bims-pideca Biomed News
on Class IA PI3K signalling in development and cancer
Issue of 2022‒12‒25
nineteen papers selected by
Ralitsa Radostinova Madsen
University College London Cancer Institute

  1. J Clin Invest. 2022 Dec 22. pii: e161472. [Epub ahead of print]
      Insulin and IGF-1 receptors (IR/IGF1R) are highly homologous and share similar signaling systems, but each has a unique physiological role, with IR primarily regulating metabolic homeostasis and IGF1R regulating mitogenic control and growth. Here, we showed that replacement of a single amino acid at position 973, just distal to the NPEY motif in the intracellular juxtamembrane region, from leucine, which is highly-conserved in IRs, to phenylalanine, the highly-conserved homologous residue in IGF1Rs, resulted in decreased IRS-1-PI3K-Akt-mTORC1 signaling and increased of Shc-Gab1-MAPK-cell cycle signaling. As a result, cells expressing L973F-IR exhibited decreased insulin-induced glucose uptake, increased cell growth and impaired receptor internalization. Mice with knockin of the L973F-IR showed similar alterations in signaling in vivo, and this leaded to decreased insulin sensitivity, a modest increase in growth and decreased weight gain when challenged with high-fat diet. Thus, leucine973 in the juxtamembrane region of the IR acts as a crucial residue differentiating IR signaling from IGF1R signaling.
    Keywords:  Endocrinology; Insulin signaling; Metabolism
  2. Nat Metab. 2022 Dec;4(12): 1792-1811
      The mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) senses and relays environmental signals from growth factors and nutrients to metabolic networks and adaptive cellular systems to control the synthesis and breakdown of macromolecules; however, beyond inducing de novo lipid synthesis, the role of mTORC1 in controlling cellular lipid content remains poorly understood. Here we show that inhibition of mTORC1 via small molecule inhibitors or nutrient deprivation leads to the accumulation of intracellular triglycerides in both cultured cells and a mouse tumor model. The elevated triglyceride pool following mTORC1 inhibition stems from the lysosome-dependent, but autophagy-independent, hydrolysis of phospholipid fatty acids. The liberated fatty acids are available for either triglyceride synthesis or β-oxidation. Distinct from the established role of mTORC1 activation in promoting de novo lipid synthesis, our data indicate that mTORC1 inhibition triggers membrane phospholipid trafficking to the lysosome for catabolism and an adaptive shift in the use of constituent fatty acids for storage or energy production.
  3. Eur J Hum Genet. 2022 Dec 21.
      Heterozygous germline mutations in PTEN gene predispose to hamartomas and tumors in different tissues, as well as to neurodevelopmental disorders, and define at genetic level the PTEN Hamartoma Tumor Syndrome (PHTS). The major physiologic role of PTEN protein is the dephosphorylation of phosphatidylinositol (3,4,5)-trisphosphate (PIP3), counteracting the pro-oncogenic function of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K), and PTEN mutations in PHTS patients frequently abrogate PTEN PIP3 catalytic activity. PTEN also displays non-canonical PIP3-independent functions, but their involvement in PHTS pathogeny is less understood. We have previously identified and described, at clinical and genetic level, novel PTEN variants of unknown functional significance in PHTS patients. Here, we have performed an extensive functional characterization of these PTEN variants (c.77 C > T, p.(Thr26Ile), T26I; c.284 C > G, p.(Pro95Arg), P95R; c.529 T > A, p.(Tyr177Asn), Y177N; c.781 C > G, p.(Gln261Glu), Q261E; c.829 A > G, p.(Thr277Ala), T277A; and c.929 A > G, p.(Asp310Gly), D310G), including cell expression levels and protein stability, PIP3-phosphatase activity, and subcellular localization. In addition, caspase-3 cleavage analysis in cells has been assessed using a C2-domain caspase-3 cleavage-specific anti-PTEN antibody. We have found complex patterns of functional activity on PTEN variants, ranging from loss of PIP3-phosphatase activity, diminished protein expression and stability, and altered nuclear/cytoplasmic localization, to intact functional properties, when compared with PTEN wild type. Furthermore, we have found that PTEN cleavage at the C2-domain by the pro-apoptotic protease caspase-3 is diminished in specific PTEN PHTS variants. Our findings illustrate the multifaceted molecular features of pathogenic PTEN protein variants, which could account for the complexity in the genotype/phenotype manifestations of PHTS patients.
  4. MicroPubl Biol. 2022 ;2022
      Insulin and insulin-like growth factor signaling (IIS) is an anabolic pathway conserved among humans and Caenorhabditis elegans . In humans, the tumour suppressor protein Phosphatase and Tensin Homolog (PTEN) inhibits IIS, preventing excessive growth. PTEN variants are associated with disease, but how they affect PTEN function is not well understood. Here, we characterized variants of unknown significance (VUSs) implicated in autism spectrum disorder by studying homologous mutations in the C. elegans protein DAF-18 to infer how they play a role in human disease.We found that variants D66E and L115V are likely benign, H168Q is intermediate while variants H138R and T176I are likely pathogenic.
  5. Dev Cell. 2022 Dec 19. pii: S1534-5807(22)00815-2. [Epub ahead of print]57(24): 2714-2730.e8
      Cancer stem cells (CSCs) may serve as the cellular seeds of tumor recurrence and metastasis, and they can be generated via epithelial-mesenchymal transitions (EMTs). Isolating pure populations of CSCs is difficult because EMT programs generate multiple alternative cell states, and phenotypic plasticity permits frequent interconversions between these states. Here, we used cell-surface expression of integrin β4 (ITGB4) to isolate highly enriched populations of human breast CSCs, and we identified the gene regulatory network operating in ITGB4+ CSCs. Specifically, we identified ΔNp63 and p73, the latter of which transactivates ΔNp63, as centrally important transcriptional regulators of quasi-mesenchymal CSCs that reside in an intermediate EMT state. We found that the transcriptional program controlled by ΔNp63 in CSCs is largely distinct from the one that it orchestrates in normal basal mammary stem cells and, instead, it more closely resembles a regenerative epithelial stem cell response to wounding. Moreover, quasi-mesenchymal CSCs repurpose this program to drive metastatic colonization via autocrine EGFR signaling.
    Keywords:  EMT; breast cancer; cancer stem cells; epigenetics; metastasis
  6. Nat Metab. 2022 Dec;4(12): 1830-1846
      The glycolytic enzyme lactate dehydrogenase A (LDHA) is frequently overexpressed in cancer, which promotes glycolysis and cancer. The oncogenic effect of LDHA has been attributed to its glycolytic enzyme activity. Here we report an unexpected noncanonical oncogenic mechanism of LDHA; LDHA activates small GTPase Rac1 to promote cancer independently of its glycolytic enzyme activity. Mechanistically, LDHA interacts with the active form of Rac1, Rac1-GTP, to inhibit Rac1-GTP interaction with its negative regulator, GTPase-activating proteins, leading to Rac1 activation in cancer cells and mouse tissues. In clinical breast cancer specimens, LDHA overexpression is associated with higher Rac1 activity. Rac1 inhibition suppresses the oncogenic effect of LDHA. Combination inhibition of LDHA enzyme activity and Rac1 activity by small-molecule inhibitors displays a synergistic inhibitory effect on breast cancers with LDHA overexpression. These results reveal a critical oncogenic mechanism of LDHA and suggest a promising therapeutic strategy for breast cancers with LDHA overexpression.
  7. Trends Cell Biol. 2022 Dec 15. pii: S0962-8924(22)00260-4. [Epub ahead of print]
      Liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) is emerging as a mechanism of spatiotemporal regulation that could answer long-standing questions about how order is achieved in biochemical signaling. In this review we discuss how LLPS orchestrates kinase signaling, either by creating condensate structures that are sensed by kinases or by direct LLPS of kinases, cofactors, and substrates - thereby acting as a mechanism to compartmentalize kinase-substrate relationships, and in some cases also sequestering the kinase away from inhibitory factors. We also examine the possibility that selective pressure promotes genomic rearrangements that fuse pro-growth kinases to LLPS-prone protein sequences, which in turn drives aberrant kinase activation through LLPS.
    Keywords:  intrinsically disordered region; kinase; kinase fusion; liquid–liquid phase separation; multivalency; post-translational modification
  8. Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Dec 09. pii: 15647. [Epub ahead of print]23(24):
      The forkhead box O (FOXO) transcription factors (TFs) family are frequently mutated, deleted, or amplified in various human cancers, making them attractive candidates for therapy. However, their roles in pan-cancer remain unclear. Here, we evaluated the expression, prognostic value, mutation, methylation, and clinical features of four FOXO family genes (FOXO1, FOXO3, FOXO4, and FOXO6) in 33 types of cancers based on the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and Genotype Tissue Expression (GTEx) databases. We used a single sample gene set enrichment analysis (ssGSEA) algorithm to establish a novel index called "FOXOs score". Moreover, we investigated the association between the FOXOs score and tumor microenvironment (TME), the responses to multiple treatments, along with drug resistance. We found that the FOXO family genes participated in tumor progression and were related to the prognosis in various types of cancer. We calculated the FOXOs score and found that it was significantly correlated with multiple malignant pathways in pan-cancer, including Wnt/beta-catenin signaling, TGF-beta signaling, and hedgehog signaling. In addition, the FOXOs score was also associated with multiple immune-related characteristics. Furthermore, the FOXOs score was sensitive for predicting the efficacy of diverse treatments in multiple cancers, especially immunotherapy. In conclusion, FOXO family genes were vital in pan-cancer and were strongly correlated with the TME. A high FOXOs score indicated an excellent immune-activated TME and sensitivity to multiple treatments. Hence, the FOXOs score might potentially be used as a biomarker in patients with a tumor.
    Keywords:  FOXO family; clinical outcome; drug resistance; multi-omics; pan-cancer; tumor microenvironment
  9. Nucleic Acids Res. 2022 Dec 19. pii: gkac1150. [Epub ahead of print]
      CRISPR/Cas-based approaches have largely replaced conventional gene targeting strategies. However, homology-directed repair (HDR) in the mouse genome is not very efficient, and precisely inserting longer sequences using HDR remains challenging given that donor constructs preferentially integrate as concatemers. Here, we showed that injecting 5' biotinylated donor DNA into mouse embryos at the two-cell stage led to efficient single-copy HDR (scHDR) allele generation. Our dedicated genotyping strategy showed that these alleles occurred with frequencies of 19%, 20%, and 26% at three independent gene loci, indicating that scHDR was dramatically increased by 5' biotinylation. Thus, we suggest that the combination of a 5' biotinylated donor and diligent analysis of concatemer integration are prerequisites for efficiently and reliably generating conditional alleles or other large fragment knock-ins in the mouse genome.
  10. J Dev Biol. 2022 Dec 02. pii: 51. [Epub ahead of print]10(4):
      Primary cilia are microtube-based organelles that extend from the cell surface and function as biochemical and mechanical extracellular signal sensors. Primary cilia coordinate a series of signaling pathways during development. Cilia dysfunction leads to a pleiotropic group of developmental disorders, termed ciliopathy. Phosphoinositides (PIs), a group of signaling phospholipids, play a crucial role in development and tissue homeostasis by regulating membrane trafficking, cytoskeleton reorganization, and organelle identity. Accumulating evidence implicates the involvement of PI species in ciliary defects and ciliopathies. The abundance and localization of PIs in the cell are tightly regulated by the opposing actions of kinases and phosphatases, some of which are recently discovered in the context of primary cilia. Here, we review several cilium-associated PI kinases and phosphatases, including their localization along cilia, function in regulating the ciliary biology under normal conditions, as well as the connection of their disease-associated mutations with ciliopathies.
    Keywords:  development; phosphoinositide kinases and phosphatases; primary cilia
  11. Brief Bioinform. 2022 Dec 17. pii: bbac550. [Epub ahead of print]
      Membrane-based cells are the fundamental structural and functional units of organisms, while evidences demonstrate that liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) is associated with the formation of membraneless organelles, such as P-bodies, nucleoli and stress granules. Many studies have been undertaken to explore the functions of protein phase separation (PS), but these studies lacked an effective tool to identify the sequence segments that critical for LLPS. In this study, we presented a novel software called dSCOPE ( to predict the PS-driving regions. To develop the predictor, we curated experimentally identified sequence segments that can drive LLPS from published literature. Then sliding sequence window based physiological, biochemical, structural and coding features were integrated by random forest algorithm to perform prediction. Through rigorous evaluation, dSCOPE was demonstrated to achieve satisfactory performance. Furthermore, large-scale analysis of human proteome based on dSCOPE showed that the predicted PS-driving regions enriched various protein post-translational modifications and cancer mutations, and the proteins which contain predicted PS-driving regions enriched critical cellular signaling pathways. Taken together, dSCOPE precisely predicted the protein sequence segments critical for LLPS, with various helpful information visualized in the webserver to facilitate LLPS-related research.
    Keywords:  deep learning; phase separation; prediction; random forest; sequence segments
  12. Genes (Basel). 2022 Dec 14. pii: 2363. [Epub ahead of print]13(12):
      Pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) offer an exciting resource for probing human biology; however, gene-editing efficiency remains relatively low in many cell types, including stem cells. Gene-editing using the CRISPR-Cas9 system offers an attractive solution that improves upon previous gene-editing approaches; however, like other technologies, off-target mutagenesis remains a concern. High-fidelity Cas9 variants greatly reduce off-target mutagenesis and offer a solution to this problem. To evaluate their utility as part of a cell-based gene-editing platform, human PSC lines were generated with a high-fidelity (HF) tetracycline-inducible engineered Streptococcus pyogenes SpCas9 (HF-iCas9) integrated into the AAVS1 safe harbor locus. By engineering cells with controllable expression of Cas9, we eliminated the need to include a large Cas9-expressing plasmid during cell transfection. Delivery of genetic cargo was further optimized by packaging DNA targeting guide RNAs (gRNAs) and donor fragments into a single plasmid backbone. The potential of homology-directed repair (HDR) based gene knock-in at the CLYBL safe harbor site and endogenous SOX2 and SIX6 genes were demonstrated. Moreover, we used non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) for gene knockout of disease-relevant alleles. These high-fidelity CRISPR tools and the resulting HF-iCas9 cell lines will facilitate the production of cell-type reporters and mutants across different genetic backgrounds.
    Keywords:  CRISPR; Cas9; DTS; HDR; gene-editing; homology-directed repair; iCas9; stem cell; transfection
  13. Cell Rep. 2022 Dec 20. pii: S2211-1247(22)01726-0. [Epub ahead of print]41(12): 111834
      Aberrant activation of receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) is usually a result of mutation and plays important roles in tumorigenesis. How RTK without mutation affects tumorigenesis remains incompletely understood. Here we show that in human melanomas pro-prion (pro-PrP) is an adaptor protein for an E3 ligase c-Cbl, enabling it to polyubiquitinate activated insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF-1R), leading to enhanced melanoma metastasis. All human melanoma cell lines studied here express pro-PrP, retaining its glycosylphosphatidylinositol-peptide signal sequence (GPI-PSS). The sequence, PVILLISFLI in the GPI-PSS of pro-PrP, binds c-Cbl, docking c-Cbl to the inner cell membrane, forming a pro-PrP/c-Cbl/IGF-1R trimeric complex. Subsequently, IGF-1R polyubiquitination and degradation are augmented, which increases autophagy and tumor metastasis. Importantly, the synthetic peptide PVILLISFLI disrupts the pro-PrP/c-Cbl/IGF-1R complex, reducing cancer cell autophagy and mitigating tumor aggressiveness in vitro and in vivo. Targeting cancer-associated GPI-PSS may provide a therapeutic approach for treating human cancers expressing pro-PrP.
    Keywords:  CP: Cell biology; CP: Molecular biology; adaptor protein; autophagy; melanoma; metastasis; prion protein; receptor tyrosine kinase; treatment; ubiquitination
  14. Nat Commun. 2022 Dec 22. 13(1): 7877
      Quantitative proteomics has matured into an established tool and longitudinal proteomics experiments have begun to emerge. However, no effective, simple-to-use differential expression method for longitudinal proteomics data has been released. Typically, such data is noisy, contains missing values, and has only few time points and biological replicates. To address this need, we provide a comprehensive evaluation of several existing differential expression methods for high-throughput longitudinal omics data and introduce a Robust longitudinal Differential Expression (RolDE) approach. The methods are evaluated using over 3000 semi-simulated spike-in proteomics datasets and three large experimental datasets. In the comparisons, RolDE performs overall best; it is most tolerant to missing values, displays good reproducibility and is the top method in ranking the results in a biologically meaningful way. Furthermore, RolDE is suitable for different types of data with typically unknown patterns in longitudinal expression and can be applied by non-experienced users.
  15. Dev Cell. 2022 Dec 19. pii: S1534-5807(22)00840-1. [Epub ahead of print]57(24): 2675-2678
      Researchers are exploring sex differences in experimental models of both development and disease-but are we doing enough? In this collection of Voices, we celebrate researchers who are asking this question and starting to offer mechanistic clues on sexually dimorphic differences seen in interorgan communication, metabolic disease, neurological disorders, and more.
  16. Nature. 2023 Jan;613(7942): 30-31
    Keywords:  Ageing; Regeneration; Stem cells
  17. Cancer. 2022 Aug 01. 128(15): 2883-2891
      BACKGROUND: Women with PTEN Hamartoma Tumor Syndrome (PHTS) are offered breast cancer (BC) surveillance because of an increased BC lifetime risk. Surveillance guidelines are, however, expert opinion-based because of a lack of data. We aimed to assess the yield and effectiveness of BC surveillance and the prevalence and type of breast disease in women with PHTS.METHODS: Sixty-five women with PHTS who visited our center between 2001 and 2021 were included. Surveillance consisted of annual magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and mammography from ages 25 and 30 years, respectively.
    RESULTS: Thirty-nine women enrolled in the BC surveillance program (median age at first examination, 38 years [range, 24-70]) and underwent 156 surveillance rounds. Surveillance led to detection of BC in 7/39 women (cancer detection rate [CDR], 45/1000 rounds) and benign breast lesions (BBLs) in 11/39 women. Overall sensitivity2 (which excludes prophylactic-mastectomy detected BCs) was 100%, whereas sensitivity2 of mammography and MRI alone was 50% and 100%, respectively. Overall specificity was higher in follow-up rounds (86%) versus first rounds (71%). Regardless of surveillance, 21/65 women developed 35 distinct BCs (median age at first diagnosis, 40 years [range, 24-59]) and 23/65 developed 89 BBLs (median age at first diagnosis, 38 years [range, 15-61]). Surveillance-detected BCs were all T1 and N0, whereas outside surveillance-detected BCs were more often ≥T2 (60%) and N+ (45%) (p < .005).
    CONCLUSIONS: The findings show that annual BC surveillance with MRI starting at age 25 years enables detection of early-stage BCs. Performance measures of surveillance and CDR were both high. BBLs were commonly present, underlining the importance of evaluation of all lesions independently.
    LAY SUMMARY: Breast cancer surveillance leads to decreased tumor stage and improved survival. Breast cancer surveillance with breast magnetic resonance imaging from age 25 years onward is recommended.
    Keywords:  PTEN Hamartoma Tumor Syndrome; PTEN gene variants; breast cancer; breast cancer early diagnosis; breast cancer surveillance in high‐risk women
  18. Science. 2022 Dec 23. 378(6626): 1276-1277
      Global methylation changes in aging cells affect cancer risk and tissue homeostasis.