bims-pideca Biomed News
on Class IA PI3K signalling in development and cancer
Issue of 2020‒09‒13
27 papers selected by
Ralitsa Radostinova Madsen
University College London Cancer Institute

  1. Nat Commun. 2020 Sep 09. 11(1): 4510
      With human median lifespan extending into the 80s in many developed countries, the societal burden of age-related muscle loss (sarcopenia) is increasing. mTORC1 promotes skeletal muscle hypertrophy, but also drives organismal aging. Here, we address the question of whether mTORC1 activation or suppression is beneficial for skeletal muscle aging. We demonstrate that chronic mTORC1 inhibition with rapamycin is overwhelmingly, but not entirely, positive for aging mouse skeletal muscle, while genetic, muscle fiber-specific activation of mTORC1 is sufficient to induce molecular signatures of sarcopenia. Through integration of comprehensive physiological and extensive gene expression profiling in young and old mice, and following genetic activation or pharmacological inhibition of mTORC1, we establish the phenotypically-backed, mTORC1-focused, multi-muscle gene expression atlas, SarcoAtlas (, as a user-friendly gene discovery tool. We uncover inter-muscle divergence in the primary drivers of sarcopenia and identify the neuromuscular junction as a focal point of mTORC1-driven muscle aging.
  2. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020 Sep 11. pii: 202007856. [Epub ahead of print]
      Sphingolipid dysregulation is often associated with insulin resistance, while the enzymes controlling sphingolipid metabolism are emerging as therapeutic targets for improving insulin sensitivity. We report herein that sphingosine kinase 2 (SphK2), a key enzyme in sphingolipid catabolism, plays a critical role in the regulation of hepatic insulin signaling and glucose homeostasis both in vitro and in vivo. Hepatocyte-specific Sphk2 knockout mice exhibit pronounced insulin resistance and glucose intolerance. Likewise, SphK2-deficient hepatocytes are resistant to insulin-induced activation of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)-Akt-FoxO1 pathway and elevated hepatic glucose production. Mechanistically, SphK2 deficiency leads to the accumulation of sphingosine that, in turn, suppresses hepatic insulin signaling by inhibiting PI3K activation in hepatocytes. Either reexpressing functional SphK2 or pharmacologically inhibiting sphingosine production restores insulin sensitivity in SphK2-deficient hepatocytes. In conclusion, the current study provides both experimental findings and mechanistic data showing that SphK2 and sphingosine in the liver are critical regulators of insulin sensitivity and glucose homeostasis.
    Keywords:  ceramide; hepatocyte; insulin resistance; sphingolipids; type 2 diabetes
  3. Front Neurosci. 2020 ;14 775
      The mechanistic target of rapamycin protein complex, mTORC1, has received attention in recent years for its role in aging and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease. Numerous excellent reviews have been written on the pathways and drug targeting of this keystone regulator of metabolism. However, none have specifically highlighted several important nuances of mTOR regulation as relates to neurodegeneration. Herein, we focus on six such nuances/open questions: (1) "Antagonistic pleiotropy" - Should we weigh the beneficial anabolic functions of mTORC1 against its harmful inhibition of autophagy? (2) "Early/late-stage specificity" - Does the relative importance of these neuroprotective/neurotoxic actions change as a disease progresses? (3) "Regional specificity" - Does mTOR signaling respond differently to the same interventions in different brain regions? (4) "Disease specificity" - Could the same intervention to inhibit mTORC1 help in one disease and cause harm in another disease? (5) "Personalized therapy" - Might genetically-informed personalized therapies that inhibit particular nodes in the mTORC1 regulatory network be more effective than generalized therapies? (6) "Lifestyle interventions" - Could specific diets, micronutrients, or exercise alter mTORC1 signaling to prevent or improve the progression neurodegenerative diseases? This manuscript is devoted to discussing recent research findings that offer insights into these gaps in the literature, with the aim of inspiring further inquiry.
    Keywords:  Alzheimer’s disease; Parkinson’s disease; antagonistic pleiotropy; autophagy; insulin/Akt; mTOR
  4. Nat Commun. 2020 Sep 08. 11(1): 4496
      Aging is characterized by the loss of homeostasis and the general decline of physiological functions, accompanied by various degenerative diseases and increased rates of mortality. Aging targeting small molecule screens have been performed many times, however, few have focused on endogenous metabolic intermediates-metabolites. Here, using C. elegans lifespan assays, we conducted a worm metabolite screen and identified an eukaryotes conserved metabolite, myo-inositol (MI), to extend lifespan, increase mobility and reduce fat content. Genetic analysis of enzymes in MI metabolic pathway suggest that MI alleviates aging through its derivative PI(4,5)P2. MI and PI(4,5)P2 are precursors of PI(3,4,5)P3, which is negatively related to longevity. The longevity effect of MI is dependent on the tumor suppressor gene, daf-18 (homologous to mouse Pten), independent of its classical pathway downstream genes, akt or daf-16. Furthermore, we found MI effects on aging and lifespan act through mitophagy regulator PTEN induced kinase-1 (pink-1) and mitophagy. MI's anti-aging effect is also conserved in mouse, indicating a conserved mechanism in mammals.
  5. iScience. 2020 Aug 20. pii: S2589-0042(20)30671-4. [Epub ahead of print]23(9): 101479
      Insulin regulates glucose metabolism through thousands of regulatory mechanisms; however, which regulatory mechanisms are keys to control glucose metabolism remains unknown. Here, we performed kinetic trans-omic analysis by integrating isotope-tracing glucose flux and phosphoproteomic data from insulin-stimulated adipocytes and built a kinetic mathematical model to identify key allosteric regulatory and phosphorylation events for enzymes. We identified nine reactions regulated by allosteric effectors and one by enzyme phosphorylation and determined the regulatory mechanisms for three of these reactions. Insulin stimulated glycolysis by promoting Glut4 activity by enhancing phosphorylation of AS160 at S595, stimulated fatty acid synthesis by promoting Acly activity through allosteric activation by glucose 6-phosphate or fructose 6-phosphate, and stimulated glutamate synthesis by alleviating allosteric inhibition of Gls by glutamate. Most of glycolytic reactions were regulated by amounts of substrates and products. Thus, phosphorylation or allosteric modulator-based regulation of only a few key enzymes was sufficient to change insulin-induced metabolism.
    Keywords:  Biological Sciences; Mathematical Biosciences; Metabolic Flux Analyisis; Metabolomics; Omics; Proteomics; Systems Biology
  6. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2020 ;1274 203-222
      The lipid kinases that generate the lipid signalling phosphoinositides have been established as fundamental signalling enzymes that control numerous aspects of how cells respond to their extracellular environment. In addition, they play critical roles in regulating membrane trafficking and lipid transport within the cell. The class I phosphoinositide kinases which generate the critical lipid signal PIP3 are hyperactivated in numerous human pathologies including cancer, overgrowth syndromes, and primary immunodeficiencies. The type III phosphatidylinositol 4-kinase beta isoform (PI4KB), which are evolutionarily similar to the class I PI3Ks, have been found to be essential host factors mediating the replication of numerous devastating pathogenic viruses. Finally, targeting the parasite variant of PI4KB has been established as one of the most promising strategies for the development of anti-malarial and anti-cryptosporidium strategies. Therefore, the development of targeted isoform selective inhibitors for these enzymes are of paramount importance. The first generation of PI3K inhibitors have recently been clinically approved for a number of different cancers, highlighting their therapeutic value. This review will examine the history of the class I PI3Ks, and the type III PI4Ks, their relevance to human disease, and the structural basis for their regulation and inhibition by potent and selective inhibitors.
    Keywords:  Cancer; Cryptosporidiosis; Enteroviruses; Malaria; Oncogenes; PI3K; PI4K; PI4KA; PI4KB; PIK3CA; PIK3R1; Phosphatidylinositol; Phosphoinositides; p110; p85
  7. Carcinogenesis. 2020 Sep 07. pii: bgaa096. [Epub ahead of print]
      Over 70% of breast cancers express the estrogen receptor (ER) and depend on ER activity for survival and proliferation. While hormone therapies that target receptor activity are initially effective, patients invariably develop resistance which is often associated with activation of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway. While the mechanism by which estrogen regulates proliferation is not fully understood, one gene target of ER, growth regulation by estrogen in breast cancer 1 (GREB1), is required for hormone-dependent proliferation. However, the molecular function by which GREB1 regulates proliferation is unknown. Herein, we validate that knockdown of GREB1 results in growth arrest and that exogenous GREB1 expression initiates senescence, suggesting that an optimal level of GREB1 expression is necessary for proliferation of breast cancer cells. Under both of these conditions, GREB1 is able to regulate signaling through the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway. GREB1 acts intrinsically through PI3K to regulate PIP3 levels and Akt activity. Critically, growth suppression of estrogen-dependent breast cancer cells by GREB1 knockdown is rescued by expression of constitutively activated Akt. Together, these data identify a novel molecular function by which GREB1 regulates breast cancer proliferation through Akt activation and provides a mechanistic link between estrogen signaling and the PI3K pathway.
  8. Drugs. 2020 Sep 07.
      Approximately 70% of invasive breast cancers have some degree of dependence on the estrogen hormone for cell proliferation and growth. These tumors have estrogen and/or progesterone receptors (ER/PR+), generally referred to as hormone receptor positive (HR+) tumors, as indicated by the presence of positive staining and varying intensity levels of estrogen and/or progesterone receptors on immunohistochemistry. Therapies that inhibit ER signaling pathways, such as aromatase inhibitors (letrozole, anastrozole, exemestane), selective ER modulators (tamoxifen), and ER down-regulators (fulvestrant), are the mainstays of treatment for hormone-receptor-positive breast cancers. However, de novo or acquired resistance to ER targeted therapies is present in many tumors, leading to disease progression. The PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway is implicated in sustaining endocrine resistance and has become the target of many new drugs for ER+ breast cancer. This article reviews the function of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT/mTOR pathway and the various classes of PI3K pathway inhibitors that have been developed to disrupt this pathway signaling for the treatment of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer.
  9. Cell Metab. 2020 Aug 31. pii: S1550-4131(20)30424-1. [Epub ahead of print]
      Stem cells reside in specialized niches that are critical for their function. Upon activation, hair follicle stem cells (HFSCs) exit their niche to generate the outer root sheath (ORS), but a subset of ORS progeny returns to the niche to resume an SC state. Mechanisms of this fate reversibility are unclear. We show that the ability of ORS cells to return to the SC state requires suppression of a metabolic switch from glycolysis to oxidative phosphorylation and glutamine metabolism that occurs during early HFSC lineage progression. HFSC fate reversibility and glutamine metabolism are regulated by the mammalian target of rapamycin complex 2 (mTORC2)-Akt signaling axis within the niche. Deletion of mTORC2 results in a failure to re-establish the HFSC niche, defective hair follicle regeneration, and compromised long-term maintenance of HFSCs. These findings highlight the importance of spatiotemporal control of SC metabolic states in organ homeostasis.
    Keywords:  Akt; Hif1; cell fate; glutamine; hair follicle; hypoxia; mTOR; mTORC2; metabolism; stem cell
  10. J Lipid Res. 2020 Sep 09. pii: jlr.RA119000586. [Epub ahead of print]
      Microsomal triglyceride transfer protein (MTTP) deficiency results in a syndrome of hypolipidemia and accelerated nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Animal models of decreased hepatic MTTP activity have revealed an unexplained dissociation between hepatic steatosis and hepatic insulin resistance. Here, we performed comprehensive metabolic phenotyping of liver specific MTTP knockout (L-Mttp-/-) mice and age-weight matched wild type control mice. Young (10-12 weeks old) L-Mttp-/- mice exhibited hepatic steatosis and increased diacylglycerol (DAG) content; however, the increase in hepatic DAG content was partitioned to the lipid droplet and did not increase in plasma membrane. Young L-Mttp-/- mice also manifested normal hepaticinsulin sensitivity as assessed by hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamps, no protein kinase Cε (PKCε) activation and normal hepatic insulin signaling through AKT Ser/Thr kinase (AKT). In contrast, aged (10 months old) L-Mttp-/- mice exhibited glucose intolerance and hepatic insulin resistance, along with increased in hepatic plasma membrane sn-1,2-DAG content and PKCε activation. Treatment with a functionally liver-targeted mitochondrial uncoupler protected the aged L-Mttp-/- mice against the development of hepatic steatosis and hepatic insulin resistance. Taken together these data demonstrate that differences in the intracellular compartmentation of sn-1,2 DAGs in the lipid droplet vs. plasma membrane explains the dissociation of NAFLD/lipid-induced hepatic insulin resistance in young L-Mttp-/- mice as well as the development of lipid-induced hepatic insulin resistance in aged L-Mttp-/- mice.
    Keywords:  Drug therapy; Insulin resistance; Lipids; Liver; Liver microsomal triglyceride transfer protein; NAFLD; controlled release mitochondrial protonophore; fatty acid oxidation; mitochondria
  11. Genes (Basel). 2020 Sep 04. pii: E1045. [Epub ahead of print]11(9):
      Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), a serine/threonine protein kinase and a master regulator of cell growth and metabolism, forms two structurally and functionally distinct complexes, mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) and mTORC2. While mTORC1 signaling is well characterized, mTORC2 is relatively poorly understood. mTORC2 appears to exist in functionally distinct pools, but few mTORC2 effectors/substrates have been identified. Here, we review recent advances in our understanding of mTORC2 signaling, with particular emphasis on factors that control mTORC2 activity.
    Keywords:  Akt; mTOR; mTORC2 signaling; signaling crosstalk
  12. Clin Cancer Res. 2020 Sep 10. pii: clincanres.2000.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      PURPOSE: Identifying cancers with high PI3K pathway activity is critical for treatment selection and eligibility into clinical trials of PI3K inhibitors. Assessments of tumor signaling pathway activity need to consider intratumoral heterogeneity and multiple regulatory nodes.METHODS: We established a novel, mechanistically informed approach to assessing tumor signaling pathways by quantifying single cell-level multiplex immunofluorescence using custom algorithms. In a proof-of-concept study, we stained archival formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue from patients with primary prostate cancer in two prospective cohort studies, the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and the Physicians' Health Study. PTEN, stathmin, and phospho-S6 were quantified on 14 tissue microarrays as indicators of PI3K activation to derive cell-level PI3K scores.
    RESULTS: In 1,001 men, 988,254 tumor cells were assessed (median, 743 per tumor; interquartile range, 290 to 1377). PI3K scores were higher in tumors with PTEN loss scored by a pathologist, higher Gleason grade, and a new, validated bulk PI3K transcriptional signature. Unsupervised machine-learning approaches resulted in similar clustering. Within-tumor heterogeneity in cell-level PI3K scores was high. During long-term follow-up (median, 15.3 years), rates of progression to metastases and death from prostate cancer were twice as high in the highest quartile of PI3K activation compared to the lowest quartile (hazard ratio, 2.04; 95% confidence interval, 1.13 to 3.68).
    CONCLUSION: Our novel pathway-focused approach to quantifying single cell-level immunofluorescence in FFPE tissue identifies prostate tumors with PI3K pathway activation that are more aggressive and may respond to pathway inhibitors.
  13. Dev Cell. 2020 Sep 03. pii: S1534-5807(20)30630-4. [Epub ahead of print]
      The dysregulation of the metabolic regulator TOR complex I (TORC1) contributes to a wide array of human pathologies. Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is a potent inhibitor of TORC1. Here, we demonstrate that the Rag GTPase acts in both the amino-acid-sensing and growth factor signaling pathways to control TORC1 activity through the regulation of TSC dynamics in HeLa cells and Drosophila. We find that TSC lysosomal-cytosolic exchange increases in response to both amino acid and growth factor restriction. Moreover, the rate of exchange mirrors TSC function, with depletions of the Rag GTPase blocking TSC lysosomal mobility and rescuing TORC1 activity. Finally, we show that the GATOR2 complex controls the phosphorylation of TSC2, which is essential for TSC exchange. Our data support the model that the amino acid and growth factor signaling pathways converge on the Rag GTPase to inhibit TORC1 activity through the regulation of TSC dynamics.
    Keywords:  AKT1; Drosophila; GATOR2; HeLa cell; Rag GTPase; TORC1; TSC; amino acid signaling; growth factor signaling; lysosome
  14. Nat Rev Cancer. 2020 Sep 07.
      Circadian rhythms govern a large array of physiological and metabolic functions. Perturbations of the daily cycle have been linked to elevated risk of developing cancer as well as poor prognosis in patients with cancer. Also, expression of core clock genes or proteins is remarkably attenuated particularly in tumours of a higher stage or that are more aggressive, possibly linking the circadian clock to cellular differentiation. Emerging evidence indicates that metabolic control by the circadian clock underpins specific hallmarks of cancer metabolism. Indeed, to support cell proliferation and biomass production, the clock may direct metabolic processes of cancer cells in concert with non-clock transcription factors to control how nutrients and metabolites are utilized in a time-specific manner. We hypothesize that the metabolic switch between differentiation or stemness of cancer may be coupled to the molecular clockwork. Moreover, circadian rhythms of host organisms appear to dictate tumour growth and proliferation. This Review outlines recent discoveries of the interplay between circadian rhythms, proliferative metabolism and cancer, highlighting potential opportunities in the development of future therapeutic strategies.
  15. J Physiol. 2020 Sep 07.
      KEY POINTS: Muscle contractions increase protein synthesis in a mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR)-dependent manner, yet it is unclear which/how mTOR complexes regulate muscle protein synthesis. We investigated the requirement of mTOR Complex 2 (mTORC2) in contraction-stimulated muscle protein synthesis. mTORC2 inhibition by muscle-specific Rictor knockout (Rictor mKO) did not prevent contraction-induced muscle protein synthesis. Rapamycin prevented contraction-induced muscle protein synthesis in Rictor mKO but not wild-type mice.ABSTRACT: Protein synthesis increases following muscle contractions. Previous studies showed that the mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) inhibition suppressed the early but not late muscle protein synthesis-response, while the inhibition of both mTORC1 and mTORC2 abolished both effects. Therefore, we hypothesized that mTORC2 regulates muscle protein synthesis following muscle contractions. To test this, we investigated the effect of mTORC2 inhibition by mouse muscle-specific Rictor knockout (Rictor mKO) on muscle protein synthesis 3h post-contraction. The right gastrocnemius muscles of Rictor mKO mice and wild-type (WT) mice were isometrically contracted using percutaneous electrical stimulation, while the left gastrocnemius muscles served as controls. Vehicle or the mTORC1 inhibitor rapamycin (1.5 mg/kg) was injected intraperitoneally 1 h before contraction. Treatment of WT mice with rapamycin and Rictor mKO lowered protein synthesis in general, but the response to contractions was intact 3h post contractions in both conditions. Rapamycin treatment in Rictor mKO prevented contraction-stimulated muscle protein synthesis. Notably, signalling traditionally associated with mTORC1 was increased by muscle contractions despite rapamycin treatment. In rapamycin-treated Rictor mKO mice, the same mTORC1 signalling was blocked following contractions. Our results indicate that although neither rapamycin-sensitive mTOR/mTORC1 nor mTORC2 regulates contraction-induced muscle protein synthesis, combined inhibition of rapamycin-sensitive mTOR/mTORC1 and mTORC2 synergistically inhibits contraction-induced muscle protein synthesis. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Keywords:  cell signalling; exercisemTORC1; mTORC2; protein translation
  16. Nat Rev Genet. 2020 Sep 09.
      Molecular inputs to chromatin via cellular metabolism are modifiers of the epigenome. These inputs - which include both nutrient availability as a result of diet and growth factor signalling - are implicated in linking the environment to the maintenance of cellular homeostasis and cell identity. Recent studies have demonstrated that these inputs are much broader than had previously been known, encompassing metabolism from a wide variety of sources, including alcohol and microbiotal metabolism. These factors modify DNA and histones and exert specific effects on cell biology, systemic physiology and pathology. In this Review, we discuss the nature of these molecular networks, highlight their role in mediating cellular responses and explore their modifiability through dietary and pharmacological interventions.
  17. Genes (Basel). 2020 Sep 03. pii: E1043. [Epub ahead of print]11(9):
      Ageing is a complex trait controlled by genes and the environment. The highly conserved mechanistic target of rapamycin signalling pathway (mTOR) is a major regulator of lifespan in all eukaryotes and is thought to be mediating some of the effects of dietary restriction. mTOR is a rheostat of energy sensing diverse inputs such as amino acids, oxygen, hormones, and stress and regulates lifespan by tuning cellular functions such as gene expression, ribosome biogenesis, proteostasis, and mitochondrial metabolism. Deregulation of the mTOR signalling pathway is implicated in multiple age-related diseases such as cancer, neurodegeneration, and auto-immunity. In this review, we briefly summarise some of the workings of mTOR in lifespan and ageing through the processes of transcription, translation, autophagy, and metabolism. A good understanding of the pathway's outputs and connectivity is paramount towards our ability for genetic and pharmacological interventions for healthy ageing and amelioration of age-related disease.
    Keywords:  Drosophila; TORC1; TORC2; ageing; autophagy; metabolism; nutrient-response; transcription; translation; yeast
  18. Nat Rev Cancer. 2020 Sep 09.
      Elevated circulating insulin levels are frequently observed in the setting of obesity and early type 2 diabetes, as a result of insensitivity of metabolic tissues to the effects of insulin. Higher levels of circulating insulin have been associated with increased cancer risk and progression in epidemiology studies. Elevated circulating insulin is believed to be a major factor linking obesity, diabetes and cancer. With the development of targeted cancer therapies, insulin signalling has emerged as a mechanism of therapeutic resistance. Although metabolic tissues become insensitive to insulin in the setting of obesity, a number of mechanisms allow cancer cells to maintain their ability to respond to insulin. Significant progress has been made in the past decade in understanding the insulin receptor and its signalling pathways in cancer, and a number of lessons have been learnt from therapeutic failures. These discoveries have led to numerous clinical trials that have aimed to reduce the levels of circulating insulin and to abrogate insulin signalling in cancer cells. With the rising prevalence of obesity and diabetes worldwide, and the realization that hyperinsulinaemia may contribute to therapeutic failures, it is essential to understand how insulin and insulin receptor signalling promote cancer progression.
  19. Dev Cell. 2020 Aug 31. pii: S1534-5807(20)30666-3. [Epub ahead of print]
      Lysosome function is essential for cellular homeostasis, but quality-control mechanisms that maintain healthy lysosomes remain poorly characterized. Here, we developed a method to measure lysosome turnover and use this to identify a selective mechanism of membrane degradation that involves lipidation of the autophagy protein LC3 onto lysosomal membranes and the formation of intraluminal vesicles through microautophagy. This mechanism is induced in response to metabolic stress resulting from glucose starvation or by treatment with pharmacological agents that induce osmotic stress on lysosomes. Cells lacking ATG5, an essential component of the LC3 lipidation machinery, show reduced ability to regulate lysosome size and degradative capacity in response to activation of this mechanism. These findings identify a selective mechanism of lysosome membrane turnover that is induced by stress and uncover a function for LC3 lipidation in regulating lysosome size and activity through microautophagy.
    Keywords:  ATG5; LAP; LC3; ammonium; autophagy; glucose; glutamine; lysosome; metabolism; microautophagy
  20. Blood Adv. 2020 Sep 08. 4(17): 4151-4164
      The phosphatidylinositide-3 kinases and the downstream mediator AKT drive survival and proliferation of multiple myeloma (MM) cells. AKT signaling is active in MM and has pleiotropic effects; however, the key molecular aspects of AKT dependency in MM are not fully clear. Among the various downstream AKT targets are the Forkhead box O (FOXO) transcription factors (TFs) and glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3), which are negatively regulated by AKT signaling. Here we show that abrogation of AKT signaling in MM cells provokes cell death and cell cycle arrest, which crucially depends on both FOXO TFs and GSK3. Based on gene expression profiling, we defined a FOXO-repressed gene set that has prognostic significance in a large cohort of patients with MM, indicating that AKT-mediated gene activation is associated with inferior overall survival. We further show that AKT signaling stabilizes the antiapoptotic myeloid cell leukemia 1 (MCL1) protein by inhibiting FOXO- and GSK3-mediated MCL1 turnover. In concordance, abrogation of AKT signaling greatly sensitized MM cells for an MCL1-targeting BH3-mimetic, which is currently in clinical development. Taken together, our results indicate that AKT activity is required to restrain the tumor-suppressive functions of FOXO and GSK3, thereby stabilizing the antiapoptotic protein MCL1 in MM. These novel insights into the role of AKT in MM pathogenesis and MCL1 regulation provide opportunities to improve targeted therapy for patients with MM.
  21. Cell. 2020 Sep 05. pii: S0092-8674(20)31078-3. [Epub ahead of print]
      Determining protein levels in each tissue and how they compare with RNA levels is important for understanding human biology and disease as well as regulatory processes that control protein levels. We quantified the relative protein levels from over 12,000 genes across 32 normal human tissues. Tissue-specific or tissue-enriched proteins were identified and compared to transcriptome data. Many ubiquitous transcripts are found to encode tissue-specific proteins. Discordance of RNA and protein enrichment revealed potential sites of synthesis and action of secreted proteins. The tissue-specific distribution of proteins also provides an in-depth view of complex biological events that require the interplay of multiple tissues. Most importantly, our study demonstrated that protein tissue-enrichment information can explain phenotypes of genetic diseases, which cannot be obtained by transcript information alone. Overall, our results demonstrate how understanding protein levels can provide insights into regulation, secretome, metabolism, and human diseases.
    Keywords:  BBS syndrome; Leigh syndrome; TMT; branched-chain amino acid metabolism; mass spectrometry; protein and RNA correlation; quantitative proteomics; secretion; tissue-enriched or -specific proteins
  22. Elife. 2020 Sep 08. pii: e58204. [Epub ahead of print]9
      Drug treatment of 3D cancer spheroids more accurately reflects in vivo therapeutic responses compared to adherent culture studies. In EGFR-mutated lung adenocarcinoma, EGFR-TKIs show enhanced efficacy in spheroid cultures. Simultaneous inhibition of multiple parallel RTKs further enhances EGFR-TKI effectiveness. We show that the common RTK signaling intermediate SOS1 was required for 3D spheroid growth of EGFR-mutated NSCLC cells. Using two distinct measures of pharmacologic synergy, we demonstrated that SOS1 inhibition strongly synergized with EGFR-TKI treatment only in 3D spheroid cultures. Combined EGFR- and SOS1-inhibition markedly inhibited Raf/MEK/ERK and PI3K/AKT signaling. Finally, broad assessment of the pharmacologic landscape of drug-drug interactions downstream of mutated EGFR revealed synergy when combining an EGFR-TKI with inhibitors of proximal signaling intermediates SOS1 and SHP2, but not inhibitors of downstream RAS effector pathways. These data indicate that vertical inhibition of proximal EGFR signaling should be pursued as a potential therapy to treat EGFR-mutated tumors.
    Keywords:  cancer biology; human; lung adenocarcinoma; son of sevenless; spheroids; synergy
  23. Cell Syst. 2020 Sep 05. pii: S2405-4712(20)30329-X. [Epub ahead of print]
      Transcriptional profiling of tumors has revealed a stress-like state among the cancer cells with the concerted expression of genes such as fos, jun, and heat-shock proteins, though this has been controversial given possible dissociation-effects associated with single-cell RNA sequencing. Here, we validate the existence of this state using a combination of zebrafish melanoma modeling, spatial transcriptomics, and human samples. We found that the stress-like subpopulation of cancer cells is present from the early stages of tumorigenesis. Comparing with previously reported single-cell RNA sequencing datasets from diverse cancer types, including triple-negative breast cancer, oligodendroglioma, and pancreatic adenocarcinoma, indicated the conservation of this state during tumorigenesis. We also provide evidence that this state has higher tumor-seeding capabilities and that its induction leads to increased growth under both MEK and BRAF inhibitors. Collectively, our study supports the stress-like cells as a cancer cell state expressing a coherent set of genes and exhibiting drug-resistance properties.
    Keywords:  cancer cell states; drug-resistant states; melanoma; single-cell RNA-seq; spatial transcriptomics; stress-like
  24. Genes Dev. 2020 Sep 10.
      Despite being the frontline therapy for type 2 diabetes, the mechanisms of action of the biguanide drug metformin are still being discovered. In particular, the detailed molecular interplays between the AMPK and the mTORC1 pathway in the hepatic benefits of metformin are still ill defined. Metformin-dependent activation of AMPK classically inhibits mTORC1 via TSC/RHEB, but several lines of evidence suggest additional mechanisms at play in metformin inhibition of mTORC1. Here we investigated the role of direct AMPK-mediated serine phosphorylation of RAPTOR in a new Raptor AA mouse model, in which AMPK phospho-serine sites Ser722 and Ser792 of RAPTOR were mutated to alanine. Metformin treatment of primary hepatocytes and intact murine liver requires AMPK regulation of both RAPTOR and TSC2 to fully inhibit mTORC1, and this regulation is critical for both the translational and transcriptional response to metformin. Transcriptionally, AMPK and mTORC1 were both important for regulation of anabolic metabolism and inflammatory programs triggered by metformin treatment. The hepatic transcriptional response in mice on high-fat diet treated with metformin was largely ablated by AMPK deficiency under the conditions examined, indicating the essential role of this kinase and its targets in metformin action in vivo.
    Keywords:  AMPK; RAPTOR; STAT3; TSC2; mTOR; metformin
  25. Elife. 2020 Sep 10. pii: e58374. [Epub ahead of print]9
      SOX11 is an embryonic mammary epithelial marker that is normally silenced prior to birth. High SOX11 levels in breast tumours are significantly associated with distant metastasis and poor outcome in breast cancer patients. Here, we show that SOX11 confers distinct features to ER-negative breast cancer cells, leading to populations enriched with highly plastic hybrid epithelial/mesenchymal cells, which display invasive features and alterations in metastatic tropism when xenografted into mice. We found that SOX11+DCIS tumour cells metastasize to brain and bone at greater frequency and to lungs at lower frequency compared to cells with lower SOX11 levels. High levels of SOX11 leads to the expression of markers associated with mesenchymal state and embryonic cellular phenotypes. Our results suggest that SOX11 may be a potential biomarker for breast tumours with elevated risk of developing metastases and may require more aggressive therapies.
    Keywords:  cancer biology; developmental biology; human
  26. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2020 Sep 08. pii: S0006-291X(20)31725-3. [Epub ahead of print]
      The mechanistic/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) regulates various cellular processes, in part through incorporation into distinct protein complexes. The mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) contains the Raptor subunit, while mTORC2 specifically contains the Rictor subunit. Mouse genetic studies, including ours, have revealed a critical role for mTOR in skeletogenesis through its expression in undifferentiated mesenchymal cells. In addition, we have recently revealed that mTORC1 expression in chondrocytes is crucial for skeletogenesis. Recent work indicates that mTOR regulates cellular functions, depending on the context, through both complex-dependent (canonical pathway) and complex-independent roles (noncanonical pathway). Here, we determined that mTOR regulates skeletal development through the noncanonical pathway, as well as the canonical pathway, in a cell-type and context-specific manner. Inactivation of Mtor in undifferentiated mesenchymal cells or chondrocytes led to either severe hypoplasia in appendicular skeletons or a severe and generalized chondrodysplasia, respectively. Moreover, Rictor deletion in undifferentiated mesenchymal cells or chondrocytes led to mineralization defects in some skeletal components. Finally, we revealed that simultaneous deletion of Raptor and Rictor in undifferentiated mesenchymal cells recapitulated the appendicular skeletal phenotypes of Mtor deficiency, whereas chondrocyte-specific Raptor and Rictor double-mutants exhibited milder hypoplasia of appendicular and axial skeletons than those seen upon Mtor deletion. These findings indicate that mTOR regulates skeletal development mainly through the canonical pathway in undifferentiated mesenchymal cells, but at least in part through the noncanonical pathway in chondrocytes.
    Keywords:  Canonical pathway; Chondrocytes; Mesenchymal cells; Noncanonical pathway; Skeletogenesis; mTOR