bims-mibica Biomed News
on Mitochondrial bioenergetics in cancer
Issue of 2023‒10‒29
thirty-six papers selected by
Kelsey Fisher-Wellman, East Carolina University

  1. Mol Cell. 2023 Oct 20. pii: S1097-2765(23)00800-6. [Epub ahead of print]
      Lactate has long been considered a cellular waste product. However, we found that as extracellular lactate accumulates, it also enters the mitochondrial matrix and stimulates mitochondrial electron transport chain (ETC) activity. The resulting increase in mitochondrial ATP synthesis suppresses glycolysis and increases the utilization of pyruvate and/or alternative respiratory substrates. The ability of lactate to increase oxidative phosphorylation does not depend on its metabolism. Both L- and D-lactate are effective at enhancing ETC activity and suppressing glycolysis. Furthermore, the selective induction of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation by unmetabolized D-lactate reversibly suppressed aerobic glycolysis in both cancer cell lines and proliferating primary cells in an ATP-dependent manner and enabled cell growth on respiratory-dependent bioenergetic substrates. In primary T cells, D-lactate enhanced cell proliferation and effector function. Together, these findings demonstrate that lactate is a critical regulator of the ability of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation to suppress glucose fermentation.
    Keywords:  TCA cycle; electron transport chain; glycolysis; lactate; mitochondria; oxidative phosphorylation
  2. Redox Biol. 2023 Oct 16. pii: S2213-2317(23)00327-0. [Epub ahead of print]67 102926
      Mitochondria are a main source of cellular energy. Oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) is the major process of aerobic respiration. Enzyme complexes of the electron transport chain (ETC) pump protons to generate a protonmotive force (Δp) that drives OXPHOS. Complex I is an electron entry point into the ETC. Complex I oxidizes nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) and transfers electrons to ubiquinone in a reaction coupled with proton pumping. Complex I also produces reactive oxygen species (ROS) under various conditions. The enzymatic activities of complex I can be regulated by metabolic conditions and serves as a regulatory node of the ETC. Complex I ROS plays diverse roles in cell metabolism ranging from physiologic to pathologic conditions. Progress in our understanding indicates that ROS release from complex I serves important signaling functions. Increasing evidence suggests that complex I ROS is important in signaling a mismatch in energy production and demand. In this article, we review the role of ROS from complex I in sensing acute hypoxia.
    Keywords:  Acute hypoxia; Mitochondrial complex I; Oxygen sensing; ROS signaling
  3. bioRxiv. 2023 Oct 03. pii: 2023.10.02.560330. [Epub ahead of print]
      We previously reported that acute myeloid leukemia stem cells (LSCs) are uniquely reliant on oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) for survival. Moreover, maintenance of OXPHOS is dependent on BCL2, creating a therapeutic opportunity to target LSCs using the BCL2 inhibitor drug venetoclax. While venetoclax-based regimens have indeed shown promising clinical activity, the emergence of drug resistance is prevalent. Thus, in the present study, we investigated how mitochondrial properties may influence mechanisms that dictate venetoclax responsiveness. Our data show that utilization of mitochondrial calcium is fundamentally different between drug responsive and non-responsive LSCs. By comparison, venetoclax-resistant LSCs demonstrate a more active metabolic (i.e., OXPHOS) status with relatively high steady-state levels of calcium. Consequently, we tested genetic and pharmacological approaches to target the mitochondrial calcium uniporter, MCU. We demonstrate that inhibition of calcium uptake sharply reduces OXPHOS and leads to eradication of venetoclax-resistant LSCs. These findings demonstrate a central role for calcium signaling in the biology of LSCs and provide a therapeutic avenue for clinical management of venetoclax resistance.Significance: We identify increased utilization of mitochondrial calcium as distinct metabolic requirement of venetoclax-resistant LSCs and demonstrate the potential of targeting mitochondrial calcium uptake as a therapeutic strategy.
  4. bioRxiv. 2023 Oct 09. pii: 2023.10.06.561131. [Epub ahead of print]
      Cancer cells depend on nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) to combat oxidative stress and support reductive biosynthesis. One major NAPDH production route is the oxidative pentose phosphate pathway (committed step: glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, G6PD). Alternatives exist and can compensate in some tumors. Here, using genetically-engineered lung cancer model, we show that ablation of G6PD significantly suppresses Kras G12D/+ ;Lkb1 -/- (KL) but not Kras G12D/+ ;p53 -/- (KP) lung tumorigenesis. In vivo isotope tracing and metabolomics revealed that G6PD ablation significantly impaired NADPH generation, redox balance and de novo lipogenesis in KL but not KP lung tumors. Mechanistically, in KL tumors, G6PD ablation caused p53 activation that suppressed tumor growth. As tumor progressed, G6PD-deficient KL tumors increased an alternative NADPH source, serine-driven one carbon metabolism, rendering associated tumor-derived cell lines sensitive to serine/glycine depletion. Thus, oncogenic driver mutations determine lung cancer dependence on G6PD, whose targeting is a potential therapeutic strategy for tumors harboring KRAS and LKB1 co-mutations.
  5. Redox Biol. 2023 Oct 17. pii: S2213-2317(23)00333-6. [Epub ahead of print]67 102932
      The NDUFS4 knockout (KO) mouse phenotype resembles the human Complex I deficiency Leigh Syndrome. The irreversible succination of protein thiols by fumarate is increased in select regions of the NDUFS4 KO brain affected by neurodegeneration. We report that dihydrolipoyllysine-residue succinyltransferase (DLST), a component of the α-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase complex (KGDHC) of the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, is succinated in the affected regions of the NDUFS4 KO brain. Succination of DLST reduced KGDHC activity in the brainstem (BS) and olfactory bulb (OB) of KO mice. The defective production of KGDHC derived succinyl-CoA resulted in decreased mitochondrial substrate level phosphorylation (SLP), further aggravating the existing oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) ATP deficit. Protein succinylation, an acylation modification that requires succinyl-CoA, was reduced in the KO mice. Modeling succination of a cysteine in the spatial vicinity of the DLST active site or introduction of succinomimetic mutations recapitulates these metabolic deficits. Our data demonstrate that the biochemical deficit extends beyond impaired Complex I assembly and OXPHOS deficiency, functionally impairing select components of the TCA cycle to drive metabolic perturbations in affected neurons.
    Keywords:  Alpha-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase; Complex I; Fumarate; Leigh syndrome; Protein succination; Substrate level phosphorylation
  6. Mol Cancer Res. 2023 Oct 25.
      Pancreatic cancer has the worst prognosis among all cancers underscoring the need for improved management strategies. Dysregulated mitochondrial function is a common feature in several malignancies, including pancreatic cancer. Although mitochondria have their own genome, most mitochondrial proteins are nuclear-encoded and imported by a multi-subunit translocase of the outer mitochondrial membrane (TOMM). TOMM22 is the central receptor of the TOMM complex and plays a role in complex assembly. Pathobiological roles of TOMM subunits remain largely unexplored. Here we report that TOMM22 protein/mRNA is overexpressed in pancreatic cancer and inversely correlated with disease outcomes. TOMM22 silencing decreased, while its forced overexpression promoted the growth and malignant potential of the pancreatic cancer cells. Increased import of several mitochondrial proteins, including those associated with mitochondrial respiration, was observed upon TOMM22 overexpression which was associated with increased RCI activity, NAD+/NADH ratio, oxygen consumption rate, membrane potential, and ATP production. Inhibition of RCI activity decreased ATP levels and suppressed pancreatic cancer cell growth and malignant behavior confirming that increased TOMM22 expression mediated the phenotypic changes via its modulation of mitochondrial protein import and functions. Altogether, these results suggest that TOMM22 overexpression plays a significant role in pancreatic cancer pathobiology by altering mitochondrial protein import and functions. Implications: TOMM22 bears potential for early diagnostic/prognostic biomarker development and therapeutic targeting for better management of pancreatic cancer patients.
  7. bioRxiv. 2023 Oct 03. pii: 2023.10.02.560316. [Epub ahead of print]
      Targeting of specific metabolic pathways in tumor cells has the potential to sensitize them to immune-mediated attack. Here we provide evidence for a specific means of mitochondrial respiratory Complex I (CI) inhibition that improves tumor immunogenicity and sensitivity to immune checkpoint blockade (ICB). Targeted genetic deletion of the CI subunits Ndufs4 and Ndufs6 , but not other subunits, induces an immune-dependent tumor growth attenuation in mouse melanoma models. We show that deletion of Ndufs4 induces expression of the transcription factor Nlrc5 and genes in the MHC class I antigen presentation and processing pathway. This induction of MHC-related genes is driven by an accumulation of pyruvate dehydrogenase-dependent mitochondrial acetyl-CoA downstream of CI subunit deletion. This work provides a novel functional modality by which selective CI inhibition restricts tumor growth, suggesting that specific targeting of Ndufs4 , or related CI subunits, increases T-cell mediated immunity and sensitivity to ICB.
  8. Cancer Discov. 2023 Oct 27. OF1
      Minority mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization (miMOMP) during senescence drives the SASP.
  9. Sci Adv. 2023 Oct 27. 9(43): eadi4038
      Heteroplasmic mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations are a major cause of inherited disease and contribute to common late-onset human disorders. The late onset and clinical progression of mtDNA-associated disease is thought to be due to changing heteroplasmy levels, but it is not known how and when this occurs. Performing high-throughput single-cell genotyping in two mouse models of human mtDNA disease, we saw unanticipated cell-to-cell differences in mtDNA heteroplasmy levels that emerged prenatally and progressively increased throughout life. Proliferating spleen cells and nondividing brain cells had a similar single-cell heteroplasmy variance, implicating mtDNA or organelle turnover as the major force determining cell heteroplasmy levels. The two different mtDNA mutations segregated at different rates with no evidence of selection, consistent with different rates of random genetic drift in vivo, leading to the accumulation of cells with a very high mutation burden at different rates. This provides an explanation for differences in severity seen in human diseases caused by similar mtDNA mutations.
  10. Nat Chem Biol. 2023 Oct 26.
      Impaired redox metabolism is a key contributor to the etiology of many diseases, including primary mitochondrial disorders, cancer, neurodegeneration and aging. However, mechanistic studies of redox imbalance remain challenging due to limited strategies that can perturb redox metabolism in various cellular or organismal backgrounds. Most studies involving impaired redox metabolism have focused on oxidative stress; consequently, less is known about the settings where there is an overabundance of NADH reducing equivalents, termed reductive stress. Here we introduce a soluble transhydrogenase from Escherichia coli (EcSTH) as a novel genetically encoded tool to promote reductive stress in living cells. When expressed in mammalian cells, EcSTH, and a mitochondrially targeted version (mitoEcSTH), robustly elevated the NADH/NAD+ ratio in a compartment-specific manner. Using this tool, we determined that metabolic and transcriptomic signatures of the NADH reductive stress are cellular background specific. Collectively, our novel genetically encoded tool represents an orthogonal strategy to promote reductive stress.
  11. Biochem Pharmacol. 2023 Oct 21. pii: S0006-2952(23)00466-5. [Epub ahead of print] 115875
      Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is a hematologic malignancy predominantly driven by the BCR-ABL fusion gene. One of the significant challenges in treating CML lies in the emergence of resistance to tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), especially those associated with the T315I mutation. Homoharringtonine (HHT) is an FDA-approved, naturally-derived drug with known anti-leukemic properties, but its precise mechanisms of action remain incompletely understood. In this study, we rigorously evaluated the anti-CML activity of HHT through both in vitro and in vivo assays, observing substantial anti-CML effects. To elucidate the molecular mechanisms underpinning these effects, we performed proteomic analysis on BCR-ABL T315I mutation-bearing cells treated with HHT. Comprehensive pathway enrichment analysis identified oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) as the most significantly disrupted, suggesting a key role in the mechanism of action of HHT. Further bioinformatics exploration revealed a substantial downregulation of proteins localized within mitochondrial complex I (MCI), a critical OXPHOS component. These results were validated through Western blot analysis and were supplemented by marked reductions in MCI activity, ATP level, and oxygen consumption rate (OCR) upon HHT exposure. Collectively, our results shed light on the potent anti-CML properties of HHT, particularly its effectiveness against T315I mutant cells through MCI inhibition. Our study underscores a novel therapeutic strategy to overcome BCR-ABL T315I mutation resistance, illuminating a previously uncharted mechanism of action for HHT.
    Keywords:  Chronic myeloid leukemia; Homoharringtonine; Mitochondrial complex I; Oxidative phosphorylation; Proteomics; T315I mutation
  12. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2023 ;11 1276629
    Keywords:  heterogeneity; heteroplasmy; mitochondrial dysfuncion; mtDNA; pathogenicity threshold; retrograde signaling; yeast
  13. Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Oct 13. pii: 15144. [Epub ahead of print]24(20):
      The current view of the mitochondrial respiratory chain complexes I, III and IV foresees the occurrence of their assembly in supercomplexes, providing additional functional properties when compared with randomly colliding isolated complexes. According to the plasticity model, the two structural states of the respiratory chain may interconvert, influenced by the intracellular prevailing conditions. In previous studies, we suggested the mitochondrial membrane potential as a factor for controlling their dynamic balance. Here, we investigated if and how the cAMP/PKA-mediated signalling influences the aggregation state of the respiratory complexes. An analysis of the inhibitory titration profiles of the endogenous oxygen consumption rates in intact HepG2 cells with specific inhibitors of the respiratory complexes was performed to quantify, in the framework of the metabolic flux theory, the corresponding control coefficients. The attained results, pharmacologically inhibiting either PKA or sAC, indicated that the reversible phosphorylation of the respiratory chain complexes/supercomplexes influenced their assembly state in response to the membrane potential. This conclusion was supported by the scrutiny of the available structure of the CI/CIII2/CIV respirasome, enabling us to map several PKA-targeted serine residues exposed to the matrix side of the complexes I, III and IV at the contact interfaces of the three complexes.
    Keywords:  cAMP/PKA signaling pathway; metabolic flux theory; mitochondrial membrane potential; mitochondrial respiratory chain complexes; soluble adenylate cyclase; supercomplexes
  14. bioRxiv. 2023 Oct 04. pii: 2023.10.03.560745. [Epub ahead of print]
      Mitochondrial cristae architecture is crucial for optimal respiratory function of the organelle. Cristae shape is maintained in part by the mitochondrial inner membrane-localized MICOS complex. While MICOS is required for normal cristae morphology, the precise mechanistic role of each of the seven human MICOS subunits, and how the complex coordinates with other cristae shaping factors, has not been fully determined. Here, we examine the MICOS complex in Schizosaccharomyces pombe , a minimal model whose genome only encodes for four core subunits. Using an unbiased proteomics approach, we identify a poorly characterized inner mitochondrial membrane protein that interacts with MICOS and is required to maintain cristae morphology, which we name Mmc1. We demonstrate that Mmc1 works in concert with MICOS complexes to promote normal mitochondrial morphology and respiratory function. Bioinformatic analyses reveal that Mmc1 is a distant relative of the Dynamin-Related Protein (DRP) family of GTPases, which are well established to shape and remodel membranes. We find that, like DRPs, Mmc1 self-associates and forms high molecular weight assemblies. Interestingly, however, Mmc1 is a pseudoenzyme that lacks key residues required for GTP binding and hydrolysis, suggesting it does not dynamically remodel membranes. These data are consistent with a model in which Mmc1 stabilizes cristae architecture by acting as a scaffold to support cristae ultrastructure on the matrix side of the inner membrane. Our study reveals a new class of proteins that evolved early in fungal phylogeny and is required for the maintenance of cristae architecture. This highlights the possibility that functionally analogous proteins work with MICOS to establish cristae morphology in metazoans.
  15. bioRxiv. 2023 Oct 03. pii: 2023.10.03.560559. [Epub ahead of print]
      A major impediment to the characterization of mtDNA repair mechanisms, in comparison to nuclear DNA repair mechanisms, is the difficulty of specifically addressing mitochondrial damage. Using a mitochondria-penetrating peptide, we can deliver DNA-damaging agents directly to mitochondria, bypassing the nuclear compartment. Here, we describe the use of a mtDNA-damaging agent in tandem with CRISPR/Cas9 screening for the genome-wide discovery of factors essential for mtDNA damage response. Using mitochondria-targeted doxorubicin (mtDox) we generate mtDNA double-strand breaks (mtDSBs) specifically in this organelle. Combined with an untargeted Dox screen, we identify genes with significantly greater essentiality during mitochondrial versus nuclear DNA damage. We characterize the essentially of our top hit - WRNIP1 - observed here for the first time to respond to mtDNA damage. We further investigate the mitochondrial role of WRNIP1 in innate immune signaling and nuclear genome maintenance, outlining a model that experimentally supports mitochondrial turnover in response to mtDSBs.
  16. Cancer Cell. 2023 Oct 19. pii: S1535-6108(23)00357-4. [Epub ahead of print]
      Cytotoxic T lymphocytes recognize and kill cancer cells when the latter present antigenic epitopes complexed with MHC class I molecules on their surface. In a recent Science paper, Mangalhara et al. show that alterations of the mitochondrial electron flow upregulate multiple factors involved in antigen presentation via a succinate-dependent epigenetic mechanism.
  17. Chem Commun (Camb). 2023 Oct 27.
      Aberrant PCK2 overexpression has been linked to an unfavorable prognosis and shorter survival, particularly in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Thus, the inactivation of PCK2 provides a promising strategy for HCC treatment. In this study, we used a chemical genetic strategy to identify a natural-derived small-molecule cucurbitacin B (CuB) as a selective PCK2 inhibitor. CuB covalently bound to PCK2 at a unique Cys63 site, blocking the Ω-loop lid domain formation via a previously undisclosed allosteric mechanism. Additionally, targeted lipidomics analysis also revealed that CuB destroyed mitochondrial membrane integrity, leading to the disruption of mitochondrial fusion-fission dynamics. Taken together, this study highlights the discovery of a small-molecule CuB, which reprograms lipid metabolism for controlling mitochondrial dynamics via targeting PCK2 in cancer cells.
  18. bioRxiv. 2023 Oct 10. pii: 2023.10.10.561642. [Epub ahead of print]
      Relapse of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is highly aggressive and often treatment refractory. We analyzed previously published AML relapse cohorts and found that 40% of relapses occur without changes in driver mutations, suggesting that non-genetic mechanisms drive relapse in a large proportion of cases. We therefore characterized epigenetic patterns of AML relapse using 26 matched diagnosis-relapse samples with ATAC-seq. This analysis identified a relapse-specific chromatin accessibility signature for mutationally stable AML, suggesting that AML undergoes epigenetic evolution at relapse independent of mutational changes. Analysis of leukemia stem cell (LSC) chromatin changes at relapse indicated that this leukemic compartment underwent significantly less epigenetic evolution than non-LSCs, while epigenetic changes in non-LSCs reflected overall evolution of the bulk leukemia. Finally, we used single-cell ATAC-seq paired with mitochondrial sequencing (mtscATAC) to map clones from diagnosis into relapse along with their epigenetic features. We found that distinct mitochondrially-defined clones exhibit more similar chromatin accessibility at relapse relative to diagnosis, demonstrating convergent epigenetic evolution in relapsed AML. These results demonstrate that epigenetic evolution is a feature of relapsed AML and that convergent epigenetic evolution can occur following treatment with induction chemotherapy.
  19. Nat Commun. 2023 Oct 25. 14(1): 6777
      Reprogramming of amino acid metabolism, sustained by oncogenic signaling, is crucial for cancer cell survival under nutrient limitation. Here we discovered that missense mutant p53 oncoproteins stimulate de novo serine/glycine synthesis and essential amino acids intake, promoting breast cancer growth. Mechanistically, mutant p53, unlike the wild-type counterpart, induces the expression of serine-synthesis-pathway enzymes and L-type amino acid transporter 1 (LAT1)/CD98 heavy chain heterodimer. This effect is exacerbated by amino acid shortage, representing a mutant p53-dependent metabolic adaptive response. When cells suffer amino acids scarcity, mutant p53 protein is stabilized and induces metabolic alterations and an amino acid transcriptional program that sustain cancer cell proliferation. In patient-derived tumor organoids, pharmacological targeting of either serine-synthesis-pathway and LAT1-mediated transport synergizes with amino acid shortage in blunting mutant p53-dependent growth. These findings reveal vulnerabilities potentially exploitable for tackling breast tumors bearing missense TP53 mutations.
  20. Nat Commun. 2023 Oct 27. 14(1): 6858
      T cell exhaustion is a hallmark of cancer and persistent infections, marked by inhibitory receptor upregulation, diminished cytokine secretion, and impaired cytolytic activity. Terminally exhausted T cells are steadily replenished by a precursor population (Tpex), but the metabolic principles governing Tpex maintenance and the regulatory circuits that control their exhaustion remain incompletely understood. Using a combination of gene-deficient mice, single-cell transcriptomics, and metabolomic analyses, we show that mitochondrial insufficiency is a cell-intrinsic trigger that initiates the functional exhaustion of T cells. At the molecular level, we find that mitochondrial dysfunction causes redox stress, which inhibits the proteasomal degradation of hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) and promotes the transcriptional and metabolic reprogramming of Tpex cells into terminally exhausted T cells. Our findings also bear clinical significance, as metabolic engineering of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells is a promising strategy to enhance the stemness and functionality of Tpex cells for cancer immunotherapy.
  21. Antioxidants (Basel). 2023 Sep 30. pii: 1818. [Epub ahead of print]12(10):
      Metabolic compartmentalization of stroma-rich tumors, like pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), greatly contributes to malignancy. This involves cancer cells importing lactate from the microenvironment (reverse Warburg cells) through monocarboxylate transporter-1 (MCT1) along with substantial phenotype alterations. Here, we report that the reverse Warburg phenotype of PDAC cells compensated for the shortage of glutamine as an essential metabolite for redox homeostasis. Thus, oxidative stress caused by glutamine depletion led to an Nrf2-dependent induction of MCT1 expression in pancreatic T3M4 and A818-6 cells. Moreover, greater MCT1 expression was detected in glutamine-scarce regions within tumor tissues from PDAC patients. MCT1-driven lactate uptake supported the neutralization of reactive oxygen species excessively produced under glutamine shortage and the resulting drop in glutathione levels that were restored by the imported lactate. Consequently, PDAC cells showed greater survival and growth under glutamine depletion when utilizing lactate through MCT1. Likewise, the glutamine uptake inhibitor V9302 and glutaminase-1 inhibitor CB839 induced oxidative stress in PDAC cells, along with cell death and cell cycle arrest that were again compensated by MCT1 upregulation and forced lactate uptake. Our findings show a novel mechanism by which PDAC cells adapt their metabolism to glutamine scarcity and by which they develop resistance against anticancer treatments based on glutamine uptake/metabolism inhibition.
    Keywords:  anaplerosis; drug resistance; pancreas; tumor metabolism
  22. Autophagy. 2023 Oct 24.
      Mitophagy, the process of removing damaged mitochondria to promote cell survival, plays a crucial role in cellular functionality. However, excessive, or uncontrolled mitophagy can lead to reduced mitochondrial content that burdens the remaining organelles, triggering mitophagy-mediated cell death. FBXL4 mutations, which affect the substrate-binding adaptor of the CUL1 (cullin 1)-RING ubiquitin ligase complex (CRL1), have been linked to mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome type 13 (MTDPS13) characterized by reduced mtDNA content and impaired energy production in affected organs. However, the mechanism behind FBXL4 mutation-driven MTDPS13 remain poorly understood. In a recent study, we demonstrate that the CRL1-FBXL4 complex promotes the degradation of BNIP3 and BNIP3L, two key mitophagy cargo receptors. Deficiency of FBXL4 results in a strong accumulation of BNIP3 and BNIP3L proteins and triggers high levels of BNIP3- and BNIP3L-dependent mitophagy. Patient-derived FBXL4 mutations do not affect its interaction with BNIP3 and BNIP3L but impair the assembly of an active CRL1-FBXL4 complex. Furthermore, excessive mitophagy is observed in knockin mice carrying a patient-derived FBXL4 mutation, and in cortical neurons generated from human patient induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs). These findings support the model that the CRL1-FBXL4 complex tightly restricts basal mitophagy, and its dysregulation leads to severe symptoms of MTDPS13.
    Keywords:  Lysosome; mitochondria; mitophagy; multi-system disorder; ubiquitination
  23. J Biol Chem. 2023 Oct 20. pii: S0021-9258(23)02408-0. [Epub ahead of print] 105380
      Mitochondrial Fission Protein 1 (Fis1) and Dynamin Related Protein 1 (Drp1) are the only two proteins evolutionarily conserved for mitochondrial fission, and directly interact in S. cerevisiae to facilitate membrane scission. However, it remains unclear if a direct interaction is conserved in higher eukaryotes as other Drp1 recruiters, not present in yeast, are known. Using NMR, differential scanning fluorimetry, and microscale thermophoresis, we determined that human Fis1 directly interacts with human Drp1 (KD = 12-68 μM), and appears to prevent Drp1 assembly, but not GTP hydrolysis. Similar to yeast, the Fis1-Drp1 interaction appears governed by two structural features of Fis1: its N-terminal arm and a conserved surface. Alanine scanning mutagenesis of the arm identified both loss- and gain-of-function alleles with mitochondrial morphologies ranging from highly elongated (N6A) to highly fragmented (E7A) demonstrating a profound ability of Fis1 to govern morphology in human cells. An integrated analysis identified a conserved Fis1 residue, Y76, that upon substitution to alanine, but not phenylalanine, also caused highly fragmented mitochondria. The similar phenotypic effects of the E7A and Y76A substitutions, along with NMR data, support that intramolecular interactions occur between the arm and a conserved surface on Fis1 to promote Drp1-mediated fission as in S. cerevisiae. These findings indicate that some aspects of Drp1-mediated fission in humans derive from direct Fis1-Drp1 interactions that are conserved across eukaryotes.
    Keywords:  biophysics; cell biology; confocal microscopy; fission; microscale thermophoresis (MST); mitochondria; mitochondrial dynamics; nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR); protein-protein interaction
  24. bioRxiv. 2023 Oct 11. pii: 2023.10.09.561530. [Epub ahead of print]
      The non-essential amino acid serine is a critical nutrient for cancer cells due to its diverse biosynthetic functions. While some tumors can synthesize serine de novo , others are auxotrophic for serine and therefore reliant on the uptake of exogenous serine. Importantly, however, the transporter(s) that mediate serine uptake in cancer cells are not known. Here, we characterize the amino acid transporter ASCT2 (coded for by the gene SLC1A5 ) as the primary serine transporter in cancer cells. ASCT2 is well-known as a glutamine transporter in cancer, and our work demonstrates that serine and glutamine compete for uptake through ASCT2. We further show that ASCT2-mediated serine uptake is essential for purine nucleotide biosynthesis and that ERα promotes serine uptake by directly activating SLC1A5 transcription. Together, our work defines an additional important role for ASCT2 as a serine transporter in cancer and evaluates ASCT2 as a potential therapeutic target in serine metabolism.
  25. Cell Metab. 2023 Oct 19. pii: S1550-4131(23)00371-6. [Epub ahead of print]
      Amino acid metabolism has been actively investigated as a potential target for antitumor therapy, but how it may alter the response to genotoxic chemotherapy remains largely unknown. Here, we report that the depletion of fumarylacetoacetate hydrolase (FAH), an enzyme that catalyzes the final step of tyrosine catabolism, reduced chemosensitivity in epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC). The expression level of FAH correlated significantly with chemotherapy efficacy in patients with EOC. Mechanistically, under genotoxic chemotherapy, FAH is oxidized at Met308 and translocates to the nucleus, where FAH-mediated tyrosine catabolism predominantly supplies fumarate. FAH-produced fumarate binds directly to REV1, resulting in the suppression of translesion DNA synthesis (TLS) and improved chemosensitivity. Furthermore, in vivo tyrosine supplementation improves sensitivity to genotoxic chemotherapeutics and reduces the occurrence of therapy resistance. Our findings reveal a unique role for tyrosine-derived fumarate in the regulation of TLS and may be exploited to improve genotoxic chemotherapy through dietary tyrosine supplementation.
    Keywords:  cancer metabolism; chemotherapy; ovarian cancer
  26. Nat Chem Biol. 2023 Oct 26.
      NADPH oxidases (NOXs) are transmembrane enzymes that are devoted to the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). In cancers, dysregulation of NOX enzymes affects ROS production, leading to redox unbalance and tumor progression. Consequently, NOXs are a drug target for cancer therapeutics, although current therapies have off-target effects: there is a need for isoenzyme-selective inhibitors. Here, we describe fully validated human NOX inhibitors, obtained from an in silico screen, targeting the active site of Cylindrospermum stagnale NOX5 (csNOX5). The hits are validated by in vitro and in cellulo enzymatic and binding assays, and their binding modes to the dehydrogenase domain of csNOX5 studied via high-resolution crystal structures. A high-throughput screen in a panel of cancer cells shows activity in selected cancer cell lines and synergistic effects with KRAS modulators. Our work lays the foundation for the development of inhibitor-based methods for controlling the tightly regulated and highly localized ROS sources.
  27. Nature. 2023 Oct 25.
      Identifying metabolic steps that are specifically required for the survival of cancer cells but are dispensable in normal cells remains a challenge1. Here we report a therapeutic vulnerability in a sugar nucleotide biosynthetic pathway that can be exploited in cancer cells with only a limited impact on normal cells. A systematic examination of conditionally essential metabolic enzymes revealed that UXS1, a Golgi enzyme that converts one sugar nucleotide (UDP-glucuronic acid, UDPGA) to another (UDP-xylose), is essential only in cells that express high levels of the enzyme immediately upstream of it, UGDH. This conditional relationship exists because UXS1 is required to prevent excess accumulation of UDPGA, which is produced by UGDH. UXS1 not only clears away UDPGA but also limits its production through negative feedback on UGDH. Excess UDPGA disrupts Golgi morphology and function, which impedes the trafficking of surface receptors such as EGFR to the plasma membrane and diminishes the signalling capacity of cells. UGDH expression is elevated in several cancers, including lung adenocarcinoma, and is further enhanced during chemoresistant selection. As a result, these cancer cells are selectively dependent on UXS1 for UDPGA detoxification, revealing a potential weakness in tumours with high levels of UGDH.
  28. Cancer Sci. 2023 Oct 26.
      Genetic mutations in the isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH) gene that result in a pathological enzymatic activity to produce oncometabolite have been detected in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients. While specific inhibitors that target mutant IDH enzymes and normalize intracellular oncometabolite level have been developed, refractoriness and resistance has been reported. Since acquisition of pathological enzymatic activity is accompanied by the abrogation of the crucial WT IDH enzymatic activity in IDH mutant cells, aberrant metabolism in IDH mutant cells can potentially persist even after the normalization of intracellular oncometabolite level. Comparisons of isogenic AML cell lines with and without IDH2 gene mutations revealed two mutually exclusive signalings for growth advantage of IDH2 mutant cells, STAT phosphorylation associated with intracellular oncometabolite level and phospholipid metabolic adaptation. The latter came to light after the oncometabolite normalization and increased the resistance of IDH2 mutant cells to arachidonic acid-mediated apoptosis. The release of this metabolic adaptation by FDA-approved anti-inflammatory drugs targeting the metabolism of arachidonic acid could sensitize IDH2 mutant cells to apoptosis, resulting in their eradication in vitro and in vivo. Our findings will contribute to the development of alternative therapeutic options for IDH2 mutant AML patients who do not tolerate currently available therapies.
    Keywords:  acute myeloid leukemia; apoptosis; arachidonic acid; drug repositioning; phospholipid
  29. Biology (Basel). 2023 Oct 16. pii: 1337. [Epub ahead of print]12(10):
      Sorafenib, a kinase inhibitor, has shown promising therapeutic efficacy in a subset of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). However, despite its clinical effectiveness, sorafenib resistance is frequently observed in clinical settings, and the mechanisms underlying this resistance as well as effective strategies to overcome it remain unclear. We examined both single-cell and bulk transcription data in sorafenib-resistant and control AML patients and integrated a sorafenib resistance gene signature to predict the sensitivity of AML cells and the clinical outcomes of AML patients undergoing sorafenib therapy. In addition, our drug sensitivity analysis of scRNA-seq data using deconvolution methods showed that venetoclax was effective in targeting sorafenib-resistant AML cells. Mechanistically, sorafenib was found to activate the JAK-STAT3 pathway and upregulate BCL2 expression in sorafenib-resistant AML cells. This upregulation of BCL2 expression rendered the cells vulnerable to the BCL2 inhibitor venetoclax. In conclusion, we developed a platform to predict sorafenib resistance and clinical outcomes in AML patients after therapy. Our findings suggest that the combination of sorafenib and venetoclax could be an effective therapeutic strategy for AML treatment.
    Keywords:  BCL2; acute myeloid leukemia; chemoresistance; leukemia; sorafenib; venetoclax
  30. Cell Death Discov. 2023 Oct 25. 9(1): 396
      Zinc finger protein 281 (ZNF281) has been shown to promote tumor progression. However, the underlying mechanism remains to be further elucidated. In this study, ZNF281 knockdown increased the expression of mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM) in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells, accompanied with increment of mitochondrial content, oxygen consumption rate (OCR) and levels of TCA cycle intermetabolites. Mechanistic investigation revealed that ZNF281 suppressed the transcription of TFAM, nuclear respiratory factor 1 (NRF1) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator-1α (PGC-1α). Furthermore, ZNF281 interacted with NRF1 and PGC-1α, and was recruited onto the promoter regions of TFAM, TFB1M and TFB2M repressing their expression. Knockdown of TFAM reversed ZNF281 depletion induced up-regulation of mitochondrial biogenesis and function, as well as impaired epithelial mesenchymal transition, invasion and metastasis of HCC cells. Our research uncovered a novel suppressive function of ZNF281 on mitochondrial biogenesis through inhibition of the NRF1/PGC-1α-TFAM axis, which may hold therapeutic potentials for HCC.
  31. Commun Biol. 2023 Oct 24. 6(1): 1080
      Stimulation of autophagy could provide powerful therapies for multiple diseases, including cancer and neurodegeneration. An attractive drug target for this purpose is Bcl-2, which inhibits autophagy by binding to the Beclin 1 BH3-domain. However, compounds that preclude Beclin 1/Bcl-2 binding might also induce apoptosis, which is inhibited by binding of Bcl-2 to BH3-domains of pro-apoptosis factors such as Bax. Here we describe the NMR structure of Bcl-2 bound to 35, a compound that we recently found to inhibit Beclin 1/Bcl-2 binding more potently than Bax/Bcl-2 binding. The structure shows that 35 binds at one end of the BH3-binding groove of Bcl-2. Interestingly, much of the 35-binding site is not involved in binding to Bcl-2 inhibitors described previously and mediates binding to Beclin 1 but not Bax. The structure suggests potential avenues to design compounds that disrupt Beclin 1/Bcl-2 binding and stimulate autophagy without inducing apoptosis.
  32. bioRxiv. 2023 Oct 09. pii: 2023.10.06.561062. [Epub ahead of print]
      The balance between mitochondrial calcium ( m Ca 2+ ) uptake and efflux regulates ATP production, but if perturbed causes energy starvation or m Ca 2+ overload and cell death. The mitochondrial sodium-calcium exchanger, NCLX, is a critical route of m Ca 2+ efflux in excitable tissues, such as the heart and brain, and animal models support NCLX as a promising therapeutic target to limit pathogenic m Ca 2+ overload. However, the mechanisms that regulate NCLX activity remain largely unknown. We used proximity biotinylation proteomic screening to identify the NCLX interactome and define novel regulators of NCLX function. Here, we discover the mitochondrial inner membrane protein, TMEM65, as an NCLX-proximal protein that potently enhances sodium (Na + )-dependent m Ca 2+ efflux. Mechanistically, acute pharmacologic NCLX inhibition or genetic deletion of NCLX ablates the TMEM65-dependent increase in m Ca 2+ efflux. Further, loss-of-function studies show that TMEM65 is required for Na + -dependent m Ca 2+ efflux. Co-fractionation and in silico structural modeling of TMEM65 and NCLX suggest these two proteins exist in a common macromolecular complex in which TMEM65 directly stimulates NCLX function. In line with these findings, knockdown of Tmem65 in mice promotes m Ca 2+ overload in the heart and skeletal muscle and impairs both cardiac and neuromuscular function. We further demonstrate that TMEM65 deletion causes excessive mitochondrial permeability transition, whereas TMEM65 overexpression protects against necrotic cell death during cellular Ca 2+ stress. Collectively, our results show that loss of TMEM65 function in excitable tissue disrupts NCLX-dependent m Ca 2+ efflux, causing pathogenic m Ca 2+ overload, cell death and organ-level dysfunction, and that gain of TMEM65 function mitigates these effects. These findings demonstrate the essential role of TMEM65 in regulating NCLX-dependent m Ca 2+ efflux and suggest modulation of TMEM65 as a novel strategy for the therapeutic control of m Ca 2+ homeostasis.
  33. Chem Sci. 2023 Oct 25. 14(41): 11532-11545
      The remodulation of H+/Ca2+ gradients in the mitochondria matrix could be effective to induce mitochondria depolarization for the enhancement of cancer therapy. However, it is still challenged by H+ homeostasis, insufficient Ca2+, uncoordinated regulations, and inefficient loading/delivery strategies. Herein, a supramolecular DNA nanocomplex (Ca@DNA-MF) was prepared to synergistically remodulate H+/Ca2+ gradients for mitochondrial depolarization. Upon targeted functionalization and TME-triggered delivery, multiple reagents were released in cancer cells for synergistic three-channel mitochondrial depolarization: the gene reagent of siMCT4 blocked the LA metabolism to induce mitochondrial acidification by downregulating monocarboxylate transporter 4 (MCT4); released Ca2+ disrupted Ca2+ homeostasis to facilitate Ca2+-based mitochondrial depolarization; specifically, TME-activated glutathione (GSH) depletion facilitated efficient generation of hydroxyl radicals (˙OH), further enhancing the mitochondrial depolarization. The remodulation not only triggered apoptosis but also led to ferroptosis to generate abundant ROS for efficient LPO-based apoptosis, providing a synergistic strategy for enhanced synergistic cancer therapy.
  34. Cancer Res. 2023 Oct 23.
      Hershey and colleagues recently showed how clones in a triple-negative breast cancer cell line cooperate for their mutual fitness benefit. In this system, clones exchange soluble metabolites to increase their in vitro growth rate at low population densities, therefore mitigating the documented growth barrier that reduces individual fitness in small tumor cell populations (Allee effect). Such cooperation could aid important transitions in cancer progression in which cancer cell populations are small, like invasion or metastasis. Using orthotopic transplantation, the authors demonstrate that this cooperation is functional in one such transition in vivo, increasing the metastatic load and number of metastases, which are usually polyclonal. Together, these findings highlight the need to consider ecological interactions to properly understand tumor growth dynamics, and how they complement the standing evolutionary model of cancer progression in our quest to understand and treat cancer.
  35. Commun Med (Lond). 2023 Oct 25. 3(1): 154
      BACKGROUND: MCL-1 is a prosurvival B-cell lymphoma 2 family protein that plays a critical role in tumor maintenance and survival and can act as a resistance factor to multiple anticancer therapies. Herein, we describe the generation and characterization of the highly potent and selective MCL-1 inhibitor ABBV-467 and present findings from a first-in-human trial that included patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma (NCT04178902).METHODS: Binding of ABBV-467 to human MCL-1 was assessed in multiple cell lines. The ability of ABBV-467 to induce tumor growth inhibition was investigated in xenograft models of human multiple myeloma and acute myelogenous leukemia. The first-in-human study was a multicenter, open-label, dose-escalation study assessing safety, pharmacokinetics, and efficacy of ABBV-467 monotherapy.
    RESULTS: Here we show that administration of ABBV-467 to MCL-1-dependent tumor cell lines triggers rapid and mechanism-based apoptosis. In vivo, intermittent dosing of ABBV-467 as monotherapy or in combination with venetoclax inhibits the growth of xenografts from human hematologic cancers. Results from a clinical trial evaluating ABBV-467 in patients with multiple myeloma based on these preclinical data indicate that treatment with ABBV-467 can result in disease control (seen in 1 patient), but may also cause increases in cardiac troponin levels in the plasma in some patients (seen in 4 of 8 patients), without other corresponding cardiac findings.
    CONCLUSIONS: The selectivity of ABBV-467 suggests that treatment-induced troponin release is a consequence of MCL-1 inhibition and therefore may represent a class effect of MCL-1 inhibitors in human patients.