bims-pideca Biomed News
on Class IA PI3K signalling in development and cancer
Issue of 2022‒11‒06
thirty papers selected by
Ralitsa Radostinova Madsen
University College London Cancer Institute

  1. Cell Rep. 2022 Nov 01. pii: S2211-1247(22)01435-8. [Epub ahead of print]41(5): 111574
      Phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome 10 (PTEN) is a negative regulator of AKT/mTOR signaling pathway. Mutations in PTEN are found in patients with autism, epilepsy, or macrocephaly. In mouse models, Pten loss results in neuronal hypertrophy, hyperexcitability, seizures, and ASD-like behaviors. The underlying molecular mechanisms of these phenotypes are not well delineated. We determined which of the Pten loss-driven aberrations in neuronal form and function are orchestrated by downstream mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1). Rapamycin-mediated inhibition of mTORC1 prevented increase in soma size, migration, spine density, and dendritic overgrowth in Pten knockout dentate gyrus granule neurons. Genetic knockout of Raptor to disrupt mTORC1 complex formation blocked Pten loss-mediated neuronal hypertrophy. Electrophysiological recordings revealed that genetic disruption of mTORC1 rescued Pten loss-mediated increase in excitatory synaptic transmission. We have identified an essential role for mTORC1 in orchestrating Pten loss-driven neuronal hypertrophy and synapse formation.
    Keywords:  CP: Cell biology; CP: Neuroscience; PTEN; Raptor; autism; dendrite; mTOR; rapamycin; synapse
  2. Pediatr Dev Pathol. 2022 Oct 31. 10935266221080155
      BACKGROUND: Somatic mosaicism for PIK3CA mutations causes various types of growth disorders, which have been summarized under the term PROS (PIK3CA related overgrowth spectrum). Targeted therapy with PI3K inhibitors seems to be a promising alternative for severe PROS cases. Therefore, PIK3CA testing may become more relevant in the future.METHODS: We report on 14 PROS patients, who had surgery for macrodactyly in the majority of cases. Clinical data were retrieved from the patient's records. Macroscopic and microscopic findings were retrospectively reviewed. Mutational analysis was performed on formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) material.
    RESULTS: Patient age ranged from 7 months to 35 years. Five patients showed additional anomalies. One patient had CLOVES syndrome. The majority of the specimens were ray resections characterized by hypertrophic fat tissue. Overall, microscopy was subtle. The abnormal adipose tissue showed lobules exhibiting at least focally fibrous septa. In each case, we could detect a PIK3CA mutation.
    CONCLUSION: Histology of affected fat tissue in PROS patients is overall nonspecific. Therefore, mutational analysis represents the key to the diagnosis, especially in unclear clinical cases. We demonstrated that FFPE material is suitable for PIK3CA testing, which can be considered as basis for targeted therapy with PI3K inhibitors.
    Keywords:  PIK3CA; PIK3CA-related overgrowth spectrum; lipomatosis; macrodactyly; molecular pathology; segmental overgrowth; targeted therapy
  3. Nat Commun. 2022 Oct 29. 13(1): 6455
      The AKT signaling pathway plays critical roles in the resolution of inflammation. However, the underlying mechanisms of anti-inflammatory regulation and signal coordination remain unclear. Here, we report that anti-inflammatory AKT signaling is coordinated by glutamyl-prolyl-tRNA synthetase 1 (EPRS1). Upon inflammatory activation, AKT specifically phosphorylates Ser999 of EPRS1 in the cytoplasmic multi-tRNA synthetase complex, inducing release of EPRS1. EPRS1 compartmentalizes AKT to early endosomes via selective binding to the endosomal membrane lipid phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate and assembles an AKT signaling complex specific for anti-inflammatory activity. These events promote AKT activation-mediated GSK3β phosphorylation, which increase anti-inflammatory cytokine production. EPRS1-deficient macrophages do not assemble the early endosomal complex and consequently exacerbate inflammation, decreasing the survival of EPRS1-deficient mice undergoing septic shock and ulcerative colitis. Collectively, our findings show that the housekeeping protein EPRS1 acts as a mediator of inflammatory homeostasis by coordinating compartment-specific AKT signaling.
  4. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2022 Nov 08. 119(45): e2210618119
      Alterations of the tumor suppressor TP53, one of the most common events in cancer, alone are insufficient for tumor development but serve as drivers of transformation. We sought to identify cooperating events through genomic analyses of a somatic Trp53R245W mouse model (equivalent to the TP53R248W hot spot mutation in human cancers) that recapitulates metastatic breast-cancer development. We identified cooperating lesions similar to those found in human breast cancers. Moreover, we identified activation of the Pi3k/Akt/mTOR pathway in most tumors via mutations in Pten, Erbb2, Kras, and/or a recurrent Pip5k1c mutation that stabilizes the Pip5k1c protein and activates Pi3k/Akt/mTOR signaling. Another PIP5K1C family member, PIP5K1A, is coamplified with PI4KB in 18% of human breast cancer patients; both encode kinases that are responsible for production of the PI3K substrate, phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate. Thus, the TP53R248W mutation and PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling are major cooperative events driving breast-cancer development. Additionally, a combination of two US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drugs, tigecycline and metformin, which target oxidative phosphorylation downstream of PI3K signaling, inhibited tumor cell growth and may be repurposed for breast-cancer treatment. These findings advance our understanding of how mutant p53 drives breast-tumor development and pinpoint the importance of PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling, expanding combination therapies for breast-cancer treatment.
    Keywords:  Pip5k1c; breast cancer; genomics; p53
  5. Br J Cancer. 2022 Nov 01.
      BACKGROUND: KRAS is a frequently mutated oncogene in human cancer. Clinical studies on the covalent inhibitors of the KRASG12C mutant have reported promising results. However, primary and acquired resistance may limit their clinical use.METHODS: Sotorasib-resistant cell lines were established. We explored the signalling pathways activated in these resistant cell lines and their roles in sotorasib resistance.
    RESULTS: The resistant cells exhibited increased cell-matrix adhesion with increased levels of stress fibres and focal adherens. p21-activated kinases (PAKs) were activated in resistant cells, which phosphorylate MEK at serine 298 of MEK and serine 338 of c-Raf to activate the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway. The PAK inhibitors FRAX597 and FRAX486 in synergy with sotorasib reduced the viability of KRASG12C mutant cancer cells. Furthermore, the PI3K/AKT pathway was constitutively active in sotorasib-resistant cells. The overexpression of constitutively activated PI3K or the knockdown of PTEN resulted in resistance to sotorasib. PI3K inhibitor alpelisib was synergistic with sotorasib in compromising the viability of KRASG12C mutant cancer cells. Moreover, PI3K and PAK pathways formed a mutual positive regulatory loop that mediated sotorasib resistance.
    CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that the cell-matrix interaction-dependent activation of PAK mediates resistance to sotorasib through the activation of MAPK and PI3K pathways.
  6. Mol Syst Biol. 2022 11;18(11): e11006
      The unravelling of the complexity of cellular metabolism is in its infancy. Cancer-associated genetic alterations may result in changes to cellular metabolism that aid in understanding phenotypic changes, reveal detectable metabolic signatures, or elucidate vulnerabilities to particular drugs. To understand cancer-associated metabolic transformation, we performed untargeted metabolite analysis of 173 different cancer cell lines from 11 different tissues under constant conditions for 1,099 different species using mass spectrometry (MS). We correlate known cancer-associated mutations and gene expression programs with metabolic signatures, generating novel associations of known metabolic pathways with known cancer drivers. We show that metabolic activity correlates with drug sensitivity and use metabolic activity to predict drug response and synergy. Finally, we study the metabolic heterogeneity of cancer mutations across tissues, and find that genes exhibit a range of context specific, and more general metabolic control.
    Keywords:  cancer; heterogeneity; metabolomics; mutation
  7. Neuropathology. 2022 Nov 03.
      It is known that somatic activation of PI3K-AKT-MTOR signaling causes malformations of cortical development varying from hemimegalencephaly to focal cortical dysplasia. However, there have been few reports of fetal cases. Here we report two fetal cases of hemimegalencephaly, one associated with mosaic mutations in PIK3CA and another in AKT1. Both brains showed polymicrogyria, multiple subarachnoidal, subcortical, and subventricular heterotopia resulting from abnormal proliferation of neural stem/progenitor cells, cell differentiation, and migration of neuroblasts. Scattered cell nests immunoreactive for phosphorylated-S6 ribosomal protein (P-RPS6) (Ser240/244) were observed in the polymicrogyria-like cortical plate, intermediate zone, and arachnoid space, suggesting that the PI3K-AKT-MTOR pathway was actually activated in these cells. Pathological analyses could shed light on the mechanisms involved in disrupted brain development in the somatic mosaicism of the PI3K-AKT-MTOR pathway.
    Keywords:  AKT1; PIK3CA; hemimegalencephaly; heterotopia; polymicrogyria
  8. Blood Adv. 2022 Nov 02. pii: bloodadvances.2022007383. [Epub ahead of print]
      Metabolic alterations are important cancer-associated features that allow cancer cell transformation and their survival under stress conditions. Multiple myeloma (MM) plasma cells show increased glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS), characteristics associated with recurrent genetic aberrations that drive the proliferation and survival of MM cells. The protein kinase B/AKT acts as a central node in cellular metabolism and is constitutively active in MM cells. Despite the known role of AKT in modulating cellular metabolism, little is known about the downstream factors of AKT that control the metabolic adaptability of MM cells. Here, we demonstrate that negative regulation of the forkhead box O (FOXO) transcription factors (TF) by AKT is crucial to prevent metabolic shutdown in MM cells, thus contributing to their metabolic adaptability. Our results demonstrate that the expression of several key metabolic genes involved in glycolysis, the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle and OXPHOS, are repressed by FOXO TFs. Moreover, the FOXO-dependent repression of glycolysis- and TCA-associated genes correlates with a favorable prognosis in a large MM patient cohort. Our data suggest that repression of FOXO by AKT is essential to sustain glycolysis and the TCA cycle activity in MM cells, and as such predicts patient survival.
  9. Clin Cancer Res. 2022 Nov 02. pii: CCR-22-2115. [Epub ahead of print]
      PURPOSE: Alpelisib is a phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase alpha (PI3Kα)-selective inhibitor approved for the treatment of hormone receptor positive/HER2 negative (HR+/HER2-) PIK3CA-mutated advanced breast cancer (ABC) based on the SOLAR-1 trial, which defined 11 substitutions in exons 7, 9, and 20 in PIK3CA (SOLAR1m). We report alpelisib effectiveness for ABC harboring SOLAR1m, as well as other pathogenic PIK3CA mutations (OTHERm) using comprehensive genomic profiling (CGP).EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: 33,977 tissue and 1,587 liquid biopsies were analyzed using hybrid-capture-based CGP covering the entire coding sequence of PIK3CA. Clinical characteristics and treatment history were available for 10,750 ABC patients in the de-identified Flatiron Health-Foundation Medicine clinico-genomic database (FH-FMI CGDB).
    RESULTS: PIK3CAm were detected in 11,767 / 33,977 (35%) of tissue biopsies, including 2,300 (7%) samples with OTHERm and no SOLAR1m. Liquid biopsy had 77% sensitivity detecting PIK3CAm, increasing to 95% with ctDNA fraction ≥2%. In patients with HR+/HER2- ABC and PIK3CAm receiving alpelisib/fulvestrant (ALP+FUL; n = 182) or fulvestrant alone (FUL; n = 119), median real-world progression free survival (rwPFS) was 5.9 months on ALP+FUL [95%CI: 5.1 - 7.4] versus 3.1 months on FUL [95%CI: 2.7 - 3.7] (p < 0.0001). In patients with OTHERm, median rwPFS was 4.0 months on ALP+FUL [95%CI: 2.8 - 10.1] versus 2.5 months on FUL [95%CI: 2.2 - 3.7] (p = 0.0054).
    CONCLUSIONS: CGP detects diverse PIK3CAm in a greater number of patients with ABC than PCR hotspot testing; 20% of patients with PIK3CAm do not have SOLAR1m. These patients may derive benefit from alpelisib.
  10. NPJ Syst Biol Appl. 2022 11 01. 8(1): 42
      Networks underlie much of biology from subcellular to ecological scales. Yet, understanding what experimental data are needed and how to use them for unambiguously identifying the structure of even small networks remains a broad challenge. Here, we integrate a dynamic least squares framework into established modular response analysis (DL-MRA), that specifies sufficient experimental perturbation time course data to robustly infer arbitrary two and three node networks. DL-MRA considers important network properties that current methods often struggle to capture: (i) edge sign and directionality; (ii) cycles with feedback or feedforward loops including self-regulation; (iii) dynamic network behavior; (iv) edges external to the network; and (v) robust performance with experimental noise. We evaluate the performance of and the extent to which the approach applies to cell state transition networks, intracellular signaling networks, and gene regulatory networks. Although signaling networks are often an application of network reconstruction methods, the results suggest that only under quite restricted conditions can they be robustly inferred. For gene regulatory networks, the results suggest that incomplete knockdown is often more informative than full knockout perturbation, which may change experimental strategies for gene regulatory network reconstruction. Overall, the results give a rational basis to experimental data requirements for network reconstruction and can be applied to any such problem where perturbation time course experiments are possible.
  11. Nat Commun. 2022 Nov 02. 13(1): 6568
      The success of CRISPR-mediated gene perturbation studies is highly dependent on the quality of gRNAs, and several tools have been developed to enable optimal gRNA design. However, these tools are not all adaptable to the latest CRISPR modalities or nucleases, nor do they offer comprehensive annotation methods for advanced CRISPR applications. Here, we present a new ecosystem of R packages, called crisprVerse, that enables efficient gRNA design and annotation for a multitude of CRISPR technologies. This includes CRISPR knockout (CRISPRko), CRISPR activation (CRISPRa), CRISPR interference (CRISPRi), CRISPR base editing (CRISPRbe) and CRISPR knockdown (CRISPRkd). The core package, crisprDesign, offers a user-friendly and unified interface to add off-target annotations, rich gene and SNP annotations, and on- and off-target activity scores. These functionalities are enabled for any RNA- or DNA-targeting nucleases, including Cas9, Cas12, and Cas13. The crisprVerse ecosystem is open-source and deployed through the Bioconductor project ( ).
  12. Cell Rep Methods. 2022 Oct 24. 2(10): 100300
      Inserting large DNA payloads (>10 kb) into specific genomic sites of mammalian cells remains challenging. Applications ranging from synthetic biology to evaluating the pathogenicity of disease-associated variants for precision medicine initiatives would greatly benefit from tools that facilitate this process. Here, we merge the strengths of different classes of site-specific recombinases and combine these with CRISPR-Cas9-mediated homologous recombination to develop a strategy for stringent site-specific replacement of genomic fragments at least 50 kb in size in human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs). We demonstrate the versatility of STRAIGHT-IN (serine and tyrosine recombinase-assisted integration of genes for high-throughput investigation) by (1) inserting various combinations of fluorescent reporters into hiPSCs to assess the excitation-contraction coupling cascade in derivative cardiomyocytes and (2) simultaneously targeting multiple variants associated with inherited cardiac arrhythmic disorders into a pool of hiPSCs. STRAIGHT-IN offers a precise approach to generate genetically matched panels of hiPSC lines efficiently and cost effectively.
    Keywords:  Bxb1 integrase; CRISPR-Cas9; Cre recombinase; cardiomyocyte; disease modeling; human pluripotent stem cells; site-specific recombination; synthetic gene circuit; targeted gene modification
  13. Mol Syst Biol. 2022 11;18(11): e11176
      Extracting dynamical information from single-cell transcriptomics is a novel task with the promise to advance our understanding of cell state transition and interactions between genes. Yet, theory-oriented, bottom-up approaches that consider differences among cell states are largely lacking. Here, we present spliceJAC, a method to quantify the multivariate mRNA splicing from single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq). spliceJAC utilizes the unspliced and spliced mRNA count matrices to constructs cell state-specific gene-gene regulatory interactions and applies stability analysis to predict putative driver genes critical to the transitions between cell states. By applying spliceJAC to biological systems including pancreas endothelium development and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in A549 lung cancer cells, we predict genes that serve specific signaling roles in different cell states, recover important differentially expressed genes in agreement with pre-existing analysis, and predict new transition genes that are either exclusive or shared between different cell state transitions.
    Keywords:  attractor linear stability; cell state transition; gene regulatory network; mRNA splicing; single-cell RNA sequencing
  14. Nat Commun. 2022 Nov 03. 13(1): 6586
      The recent breakthrough of single-cell RNA velocity methods brings attractive promises to reveal directed trajectory on cell differentiation, states transition and response to perturbations. However, the existing RNA velocity methods are often found to return erroneous results, partly due to model violation or lack of temporal regularization. Here, we present UniTVelo, a statistical framework of RNA velocity that models the dynamics of spliced and unspliced RNAs via flexible transcription activities. Uniquely, it also supports the inference of a unified latent time across the transcriptome. With ten datasets, we demonstrate that UniTVelo returns the expected trajectory in different biological systems, including hematopoietic differentiation and those even with weak kinetics or complex branches.
  15. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2022 Nov 08. 119(45): e2211142119
      Ultradian rhythms in metabolism and physiology have been described previously in mammals. However, the underlying mechanisms for these rhythms are still elusive. Here, we report the discovery of temperature-sensitive ultradian rhythms in mammalian fibroblasts that are independent of both the cell cycle and the circadian clock. The period in each culture is stable over time but varies in different cultures (ranging from 3 to 24 h). We show that transient, single-cell metabolic pulses are synchronized into stable ultradian rhythms across contacting cells in culture by gap junction-mediated coupling. Coordinated rhythms are also apparent for other metabolic and physiological measures, including plasma membrane potential (Δψp), intracellular glutamine, α-ketoglutarate, intracellular adenosine triphosphate (ATP), cytosolic pH, and intracellular calcium. Moreover, these ultradian rhythms require extracellular glutamine, several different ion channels, and the suppression of mitochondrial ATP synthase by α-ketoglutarate, which provides a key feedback mechanism. We hypothesize that cellular coupling and metabolic feedback can be used by cells to balance energy demands for survival.
    Keywords:  cellular metabolism; gap junctions; ion channels; membrane potential; ultradian rhythms
  16. Nat Commun. 2022 Nov 03. 13(1): 6600
      This paper presents a generalisable method for the calibration of fluorescence readings on microplate readers, in order to convert arbitrary fluorescence units into absolute units. FPCountR relies on the generation of bespoke fluorescent protein (FP) calibrants, assays to determine protein concentration and activity, and a corresponding analytical workflow. We systematically characterise the assay protocols for accuracy, sensitivity and simplicity, and describe an 'ECmax' assay that outperforms the others and even enables accurate calibration without requiring the purification of FPs. To obtain cellular protein concentrations, we consider methods for the conversion of optical density to either cell counts or alternatively to cell volumes, as well as examining how cells can interfere with protein counting via fluorescence quenching, which we quantify and correct for the first time. Calibration across different instruments, disparate filter sets and mismatched gains is demonstrated to yield equivalent results. It also reveals that mCherry absorption at 600 nm does not confound cell density measurements unless expressed to over 100,000 proteins per cell. FPCountR is presented as pair of open access tools (protocol and R package) to enable the community to use this method, and ultimately to facilitate the quantitative characterisation of synthetic microbial circuits.
  17. Nat Commun. 2022 Oct 30. 13(1): 6500
      Activation of insulin receptor (IR) initiates a cascade of conformational changes and autophosphorylation events. Herein, we determined three structures of IR trapped by aptamers using cryo-electron microscopy. The A62 agonist aptamer selectively activates metabolic signaling. In the absence of insulin, the two A62 aptamer agonists of IR adopt an insulin-accessible arrowhead conformation by mimicking site-1/site-2' insulin coordination. Insulin binding at one site triggers conformational changes in one protomer, but this movement is blocked in the other protomer by A62 at the opposite site. A62 binding captures two unique conformations of IR with a similar stalk arrangement, which underlie Tyr1150 mono-phosphorylation (m-pY1150) and selective activation for metabolic signaling. The A43 aptamer, a positive allosteric modulator, binds at the opposite side of the insulin-binding module, and stabilizes the single insulin-bound IR structure that brings two FnIII-3 regions into closer proximity for full activation. Our results suggest that spatial proximity of the two FnIII-3 ends is important for m-pY1150, but multi-phosphorylation of IR requires additional conformational rearrangement of intracellular domains mediated by coordination between extracellular and transmembrane domains.
  18. EMBO Rep. 2022 Nov 03. e54969
      T cell activation and effector functions are determined by the affinity of the interaction between T cell receptor (TCR) and its antigenic peptide MHC (pMHC) ligand. A better understanding of the quantitative aspects of TCR-pMHC affinity-dependent T cell activation is critical for the development of new immunotherapeutic strategies. However, the role of TCR-pMHC affinity in regulating the kinetics of CD8+ T cell commitment to proliferation and differentiation is unknown. Here, we show that the stronger the TCR-pMHC affinity, the shorter the time of T cell-APC co-culture required to commit CD8+ T cells to proliferation. The time threshold for T cell cytokine production is much lower than that for cell proliferation. There is a strong correlation between affinity-dependent differences in AKT phosphorylation and T cell proliferation. The cytokine IL-15 increases the poor proliferation of T cells stimulated with low affinity pMHC, suggesting that pro-inflammatory cytokines can override the affinity-dependent features of T cell proliferation.
    Keywords:  CTL; T cell activation; affinity; signaling
  19. Sci Rep. 2022 Nov 02. 12(1): 18509
      PD-1 immune checkpoint blockade against inhibitory receptors such as receptor programmed cell death-1 (PD-1), has revolutionized cancer treatment. Effective immune reactivity against tumour antigens requires the infiltration and activation of tumour-infiltrating T-cells (TILs). In this context, ligation of the antigen-receptor complex (TCR) in combination with the co-receptor CD28 activates the intracellular mediator AKT (or PKB, protein kinase B) and its downstream targets. PD-1 inhibits the activation of AKT/PKB. Given this, we assessed whether the direct activation of AKT might be effective in activating the immune system to limit the growth of tumors that are resistant to PD-1 checkpoint blockade. We found that the small molecule activator of AKT (SC79) limited growth of a B16 tumor and an EMT-6 syngeneic breast tumor model that are poorly responsive to PD-1 immunotherapy. In the case of B16 tumors, direct AKT activation induced (i) a reduction of suppressor regulatory (Treg) TILs and (ii) an increase in effector CD8+ TILs. SC79 in vivo therapy caused a major increase in the numbers of CD4+ and CD8+ TILs to express interferon-γ (IFN-γ). This effect on IFN-γ expression distinguished responsive from non-responsive anti-tumor responses and could be recapitulated ex vivo with human T-cells. In CD4+FoxP3+Treg TILs, AKT induced IFN-γ expression was accompanied by a loss of suppressor activity, the conversation to CD4+ helper Th1-like TILs and a marked reduction in phospho-SHP2. In CD8+ TILs, we observed an increase in the phospho-activation of PLC-γ. Further, the genetic deletion of the transcription factor T-bet (Tbx21) blocked the increased IFN-γ expression on all subsets while ablating the therapeutic benefits of SC79 on tumor growth. Our study shows that AKT activation therapy acts to induce IFN-γ on CD4 and CD8 TILs that is accompanied by the intra-tumoral conversation of suppressive Tregs into CD4+Th1-like T-cells and augmented CD8 responses.
  20. J Clin Invest. 2022 Nov 03. pii: e153943. [Epub ahead of print]
      The Hippo pathway nuclear effector Yes-associated protein 1 (YAP) potentiates the progression of polycystic kidney disease (PKD) arising from ciliopathies. The mechanisms underlying the increase in YAP expression and transcriptional activity in PKD remain obscure. We observed that in kidneys from mice with juvenile cystic kidney (jck) ciliopathy, the aberrant hyperactivity of mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) driven by ERK1/2 and PI3K/AKT cascades induced endoplasmic reticulum (ER) proteotoxic stress. To reduce it by reprogramming translation, the protein kinase R-like ER kinase (PERK)-eukaryotic initiation factor 2α (eIF2α) arm of the integrated stress response (ISR) was activated. PERK-mediated phosphorylation of eIF2α drove the selective translation of activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4), potentiating YAP expression. In parallel, YAP underwent K63-linked polyubiquitination by SCF-S-phase kinase-associated protein 2 (SKP2) E3 ubiquitin ligase, a Hippo-independent, nonproteolytic ubiquitination that enhances YAP nuclear trafficking and transcriptional activity in cancer cells. Defective ISR cellular adaptation to ER stress in eIF2α-phosphorylation-deficient jck mice further augmented YAP-mediated transcriptional activity and renal cyst growth. Conversely, pharmacological tuning down of ER stress-ISR activity and SKP2 expression in jck mice by administration of tauroursodeoxycholic acid (TUDCA) or tolvaptan, impeded these processes. Restoring ER homeostasis, and/or interfering with the SKP2-YAP interaction represent novel potential therapeutic avenues for stemming the progression of renal cystogenesis.
    Keywords:  Chronic kidney disease; Nephrology
  21. Mol Syst Biol. 2022 11;18(11): e11033
      Cancer cells reprogram their metabolism to support growth and invasion. While previous work has highlighted how single altered reactions and pathways can drive tumorigenesis, it remains unclear how individual changes propagate at the network level and eventually determine global metabolic activity. To characterize the metabolic lifestyle of cancer cells across pathways and genotypes, we profiled the intracellular metabolome of 180 pan-cancer cell lines grown in identical conditions. For each cell line, we estimated activity for 49 pathways spanning the entirety of the metabolic network. Upon clustering, we discovered a convergence into only two major metabolic types. These were functionally confirmed by 13 C-flux analysis, lipidomics, and analysis of sensitivity to perturbations. They revealed that the major differences in cancers are associated with lipid, TCA cycle, and carbohydrate metabolism. Thorough integration of these types with multiomics highlighted little association with genetic alterations but a strong association with markers of epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Our analysis indicates that in absence of variations imposed by the microenvironment, cancer cells adopt distinct metabolic programs which serve as vulnerabilities for therapy.
    Keywords:  cancer metabolism; cell lines; metabolic flux; metabolomics; omics
  22. Nat Biotechnol. 2022 Oct 31.
      Chromatin profiling at locus resolution uncovers gene regulatory features that define cell types and developmental trajectories, but it remains challenging to map and compare different chromatin-associated proteins in the same sample. Here we describe Multiple Target Identification by Tagmentation (MulTI-Tag), an antibody barcoding approach for profiling multiple chromatin features simultaneously in single cells. We optimized MulTI-Tag to retain high sensitivity and specificity, and we demonstrate detection of up to three histone modifications in the same cell: H3K27me3, H3K4me1/2 and H3K36me3. We apply MulTI-Tag to resolve distinct cell types and developmental trajectories; to distinguish unique, coordinated patterns of active and repressive element regulatory usage associated with differentiation outcomes; and to uncover associations between histone marks. Multifactorial epigenetic profiling holds promise for comprehensively characterizing cell-specific gene regulatory landscapes in development and disease.
  23. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2022 Nov 04. pii: zbac174. [Epub ahead of print]
      Tuberous sclerosis complex 2 (TSC2) is a tumor-suppressor protein. A loss of TSC2 function induces hyperactivation of mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR). The C-terminal region of TSC2 contains a calmodulin (CaM) binding region and the CaM-TSC2 interaction contributes to proper mTOR activity. However, other downstream signaling pathways/effectors activated by the CaM-TSC2 complex have not been fully elucidated. In this study, we found that activation of Ca2+/CaM signaling resulted in the translocation of membrane-associated TSC2 to the nucleus and suppressed the transcriptional activity of the vitamin D receptor (VDR). TSC2 was released from the membrane in an activated CaM-dependent state in rat brain and HeLa cells. It subsequently formed a transcriptional complex to partially suppress the transcription of CYP24A1, a well-known VDR target gene. These data suggest, in part, that TSC2 attenuates VDR-associated transcriptional regulation via Ca2+/CaM signaling.
    Keywords:   CYP24A1 ; CaM; TSC2; Translocation; Vitamin D metabolism
  24. Cell Metab. 2022 Oct 22. pii: S1550-4131(22)00453-3. [Epub ahead of print]
      Despite its central importance in cellular metabolism, many details remain to be determined regarding subcellular lactate metabolism and its regulation in physiology and disease, as there is sensitive spatiotemporal resolution of lactate distribution, and dynamics remains a technical challenge. Here, we develop and characterize an ultrasensitive, highly responsive, ratiometric lactate sensor, named FiLa, enabling the monitoring of subtle lactate fluctuations in living cells and animals. Utilizing FiLa, we demonstrate that lactate is highly enriched in mammalian mitochondria and compile an atlas of subcellular lactate metabolism that reveals lactate as a key hub sensing various metabolic activities. In addition, FiLa sensors also enable direct imaging of elevated lactate levels in diabetic mice and facilitate the establishment of a simple, rapid, and sensitive lactate assay for point-of-care clinical screening. Thus, FiLa sensors provide powerful, broadly applicable tools for defining the spatiotemporal landscape of lactate metabolism in health and disease.
    Keywords:  highly responsive lactate sensors; lactate metabolism; point-of-care clinical screening; real-time monitoring; subcellular lactate landscape
  25. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2022 ;10 1017499
      Cell dry mass is principally determined by the sum of biosynthesis and degradation. Measurable change in dry mass occurs on a time scale of hours. By contrast, cell volume can change in minutes by altering the osmotic conditions. How changes in dry mass and volume are coupled is a fundamental question in cell size control. If cell volume were proportional to cell dry mass during growth, the cell would always maintain the same cellular mass density, defined as cell dry mass dividing by cell volume. The accuracy and stability against perturbation of this proportionality has never been stringently tested. Normalized Raman Imaging (NoRI), can measure both protein and lipid dry mass density directly. Using this new technique, we have been able to investigate the stability of mass density in response to pharmaceutical and physiological perturbations in three cultured mammalian cell lines. We find a remarkably narrow mass density distribution within cells, that is, significantly tighter than the variability of mass or volume distribution. The measured mass density is independent of the cell cycle. We find that mass density can be modulated directly by extracellular osmolytes or by disruptions of the cytoskeleton. Yet, mass density is surprisingly resistant to pharmacological perturbations of protein synthesis or protein degradation, suggesting there must be some form of feedback control to maintain the homeostasis of mass density when mass is altered. By contrast, physiological perturbations such as starvation or senescence induce significant shifts in mass density. We have begun to shed light on how and why cell mass density remains fixed against some perturbations and yet is sensitive during transitions in physiological state.
    Keywords:  cell size control; cell volume regulation; cellular mass density; mass density homeostasis; normalized Raman imaging
  26. Nat Commun. 2022 Nov 04. 13(1): 6562
      Itaconate is a newly discovered endogenous metabolite promoting an anti-inflammatory program during innate immune response, but the precise mechanisms underlying its effect remains poorly understood owing primarily to the limitations of available itaconate-monitoring techniques. Here, we develop and validate a genetically encoded fluorescent itaconate biosensor, BioITA, for directly monitoring itaconate dynamics in subcellular compartments of living macrophages. Utilizing BioITA, we monitor the itaconate dynamics in response to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulation in the context of modulating itaconate transportation and metabolism. Moreover, we show that STING activation induces itaconate production, and injection of AAVs expressing cytosolic BioITA into mice allows directly reporting elevation of itaconate level in activated macrophages derived from LPS-injected mice. Thus, BioITA enables subcellular resolution imaging of itaconate in living macrophages.
  27. Mol Cell. 2022 Nov 03. pii: S1097-2765(22)01014-0. [Epub ahead of print]82(21): 3968-3969
      Hoffmann et al. (2022) demonstrate that RNA-guided transposons are remarkably sequence specific due to the action of a AAA+ ATPase, TnsC, that recruits the transposase to the correct target site.
  28. STAR Protoc. 2022 Dec 16. 3(4): 101786
      Here, we present a protocol for the selective differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells mimicking human developmental processes into expandable PRRX1+ limb-bud mesenchymal (ExpLBM) cells. This approach enables expansion through serial passage while maintaining capacity for chondrogenic differentiation. For complete details on the use and execution of this protocol, please refer to Yamada et al. (2021, 2022).
    Keywords:  Cell culture; Cell differentiation; Developmental biology; Organoids; Stem cells; Tissue engineering
  29. Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2022 Oct 27. pii: S0958-1669(22)00157-4. [Epub ahead of print]78 102823
      Small molecule-inducible gene circuits are some of the most important tools in biology because they provide a convenient way to exert precise regulation of biological systems. These systems typically are designed to govern gene activation, repression, or disruption at multiple levels, such as through genome modification, transcription, translation, or post-translational regulation of protein activity. Due to their importance, many new systems have been created in the past few years to address different needs or afford orthogonality. They can be broadly characterized based on the inducer used, the mode of regulation, and the effector protein enabling the regulation. Furthermore, each synthetic circuit has varying performance metrics and design considerations. Here, we provide a concise comparison of recently developed tools and recommend standardized metrics for evaluating their performance and potential as biological interrogators or therapeutics.
  30. Stem Cell Reports. 2022 Oct 27. pii: S2213-6711(22)00500-8. [Epub ahead of print]
      The mechanism by which morphogenetic signals engage the regulatory networks responsible for early embryonic tissue patterning is incompletely understood. Here, we developed a minimal gene regulatory network (GRN) model of human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC) lineage commitment and embedded it into "cellular" agents that respond to a dynamic morphogenetic signaling microenvironment. Simulations demonstrated that GRN wiring had significant non-intuitive effects on tissue pattern order, composition, and dynamics. Experimental perturbation of GRN connectivities supported model predictions and demonstrated the role of OCT4 as a master regulator of peri-gastrulation fates. Our so-called GARMEN strategy provides a multiscale computational platform to understand how single-cell-based regulatory interactions scale to tissue domains. This foundation provides new opportunities to simulate the impact of network motifs on normal and aberrant tissue development.
    Keywords:  agent-based model; development; digital twin; ectoderm; endoderm; gastrulation; gene regulatory network; mesoderm; multiscale model; reaction diffusion