bims-pideca Biomed News
on Class IA PI3K signalling in development and cancer
Issue of 2020‒05‒31
thirty-one papers selected by
Ralitsa Radostinova Madsen
University College London Cancer Institute

  1. Mol Cancer Res. 2020 May 28. pii: molcanres.0592.2019. [Epub ahead of print]
      Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors have shown poor efficacy in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) with demonstrated involvement of the insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF1R) in resistance to EGFR inhibition. IGF1R activates the phosphoinositide-3-kinase(PI3K)-Akt pathway which phosphorylates proline-rich Akt substrate of 40 kDa (PRAS40) to cease mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibition resulting in increased mTOR signaling. Proliferation assays separated 6 HNSCC cell lines into 2 groups: sensitive to EGFR inhibition or resistant; all sensitive cell lines demonstrated reduced sensitivity to EGFR inhibition upon IGF1R activation. RPPA analysis and immunoblot identified a correlation between increased PRAS40 phosphorylation and IGFR mediated resistance to EGFR inhibition. In sensitive cell lines, PRAS40 phosphorylation decreased 44-80% with EGFR inhibition and was restored to 98-196% of control by IGF1R activation while phosphorylation was unaffected in resistant cell lines. Possible involvement of mTOR in this resistance mechanism was demonstrated through a similar pattern of p70S6K phosphorylation. However, addition of temsirolimus, an mTORC1 inhibitor, was insufficient to overcome IGF1R-mediated resistance and suggested an alternative mechanism. Forkhead box O3a (FOXO3a), which has been reported to complex with PRAS40 in the cytoplasm, demonstrated a 6-fold increase in nuclear to cytoplasmic ratio upon EGFR inhibition that was eliminated with concurrent IGF1R activation. Transcription of FOXO3a-regulated TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) and PTEN-induced putative kinase-1 (PINK1) was increased with EGFR inhibition in sensitive cell lines; this effect was diminished with IGF1R stimulation. Implications: These data suggest PRAS40 may play an important role in IGF1R-based therapeutic resistance to EGFR inhibition, and this likely occurs via inhibition of FOXO3a-mediated pro-apoptotic gene transcription.
  2. Circulation. 2020 May 29.
      Background: Pericytes regulate vessel stabilization and function and their loss is associated with diseases such as diabetic retinopathy or cancer. Despite their physiological importance, pericyte function and molecular regulation during angiogenesis remain poorly understood. Methods: To decipher the transcriptomic programs of pericytes during angiogenesis, we crossed the Pdgfrb(BAC)-CreERT2 into the RiboTagflox/flox mice. Pericyte morphological changes were assessed in mural cell-specific R26-mTmG reporter mice, in which low doses of tamoxifen allowed labeling of single cell pericytes at high resolution. To study the role of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling in pericyte biology during angiogenesis, we used genetic mouse models which allow selective inactivation of PI3Kα and PI3Kβ isoforms and their negative regulator PTEN (phosphate and tensin homologue deleted on chromosome ten, PTEN) in mural cells. Results: At the onset of angiogenesis, pericytes exhibit molecular traits of cell proliferation and activated PI3K signaling, whereas during vascular remodeling pericytes upregulate genes involved in mature pericyte cell function, together with a remarkable decrease in PI3K signaling. Immature pericytes showed stellate shape and high proliferation, and mature pericytes were quiescent and elongated. Unexpectedly, we demonstrate that the PI3Kβ, but not PI3Kα, regulates pericyte proliferation and maturation during vessel formation. Genetic PI3Kβ inactivation in pericytes triggered early pericyte maturation. Conversely, unleashing PI3K signaling by means of PTEN deletion delayed pericyte maturation. Pericyte maturation was necessary to undergo vessel remodeling during angiogenesis. Conclusions: Our results identify new molecular and morphological traits associated to pericyte maturation and uncover PI3Kβ activity as a checkpoint to ensure appropriate vessel formation. In turn, our results may open new therapeutic opportunities to regulate angiogenesis in pathological processes through the manipulation of pericyte PI3Kβ activity.
    Keywords:  PI3K signaling
  3. N Engl J Med. 2020 05 28. 382(22): 2103-2116
      BACKGROUND: Patients with PTEN hamartoma tumor syndrome (PHTS) have germline mutations in the tumor-suppressor gene encoding phosphatase and tensin homologue (PTEN). Such mutations have been associated with a hereditary predisposition to multiple types of cancer, including the Cowden syndrome. However, a majority of patients who have PHTS-related phenotypes have tested negative for PTEN mutations. In a previous study, we found that the E3 ubiquitin ligase WWP1 negatively regulates the function of PTEN.METHODS: In a prospective cohort study conducted from 2005 through 2015, we enrolled 431 patients with wild-type PTEN who met at least the relaxed diagnostic criteria of the International Cowden Consortium. Patients were scanned for WWP1 germline variants. We used the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) data set as representative of apparently sporadic cancers and the Exome Aggregation Consortium data set excluding TCGA (non-TCGA ExAC) and the noncancer Genome Aggregation Database (gnomAD) as representative of population controls without a reported cancer diagnosis. We established both in vitro and murine in vivo models to functionally characterize representative WWP1 variants.
    RESULTS: The existence of germline WWP1 variants was first established in a family with wild-type PTEN who had oligopolyposis and early-onset colon cancers. A validation series indicated that WWP1 germline variants occurred in 5 of 126 unrelated patients (4%) with oligopolyposis as a predominant phenotype. Germline WWP1 variants, particularly the WWP1 K740N and N745S alleles, were enriched in patients who did not have PHTS but had prevalent sporadic cancers, including PTEN-related cancer types in TCGA (odds ratio, 1.5; 95% confidence interval, 1.1 to 2.1; P = 0.01). The prioritized WWP1 variants resulted in gain-of-function effects, which led to aberrant enzymatic activation with consequent PTEN inactivation, thereby triggering hyperactive growth-promoting PI3K signaling in cellular and murine models.
    CONCLUSIONS: In this study involving patients with disorders resulting in a predisposition to the development of multiple malignant neoplasms without PTEN germline mutations, we confirmed the function of WWP1 as a cancer-susceptibility gene through direct aberrant regulation of the PTEN-PI3K signaling axis. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others.).
  4. Cancers (Basel). 2020 May 21. pii: E1298. [Epub ahead of print]12(5):
      Under physiological conditions, protein synthesis controls cell growth and survival and is strictly regulated. Deregulation of protein synthesis is a frequent event in cancer. The majority of mutations found in colorectal cancer (CRC), including alterations in the WNT pathway as well as activation of RAS/MAPK and PI3K/AKT and, subsequently, mTOR signaling, lead to deregulation of the translational machinery. Besides mutations in upstream signaling pathways, deregulation of global protein synthesis occurs through additional mechanisms including altered expression or activity of initiation and elongation factors (e.g., eIF4F, eIF2α/eIF2B, eEF2) as well as upregulation of components involved in ribosome biogenesis and factors that control the adaptation of translation in response to stress (e.g., GCN2). Therefore, influencing mechanisms that control mRNA translation may open a therapeutic window for CRC. Over the last decade, several potential therapeutic strategies targeting these alterations have been investigated and have shown promising results in cell lines, intestinal organoids, and mouse models. Despite these encouraging in vitro results, patients have not clinically benefited from those advances so far. In this review, we outline the mechanisms that lead to deregulated mRNA translation in CRC and highlight recent progress that has been made in developing therapeutic strategies that target these mechanisms for tumor therapy.
    Keywords:  colorectal cancer; protein synthesis; translation initiation
  5. Mol Cell. 2020 May 20. pii: S1097-2765(20)30275-6. [Epub ahead of print]
      The physiological role of immune cells in the regulation of postprandial glucose metabolism has not been fully elucidated. We have found that adipose tissue macrophages produce interleukin-10 (IL-10) upon feeding, which suppresses hepatic glucose production in cooperation with insulin. Both elevated insulin and gut-microbiome-derived lipopolysaccharide in response to feeding are required for IL-10 production via the Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway. Indeed, myeloid-specific knockout of the insulin receptor or bone marrow transplantation of mutant TLR4 marrow cells results in increased expression of gluconeogenic genes and impaired glucose tolerance. Furthermore, myeloid-specific Akt1 and Akt2 knockout results in similar phenotypes that are rescued by additional knockout of TSC2, an inhibitor of mTOR. In obesity, IL-10 production is impaired due to insulin resistance in macrophages, whereas adenovirus-mediated expression of IL-10 ameliorates postprandial hyperglycemia. Thus, the orchestrated response of the endogenous hormone and gut environment to feeding is a key regulator of postprandial glycemia.
    Keywords:  Akt; gut microbiome; insulin; interleukin-10; lipopolysaccharide; macrophages; mammalian target of rapamycin; postprandial gluconeogenesis
  6. Cancer Gene Ther. 2020 May 27.
      Ferroptosis has become a topic of rapidly growing interest in recent years, and has possible therapy implications in cancer therapy. Although excessive autophagy may contribute to ferroptosis, its underlying molecular mechanism remains largely unknown. Here, we provide novel evidence that the interplay between the signals of mechanistic target of rapamycin kinase (MTOR) and glutathione peroxidase 4 (GPX4) modulates autophagy-dependent ferroptosis in human pancreatic cancer cells. Both the classical autophagy inducer rapamycin and the classical ferroptosis activator RSL3 can block MTOR activation and cause GPX4 protein degradation in human pancreatic cancer cells. Moreover, GPX4 plays an essential role in the inhibition of autophagy-dependent ferroptosis induced by rapamycin and RSL3. Consequently, GPX4 depletion by RNAi enhances the anticancer activity of rapamycin and RSL3 in vitro or in vivo. These findings not only increase our understanding of stress responses in cell death, but may also raise the possibility of developing new antitumor therapy targeting autophagy-dependent cell death.
  7. Nature. 2020 May 27.
      Cancers develop as a result of driver mutations1,2 that lead to clonal outgrowth and the evolution of disease3,4. The discovery and functional characterization of individual driver mutations are central aims of cancer research, and have elucidated myriad phenotypes5 and therapeutic vulnerabilities6. However, the serial genetic evolution of mutant cancer genes7,8 and the allelic context in which they arise is poorly understood in both common and rare cancer genes and tumour types. Here we find that nearly one in four human tumours contains a composite mutation of a cancer-associated gene, defined as two or more nonsynonymous somatic mutations in the same gene and tumour. Composite mutations are enriched in specific genes, have an elevated rate of use of less-common hotspot mutations acquired in a chronology driven in part by oncogenic fitness, and arise in an allelic configuration that reflects context-specific selective pressures. cis-acting composite mutations are hypermorphic in some genes in which dosage effects predominate (such as TERT), whereas they lead to selection of function in other genes (such as TP53). Collectively, composite mutations are driver alterations that arise from context- and allele-specific selective pressures that are dependent in part on gene and mutation function, and which lead to complex-often neomorphic-functions of biological and therapeutic importance.
  8. Nat Cell Biol. 2020 May 25.
      Tissue stem cells are the cell of origin for many malignancies. Metabolites regulate the balance between self-renewal and differentiation, but whether endogenous metabolic pathways or nutrient availability predispose stem cells towards transformation remains unknown. Here, we address this question in epidermal stem cells (EpdSCs), which are a cell of origin for squamous cell carcinoma. We find that oncogenic EpdSCs are serine auxotrophs whose growth and self-renewal require abundant exogenous serine. When extracellular serine is limited, EpdSCs activate de novo serine synthesis, which in turn stimulates α-ketoglutarate-dependent dioxygenases that remove the repressive histone modification H3K27me3 and activate differentiation programmes. Accordingly, serine starvation or enforced α-ketoglutarate production antagonizes squamous cell carcinoma growth. Conversely, blocking serine synthesis or repressing α-ketoglutarate-driven demethylation facilitates malignant progression. Together, these findings reveal that extracellular serine is a critical determinant of EpdSC fate and provide insight into how nutrient availability is integrated with stem cell fate decisions during tumour initiation.
  9. EMBO Rep. 2020 May 24. e49343
      Regulation of endothelial nutrient transport is poorly understood. Vascular endothelial growth factor B (VEGF-B) signaling in endothelial cells promotes uptake and transcytosis of fatty acids from the bloodstream to the underlying tissue, advancing pathological lipid accumulation and lipotoxicity in diabetic complications. Here, we demonstrate that VEGF-B limits endothelial glucose transport independent of fatty acid uptake. Specifically, VEGF-B signaling impairs recycling of low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) to the plasma membrane, leading to reduced cholesterol uptake and membrane cholesterol loading. Reduced cholesterol levels in the membrane leads to a decrease in glucose transporter 1 (GLUT1)-dependent endothelial glucose uptake. Inhibiting VEGF-B in vivo reconstitutes membrane cholesterol levels and restores glucose uptake, which is of particular relevance for conditions involving insulin resistance and diabetic complications. In summary, our study reveals a mechanism whereby VEGF-B regulates endothelial nutrient uptake and highlights the impact of membrane cholesterol for regulation of endothelial glucose transport.
    Keywords:   LDLR ; VEGF-B; endothelial cell; glucose transcytosis; membrane cholesterol
  10. Biochem Soc Trans. 2020 May 26. pii: BST20190777. [Epub ahead of print]
      Aberrant activation of the PI3K pathway is one of the commonest oncogenic events in human cancer. AKT is a key mediator of PI3K oncogenic function, and thus has been intensely pursued as a therapeutic target. Multiple AKT inhibitors, broadly classified as either ATP-competitive or allosteric, are currently in various stages of clinical development. Herein, we review the evidence for AKT dependence in human tumours and focus on its therapeutic targeting by the two drug classes. We highlight the future prospects for the development and implementation of more effective context-specific AKT inhibitors aided by our increasing knowledge of both its regulation and some previously unrecognised non-canonical functions.
    Keywords:  AKT; ATP-competitive; allosteric; cancer; inhibitors
  11. Nat Commun. 2020 May 27. 11(1): 2660
      High-grade serous ovarian cancer (HG-SOC)-often referred to as a "silent killer"-is the most lethal gynecological malignancy. The fallopian tube (murine oviduct) and ovarian surface epithelium (OSE) are considered the main candidate tissues of origin of this cancer. However, the relative contribution of each tissue to HG-SOC is not yet clear. Here, we establish organoid-based tumor progression models of HG-SOC from murine oviductal and OSE tissues. We use CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing to introduce mutations into genes commonly found mutated in HG-SOC, such as Trp53, Brca1, Nf1 and Pten. Our results support the dual origin hypothesis of HG-SOC, as we demonstrate that both epithelia can give rise to ovarian tumors with high-grade pathology. However, the mutated oviductal organoids expand much faster in vitro and more readily form malignant tumors upon transplantation. Furthermore, in vitro drug testing reveals distinct lineage-dependent sensitivities to the common drugs used to treat HG-SOC in patients.
  12. Cancer Cell. 2020 May 13. pii: S1535-6108(20)30215-4. [Epub ahead of print]
      Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is a highly aggressive and lethal neoplasm. To identify candidate tumor suppressors we applied CRISPR/Cas9 gene inactivation screens to a cellular model of early-stage SCLC. Among the top hits was MAX, the obligate heterodimerization partner for MYC family proteins that is mutated in human SCLC. Max deletion increases growth and transformation in cells and dramatically accelerates SCLC progression in an Rb1/Trp53-deleted mouse model. In contrast, deletion of Max abrogates tumorigenesis in MYCL-overexpressing SCLC. Max deletion in SCLC resulted in derepression of metabolic genes involved in serine and one-carbon metabolism. By increasing serine biosynthesis, Max-deleted cells exhibit resistance to serine depletion. Thus, Max loss results in metabolic rewiring and context-specific tumor suppression.
    Keywords:  CRISPR-Cas9 genetic screens; MAX; MYC; SCLC; Transcriptional regulation; cancer; mouse model; serine and one-carbon metabolism; small cell lung cancer; tumor suppressor genes
  13. Dev Biol. 2020 May 21. pii: S0012-1606(20)30151-2. [Epub ahead of print]
      Development of the craniofacial structures requires the precise differentiation of cranial neural crest cells into osteoblasts or chondrocytes. Here, we explore the epigenetic and non-epigenetic mechanisms that are required for the development of craniofacial chondrocytes. We previously demonstrated that the acetyltransferase activity of the highly conserved acetyltransferase GCN5, or KAT2A, is required for murine craniofacial development. To further test the potential cell autonomous function, we hypothesize that GCN5 is required for chondrocyte development following the arrival of the cranial neural crest within the pharyngeal arches. Here, we show that Gcn5 is required cell autonomously in the cranial neural crest. Using a combination of in vivo and in vitro inhibition of GCN5 acetyltransferase activity, we demonstrate that GCN5 is a potent activator of chondrocyte maturation, acting to control chondrocyte maturation and size increase during pre-hypertrophic maturation to hypertrophic chondrocytes. Rather than acting as an epigenetic regulator of histone H3K9 acetylation, our findings suggest GCN5 primarily acts as a non-histone acetyltransferase to regulate chondrocyte development. Here, we investigate the contribution of GCN5 acetylation to the activity of the mTORC1 pathway. Our findings indicate that GCN5 acetylation is required for activation of this pathway, either via direct activation of mTORC1 or through indirect mechanisms. We also investigate one possibility of how mTORC1 activity is regulated through RAPTOR acetylation, which is hypothesized to enhance mTORC1 downstream phosphorylation. This study contributes to our understanding of the specificity of acetyltransferases, and the cell type specific roles in which these enzymes function.
    Keywords:  Acetyltransferase; Chondrocyte; Craniofacial development; GCN5; Kat2a; Neural crest
  14. Oral Oncol. 2020 May 25. pii: S1368-8375(20)30189-5. [Epub ahead of print]108 104753
      BACKGROUND: Deregulation of the PI3K signalling pathway is frequent in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) and may be implicated in radioresistance. We report on the results from a phase I 3 + 3 dose escalation study of alpelisib, a class I α-specific PI3K inhibitor in combination with concurrent cisplatin-based chemoradiation (CRT) in patients with locoregionally advanced SCCHN (LA-SCCHN).METHODS: Eligible patients had previously untreated LA-SCCHN and were candidates for CRT. The primary objective was to evaluate safety and determine the recommended phase II dose (RP2D). Alpelisib was given orally once daily at two dose levels: 200 mg and 250 mg. CRT consisted of cisplatin 100 mg/m2 IV every three weeks and standard fractionation radiotherapy (IMRT) 70 Gy in 35 fractions.
    RESULTS: Nine patients were enrolled (six alpelisib 200 mg, three 250 mg). Oropharynx was the primary site in all patients (seven p16-positive; five T1-2N2M0, four T3-4N2-3M0 [AJCC 7th edition]). All patients completed CRT within seven weeks. Grade 3 alpelisib-related toxicities occurred in four patients. No dose-limiting toxicity (DLT) was observed at 200 mg among three DLT-evaluable patients. Two of two DLT-evaluable patients treated at 250 mg experienced DLTs (inability to complete ≥75% alpelisib secondary to radiation dermatitis and febrile neutropenia). Thus, RP2D was declared at 200 mg. After median follow-up of 39.7 months, two patients developed pulmonary metastases despite locoregional control. Three-year overall survival was 77.8% (95% CI 36.5%-93.9%).
    CONCLUSION: Alpelisib at 200 mg has a manageable safety profile in combination with cisplatin-based CRT in LA-SCCHN.
    Keywords:  Chemoradiation; Chemoradiotherapy; Cisplatin; Head and neck cancer; Locoregionally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck; PI3K inhibition; PI3K inhibitor; Phase I clinical trial
  15. Nat Rev Cancer. 2020 May 29.
      Cell division and organismal development are exquisitely orchestrated and regulated processes. The dysregulation of the molecular mechanisms underlying these processes may cause cancer, a consequence of cell-intrinsic and/or cell-extrinsic events. Cellular DNA can be damaged by spontaneous hydrolysis, reactive oxygen species, aberrant cellular metabolism or other perturbations that cause DNA damage. Moreover, several environmental factors may damage the DNA, alter cellular metabolism or affect the ability of cells to interact with their microenvironment. While some environmental factors are well established as carcinogens, there remains a large knowledge gap of others owing to the difficulty in identifying them because of the typically long interval between carcinogen exposure and cancer diagnosis. DNA damage increases in cells harbouring mutations that impair their ability to correctly repair the DNA. Tumour predisposition syndromes in which cancers arise at an accelerated rate and in different organs - the equivalent of a sensitized background - provide a unique opportunity to examine how gene-environment interactions influence cancer risk when the initiating genetic defect responsible for malignancy is known. Understanding the molecular processes that are altered by specific germline mutations, environmental exposures and related mechanisms that promote cancer will allow the design of novel and effective preventive and therapeutic strategies.
  16. Biochem Pharmacol. 2020 May 26. pii: S0006-2952(20)30290-2. [Epub ahead of print] 114056
      Primary cilia are sensory organelles that regulate cell cycle and signaling pathways. In addition to its association with cancer, dysfunction of primary cilia is responsible for the pathogenesis of polycystic kidney disease (PKD) and other ciliopathies. Because the association between cilia formation or length and cell cycle or division is poorly understood, we here evaluated their correlation in this study. Using Spectral Karyotyping (SKY) technique, we showed that PKD and the cancer/tumorigenic epithelial cells PC3, DU145, and NL20-TA were associated with abnormal ploidy. We also showed that PKD and the cancer epithelia were highly proliferative. Importantly, the cancer epithelial cells had a reduction in the presence and/or length of primary cilia relative to the normal kidney (NK) cells. We then used rapamycin to restore the expression and length of primary cilia in these cells. Our subsequent analyses indicated that both the presence and length of primary cilia were inversely correlated with cell proliferation. Collectively, our data suggest that restoring the presence and/or length of primary cilia may serve as a novel approach to inhibit cancer cell proliferation.
  17. Trends Cancer. 2020 Jun;pii: S2405-8033(20)30077-7. [Epub ahead of print]6(6): 454-461
      Intratumor heterogeneity is a key hallmark of cancer that contributes to progression and therapeutic resistance. Phenotypic heterogeneity is in part caused by Darwinian selection of subclones that arise by random (epi)genetic aberrations. In addition, cancer cells are endowed with increased cellular plasticity compared with their normal counterparts, further adding to their heterogeneous behavior. However, the molecular mechanisms underpinning cancer cell plasticity are incompletely understood. Here, I outline the hypothesis that cancer-associated perturbations collectively disrupt normal gene regulatory networks (GRNs) by increasing their entropy. Importantly, in this model both somatic driver and passenger alterations contribute to 'perturbation-driven entropy', thereby increasing phenotypic heterogeneity and evolvability. This additional layer of heterogeneity may contribute to our understanding of cancer evolution and therapeutic resistance.
    Keywords:  cancer heterogeneity; entropy; gene regulatory networks; therapeutic resistance
  18. Stem Cell Res. 2020 May 20. pii: S1873-5061(20)30150-1. [Epub ahead of print]46 101849
      The Wnt pathway co-receptor, Leucine Rich Repeat Containing G Protein-Coupled Receptor 5 (LGR5), labels tumor-prone stem cell populations in certain types of tissue. In this study, we show that ARID1A and PIK3CA mutations in LGR5+ cells result in renal angiosarcomas in adult mice. The tumors originate in the renal medulla. We further show that LGR5 labels SOX17+/CD31+/CD34+/CD133+/AQP1+/CD146+ endothelial progenitor cells within the descending vasa recta or straight arterioles of the kidney, which are specialized capillaries that maintain medullary osmotic gradients necessary for water reabsorption and the production of concentrated urine. LGR5+ endothelial progenitor cells are tightly associated with contractile pericytes within the descending vasa recta. Long-term in vivo lineage tracing revealed that LGR5+ cells give rise to renal medullary vasculature. We further show that LGR5+ cells are activated in response to ischemic kidney injury. Our findings uncover a physiologically relevant endothelial progenitor cell population within the kidney vasa recta.
    Keywords:  Acute kidney injury; Ischemia; Stem cells; Vasa recta
  19. PLoS Genet. 2020 May 28. 16(5): e1008743
      Metastasis remains the principle cause of mortality for breast cancer and presents a critical challenge because secondary lesions are often refractory to conventional treatments. While specific genetic alterations are tightly linked to primary tumor development and progression, the role of genetic alteration in the metastatic process is not well-understood. The theory of tumor evolution postulated by Peter Nowell in 1976 has yet to be proven in the context of metastasis. Therefore, in order to investigate how somatic evolution contributes to breast cancer metastasis, we performed exome, whole genome, and RNA sequencing of matched metastatic and primary tumors from pre-clinical mouse models of breast cancer. Here we show that in a treatment-naïve setting, recurrent single nucleotide variants and copy number variation, but not gene fusion events, play key metastasis-driving roles in breast cancer. For instance, we identified recurrent mutations in Kras, a known driver of colorectal and lung tumorigenesis that has not been previously implicated in breast cancer metastasis. However, in a set of in vivo proof-of-concept experiments we show that the Kras G12D mutation is sufficient to significantly promote metastasis using three syngeneic allograft models. The work herein confirms the existence of metastasis-driving mutations and presents a novel framework to identify actionable metastasis-targeted therapies.
  20. Stem Cell Res Ther. 2020 May 27. 11(1): 208
      BACKGROUND: Pluripotent stem cells (PSCs), including human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), hold great potential for regenerative medicine and cell therapy. One of the major hurdles hindering the clinical development of PSC-based therapy is the potential risk of tumorigenesis. CD133 (Prominin 1, PROM1) is a transmembrane protein whose mRNA and glycosylated forms are highly expressed in many human cancer cell types. CD133 also serves as a cancer stem cell (CSC) marker associated with cancer progression and patient outcome. Interestingly, CD133 is highly expressed in hESCs as well as in human preimplantation embryos, but its function in hESCs has remained largely unknown.METHODS: CD133 knockout hESC WA26 cell line was generated with CRISPR/Cas9. CD133 knockout and wide type hESC lines were subjected to pluripotency, proliferation, telomere biology, and teratoma tests; the related global changes and underlying mechanisms were further systemically analyzed by RNA-seq.
    RESULTS: CD133 deficiency did not affect hESC pluripotency or in vivo differentiation into three germ layers but significantly decreased cell proliferation. RNA-seq revealed that CD133 deficiency dysregulated the p53, PI3K-Akt, AMPK, and Wnt signaling pathways. Alterations in these pathways have been implicated in tumor proliferation and apoptotic escape.
    CONCLUSIONS: Our data imply that CD133 could be an additional target and used as a selective marker to sort and eliminate undifferentiated cells in reducing potential teratoma formation risk of hESCs in regenerative medicine.
    Keywords:  CD133; Human embryonic stem cell; Teratoma
  21. Eur J Med Genet. 2020 May 24. pii: S1769-7212(20)30188-9. [Epub ahead of print] 103959
      Patients with Cowden syndrome exhibit mucocutaneous lesions, hamartomatous polyposis of the gastrointestinal tract, and macrocephaly, often complicated by malignant tumors, such as breast, thyroid, and uterine cancers. Autism spectrum and epilepsy have been known as neuropsychiatric symptoms associated with Cowden syndrome; however, to the best of our knowledge, there is no report on cases complicated by schizophrenia. Here, we report a first case of Cowden syndrome complicated by schizophrenia. A 49-year-old Japanese woman started experiencing auditory hallucinations in her teens. She had left breast cancer at the age of 34 years, and right breast cancer at the age of 37 years, all of which were surgically treated. She was also being treated by oral medications for Hashimoto's disease. On consulting her previous doctor for abnormal uterine bleeding that lasted for a year, she was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. However, immediately before surgery, her auditory hallucinations and paranoid delusions became severe, and she was referred to our hospital for detailed examination and treatment. No abnormalities were found on head MRI, and she was diagnosed with schizophrenia on the basis of neuropsychiatric examination findings. After her psychiatric symptoms were controlled by 2 mg of risperidone, she underwent surgery for endometrial cancer. Although there was no apparent family history, physical findings including macrocephaly and papillomatous skin lesions together with her past medical history of multiple malignant tumors suggested Cowden syndrome. Postoperatively, genetic testing revealed a pathogenic variant c.655C > T; p. Gln219* (NM_000314.4) in PTEN, leading to the confirmation of the diagnosis of Cowden syndrome.
    Keywords:  Cowden syndrome; Endometrial cancer; Schizophrenia
  22. Commun Biol. 2020 May 29. 3(1): 271
      Metabolic flux technology with the Seahorse bioanalyzer has emerged as a standard technique in cellular metabolism studies, allowing for simultaneous kinetic measurements of respiration and glycolysis. Methods to extend the utility and versatility of the metabolic flux assay would undoubtedly have immediate and wide-reaching impacts. Herein, we describe a platform that couples the metabolic flux assay with high-content fluorescence imaging to simultaneously provide means for normalization of respiration data with cell number; analyze cell cycle distribution; and quantify mitochondrial content, fragmentation state, membrane potential, and mitochondrial reactive oxygen species. Integration of fluorescent dyes directly into the metabolic flux assay generates a more complete data set of mitochondrial features in a single assay. Moreover, application of this integrated strategy revealed insights into mitochondrial function following PGC1a and PRC1 inhibition in pancreatic cancer and demonstrated how the Rho-GTPases impact mitochondrial dynamics in breast cancer.
  23. Front Behav Neurosci. 2020 ;14 61
      Dysfunction and dysregulation at the genetic, neural, and behavioral levels point at the fine-tuning of broadly spread networks as critical for a wide array of behaviors and mental processes through the life span. This brain-based evidence, from basic to behavioral neuroscience levels, is leading to a new conceptualization of mental health and disease. Thus, the Research Domain Criteria considers phenotypic differences observed among disorders as explained by variations in the nature and degree of neural circuitry disruptions, under the modulation of several developmental, compensatory, environmental, and epigenetic factors. In this context, we aimed to describe for the first time the in vivo behavioral impact of tweaking the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway known to play an essential role in the regulation of cellular processes, leading to diverse physiological responses. We explored the effects in young (YA, 3-4 months of age) and mature (MA, 11-14 months of age) male and female PDK1 K465E knock-in mice in a battery of tests under different anxiogenic conditions. The results evidenced that the double mutation of the PDK1 pleckstrin homology (PH) domain resulted in an enhancement of the negative valence system shown as an increase of responses of fear- and anxiety-like behaviors in anxiogenic situations. Interestingly, this seemed to be specific of YA and found regulated at middle age. In contrast, cognitive deficits, as measured in a spatial working memory task, were found in both YA and MA mutants and independently of the level of their anxious-like profiles. These distinct age- and function-dependent impacts would be in agreement with the distinct cortical and limbic deficits in the Akt signaling in the brain we have recently described in these same animals. The elicitation of age- and neuronal-dependent specific patterns suggests that fine-tuning the intensity of the PKB/Akt signal that enables diverse physiological response has also its in vivo translation into the negative valence system and age is a key regulatory factor.
    Keywords:  PI3K/Akt; RDoC; aging; animal model; anxiety; cognition; fine tuning; signaling pathway
  24. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2020 ;8 288
      Similarities between stem cells and cancer cells have implicated mammary stem cells in breast carcinogenesis. Recent evidence suggests that normal breast stem cells exist in multiple phenotypic states: epithelial, mesenchymal, and hybrid epithelial/mesenchymal (E/M). Hybrid E/M cells in particular have been implicated in breast cancer metastasis and poor prognosis. Mounting evidence also suggests that stem cell phenotypes change throughout the life course, for example, through embryonic development and pregnancy. The goal of this study was to use single cell RNA-sequencing to quantify cell state distributions of the normal mammary (NM) gland throughout developmental stages and when perturbed into a stem-like state in vitro using conditional reprogramming (CR). Using machine learning based dataset alignment, we integrate multiple mammary gland single cell RNA-seq datasets from human and mouse, along with bulk RNA-seq data from breast tumors in the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), to interrogate hybrid stem cell states in the normal mammary gland and cancer. CR of human mammary cells induces an expanded stem cell state, characterized by increased expression of embryonic stem cell associated genes. Alignment to a mouse single-cell transcriptome atlas spanning mammary gland development from in utero to adulthood revealed that NM cells align to adult mouse cells and CR cells align across the pseudotime trajectory with a stem-like population aligning to the embryonic mouse cells. Three hybrid populations emerge after CR that are rare in NM: KRT18+/KRT14+ (hybrid luminal/basal), EPCAM+/VIM+ (hybrid E/M), and a quadruple positive population, expressing all four markers. Pseudotime analysis and alignment to the mouse developmental trajectory revealed that E/M hybrids are the most developmentally immature. Analyses of single cell mouse mammary RNA-seq throughout pregnancy show that during gestation, there is an enrichment of hybrid E/M cells, suggesting that these cells play an important role in mammary morphogenesis during lactation. Finally, pseudotime analysis and alignment of TCGA breast cancer expression data revealed that breast cancer subtypes express distinct developmental signatures, with basal tumors representing the most "developmentally immature" phenotype. These results highlight phenotypic plasticity of normal mammary stem cells and provide insight into the relationship between hybrid cell populations, stemness, and cancer.
    Keywords:  breast cancer; epithelial; hybrid; mesenchymal; pregnancy; single-cell RNA sequencing; stem cells
  25. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2020 ;8 287
      Cancer stemness is associated with high malignancy and low differentiation, as well as therapeutic resistance of tumors including pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) exert pleiotropic effects on a variety of cellular processes and functions including embryonic stem cell pluripotency and cancer cell stemness via the activation of four tyrosine kinase FGF receptors (FGFRs). FGF ligands have been a major component of the cocktail of growth factors contained in the cancer stemness-inducing (CSI) and organoid culture medium. Although FGF/FGFR signaling has been hypothesized to maintain cancer stemness, its function in this process is still unclear. We report that inhibition of FGF/FGFR signaling impairs sphere-forming ability of PDAC in vitro, and knocking down FGFR1 and FGFR2 decreased their tumorigenesis abilities in vivo. Mechanistically, we demonstrated that SOX2 is down-regulated upon loss of FGFR signaling. The overexpression of SOX2 in SOX2-negative cells, which normally do not display stemness capabilities, is sufficient to induce spheroid formation. Additionally, we found that AKT phosphorylation was reduced upon FGFR signaling inhibition. The inhibition of AKT using specific pharmacological inhibitors in the context of CSI medium leads to the loss of spheroid formation associated with loss of SOX2 nuclear expression and increased degradation. We demonstrate that an FGFR/AKT/SOX2 axis controls cancer stemness in PDAC and therefore may represent an important therapeutic target in the fight against this very aggressive form of cancer.
    Keywords:  FGFR; SOX2; pancreatic cancer; sphere-formation assay; stemness
  26. PLoS Biol. 2020 May 28. 18(5): e3000721
      Dietary nutrients provide macromolecules necessary for organism growth and development. In response to animal feeding, evolutionarily conserved growth signaling pathways are activated, leading to increased rates of cell proliferation and tissue growth. It remains unclear how different cell types within developing tissues coordinate growth in response to dietary nutrients and whether coordinated growth of different cell types is necessary for proper tissue function. Here, we report that Drosophila neural stem cells, known as neuroblasts, reactivate from developmental quiescence in a dietary-nutrient-dependent manner. Neuroblast reactivation in the brain requires nonautonomous activation of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3-kinase) signaling from cortex glia and tracheal processes, both of which are closely associated with neuroblasts. Furthermore, PI3-kinase activation in neuroblasts is required nonautonomously for glial membrane expansion and robust neuroblast-glial contact. Finally, PI3-kinase is required cell autonomously for nutrient-dependent growth of neuroblasts, glia, and trachea. Of the 7 Drosophila insulin-like peptides (Dilps), we find that Dilp-2 is required for PI3-kinase activation and growth coordination between neuroblasts and glia in the brain. Dilp-2 induces brain cortex glia to initiate membrane growth and make first contact with quiescent neuroblasts. After contact, neuroblasts increase in size and reenter S-phase. Once reactivated from quiescence, neuroblasts promote growth of cortex glia, which, in turn, form a selective membrane barrier around neuroblasts and their newborn progeny. Our results highlight the importance of bidirectional growth signaling between neural stem cells and surrounding cell types in the brain in response to nutrition and demonstrate how coordinated growth among different cell types drives tissue morphogenesis and function.
  27. Sci Signal. 2020 May 26. pii: eaba3176. [Epub ahead of print]13(633):
      Although insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) signaling promotes tumor growth and cancer progression, therapies that target the IGF-1 receptor (IGF-1R) have shown poor clinical efficacy. To address IGF-1R activity in cancer cells and how it differs from that of the closely related insulin receptor (IR), we focused on two tyrosines in the IGF-1R C-terminal tail that are not present in the IR and are essential for IGF-1-mediated cancer cell survival, migration, and tumorigenic growth. We found that Tyr1250 and Tyr1251 (Tyr1250/1251) were autophosphorylated in a cell adhesion-dependent manner. To investigate the consequences of this phosphorylation, we generated phosphomimetic Y1250E/Y1251E (EE) and nonphosphorylatable Y1250F/Y1251F (FF) mutant forms of IGF-1R. Although fully competent in kinase activity and signaling, the EE mutant was more rapidly internalized and degraded than either the wild-type or FF receptor. IGF-1 promoted the accumulation of wild-type and EE IGF-1R within the Golgi apparatus, whereas the FF mutant remained at the plasma membrane. Golgi-associated IGF-1R signaling was a feature of migratory cancer cells, and Golgi disruption impaired IGF-1-induced signaling and cell migration. Upon the formation of new cell adhesions, IGF-1R transiently relocalized to the plasma membrane from the Golgi. Thus, phosphorylation at Tyr1250/1251 promoted IGF-1R translocation to and signaling from the Golgi to support an aggressive cancer phenotype. This process distinguishes IGF-1R from IR signaling and could contribute to the poor clinical efficacy of antibodies that target IGF-1R on the cell surface.
  28. J Clin Pathol. 2020 May 28. pii: jclinpath-2020-206693. [Epub ahead of print]
      Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) includes diverse tumour types characterised by various genetic abnormalities. The genetic changes, like mutations, deletions and epigenetic alterations, play a crucial role in the modification of signalling networks, tumour pathogenesis and prognosis. The most prevalent RCC type, clear cell RCC (ccRCC), is asymptomatic in the early stages and has a poorer prognosis compared with the papillary and the chromophobe types RCCs. Generally, ccRCC is refractory to chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Loss of von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) gene and upregulation of hypoxia-inducible factors (HIF), the signature of most sporadic ccRCC, promote multiple growth factors. Hence, VHL/HIF and a variety of pathways, including phosphatase and TEnsin homolog on chromosome 10/phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT, are closely connected and contribute to the ontogeny of ccRCC. In the recent decade, multiple targeting agents have been developed based on blocking major signalling pathways directly or indirectly involved in ccRCC tumour progression, metastasis, angiogenesis and survival. However, most of these drugs have limitations; either metastatic ccRCC develops resistance to these agents, or despite blocking receptors, tumour cells use alternate signalling pathways. This review compiles the state of knowledge about the PI3K/AKT signalling pathway confined to ccRCC and its cross-talks with VHL/HIF pathway.
    Keywords:  PI3K; PTEN; VHL/HIF; ccRCC; signaling pathway
  29. Eur Urol. 2020 May 22. pii: S0302-2838(20)30326-2. [Epub ahead of print]
      BACKGROUND: Activating mutations in AKT1 and PIK3CA are undercharacterised in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC), but are linked to activation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) signalling and sensitivity to pathway inhibitors in other cancers.OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence, genomic context, and clinical associations of AKT1/PIK3CA activating mutations in mCRPC.
    DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: We analysed targeted cell-free DNA (cfDNA) sequencing data from 599 metastatic prostate cancer patients with circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) content above 2%.
    OUTCOME MEASUREMENTS AND STATISTICAL ANALYSIS: In patients with AKT1/PIK3CA mutations, cfDNA was subjected to PTEN intron sequencing and matched diagnostic tumour tissue was analysed when possible.
    RESULTS AND LIMITATIONS: Of the patients, 6.0% (36/599) harboured somatic clonal activating mutation(s) in AKT1 or PIK3CA. Mutant allele-specific imbalance was common. Clonal mutations in mCRPC ctDNA were typically detected in pretreatment primary tissue and were consistent across serial ctDNA collections. AKT1/PIK3CA-mutant mCRPC had fewer androgen receptor (AR) gene copies than AKT1/PIK3CA wild-type mCRPC (median 4.7 vs 10.3, p =  0.003). AKT1 mutations were mutually exclusive with PTEN alterations. Patients with and without AKT1/PIK3CA mutations showed similar clinical outcomes with standard of care treatments. A heavily pretreated mCRPC patient with an AKT1 mutation experienced a 50% decline in prostate-specific antigen with Akt inhibitor (ipatasertib) monotherapy. Ipatasertib also had a marked antitumour effect in a patient-derived xenograft harbouring an AKT1 mutation. Limitations include the inability to assess AKT1/PIK3CA correlatives in ctDNA-negative patients.
    CONCLUSIONS: AKT1/PIK3CA activating mutations are relatively common and delineate a distinct mCRPC molecular subtype with low-level AR copy gain. Clonal prevalence and evidence of mutant allele selection propose PI3K pathway dependency in selected patients. The use of cfDNA screening enables prospective clinical trials to test PI3K pathway inhibitors in this population.
    PATIENT SUMMARY: Of advanced prostate cancer cases, 6% have activating mutations in the genes AKT1 or PIK3CA. These mutations can be identified using a blood test and may help select patients suitable for clinical trials of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase inhibitors.
    Keywords:  Castration-resistant prostate cancer; Cell-free DNA; Circulating tumour DNA; Genomic sequencing; Hotspot mutation; Liquid biopsy; Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase; Precision oncology
  30. J Biol Chem. 2020 May 28. pii: jbc.RA119.010710. [Epub ahead of print]
      Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive cancer subtype for which effective therapies are unavailable. TNBC has a high frequency of tumor protein P53 (P53) and phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) deficiencies, and combined P53/PTEN deficiency is associated with poor prognosis and poor response to anticancer therapies. In this study, we discovered that combined P53/PTEN deficiency in TNBC activates expression of the transcription factor mesenchyme homeobox 1 (MEOX1). We found that MEOX1 is expressed only in TNBC deficient in P53 or PTEN and that its expression is undetectable in luminal A, luminal B, and HER2+ subtypes as well as in normal breast cells with wild type P53/PTEN. Notably, siRNA knockdown of both P53 and PTEN activated MEOX1 expression in breast cancer cells, whereas individual knockdowns of either P53 or PTEN had only minimal effects on MEOX1 expression. MEOX1 knockdown abolished cell proliferation of P53/PTEN-deficient TNBC in vitro and inhibited tumor growth in vivo, but had no effect on the proliferation of luminal and HER2+ cancer cells and of normal breast cells. RNA-Seq and immunoblotting analyses showed that the MEOX1 knockdown decreases expression of tyrosine kinase 2 (TYK2), signal transducer and activator of transcription 5B (STAT5B), and STAT6 in P53- and PTEN-deficient TNBC cells. These results reveal the effects of combined P53/PTEN deficiency on MEOX1 expression and TNBC cell proliferation, suggesting that MEOX1 may serve as a potential therapeutic target for managing P53- and PTEN-deficient TNBC.
    Keywords:  breast cancer; cancer biology; cancer therapeutics; cancer therapy; cell proliferation; homeobox transcription; mesenchyme homeobox 1 (MEOX1); p53; phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN); triple negative breast cancer (TNBC)
  31. Cell. 2020 May 28. pii: S0092-8674(20)30508-0. [Epub ahead of print]181(5): 1112-1130.e16
      Acute physical activity leads to several changes in metabolic, cardiovascular, and immune pathways. Although studies have examined selected changes in these pathways, the system-wide molecular response to an acute bout of exercise has not been fully characterized. We performed longitudinal multi-omic profiling of plasma and peripheral blood mononuclear cells including metabolome, lipidome, immunome, proteome, and transcriptome from 36 well-characterized volunteers, before and after a controlled bout of symptom-limited exercise. Time-series analysis revealed thousands of molecular changes and an orchestrated choreography of biological processes involving energy metabolism, oxidative stress, inflammation, tissue repair, and growth factor response, as well as regulatory pathways. Most of these processes were dampened and some were reversed in insulin-resistant participants. Finally, we discovered biological pathways involved in cardiopulmonary exercise response and developed prediction models revealing potential resting blood-based biomarkers of peak oxygen consumption.
    Keywords:  cardiopulmonary exercise testing; fitness; insulin resistance; multi-omics; outlier analysis; peak VO(2); physical activity; predictive analytics; systems biology; time-series analysis