle; Necrosis; Oxygen consumption; ROS; Respiration; SDHD; Succinate dehydrogenase
  3. Sci Rep. 2021 Jun 16. 11(1): 12641
      NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase (respiratory complex I) plays a major role in energy metabolism by coupling electron transfer from NADH to quinone with proton translocation across the membrane. Complex I deficiencies were found to be the most common source of human mitochondrial dysfunction that manifest in a wide variety of neurodegenerative diseases. Seven subunits of human complex I are encoded by mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) that carry an unexpectedly large number of mutations discovered in mitochondria from patients' tissues. However, whether or how these genetic aberrations affect complex I at a molecular level is unknown. Here, we used Escherichia coli as a model system to biochemically characterize two mutations that were found in mtDNA of patients. The V253AMT-ND5 mutation completely disturbed the assembly of complex I, while the mutation D199GMT-ND1 led to the assembly of a stable complex capable to catalyze redox-driven proton translocation. However, the latter mutation perturbs quinone reduction leading to a diminished activity. D199MT-ND1 is part of a cluster of charged amino acid residues that are suggested to be important for efficient coupling of quinone reduction and proton translocation. A mechanism considering the role of D199MT-ND1 for energy conservation in complex I is discussed.
  4. JCI Insight. 2021 Jun 17. pii: 138835. [Epub ahead of print]
      Cancer cells re-program cellular metabolism to maintain adequate nutrient pools to sustain proliferation. Moreover, autophagy is a regulated mechanism to breakdown dysfunctional cellular components and recycle cellular nutrients. However, the requirement for autophagy and the integration in cancer cell metabolism is not clear in colon cancer. Here we show a cell-autonomous dependency of autophagy for cell growth in colorectal cancer. Loss of epithelial autophagy inhibits tumor growth in both sporadic and colitis associated cancer models. Genetic and pharmacological inhibition of autophagy inhibits cell growth in colon cancer-derived cell lines and patient-derived enteroid models. Importantly, normal colon epithelium and patient-derived normal enteroid growth was not decreased following autophagy inhibition. To couple the role of autophagy to cellular metabolism, a cell culture screen in conjunction with metabolomic analysis was performed. We identified a critical role of autophagy to maintain mitochondrial metabolites for growth. Loss of mitochondrial recycling through inhibition of mitophagy hinders colon cancer cell growth. These findings have revealed a cell-autonomous role of autophagy that plays a critical role in regulating nutrient pools in vivo and in cell models and provides therapeutic targets for colon cancer.
    Keywords:  Colorectal cancer; Gastroenterology; Oncology
  5. Oncogene. 2021 Jun 12.
      SOS1 ablation causes specific defective phenotypes in MEFs including increased levels of intracellular ROS. We showed that the mitochondria-targeted antioxidant MitoTEMPO restores normal endogenous ROS levels, suggesting predominant involvement of mitochondria in generation of this defective SOS1-dependent phenotype. The absence of SOS1 caused specific alterations of mitochondrial shape, mass, and dynamics accompanied by higher percentage of dysfunctional mitochondria and lower rates of electron transport in comparison to WT or SOS2-KO counterparts. SOS1-deficient MEFs also exhibited specific alterations of respiratory complexes and their assembly into mitochondrial supercomplexes and consistently reduced rates of respiration, glycolysis, and ATP production, together with distinctive patterns of substrate preference for oxidative energy metabolism and dependence on glucose for survival. RASless cells showed defective respiratory/metabolic phenotypes reminiscent of those of SOS1-deficient MEFs, suggesting that the mitochondrial defects of these cells are mechanistically linked to the absence of SOS1-GEF activity on cellular RAS targets. Our observations provide a direct mechanistic link between SOS1 and control of cellular oxidative stress and suggest that SOS1-mediated RAS activation is required for correct mitochondrial dynamics and function.
  6. J Biol Chem. 2021 Jun 15. pii: S0021-9258(21)00680-3. [Epub ahead of print] 100880
      More than half a century ago, reversible protein phosphorylation was first linked to mitochondrial metabolism through the regulation of pyruvate dehydrogenase. Since this discovery, the number of identified mitochondrial protein phosphorylation sites has increased by orders of magnitude, driven largely by technological advances in mass spectrometry-based phosphoproteomics. However, the majority of these modifications remain uncharacterized, rendering their function and relevance unclear. Nonetheless, recent studies have shown that disruption of resident mitochondrial protein phosphatases causes substantial metabolic dysfunction across organisms, suggesting that proper management of mitochondrial phosphorylation is vital for organellar and organismal homeostasis. While these data suggest that phosphorylation within mitochondria is of critical importance, significant gaps remain in our knowledge of how these modifications influence organellar function. Here, we curate publicly available datasets to map the extent of protein phosphorylation within mammalian mitochondria and to highlight the known functions of mitochondrial-resident phosphatases. We further propose models by which phosphorylation may affect mitochondrial enzyme activities, protein import and processing, and overall organellar homeostasis.
    Keywords:  mitochondria; phosphoproteomics; protein kinase; protein phosphatase; protein phosphorylation
  7. Crit Rev Biochem Mol Biol. 2021 Jun 13. 1-16
      Heteroplasmy refers to the coexistence of more than one variant of the mitochondrial genome (mtDNA). Mutated or partially deleted mtDNAs can induce chronic metabolic impairment and cause mitochondrial diseases when their heteroplasmy levels exceed a critical threshold. These mutant mtDNAs can be maternally inherited or can arise de novo. Compelling evidence has emerged showing that mutant mtDNA levels can vary and change in a nonrandom fashion across generations and amongst tissues of an individual. However, our lack of understanding of the basic cellular and molecular mechanisms of mtDNA heteroplasmy dynamics has made it difficult to predict who will inherit or develop mtDNA-associated diseases. More recently, with the advances in technology and the establishment of tractable model systems, insights into the mechanisms underlying the selection forces that modulate heteroplasmy dynamics are beginning to emerge. In this review, we summarize evidence from different organisms, showing that mutant mtDNA can experience both positive and negative selection. We also review the recently identified mechanisms that modulate heteroplasmy dynamics. Taken together, this is an opportune time to survey the literature and to identify key cellular pathways that can be targeted to develop therapies for diseases caused by heteroplasmic mtDNA mutations.
    Keywords:  Heteroplasmy dynamics; mitochondria; mitochondrial genetics; mtDNA; selection
  8. Chem Sci. 2020 Aug 04. 11(33): 8771-8778
      Mitochondria are the powerhouse of cells, and also their suicidal weapon store. Mitochondrial dysfunction can cause the opening of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) release from mitochondria, eventually leading to the disruption of energy metabolism and even cell death. Hence, NADH is often considered a marker of mitochondrial function, but in situ monitoring of NADH release from mitochondria in single living cells remains a great challenge. Herein, we develop a functionalized single nanowire electrode (NWE) for electrochemical detection of NADH release from intracellular mitochondria by modifying conductive polymer (poly(3,4-ethylendioxythiophene), PEDOT)-coated carbon nanotubes (CNTs) on the surface of a SiC@C nanowire. The positively charged PEDOT facilitates the accumulation of negatively charged NADH at the electrode surface and CNTs promote electron transfer, thus endowing the NWE with high sensitivity and selectivity. Further studies show that resveratrol, a natural product, specifically induced NADH release from mitochondria of MCF-7 cancer cells rather than non-cancerous MCF-10 A cells, indicating the potential therapeutic effects of resveratrol in cancer treatment. This work provides an efficient method to monitor mitochondrial function by in situ electrochemical measurement of NADH release, which will be of great benefit for physiological and pathological studies.
  9. Life Sci. 2021 Jun 10. pii: S0024-3205(21)00702-5. [Epub ahead of print]280 119716
      AIMS: Silent information regulator 1 (SIRT1) is a NAD+-dependent protein-modifying enzyme involved in regulating gene expression, DNA damage repair, cell metabolism, and mitochondrial functions. Given that it acts as both a tumor promoter and suppressor, the complex mechanisms underlying SIRT1 signaling in cancer remain controversial. Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) plays a key role in the progression of carcinogenesis and tumors metastasis. Studies have shown that mitochondrial defects are critical in EMT process, and SIRT1 is found to regulate the generation and energy metabolism of mitochondria. Here, we elucidate a novel mechanism by which SIRT1 affects EMT in lung cancer cells via its regulation on mitochondria.MAIN METHODS: SIRT1 signaling was detected in TGF-β1-induced EMT and was found to regulate mitochondria status, including mitochondrial biogenesis-related protein levels as detected by western blotting, mitochondrial structure observed by transmission electron microscopy, and respiratory functions analyzed by a respiration capacity assay. The effects of modulating SIRT1 expression on EMT and migration of lung cancer cells or normal cells were evaluated by in vitro and in vivo models.
    KEY FINDINGS: We found that the regulation of SIRT1 signaling on the biogenesis or functions of mitochondria was critical to EMT. Overexpression of SIRT1 reduced EMT or metastasis potential of lung cancer cells by improving the quantity and quality of mitochondria, whereas silencing SIRT1 promote EMT in cancer cells, even in normal cells by disturbing mitochondria status.
    SIGNIFICANCE: Consequently, SIRT1 is an attractive therapeutic target for reversing EMT or tumor metastasis.
    Keywords:  Epithelial-mesenchymal transition; Mitochondria; Silent information regulator 1; Tumor metastasis
  10. Nat Commun. 2021 06 16. 12(1): 3660
      The mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) integrates cellular nutrient signaling and hormonal cues to control metabolism. We have previously shown that constitutive nutrient signaling to mTORC1 by means of genetic activation of RagA (expression of GTP-locked RagA, or RagAGTP) in mice resulted in a fatal energetic crisis at birth. Herein, we rescue neonatal lethality in RagAGTP mice and find morphometric and metabolic alterations that span glucose, lipid, ketone, bile acid and amino acid homeostasis in adults, and a median lifespan of nine months. Proteomic and metabolomic analyses of livers from RagAGTP mice reveal a failed metabolic adaptation to fasting due to a global impairment in PPARα transcriptional program. These metabolic defects are partially recapitulated by restricting activation of RagA to hepatocytes, and revert by pharmacological inhibition of mTORC1. Constitutive hepatic nutrient signaling does not cause hepatocellular damage and carcinomas, unlike genetic activation of growth factor signaling upstream of mTORC1. In summary, RagA signaling dictates dynamic responses to feeding-fasting cycles to tune metabolism so as to match the nutritional state.
  11. Bioorg Chem. 2021 Jun 03. pii: S0045-2068(21)00432-6. [Epub ahead of print]114 105055
      Cancer therapy targets specific metabolic pathways or a single gene. This may result in low therapeutic effects due to drug selectivity and drug resistance. Recent studies revealed that the mitochondrial membrane potential and transmembrane permeability of cancerous mitochondria are differed from normal mitochondria. Thus, chemotherapy targeting cancerous mitochondria could be an innovative and competent strategy for cancer therapy. Previously, our work with a novel group of mitochondria targeting small molecules presented promising inhibitory capability toward various cancer cell lines and suppressed adenosine triphosphate (ATP) generation. Therefore, it is critical to understand the anticancer effect and targeting mechanism of these small molecules. This study investigated the inhibitory activity of mitochondria targeting small molecules with human cervical cancer cells - HeLa to further explore their therapeutic potential. HeLa cells were exposed to 10 µM of synthesized compounds and presented elevation in intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) level, impaired mitochondrial membrane potential and upregulation of apoptosis as well as necrosis. In vivo, HeLa cell tumor-bearing BALB/c nude mice were treated with mitochondria targeting small molecules for 12 days consecutively. Throughout this chemotherapy study, no deleterious side effects nor the appearance of toxicity was observed. Furthermore, mitochondria targeting small molecules treated groups exhibited significant down-regulation with both tumor volume and tumor weight compared to the Doxorubicin (DOX) treated group. Thus, inhibition of mitochondrial ATP synthesis, activation of intracellular ROS production, down-regulation of mitochondrial membrane potential and upregulation of apoptosis and necrosis rates are the indications of cancer therapy. In this work, we examined the anticancer capability of four mitochondria targeting small molecules in vitro and in vivo, and demonstrated a novel therapeutic approach in cancer therapy with tremendous potential.
    Keywords:  Apoptosis; Mitochondria; Mitochondria-targeting compounds; Mitochondrial chemotherapy; Mitochondrial membrane potential; ROS
  12. Int J Biol Sci. 2021 ;17(8): 2021-2033
      Today mitochondria are considered much more than a energy plant in cells. Mitochondrial transplantation therapy has been an active research area for treating mitochondria-associated diseases from animal studies to clinical trials. However, the specific mechanism involved in the anti-tumor activity of healthy mitochondria remain to be characterized. Here we investigate the signal mechanism and gender difference of mitochondrial transplantation therapy against malignant melanoma. In the study, we administrated intact mitochondria extracted from mouse livers respectively to the mice bearing malignantly subcutaneous and metastatic melanoma, and identified the signal mechanism responsible for the mitochondrial treatment through transcriptomic analysis. Meanwhile, the efficiency of female mitochondria and male mitochondria was compared in the cultured melanoma cells and transplanted melanoma in mice. The results suggested that the mitochondria significantly inhibited the tumor cell proliferation in vitro through cell cycle arrest and induction of cell apoptosis. In the melanoma-bearing mice, the mitochondria retard the tumor growth and lung migration, and the transcriptomic analysis indicated that general chromosome silencing was strongly associated with the mitochondria against melanoma after the mitochondrial transplantation on the metastasis melanoma. Moreover, the anti-tumor activity of mitochondria from female animals was more efficient in comparison to the males, and the female mitochondria could probably induce more persuasive mitochondria-nuclear communication than the mitochondria from male mice. The study identifies the anti-tumor mechanism of the mitochondrial transplantation therapy, and provides a novel insight into the effect of mitochondria from different gender.
    Keywords:  apoptosis; cell cycle arrest; melanoma; mitochondrial transplantation therapy
  13. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Jun 29. pii: e2026786118. [Epub ahead of print]118(26):
      Cells are the basic units of all living matter which harness the flow of energy to drive the processes of life. While the biochemical networks involved in energy transduction are well-characterized, the energetic costs and constraints for specific cellular processes remain largely unknown. In particular, what are the energy budgets of cells? What are the constraints and limits energy flows impose on cellular processes? Do cells operate near these limits, and if so how do energetic constraints impact cellular functions? Physics has provided many tools to study nonequilibrium systems and to define physical limits, but applying these tools to cell biology remains a challenge. Physical bioenergetics, which resides at the interface of nonequilibrium physics, energy metabolism, and cell biology, seeks to understand how much energy cells are using, how they partition this energy between different cellular processes, and the associated energetic constraints. Here we review recent advances and discuss open questions and challenges in physical bioenergetics.
    Keywords:  energetic constraints; energetic costs; energy fluxes; physical bioenergetics
  14. Biochem J. 2021 Jun 15. pii: BCJ20210264. [Epub ahead of print]
      Reductions in mitochondrial function have been proposed to cause insulin resistance, however the possibility that impairments in insulin signaling negatively affects mitochondrial bioenergetics has received little attention. Therefore, we tested the hypothesis that insulin could rapidly improve mitochondrial ADP sensitivity, a key process linked to oxidative phosphorylation and redox balance, and if this phenomenon would be lost following high-fat diet (HFD)-induced insulin resistance. Insulin acutely (60 minutes post I.P.) increased submaximal (100-1000 μM ADP) mitochondrial respiration ~2-fold without altering maximal (>1000 μM ADP) respiration, suggesting insulin rapidly improves mitochondrial bioenergetics. The consumption of HFD impaired submaximal ADP-supported respiration ~50%, however, despite the induction of insulin resistance, the ability of acute insulin to stimulate ADP sensitivity and increase submaximal respiration persisted. While these data suggest that insulin mitigates HFD-induced impairments in mitochondrial bioenergetics, the presence of a high intracellular lipid environment reflective of an HFD (i.e. presence of palmitoyl-CoA) completely prevented the beneficial effects of insulin. Altogether, these data show that while insulin rapidly stimulates mitochondrial bioenergetics through an improvement in ADP sensitivity, this phenomenon is possibly lost following HFD due to the presence of intracellular lipids.
    Keywords:  insulin resistance; mitochondria; muscle metabolism; obesity; skeletal muscle
  15. Nat Commun. 2021 06 17. 12(1): 3720
      Low levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) are crucial for maintaining cancer stem cells (CSCs) and their ability to resist therapy, but the ROS regulatory mechanisms in CSCs remains to be explored. Here, we discover that prohibitin (PHB) specifically regulates mitochondrial ROS production in glioma stem-like cells (GSCs) and facilitates GSC radiotherapeutic resistance. We find that PHB is upregulated in GSCs and is associated with malignant gliomas progression and poor prognosis. PHB binds to peroxiredoxin3 (PRDX3), a mitochondrion-specific peroxidase, and stabilizes PRDX3 protein through the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. Knockout of PHB dramatically elevates ROS levels, thereby inhibiting GSC self-renewal. Importantly, deletion or pharmacological inhibition of PHB potently slows tumor growth and sensitizes tumors to radiotherapy, thus providing significant survival benefits in GSC-derived orthotopic tumors and glioblastoma patient-derived xenografts. These results reveal a selective role of PHB in mitochondrial ROS regulation in GSCs and suggest that targeting PHB improves radiotherapeutic efficacy in glioblastoma.
  16. Leukemia. 2021 Jun 12.
      Leukemic stem cells (LSCs) can acquire non-mutational resistance following drug treatment leading to therapeutic failure and relapse. However, oncogene-independent mechanisms of drug persistence in LSCs are incompletely understood, which is the primary focus of this study. We integrated proteomics, transcriptomics, and metabolomics to determine the contribution of STAT3 in promoting metabolic changes in tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) persistent chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) cells. Proteomic and transcriptional differences in TKI persistent CML cells revealed BCR-ABL-independent STAT3 activation in these cells. While knockout of STAT3 inhibited the CML cells from developing drug-persistence, inhibition of STAT3 using a small molecule inhibitor sensitized the persistent CML cells to TKI treatment. Interestingly, given the role of phosphorylated STAT3 as a transcription factor, it localized uniquely to genes regulating metabolic pathways in the TKI-persistent CML stem and progenitor cells. Subsequently, we observed that STAT3 dysregulated mitochondrial metabolism forcing the TKI-persistent CML cells to depend on glycolysis, unlike TKI-sensitive CML cells, which are more reliant on oxidative phosphorylation. Finally, targeting pyruvate kinase M2, a rate-limiting glycolytic enzyme, specifically eradicated the TKI-persistent CML cells. By exploring the role of STAT3 in altering metabolism, we provide critical insight into identifying potential therapeutic targets for eliminating TKI-persistent LSCs.
  17. mSphere. 2021 Jun 16. e0032721
      Mitochondrial cristae are polymorphic invaginations of the inner membrane that are the fabric of cellular respiration. Both the mitochondrial contact site and cristae organization system (MICOS) and the F1FO-ATP synthase are vital for sculpting cristae by opposing membrane-bending forces. While MICOS promotes negative curvature at crista junctions, dimeric F1FO-ATP synthase is crucial for positive curvature at crista rims. Crosstalk between these two complexes has been observed in baker's yeast, the model organism of the Opisthokonta supergroup. Here, we report that this property is conserved in Trypanosoma brucei, a member of the Discoba clade that separated from the Opisthokonta ∼2 billion years ago. Specifically, one of the paralogs of the core MICOS subunit Mic10 interacts with dimeric F1FO-ATP synthase, whereas the other core Mic60 subunit has a counteractive effect on F1FO-ATP synthase oligomerization. This is evocative of the nature of MICOS-F1FO-ATP synthase crosstalk in yeast, which is remarkable given the diversification that these two complexes have undergone during almost 2 eons of independent evolution. Furthermore, we identified a highly diverged, putative homolog of subunit e, which is essential for the stability of F1FO-ATP synthase dimers in yeast. Just like subunit e, it is preferentially associated with dimers and interacts with Mic10, and its silencing results in severe defects to cristae and the disintegration of F1FO-ATP synthase dimers. Our findings indicate that crosstalk between MICOS and dimeric F1FO-ATP synthase is a fundamental property impacting crista shape throughout eukaryotes. IMPORTANCE Mitochondria have undergone profound diversification in separate lineages that have radiated since the last common ancestor of eukaryotes some eons ago. Most eukaryotes are unicellular protists, including etiological agents of infectious diseases, like Trypanosoma brucei. Thus, the study of a broad range of protists can reveal fundamental features shared by all eukaryotes and lineage-specific innovations. Here, we report that two different protein complexes, MICOS and F1FO-ATP synthase, known to affect mitochondrial architecture, undergo crosstalk in T. brucei, just as in baker's yeast. This is remarkable considering that these complexes have otherwise undergone many changes during their almost 2 billion years of independent evolution. Thus, this crosstalk is a fundamental property needed to maintain proper mitochondrial structure even if the constituent players considerably diverged.
    Keywords:  ATP synthase; MICOS; Trypanosoma; evolution; mitochondria
  18. Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 2021 Jun 15.
      Mutations in the genes encoding the cytoplasmic and mitochondrial forms of isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH1 and IDH2, respectively; collectively referred to as IDH) are frequently detected in cancers of various origins, including but not limited to acute myeloid leukaemia (20%), cholangiocarcinoma (20%), chondrosarcoma (80%) and glioma (80%). In all cases, neomorphic activity of the mutated enzyme leads to production of the oncometabolite D-2-hydroxyglutarate, which has profound cell-autonomous and non-cell-autonomous effects. The broad effects of IDH mutations on epigenetic, differentiation and metabolic programmes, together with their high prevalence across a variety of cancer types, early presence in tumorigenesis and uniform expression in tumour cells, make mutant IDH an ideal therapeutic target. Herein, we describe the current biological understanding of IDH mutations and the roles of mutant IDH in the various associated cancers. We also present the available preclinical and clinical data on various methods of targeting IDH-mutant cancers and discuss, based on the underlying pathogenesis of different IDH-mutated cancer types, whether the treatment approaches will converge or be context dependent.
  19. Nat Commun. 2021 06 10. 12(1): 3526
      Current therapeutic approaches for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) focus on the suppression of oncogenic kinase signaling. Here, we test the hypothesis that targeted hyperactivation of the phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate/AKT (PI3K/AKT)-signaling pathway may be leveraged to trigger CLL cell death. Though counterintuitive, our data show that genetic hyperactivation of PI3K/AKT-signaling or blocking the activity of the inhibitory phosphatase SH2-containing-inositol-5'-phosphatase-1 (SHIP1) induces acute cell death in CLL cells. Our mechanistic studies reveal that increased AKT activity upon inhibition of SHIP1 leads to increased mitochondrial respiration and causes excessive accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), resulting in cell death in CLL with immunogenic features. Our results demonstrate that CLL cells critically depend on mechanisms to fine-tune PI3K/AKT activity, allowing sustained proliferation and survival but avoid ROS-induced cell death and suggest transient SHIP1-inhibition as an unexpectedly promising concept for CLL therapy.
  20. Biochemistry. 2021 Jun 18.
      Isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (IDH1) is a key metabolic enzyme for maintaining cytosolic levels of α-ketoglutarate (AKG) and preserving the redox environment of the cytosol. Wild-type (WT) IDH1 converts isocitrate to AKG; however, mutant IDH1-R132H that is recurrent in human cancers catalyzes the neomorphic production of the oncometabolite d-2-hydroxyglutrate (D-2HG) from AKG. Recent work suggests that production of l-2-hydroxyglutarte in cancer cells can be regulated by environmental changes, including hypoxia and intracellular pH (pHi). However, it is unknown whether and how pHi affects the activity of IDH1-R132H. Here, we show that in cells IDH1-R132H can produce D-2HG in a pH-dependent manner with increased production at lower pHi. We also identify a molecular mechanism by which this pH sensitivity is achieved. We show that pH-dependent production of D-2HG is mediated by pH-dependent heterodimer formation between IDH1-WT and IDH1-R132H. In contrast, neither IDH1-WT nor IDH1-R132H homodimer formation is affected by pH. Our results demonstrate that robust production of D-2HG by IDH1-R132H relies on the coincidence of (1) the ability to form heterodimers with IDH1-WT and (2) low pHi or highly abundant AKG substrate. These data suggest cancer-associated IDH1-R132H may be sensitive to physiological or microenvironmental cues that lower pH, such as hypoxia or metabolic reprogramming. This work reveals new molecular considerations for targeted therapeutics and suggests potential synergistic effects of using catalytic IDH1 inhibitors targeting D-2HG production in combination with drugs targeting the tumor microenvironment.
  21. Cancer Res. 2021 Jun 14.
      Succinate dehydrogenase is a key enzyme in the tricarboxylic acid cycle and the electron transport chain. All four subunits of succinate dehydrogenase are tumor suppressor genes predisposing to paraganglioma, but only mutations in the SDHB subunit are associated with increased risk of metastasis. Here we generated an Sdhd knockout chromaffin cell line and compared it with Sdhb-deficient cells. Both cell types exhibited similar SDH loss of function, metabolic adaptation, and succinate accumulation. In contrast, Sdhb-/- cells showed hallmarks of mesenchymal transition associated with increased DNA hypermethylation and a stronger pseudo-hypoxic phenotype compared with Sdhd-/- cells. Loss of SDHB specifically led to increased oxidative stress associated with dysregulated iron and copper homeostasis in the absence of NRF2 activation. High-dose ascorbate exacerbated the increase in mitochondrial reactive oxygen species, leading to cell death in Sdhb-/- cells. These data establish a mechanism linking oxidative stress to iron homeostasis that specifically occurs in Sdhb-deficient cells and may promote metastasis. They also highlight high-dose ascorbate as a promising therapeutic strategy for SDHB-related cancers. SIGNIFICANCE: Loss of different succinate dehydrogenase subunits can lead to different cell and tumor phenotypes, linking stronger 2-OG-dependent dioxygenases inhibition, iron overload, and ROS accumulation following SDHB mutation.
  22. Crit Rev Biochem Mol Biol. 2021 Jun 17. 1-25
      Mitochondria are organelles present in most eukaryotic cells, where they play major and multifaceted roles. The classical notion of the main mitochondrial function as the powerhouse of the cell per se has been complemented by recent discoveries pointing to mitochondria as organelles affecting a number of other auxiliary processes. They go beyond the classical energy provision via acting as a relay point of many catabolic and anabolic processes, to signaling pathways critically affecting cell growth by their implication in de novo pyrimidine synthesis. These additional roles further underscore the importance of mitochondrial homeostasis in various tissues, where its deregulation promotes a number of pathologies. While it has long been known that mitochondria can move within a cell to sites where they are needed, recent research has uncovered that mitochondria can also move between cells. While this intriguing field of research is only emerging, it is clear that mobilization of mitochondria requires a complex apparatus that critically involves mitochondrial proteins of the Miro family, whose role goes beyond the mitochondrial transfer, as will be covered in this review.
    Keywords:  Miro proteins; Mitochondria; endoplasmic reticulum; intercellular transfer; mitophagy; motor proteins; respiration
  23. Transl Oncol. 2021 Jun 09. pii: S1936-5233(21)00138-8. [Epub ahead of print]14(8): 101146
      Head and neck paragangliomas (HNPGLs) are rare neoplasms that represent difficult treatment paradigms in neurotology. Germline mutations in genes encoding succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) are the cause of nearly all familial HNPGLs. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying tumorigenesis remain unclear. Mutational analysis identified 6 out of 14 HNPGLs harboring clinicopathologic SDH gene mutations. The SDHB gene was most frequently mutated in these patients, and western blot showed loss of SDHB protein in tumors with SDHB mutations. The paraganglioma cell line (PGL-626) was established from a sample that harbored a missense SDHB mutation (c.649C > T). Spectrometric analysis using tandem mass tags identified 151 proteins significantly differentially expressed in HNPGLs compared with normal nerves. Bioinformatics analyses confirmed the high level of enrichment of oxidative phosphorylation and metabolism pathways in HNPGLs. The mitochondrial complex subunits NDUFA2, NDUFA10, and NDUFA4, showed the most significantly increased expression and were localized predominantly in the cytoplasm of PGL-626 cells. The mitochondrial complex I inhibitor metformin exerted dose-dependent inhibitory effects on PGL-626 cells via cooperative down-regulation of NDUFA2, 4, and 10, with a significant decrease in the levels of reactive oxygen species and mitochondrial membrane potential. Further metabolomic analysis of PGL-626 cells showed that metabolites involved in central carbon metabolism in cancer and sphingolipid signaling pathways, pantothenate and CoA biosynthesis, and tryptophan and carbon metabolism were significantly altered after metformin treatment. Thus, this study provides insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying HNPGL tumorigenesis and identifies target correction of metabolic abnormalities as a novel therapeutic approach for this disease.
    Keywords:  Head and neck paragangliomas; Metabolomics; Metformin; Proteomics; SDH
  24. Cell Rep. 2021 Jun 15. pii: S2211-1247(21)00617-3. [Epub ahead of print]35(11): 109252
      Heme is an iron-containing porphyrin of vital importance for cell energetic metabolism. High rates of heme synthesis are commonly observed in proliferating cells. Moreover, the cell-surface heme exporter feline leukemia virus subgroup C receptor 1a (FLVCR1a) is overexpressed in several tumor types. However, the reasons why heme synthesis and export are enhanced in highly proliferating cells remain unknown. Here, we illustrate a functional axis between heme synthesis and heme export: heme efflux through the plasma membrane sustains heme synthesis, and implementation of the two processes down-modulates the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle flux and oxidative phosphorylation. Conversely, inhibition of heme export reduces heme synthesis and promotes the TCA cycle fueling and flux as well as oxidative phosphorylation. These data indicate that the heme synthesis-export system modulates the TCA cycle and oxidative metabolism and provide a mechanistic basis for the observation that both processes are enhanced in cells with high-energy demand.
    Keywords:  ALAS1; FLVCR; FLVCR1; FLVCR1a; cancer; heme; metabolism; oxidative phosphorylation; tricarboxylic acid cycle
  25. Bioorg Chem. 2021 May 25. pii: S0045-2068(21)00392-8. [Epub ahead of print]114 105015
      Mitochondria are pivotal energy production sources for cells to maintain necessary metabolism activities. Targeting dysfunctional mitochondrial features has been a hotspot for mitochondrial-related disease researches. Investigation with cancerous mitochondrial metabolism is a continuing concern within tumor therapy. Herein, we set out to assess the anti-cancer activities of a novel family of TPP-thiazole derivatives based on our earlier research on mitochondrial targeting agents. Specifically, we designed and synthesized a series of TPP-thiazole derivatives and revealed by the MTT assay that most synthesized compounds effectively inhibited three cancer cell lines (HeLa, PC3 and MCF-7). After structure modifications, we explored the SAR relationships and identified the most promising compound R13 (IC50 of 5.52 μM) for further investigation. In the meantime, we performed ATP production assay to assess the selected compounds inhibitory effect on HeLa cells energy production. The results displayed the test compounds significantly restrained ATP production of cancer cells. Overall, we have designed and synthesized a series of compounds which exhibited significant cytotoxicity against cancer cells and effectively inhibited mitochondrial energy production.
    Keywords:  ATP production; Cell proliferation; Mitochondria; TPP(+); Thiazole
  26. Cell Rep. 2021 Jun 15. pii: S2211-1247(21)00594-5. [Epub ahead of print]35(11): 109235
      T regulatory (Treg) cells are crucial to maintain immune tolerance and repress antitumor immunity, but the mechanisms governing their cellular redox homeostasis remain elusive. We report that glutathione peroxidase 4 (Gpx4) prevents Treg cells from lipid peroxidation and ferroptosis in regulating immune homeostasis and antitumor immunity. Treg-specific deletion of Gpx4 impairs immune homeostasis without substantially affecting survival of Treg cells at steady state. Loss of Gpx4 results in excessive accumulation of lipid peroxides and ferroptosis of Treg cells upon T cell receptor (TCR)/CD28 co-stimulation. Neutralization of lipid peroxides and blockade of iron availability rescue ferroptosis of Gpx4-deficient Treg cells. Moreover, Gpx4-deficient Treg cells elevate generation of mitochondrial superoxide and production of interleukin-1β (IL-1β) that facilitates T helper 17 (TH17) responses. Furthermore, Treg-specific ablation of Gpx4 represses tumor growth and concomitantly potentiates antitumor immunity. Our studies establish a crucial role for Gpx4 in protecting activated Treg cells from lipid peroxidation and ferroptosis and offer a potential therapeutic strategy to improve cancer treatment.
    Keywords:  B16 melanoma; Gpx4; T(H)17 responses; TCR stimulation; Treg cells; ferroptosis; lipid peroxidation; mitochondria; tumor immune evasion
  27. Nat Commun. 2021 06 10. 12(1): 3530
      Targeting tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) is a promising strategy to modify the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment and improve cancer immunotherapy. Monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A) is an enzyme best known for its function in the brain; small molecule MAO inhibitors (MAOIs) are clinically used for treating neurological disorders. Here we observe MAO-A induction in mouse and human TAMs. MAO-A-deficient mice exhibit decreased TAM immunosuppressive functions corresponding with enhanced antitumor immunity. MAOI treatment induces TAM reprogramming and suppresses tumor growth in preclinical mouse syngeneic and human xenograft tumor models. Combining MAOI and anti-PD-1 treatments results in synergistic tumor suppression. Clinical data correlation studies associate high intratumoral MAOA expression with poor patient survival in a broad range of cancers. We further demonstrate that MAO-A promotes TAM immunosuppressive polarization via upregulating oxidative stress. Together, these data identify MAO-A as a critical regulator of TAMs and support repurposing MAOIs for TAM reprogramming to improve cancer immunotherapy.
  28. Cell Rep. 2021 Jun 15. pii: S2211-1247(21)00596-9. [Epub ahead of print]35(11): 109237
      The formation of stress granules (SGs) is an essential aspect of the cellular response to many kinds of stress, but its adaptive role is far from clear. SG dysfunction is implicated in aging-onset neurodegenerative diseases, prompting interest in their physiological function. Here, we report that during starvation stress, SGs interact with mitochondria and regulate metabolic remodeling. We show that SG formation leads to a downregulation of fatty acid β-oxidation (FAO) through the modulation of mitochondrial voltage-dependent anion channels (VDACs), which import fatty acids (FAs) into mitochondria. The subsequent decrease in FAO during long-term starvation reduces oxidative damage and rations FAs for longer use. Failure to form SGs, whether caused by the genetic deletion of SG components or an amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)-associated mutation, translates into an inability to downregulate FAO. Because metabolic dysfunction is a common pathological element of neurodegenerative diseases, including ALS, our findings provide a direction for studying the clinical relevance of SGs.
    Keywords:  ALS; VDAC; fatty acid oxidation; lipid droplet; lipid metabolism; metabolic adaptation; mitochondria; porin; starvation; stress granule
  29. Hepatol Commun. 2021 Jun;5(6): 976-991
      The electron transfer flavoprotein (ETF) complex, made up of the ETF alpha subunit (ETFA), ETF beta subunit (ETFB), and ETF dehydrogenase (ETFDH), regulates fatty acid β-oxidation activity while scavenging leaked electrons through flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD)/reduced form FAD (FADH2) redox reactions in mitochondria. Here, we hypothesized that ETF dysfunction-mediated FAD deficiency may result in increased mitochondrial oxidative stress and steatosis and subsequent liver injury. We report that etfa haploinsufficiency caused hyperlipidemia, hypercholesterolemia, and hepatic steatosis and injury in adult zebrafish. Further, etfa+/ - mutant livers had reduced levels of FAD and glutathione and an increase in reactive oxygen species. Because FAD depletion might be critical in the pathogenesis of the liver lesion identified in etfa+/ - mutants, we used riboflavin to elevate FAD levels in the liver and found that riboflavin supplementation significantly suppressed hepatic steatosis and injury in etfa+/ - mutants through suppression of oxidative stress and de novo lipogenesis in the liver. Additionally, we found that adenosine triphosphate-linked mitochondrial oxygen consumption and mitochondrial membrane potential were reduced in etfa+/ - primary hepatocytes and that riboflavin supplementation corrected these defects. Conclusion: FAD depletion caused by etfa haploinsufficiency plays a key role in hepatic steatosis and oxidative stress-mediated hepatic injury in adult zebrafish. This raises the possibility that people with ETFA haploinsufficiency have a high risk for developing liver disease.
  30. PLoS One. 2021 ;16(6): e0253269
      AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is an evolutionarily conserved energy sensor. Activation of AMPK leads to a number of metabolic benefits, including improved mitochondrial function in skeletal muscle and lowering of serum glucose levels in type-2 diabetes models. However, direct activation of AMPK leads to cardiac enlargement, and an alternative strategy that activates AMPK without affecting the heart is needed. Inhibition of phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4), which is poorly expressed in the human heart, activates AMPK in other tissues. In a screen to identify novel PDE4 inhibitors, we discovered compound CBU91, which is 5-10 fold more potent than rolipram, the best characterized PDE4 inhibitor. CBU91, like rolipram, is able to activate AMPK and Sirt1 and increase mitochondrial function in myotubes. These findings suggest that activation of AMPK in myotubes is a general property of PDE4 inhibition and that PDE4 inhibition may activate AMPK in metabolically relevant tissues without affecting the heart.
  31. J Biol Chem. 2021 Jun 09. pii: S0021-9258(21)00666-9. [Epub ahead of print] 100866
      Genetically encoded fluorescent H2O2 probes continue to advance the field of redox biology. Here we compare the previously established peroxiredoxin-based H2O2 probe roGFP2-Tsa2ΔCR with the newly described OxyR-based H2O2 probe HyPer7, using yeast as the model system. While not as sensitive as roGFP2-Tsa2ΔCR, HyPer7 is much improved relative to earlier HyPer versions, most notably by ratiometric pH stability. The most striking difference between the two probes is the dynamics of intracellular probe reduction. HyPer7 is rapidly reduced, predominantly by the thioredoxin system, while roGFP2-Tsa2ΔCR is reduced more slowly, predominantly by the glutathione system. We discuss the pros and cons of each probe and suggest that future side-by-side measurements with both probes may provide information on the relative activity of the two major cellular reducing systems.
    Keywords:  HyPer; OxyR; hydrogen peroxide; peroxiredoxins; roGFP2; yeast
  32. Aging (Albany NY). 2021 Jun 17. 13
      Brain mitochondrial dysfunction and reduced testosterone levels are common features of aging in men. Although evidence suggests that the two phenomena are interrelated, it is unclear whether testosterone supplementation ameliorates mitochondrial dysfunction in the aging male brain. Here, we show that testosterone supplementation significantly alleviates exploratory behavioral deficits and oxidative damage in the substantia nigra and hippocampus of aging male rats. These effects were consistent with improved mitochondrial function, reflected by testosterone-induced increases in mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP), antioxidant enzyme (GSH-PX, catalase, and Mn-SOD) expression/activity, and mitochondrial respiratory complex activities in both brain regions. Furthermore, elevated PGC-1α, NRF-1, and TFAM expression (suggestive of enhanced mitochondrial biogenesis), increased citrate synthase activity, mtDNA copy number, and ND1, COX1, and ATP6 expression (indicative of increased mitochondrial content), as well as increased PINK1/Parkin and decreased P62 expression (suggesting mitophagy activation), were detected in the substantial nigra and hippocampus of aged male rats after testosterone supplementation. These findings suggest that testosterone supplementation may be a viable approach to ameliorating brain mitochondrial dysfunction and thus prevent or treat cognitive-behavioral deficits and neurodegenerative conditions associated with aging.
    Keywords:  aged male rats; antioxidative capacity; mitochondrial biogenesis; mitochondrial function; testosterone
  33. Neoplasia. 2021 Jun 13. pii: S1476-5586(21)00035-X. [Epub ahead of print]23(7): 653-662
      Tumor hypoxia is known to promote the acquisition of more aggressive phenotypes in human transitional cell carcinoma (TCC), including drug resistance. Accumulating evidence suggests that mitochondria play a central role in the chemoresistance of TCC. However, the role of mitochondria in the hypoxia-induced drug resistance in TCC remains elusive. The present study investigated the function of mitochondria in the drug resistance using a TCC cell line under hypoxic conditions. In vitro hypoxia (0.1% O2, 48 h) was achieved by incubating TCC cells in air chamber. Mitochondrial events involving hypoxia-induced drug resistance were assessed. Hypoxia significantly reduced the cisplatin-induced apoptosis of TCC cells. Additionally, hypoxia substantially decreased the level of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated by cisplatin treatment. Analogously, elimination of mitochondrial ROS significantly rescued cells from cisplatin-induced apoptosis. Hypoxia enhanced mitochondrial hyperpolarization, which was not related to ATP production or the reversal of ATP synthase activity. The mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) amplification efficiency data illustrated that hypoxia significantly prevented oxidative damage to the mitogenome. Moreover, transmission electron microscopy revealed that cisplatin-induced disruption of the mitochondrial ultrastructure was abated under hypoxic conditions. Notably, depletion of mtDNA by ethidium bromide abrogated hypoxia-induced resistance to cisplatin. Taken together, the present study demonstrated that TCC cells exposed to hypoxic conditions rendered mitochondria less sensitive to oxidative stress induced by cisplatin treatment, leading to enhanced drug resistance.
    Keywords:  Drug resistance; Hypoxia; Mitochondria; Oxidative stress; mtDNA
  34. J Cell Mol Med. 2021 Jun 13.
      Recent studies have demonstrated that one-carbon metabolism plays a significant role in cancer development. Methylenetetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase 2 (MTHFD2), a mitochondrial enzyme of one-carbon metabolism, has been reported to be dysregulated in many cancers. However, the specific role and mechanism of MTHFD2 in lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD) still remains unclear. In this study, we evaluated the clinicopathological and prognostic values of MTHFD2 in LUAD patients. We conducted a series of functional experiments in vivo and in vitro to explore novel mechanism of MTHFD2 in LUAD. The results showed that MTHFD2 was significantly up-regulated in LUAD tissues and predicted poor prognosis of LUAD patients. Knockdown of MTHFD2 dramatically inhibited cell proliferation and migration by blocking the cell cycle and inducing the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). In addition, MTHFD2 knockdown suppressed LUAD growth and metastasis in cell-derived xenografts. Mechanically, we found that MTHFD2 promoted LUAD cell growth and metastasis via AKT/GSK-3β/β-catenin signalling. Finally, we identified miR-30a-3p as a novel regulator of MTHFD2 in LUAD. Collectively, MTHFD2 plays an oncogenic role in LUAD progression and is a promising target for LUAD diagnosis and therapy.
    Keywords:  AKT; MTHFD2; lung adenocarcinoma; miR-30a-3p
  35. FASEB J. 2021 Jul;35(7): e21709
      Tissues undergo a process of degeneration as the body ages. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been found to have major potential in delaying the aging process in tissues and organs. However, the mechanism underlying the anti-aging effects of MSC is not clear which limits clinical applications. In this study, we used adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (ADSCs) to perform anti-aging treatments on senescent cells and progeroid animal models. Following intervention with ADSCs, replicative senescence was delayed and metabolic homeostasis was transformed from catabolism to anabolism. Metabolomic tests were used to analyze different metabolites. We found that ADSCs acted to accelerate mitophagy which eliminated intracellular ROS and improved the quality of mitochondria. These processes acted to regulate the cellular metabolic homeostasis and ultimately delayed the process of aging. Allogeneic stem cell therapy in a Progeria animal model (DNA polymerase gamma (POLG) knockin, mitochondrial dysfunction) also showed that ADSC therapy can improve alopecia and kyphosis by promoting mitophagy. Our research confirms for the first time that allogeneic stem cell therapy can improve aging-related symbols and phenotypes through mitochondrial quality control. These results are highly significant for the future applications of stem cells in aging-related diseases.
    Keywords:  adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells; aging; metabolism; mitophagy; stem cell transplantation
  36. Sci Rep. 2021 Jun 10. 11(1): 12287
      Metastasis is the process of cancer cell dissemination from primary tumors to different organs being the bone the preferred site for metastatic homing of prostate cancer (PCa) cells. Prostate tumorigenesis is a multi-stage process that ultimately tends to advance to become metastatic PCa. Once PCa patients develop skeletal metastases, they eventually succumb to the disease. Therefore, it is imperative to identify essential molecular drivers of this process to develop new therapeutic alternatives for the treatment of this devastating disease. Here, we have identified MAP4K4 as a relevant gene for metastasis in PCa. Our work shows that genetic deletion of MAP4K4 or pharmacological inhibition of its encoded kinase, HGK, inhibits metastatic PCa cells migration and clonogenic properties. Hence, MAP4K4 might promote metastasis and tumor growth. Mechanistically, our results indicate that HGK depleted cells exhibit profound differences in F-actin organization, increasing cell spreading and focal adhesion stability. Additionally, HGK depleted cells fails to respond to TNF-α stimulation and chemoattractant action. Moreover, here we show that HGK upregulation in PCa samples from TCGA and other databases correlates with a poor prognosis of the disease. Hence, we suggest that it could be used as prognostic biomarker to predict the appearance of an aggressive phenotype of PCa tumors and ultimately, the appearance of metastasis. In summary, our results highlight an essential role for HGK in the dissemination of PCa cells and its potential use as prognostic biomarker.
  37. Front Pharmacol. 2021 ;12 635467
      Objective: To investigate the effect of ethyl acetate extract from Celastrus orbiculatus (COE) on gastric cancer cell apoptosis and reveal its underlying molecular mechanism. In addition, it was aimed to stablish a theoretical basis for the clinical application of Celastrus orbiculatus in the gastric cancer treatment. Material and Methods: Western blot and RT-qPCR were used to detect mRNA and protein expression of PHB in gastric cancer and adjacent tissues. MTT method was used to detect the COE effect on the proliferation of AGS cells and to determine the 50% inhibitory concentration COE on these cells. COE effect on AGS apoptosis was evaluated by flow cytometry. Changes in apoptosis-related proteins expression in AGS cells were detected by western blot and changes in mitochondrial membrane potential were detected by JC-1 fluorescence staining. PHB expression was knocked down in AGS cells by lentiviral-mediated RNA interference. The COE antitumor effect was assessed in vivo using a subcutaneous transplantation tumor model in nude mice and in vivo fluorescence tracing technique in small animals. Results: The clinical samples analysis results showed that the PHB expression in gastric cancer samples was significantly higher than in corresponding adjacent tissues. MTT results showed that the AGS cell proliferation was significantly inhibited. RT-qPCR and western blot results showed that COE can significantly inhibit the PHB mRNA and protein expression, respectively. Flow cytometry analysis showed that COE was able to significantly promote AGS cell apoptosis. Western blot results also indicated that apoptosis-related protein expression changed significantly; BCL-2 expression significantly reduced while the Caspase-3 and Bax expression significantly increased after COE treatment. JC-1 fluorescence staining results showed that COE changed the mitochondrial membrane potential and activated the mitochondrial apoptosis pathway. Furthermore, in vivo experiments results demonstrated that the growth of subcutaneous transplanted tumor was significantly inhibited by the PHB knockdown and by the COE intragastric administration. Conclusion: COE can significantly promote apoptosis of human gastric cancer cells, which can be achieved by inhibiting PHB expression, thus altering the structure and function of mitochondria and activating the mitochondria apoptosis pathway. The antitumor effect of COE has also been proved in vivo.
    Keywords:  Celastrus orbiculatus extract; Prohibitin (PHB); apoptosis; gastric cancer; traditional Chinese medicine
  38. Cell Rep. 2021 Jun 15. pii: S2211-1247(21)00597-0. [Epub ahead of print]35(11): 109238
      Metabolic adaptations and the signaling events that control them promote the survival of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) at the fibrotic tumor site, overcoming stresses associated with nutrient and oxygen deprivation. Recently, rewiring of NADPH production has been shown to play a key role in this process. NADPH is recycled through reduction of NADP+ by several enzymatic systems in cells. However, de novo NADP+ is synthesized only through one known enzymatic reaction, catalyzed by NAD+ kinase (NADK). In this study, we show that oncogenic KRAS promotes protein kinase C (PKC)-mediated NADK phosphorylation, leading to its hyperactivation, thus sustaining both NADP+ and NADPH levels in PDAC cells. Together, our data show that increased NADK activity is an important adaptation driven by oncogenic signaling. Our findings indicate that NADK could serve as a much-needed therapeutic target for PDAC.
    Keywords:  KRAS; NADK; NADP+; NADPH; PDAC; PKC
  39. Mol Metab. 2021 Jun 10. pii: S2212-8778(21)00116-2. [Epub ahead of print] 101271
      OBJECTIVE: NAD+ is a co-factor and substrate for enzymes maintaining energy homeostasis. Nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (NAMPT) controls NAD+ synthesis, and in skeletal muscle, NAD+ is important for muscle integrity. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms by which NAD+ synthesis affects muscle health remain poorly understood. Thus, the objective of the current study was to delineate the role of NAMPT-mediated NAD+ biosynthesis in skeletal muscle development and function.METHODS: To determine the role of Nampt in muscle development and function, we generated skeletal muscle-specific Nampt KO (SMNKO) mice. We performed a comprehensive phenotypic characterization of the SMNKO mice including metabolic measurements, histological examinations, and RNA sequencing analyses of skeletal muscle from SMNKO mice and WT littermates.
    RESULTS: SMNKO mice are smaller, with phenotypic changes in skeletal muscle, including reduced fiber area and increased number of centralized nuclei. The majority of SMNKO mice die prematurely. Transcriptomic analysis identified that the gene encoding the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP) regulator Cyclophilin D (Ppif) is upregulated in skeletal muscle of SMNKO mice from 2 weeks of age, with associated increased sensitivity of mitochondria to Ca2+-stimulated mPTP opening. Treatment of SMNKO mice with the Cyclophilin D inhibitor, Cyclosporine A, increased membrane integrity, decreased the number of centralized nuclei, and increased survival.
    CONCLUSION: Our study demonstrates that NAMPT is crucial for maintaining cellular Ca2+ homeostasis and skeletal muscle development, which is vital for juvenile survival.
    Keywords:  Cyclophilin D; NAD(+); mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP); myopathy; nicotinamide riboside; sarcopenia
  40. Eur J Pharmacol. 2021 Jun 12. pii: S0014-2999(21)00409-X. [Epub ahead of print] 174256
      Chemoresistance has been associated with increased reliance on mitochondrial functions in many cancers, including lung cancer. Atovaquone is an anti-malaria drug and mitochondrial inhibitor. In this work, we attempted to explore whether atovaquone can be repurposed for lung cancer treatment to overcome chemoresistance. We showed that atovaquone inhibited proliferation, colony formation and survival in non-small cell lung cancer cell (NSCLC) cells. Of note, the effective dose of atovaquone was clinically achievable. Combination index value indicated that atovaquone and carboplatin were synergistic in inhibiting NSCLC. The potent efficacy of atovaquone and its synergism with chemotherapeutic drug were also demonstrated in NSCLC xenograft mice model. Mechanism studies showed that the synergism between atovaquone and carboplatin was due to atovaquone's ability in disrupting mitochondrial functions via specifically inhibiting complex III induced oxygen consumption. Subsequently, atovaquone activated AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and inhibited mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling. AMPK inhibition reversed the anti-NSCLC activity of atovaquone, suggesting that the action of atovaquone is also dependent on AMPK. Our work suggests that atovaquone is an attractive candidate for NSCLC treatment. Our findings emphasize that inhibition of mitochondrial function is a promising therapeutic strategy to enhance NSCLC chemosensitivity.
    Keywords:  AMPK/mTOR; NSCLC; atovaquone; mitochondrial function; synergism
  41. Nat Commun. 2021 06 10. 12(1): 3528
      Breast tumors generally consist of a diverse population of cells with varying gene expression profiles. Breast tumor heterogeneity is a major factor contributing to drug resistance, recurrence, and metastasis after chemotherapy. Antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) are emerging chemotherapeutic agents with striking clinical success, including T-DM1 for HER2-positive breast cancer. However, these ADCs often suffer from issues associated with intratumor heterogeneity. Here, we show that homogeneous ADCs containing two distinct payloads are a promising drug class for addressing this clinical challenge. Our conjugates show HER2-specific cell killing potency, desirable pharmacokinetic profiles, minimal inflammatory response, and marginal toxicity at therapeutic doses. Notably, a dual-drug ADC exerts greater treatment effect and survival benefit than does co-administration of two single-drug variants in xenograft mouse models representing intratumor HER2 heterogeneity and elevated drug resistance. Our findings highlight the therapeutic potential of the dual-drug ADC format for treating refractory breast cancer and perhaps other cancers.
  42. Nat Commun. 2021 06 15. 12(1): 3651
      Extracellular cytokines are enriched in the tumor microenvironment and regulate various important properties of cancers, including autophagy. However, the precise molecular mechanisms underlying the link between autophagy and extracellular cytokines remain to be elucidated. In the present study, we demonstrate that IL-6 activates autophagy through the IL-6/JAK2/BECN1 pathway and promotes chemotherapy resistance in colorectal cancer (CRC). Mechanistically, IL-6 triggers the interaction between JAK2 and BECN1, where JAK2 phosphorylates BECN1 at Y333. We demonstrate that BECN1 Y333 phosphorylation is crucial for BECN1 activation and IL-6-induced autophagy by regulating PI3KC3 complex formation. Furthermore, we investigate BECN1 Y333 phosphorylation as a predictive marker for poor CRC prognosis and chemotherapy resistance. Combination treatment with autophagy inhibitors or pharmacological agents targeting the IL-6/JAK2/BECN1 signaling pathway may represent a potential strategy for CRC cancer therapy.
  43. Int J Biol Sci. 2021 ;17(8): 1895-1908
      Ovarian cancer is a common cause of death among gynecological cancers. Although ovarian cancer initially responds to chemotherapy, frequent recurrence in patients remains a therapeutic challenge. Pyruvate kinase M2 (PKM2) plays a pivotal role in regulating cancer cell survival. However, its therapeutic role remains unclear. Here, we investigated the anticancer effects of compound 3K, a specific PKM2 inhibitor, on the regulation of autophagic and apoptotic pathways in SK-OV-3 (PKM2-overexpressing human ovarian adenocarcinoma cell line). The anticancer effect of compound 3K was examined using MTT and colony formation assays in SK-OV-3 cells. PKM2 expression was positively correlated with the severity of the tumor, and expression of pro-apoptotic proteins increased in SK-OV-3 cells following compound 3K treatment. Compound 3K induced AMPK activation, which was accompanied by mTOR inhibition. Additionally, this compound inhibited glycolysis, resulting in reduced proliferation of SK-OV-3 cells. Compound 3K treatment suppressed tumor progression in an in vivo xenograft model. Our findings suggest that the inhibition of PKM2 by compound 3K affected the Warburg effect and induced autophagic cell death. Therefore, use of specific PKM2 inhibitors to block the glycolytic pathway and target cancer cell metabolism represents a promising therapeutic approach for treating PKM2-overexpressing ovarian cancer.
    Keywords:  apoptosis; autophagy; compound 3K; ovarian cancer; pyruvate kinase M2
  44. Sci Adv. 2021 May;pii: eabf2567. [Epub ahead of print]7(21):
      Aberrant activation of Wnt/β-catenin pathway is a key driver of colorectal cancer (CRC) growth and of great therapeutic importance. In this study, we performed comprehensive CRISPR screens to interrogate the regulatory network of Wnt/β-catenin signaling in CRC cells. We found marked discrepancies between the artificial TOP reporter activity and β-catenin-mediated endogenous transcription and redundant roles of T cell factor/lymphoid enhancer factor transcription factors in transducing β-catenin signaling. Compiled functional genomic screens and network analysis revealed unique epigenetic regulators of β-catenin transcriptional output, including the histone lysine methyltransferase 2A oncoprotein (KMT2A/Mll1). Using an integrative epigenomic and transcriptional profiling approach, we show that KMT2A loss diminishes the binding of β-catenin to consensus DNA motifs and the transcription of β-catenin targets in CRC. These results suggest that KMT2A may be a promising target for CRCs and highlight the broader potential for exploiting epigenetic modulation as a therapeutic strategy for β-catenin-driven malignancies.
  45. Nat Commun. 2021 06 16. 12(1): 3672
      Ribosome biogenesis requires auxiliary factors to promote folding and assembly of ribosomal proteins and RNA. Particularly, maturation of the peptidyl transferase center (PTC) is mediated by conserved GTPases, but the molecular basis is poorly understood. Here, we define the mechanism of GTPase-driven maturation of the human mitochondrial large ribosomal subunit (mtLSU) using endogenous complex purification, in vitro reconstitution and cryo-EM. Structures of transient native mtLSU assembly intermediates that accumulate in GTPBP6-deficient cells reveal how the biogenesis factors GTPBP5, MTERF4 and NSUN4 facilitate PTC folding. Addition of recombinant GTPBP6 reconstitutes late mtLSU biogenesis in vitro and shows that GTPBP6 triggers a molecular switch and progression to a near-mature PTC state. Additionally, cryo-EM analysis of GTPBP6-treated mature mitochondrial ribosomes reveals the structural basis for the dual-role of GTPBP6 in ribosome biogenesis and recycling. Together, these results provide a framework for understanding step-wise PTC folding as a critical conserved quality control checkpoint.
  46. J Clin Invest. 2021 Jun 15. pii: 141529. [Epub ahead of print]131(12):
      Cancer cells reprogram lipid metabolism during their malignant progression, but limited information is currently available on the involvement of alterations in fatty acid synthesis in cancer development. We herein demonstrate that acetyl-CoA carboxylase 1 (ACC1), a rate-limiting enzyme for fatty acid synthesis, plays a critical role in regulating the growth and differentiation of leukemia-initiating cells. The Trib1-COP1 complex is an E3 ubiquitin ligase that targets C/EBPA, a transcription factor regulating myeloid differentiation, for degradation, and its overexpression specifically induces acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We identified ACC1 as a target of the Trib1-COP1 complex and found that an ACC1 mutant resistant to degradation because of the lack of a Trib1-binding site attenuated complex-driven leukemogenesis. Stable ACC1 protein expression suppressed the growth-promoting activity and increased ROS levels with the consumption of NADPH in a primary bone marrow culture, and delayed the onset of AML with increases in mature myeloid cells in mouse models. ACC1 promoted the terminal differentiation of Trib1-COP1-expressing cells and eradicated leukemia-initiating cells in the early phase of leukemic progression. These results indicate that ACC1 is a natural inhibitor of AML development. The upregulated expression of the ACC1 protein has potential as an effective strategy for cancer therapy.
    Keywords:  Cancer; Oncology; Tumor suppressors; Ubiquitin-proteosome system