bims-pideca Biomed News
on Class IA PI3K signalling in development and cancer
Issue of 2023‒01‒15
thirty papers selected by
Ralitsa Radostinova Madsen
University College London Cancer Institute

  1. Nat Commun. 2023 Jan 12. 14(1): 181
      PIK3CA encoding the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) p110α catalytic subunit is frequently mutated in cancer, with mutations occurring widely throughout the primary sequence. The full set of mechanisms underlying how PI3Ks are activated by all oncogenic mutations on membranes are unclear. Using a synergy of biochemical assays and hydrogen deuterium exchange mass spectrometry (HDX-MS), we reveal unique regulatory mechanisms underlying PI3K activation. Engagement of p110α on membranes leads to disengagement of the ABD of p110α from the catalytic core, and the C2 domain from the iSH2 domain of the p85 regulatory subunit. PI3K activation also requires reorientation of the p110α C-terminus, with mutations that alter the inhibited conformation of the C-terminus increasing membrane binding. Mutations at the C-terminus (M1043I/L, H1047R, G1049R, and N1068KLKR) activate p110α through distinct mechanisms, with this having important implications for mutant selective inhibitor development. This work reveals unique mechanisms underlying how PI3K is activated by oncogenic mutations, and explains how double mutants can synergistically increase PI3K activity.
  2. Clin Cancer Res. 2023 Jan 10. pii: CCR-22-3411. [Epub ahead of print]
      The PI3K inhibitor alpelisib is clinically approved for the treatment of metastatic ER+ breast cancers harboring hotspot mutations in PIK3CA, which encodes a subunit of PI3K. Prospective clinical trial results demonstrated benefit from alpelisib for the treatment of advanced ER+ breast cancers harboring PIK3CA mutations in the hotspots of exons 7, 9, and 20. However, 20% of PIK3CA mutations occur in non-hotspot regions. A recent article demonstrated that patients with cancers bearing non-hotspot PIK3CA mutations also derived benefit from alpelisib, which will inform clinical decision-making moving forward.
  3. Cell Rep. 2022 Dec 28. pii: S2211-1247(22)01815-0. [Epub ahead of print]42(1): 111916
      Akt is commonly activated and serves as a valuable target in human cancer. In this study, OTUD1 is identified as an Akt-associated protein and is downregulated upon Akt activation. Ectopic OTUD1 inhibits Akt phosphorylation; however, its deubiquitinase activity contributes only slightly to this effect. A short peptide (OUN-36) located in the OTUD1 N-terminal intrinsically disordered region strongly binds to the Akt PH domain. The residues in the PH domain, which are required for PtdIns(3,4,5)P3 recognition, are also essential for OUN-36 binding. OUN-36 preferentially inhibits Akt-hyperactive tumor cells' proliferation and interferes with Akt cell membrane localization, presumably by disrupting PH domain-PIP3 interaction. Importantly, OUN-36-based therapy efficiently abrogates Akt feedback reactivation in response to MK-2206 treatment and sensitizes cancer cells to chemotherapy and immunotherapy. We therefore show a mechanism by which OTUD1 modulates Akt activity and suggest a potential peptide-based cancer therapeutic strategy implemented by targeting the Akt PH domain.
    Keywords:  Akt signaling pathway; CP: Cancer; CP: Molecular biology; targeted therapies; tumour-suppressor protein OTUD1
  4. Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci. 2023 ;pii: S1877-1173(22)00082-5. [Epub ahead of print]194 79-107
      Insulin signaling controls multiple aspects of animal physiology. At the cell surface, insulin binds and activates the insulin receptor (IR), a receptor tyrosine kinase. Insulin promotes a large conformational change of IR and stabilizes the active conformation. The insulin-activated IR triggers signaling cascades, thus controlling metabolism, growth, and proliferation. The activated IR undergoes internalization by clathrin- or caveolae-mediated endocytosis. The IR endocytosis plays important roles in insulin clearance from blood, and distribution and termination of the insulin signaling. Despite decades of extensive studies, the mechanism and regulation of IR endocytosis and its contribution to pathophysiology remain incompletely understood. Here we discuss recent findings that provide insights into the molecular mechanisms and regulatory pathways that mediate the IR endocytosis.
    Keywords:  Caveolae; Clathrin; Endocytosis; Insulin receptor; Insulin resistance; Insulin signaling
  5. Nature. 2023 Jan 11.
      Protein phosphorylation is one of the most widespread post-translational modifications in biology1,2. With advances in mass-spectrometry-based phosphoproteomics, 90,000 sites of serine and threonine phosphorylation have so far been identified, and several thousand have been associated with human diseases and biological processes3,4. For the vast majority of phosphorylation events, it is not yet known which of the more than 300 protein serine/threonine (Ser/Thr) kinases encoded in the human genome are responsible3. Here we used synthetic peptide libraries to profile the substrate sequence specificity of 303 Ser/Thr kinases, comprising more than 84% of those predicted to be active in humans. Viewed in its entirety, the substrate specificity of the kinome was substantially more diverse than expected and was driven extensively by negative selectivity. We used our kinome-wide dataset to computationally annotate and identify the kinases capable of phosphorylating every reported phosphorylation site in the human Ser/Thr phosphoproteome. For the small minority of phosphosites for which the putative protein kinases involved have been previously reported, our predictions were in excellent agreement. When this approach was applied to examine the signalling response of tissues and cell lines to hormones, growth factors, targeted inhibitors and environmental or genetic perturbations, it revealed unexpected insights into pathway complexity and compensation. Overall, these studies reveal the intrinsic substrate specificity of the human Ser/Thr kinome, illuminate cellular signalling responses and provide a resource to link phosphorylation events to biological pathways.
  6. Sci Rep. 2023 Jan 12. 13(1): 632
      Biological features of neoplastic disease affecting mammary gland tissue are shared between canines and humans. Research performed in either species has translational value and early phase clinical trials performed in canines with spontaneous disease could be informative for human trials. The purpose of this study was to investigate the somatic genetic aberrations occurring in canine mammary neoplasia by exome capture and next generation sequencing. Based on 55 tumor-normal pairs we identified the PIK3CA gene as the most commonly mutated gene in canine mammary tumors, with 25% of samples carrying mutations in this gene. A recurrent missense mutation was identified, p.H1047R, which is homologous to the human PIK3CA hotspot mutation found in different types of breast neoplasia. Mutations homologous to other known human mutation hotspots such as the PIK3CA p.E545K and the KRAS p.G12V/D were also identified. We identified copy number aberrations affecting important tumor suppressor and oncogenic pathways including deletions affecting the PTEN tumor suppressor gene. We suggest that activation of the KRAS or PIK3CA oncogenes or loss of the PTEN suppressor gene may be important for mammary tumor development in dogs. This data endorses the conservation of cancer across species and the validity of studying cancer in non-human species.
  7. Oncogene. 2023 Jan 07.
      SOLAR-1 and BYLieve trials documented the efficacy of the PI3K-inhibitor alpelisib in pre-treated PIK3CA-mutant, hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative (HR+/HER2-) advanced breast cancer (ABC) patients. We report here real-life datda of patients prospectively registered in the French alpelisib early access program (EAP) opened to PIK3CA-mutant HR+/HER2- ABC patients treated with alpelisib and fulvestrant. Primary endpoint was PFS by local investigators using RECIST1.1. Eleven centers provided individual data on 233 consecutive patients. Patients had received a median number of 4 (range: 1-16) prior systemic treatments for ABC, including CDK4/6 inhibitor, chemotherapy, fulvestrant and everolimus in 227 (97.4%), 180 (77.3%), 175 (75.1%) and 131 (56.2%) patients, respectively. After a median follow-up of 7.1 months and 168 events, median PFS was 5.3 months (95% CI: 4.7-6.0). Among 186 evaluable patients, CBR at 6 months was 45.3% (95% CI: 37.8-52.8). In multivariable analysis, characteristics significantly associated with a shorter PFS were age < 60 years (HR = 1.5, 95% CI = 1.1-2.1), >5 lines of prior treatments (HR = 1.4, 95% CI = 1.0-2.0) and the C420R PI3KCA mutation (HR = 4.1, 95% CI = 1.3-13.6). N = 91 (39.1%) patients discontinued alpelisib due to adverse events. To our knowledge, this is the largest real-life assessment of alpelisib efficacy. Despite heavy pre-treatments, patients derived a clinically relevant benefit from alpelisib and fulvestrant.
  8. Biomed Pharmacother. 2023 Jan 11. pii: S0753-3322(23)00032-X. [Epub ahead of print]159 114244
      Obesity is a disorder with an increasing prevalence, which impairs the life quality of patients and intensifies societal health care costs. The development of safe and innovative prevention strategies and therapeutic approaches is thus of great importance. The complex pathophysiology of obesity involves multiple signaling pathways that influence energy metabolism in different tissues. The phosphatidylinositol 3-kinases (PI3K)/protein kinase B (AKT) pathway is critical for the metabolic homeostasis and its function in insulin-sensitive tissues is described in the context of health, obesity and obesity-related complications. The PI3K family participates in the regulation of diverse physiological processes including but not limited to cell growth, survival, differentiation, autophagy, chemotaxis, and metabolism depending on the cellular context. AKT is downstream of PI3K in the insulin signaling pathway, and promotes multiple cellular processes by targeting a plethora of regulatory proteins that control glucose and lipid metabolism. Natural products are essential for prevention and treatment of many human diseases, including obesity. Anti-obesity natural compounds effect multiple pathophysiological mechanisms involved in obesity development. Numerous recent preclinical studies reveal the advances in using plant secondary metabolites to target the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway for obesity management. In this paper the druggability of PI3K as a target for compounds with anti-obesity potential is evaluated. Perspectives on the strategies and limitations for clinical implementation of obesity management using natural compounds modulating the PI3K/AKT pathway are suggested.
    Keywords:  AKT; Alpelisib (PubChem CID: 56649450); Amentoflavone (PubChem CID: 5281600); Astragaloside IV (PubChem CID: 13943297); Betulinic acid (PubChem CID: 64971); Capsaicin (PubChem CID: 1548943); Carbenoxolone (PubChem CID: 636403); Catalpol (PubChem CID: 91520); Celastrol (PubChem CID: 122724); Druggability; Epigallocatechin gallate (PubChem CID: 650464); Ginsenoside Rb2 (PubChem CID: 6917976); Glycyrrhetinic acid (PubChem CID: 10114); Isoliquiritigenin (PubChem CID: 638278); Kaempferol (PubChem CID: 5280863); Maackiain (PubChem CID: 91510); Natural compounds; Nigelladine A (PubChem CID: 86302612); Nigelladine B (PubChem CID: 86302611); Nigelladine C (PubChem CID: 86302610); Obesity; Ononin (PubChem CID: 442813); Orientin (PubChem CID: 5281675); Oxyberberine (PubChem CID: 11066); PI3K; Pharmacotherapy
  9. Dis Model Mech. 2023 Jan 09. pii: dmm.049793. [Epub ahead of print]
      Somatic mutations occur frequently and can arise during embryogenesis resulting in the formation of a patchwork of mutant clones. Such mosaicism has been implicated in a broad range of developmental anomalies, however their etiology is poorly understood. Patients carrying a common somatic oncogenic mutation in either PIK3CA or AKT1, can present with disproportionally large digits or limbs. How mutant clones, carrying an oncogenic mutation that often drives unchecked proliferation can lead to controlled and coordinated overgrowth is unknown. We use zebrafish to explore the growth dynamics of oncogenic clones during development. In a subset of clones, we observe a local increase in proportion of the fin skeleton closely resembling overgrowth phenotypes in patients. We unravel the cellular and developmental mechanisms of these overgrowths and pinpoint the cell type and timing of clonal expansion. Coordinated overgrowth is associated with rapid clone expansion during early pre-chondrogenic phase of bone development inducing a heterochronic shift that drives the change in bone size. Our study details how development integrates and translates growth potential of oncogenic clones, thereby shaping the phenotypic consequences of somatic mutations.
    Keywords:  Cartilage condensation; Macrodactyly; Proteus syndrome; Skeleton; Somatic mutation; Zebrafish
  10. Aging Cell. 2023 Jan 08. e13763
      Intronic single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in FOXO3A are associated with human longevity. Currently, it is unclear how these SNPs alter FOXO3A functionality and human physiology, thereby influencing lifespan. Here, we identify a primate-specific FOXO3A transcriptional isoform, FOXO3A-Short (FOXO3A-S), encoding a major longevity-associated SNP, rs9400239 (C or T), within its 5' untranslated region. The FOXO3A-S mRNA is highly expressed in the skeletal muscle and has very limited expression in other tissues. We find that the rs9400239 variant influences the stability and functionality of the primarily nuclear protein(s) encoded by the FOXO3A-S mRNA. Assessment of the relationship between the FOXO3A-S polymorphism and peripheral glucose clearance during insulin infusion (Rd clamp) in a cohort of Danish twins revealed that longevity T-allele carriers have markedly faster peripheral glucose clearance rates than normal lifespan C-allele carriers. In vitro experiments in human myotube cultures utilizing overexpression of each allele showed that the C-allele represses glycolysis independently of PI3K signaling, while overexpression of the T-allele represses glycolysis only in a PI3K-inactive background. Supporting this finding inducible knockdown of the FOXO3A-S C-allele in cultured myotubes increases the glycolytic rate. We conclude that the rs9400239 polymorphism acts as a molecular switch which changes the identity of the FOXO3A-S-derived protein(s), which in turn alters the relationship between FOXO3A-S and insulin/PI3K signaling and glycolytic flux in the skeletal muscle. This critical difference endows carriers of the FOXO3A-S T-allele with consistently higher insulin-stimulated peripheral glucose clearance rates, which may contribute to their longer and healthier lifespans.
    Keywords:  FOXO; FOXO3A; PI3K; SNP; aging; glycolysis; insulin; skeletal muscle
  11. Cell. 2023 Jan 05. pii: S0092-8674(22)01470-2. [Epub ahead of print]186(1): 209-229.e26
      Transcription factors (TFs) regulate gene programs, thereby controlling diverse cellular processes and cell states. To comprehensively understand TFs and the programs they control, we created a barcoded library of all annotated human TF splice isoforms (>3,500) and applied it to build a TF Atlas charting expression profiles of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) overexpressing each TF at single-cell resolution. We mapped TF-induced expression profiles to reference cell types and validated candidate TFs for generation of diverse cell types, spanning all three germ layers and trophoblasts. Targeted screens with subsets of the library allowed us to create a tailored cellular disease model and integrate mRNA expression and chromatin accessibility data to identify downstream regulators. Finally, we characterized the effects of combinatorial TF overexpression by developing and validating a strategy for predicting combinations of TFs that produce target expression profiles matching reference cell types to accelerate cellular engineering efforts.
    Keywords:  ORF overexpression; cell engineering; cellular disease modeling; combinatorial perturbation; gene regulation; genetic screening; neural progenitor; pluripotent stem cell; single cell profiling; transcription factor
  12. Nat Chem Biol. 2023 Jan 12.
      Cells can secrete molecules that help each other's replication. In cell cultures, chemical signals might diffuse only within a cell colony or between colonies. A chemical signal's interaction length-how far apart interacting cells are-is often assumed to be some value without rigorous justifications because molecules' invisible paths and complex multicellular geometries pose challenges. Here we present an approach, combining mathematical models and experiments, for determining a chemical signal's interaction length. With murine embryonic stem (ES) cells as a testbed, we found that differentiating ES cells secrete FGF4, among others, to communicate over many millimeters in cell culture dishes and, thereby, form a spatially extended, macroscopic entity that grows only if its centimeter-scale population density is above a threshold value. With this 'macroscopic quorum sensing', an isolated macroscopic, but not isolated microscopic, colony can survive differentiation. Our integrated approach can determine chemical signals' interaction lengths in generic multicellular communities.
  13. Mol Biol Cell. 2023 Feb 01. 34(2): pe2
      Many of us use the term "mechanism" when we shouldn't. Here I offer some thoughts, especially as guidance for young scientists.
  14. J Proteome Res. 2023 Jan 09.
      Liquid chromatography coupled with bottom-up mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS)-based proteomics is a versatile technology for identifying and quantifying proteins in complex biological mixtures. Postidentification, analysis of changes in protein abundances between conditions requires increasingly complex and specialized statistical methods. Many of these methods, in particular the family of open-source Bioconductor packages MSstats, are implemented in a coding language such as R. To make the methods in MSstats accessible to users with limited programming and statistical background, we have created MSstatsShiny, an R-Shiny graphical user interface (GUI) integrated with MSstats, MSstatsTMT, and MSstatsPTM. The GUI provides a point and click analysis pipeline applicable to a wide variety of proteomics experimental types, including label-free data-dependent acquisitions (DDAs) or data-independent acquisitions (DIAs), or tandem mass tag (TMT)-based TMT-DDAs, answering questions such as relative changes in the abundance of peptides, proteins, or post-translational modifications (PTMs). To support reproducible research, the application saves user's selections and builds an R script that programmatically recreates the analysis. MSstatsShiny can be installed locally via Github and Bioconductor, or utilized on the cloud at We illustrate the utility of the platform using two experimental data sets (MassIVE IDs MSV000086623 and MSV000085565).
    Keywords:  bioinformatics; differential analysis; graphical user interface; mass spectrometry; post-translational modifications; proteomics; software
  15. Stem Cell Reports. 2023 Jan 10. pii: S2213-6711(22)00540-9. [Epub ahead of print]18(1): 6-12
      Our ability to understand and control stem cell biology is being augmented by developments on two fronts, our ability to collect more data describing cell state and our capability to comprehend these data using deep learning models. Here we consider the impact deep learning will have in the future of stem cell research. We explore the importance of generating data suitable for these methods, the requirement for close collaboration between experimental and computational researchers, and the challenges we face to do this fairly and effectively. Achieving this will ensure that the resulting deep learning models are biologically meaningful and computationally tractable.
    Keywords:  artificial intelligence; computational systems biology; deep learning
  16. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2023 Jan 17. 120(3): e2218332120
      O-GlcNAc transferase (OGT) modifies serine and threonine residues on nuclear and cytosolic proteins with O-linked N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc). OGT is essential for mammalian cell viability, but the underlying mechanisms are still enigmatic. We performed a genome-wide CRISPR-Cas9 screen in mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) to identify candidates whose depletion rescued the block in cell proliferation induced by OGT deficiency. We show that the block in cell proliferation in OGT-deficient cells stems from mitochondrial dysfunction secondary to mTOR (mechanistic target of rapamycin) hyperactivation. In normal cells, OGT maintains low mTOR activity and mitochondrial fitness through suppression of proteasome activity; in the absence of OGT, increased proteasome activity results in increased steady-state amino acid levels, which in turn promote mTOR lysosomal translocation and activation, and increased oxidative phosphorylation. mTOR activation in OGT-deficient mESCs was confirmed by an independent phospho-proteomic screen. Our study highlights a unique series of events whereby OGT regulates the proteasome/ mTOR/ mitochondrial axis in a manner that maintains homeostasis of intracellular amino acid levels, mitochondrial fitness, and cell viability. A similar mechanism operates in CD8+ T cells, indicating its generality across mammalian cell types. Manipulating OGT activity may have therapeutic potential in diseases in which this signaling pathway is impaired.
    Keywords:  OGT; genome-wide CRISPR/Cas9 screen; mTOR; mitochondrion; proteasome
  17. Nat Commun. 2023 Jan 13. 14(1): 201
      Post-translational modifications (PTMs) can occur on specific amino acids localized within regulatory domains of target proteins, which control a protein's stability. These regions, called degrons, are often controlled by PTMs, which act as signals to expedite protein degradation (PTM-activated degrons) or to forestall degradation and stabilize a protein (PTM-inactivated degrons). We summarize current knowledge of the regulation of protein stability by various PTMs. We aim to display the variety and breadth of known mechanisms of regulation as well as highlight common themes in PTM-regulated degrons to enhance potential for identifying novel drug targets where druggable targets are currently lacking.
  18. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2023 Jan 12.
      We evaluated effects of calorie restriction (CR; consuming 65% of ad libitum [AL] intake) for 8 weeks on female wildtype (WT) and Akt substrate of 160 kDa-knockout (AS160-KO) rats. Insulin-stimulated glucose uptake (ISGU) was determined in isolated epitrochlearis muscles incubated with 0, 50, 100, or 500 μU/ml insulin. Phosphorylation of key insulin signaling proteins that control ISGU (Akt and AS160) were assessed by immunoblotting (Akt phosphorylation on Threonine-308, pAktThr308 and Serine-473, pAktSer473; AS160 phosphorylation on Serine-588, pAS160Ser588, and Threonine-642, pAS160Thr642). Abundance of proteins that regulate ISGU (GLUT4 glucose transporter protein and hexokinase II) was also determined by immunoblotting. The major results were: 1) WT-CR versus WT-AL rats had greater ISGU with 100 and 500 μU/ml insulin; 2) CR versus WT-AL rats had greater GLUT4 protein abundance; 3) WT-CR versus WT-AL rats had greater pAktThr308 with 500 μU/ml insulin; 4) WT-CR versus WT-AL rats did not differ for pAktSer473, pAS160Ser588 or pAS160Thr642 at any insulin concentration; 5) AS160-KO versus WT rats with each diet had lower ISGU at each insulin concentration, but not lower pAkt on either phosphosite; 6) AS160-KO versus WT rats had lower muscle GLUT4 abundance regardless of diet; 7) AS160-KO-CR versus AS160-KO-AL rats did not differ for ISGU, GLUT4 abundance, pAkt on either phosphosite, or pAS160 on either phosphosite. These novel results demonstrated that AS160 expression, but not greater pAS160 on key phosphosites, was essential for the CR-induced increases in muscle ISGU and GLUT4 abundance of female rats.
  19. Cells. 2022 Dec 23. pii: 59. [Epub ahead of print]12(1):
      Myostatin (MSTN) is a negative regulator of skeletal muscle development and plays an important role in muscle development. Fluctuations in gene expression influenced by DNA methylation are critical for homeostatic responses in muscle. However, little is known about the mechanisms underlying this fluctuation regulation and myogenic differentiation of skeletal muscle. Here we report a genome-wide analysis of DNA methylation dynamics in bovine skeletal muscle myogenesis after myostatin editing. We show that, after myostatin editing, an increase in TETs (DNA demethylases) and a concomitant increase in the receptor for activated C kinase 1 (RACK1) control the myogenic development of skeletal muscle. Interestingly, enhancement of PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling by RACK1 appears to be an essential driver of myogenic differentiation, as it was associated with an increase in myogenic differentiation marker factors (MyHC and MyoG) during muscle differentiation. Overall, our results suggest that loss of myostatin promotes the myogenic differentiation response in skeletal muscle by decreasing DNA methylation of RACK1.
    Keywords:  DNA methylation; PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling; RACK1; myogenic differentiation; myostatin
  20. J Am Chem Soc. 2023 Jan 10.
      Gene regulation via chemically induced dimerization (CID) is useful for biomedical research. However, the number, type, versatility, and in vivo applications of CID tools remain limited. Here, we demonstrate the development of proteolysis-targeting chimera-based scalable CID (PROTAC-CID) platforms by systematically engineering the available PROTAC systems for inducible gene regulation and gene editing. Further, we show orthogonal PROTAC-CIDs that can fine-tune gene expression at gradient levels or multiplex biological signals with different logic gating operations. Coupling the PROTAC-CID platform with genetic circuits, we achieve digitally inducible expression of DNA recombinases, base- and prime-editors for transient genome manipulation. Finally, we package a compact PROTAC-CID system into adeno-associated viral vectors for inducible and reversible gene activation in vivo. This work provides a versatile molecular toolbox that expands the scope of chemically inducible gene regulation in human cells and mice.
  21. Cell. 2023 Jan 05. pii: S0092-8674(22)01520-3. [Epub ahead of print]186(1): 63-79.e21
      Metabolism is deeply intertwined with aging. Effects of metabolic interventions on aging have been explained with intracellular metabolism, growth control, and signaling. Studying chronological aging in yeast, we reveal a so far overlooked metabolic property that influences aging via the exchange of metabolites. We observed that metabolites exported by young cells are re-imported by chronologically aging cells, resulting in cross-generational metabolic interactions. Then, we used self-establishing metabolically cooperating communities (SeMeCo) as a tool to increase metabolite exchange and observed significant lifespan extensions. The longevity of the SeMeCo was attributable to metabolic reconfigurations in methionine consumer cells. These obtained a more glycolytic metabolism and increased the export of protective metabolites that in turn extended the lifespan of cells that supplied them with methionine. Our results establish metabolite exchange interactions as a determinant of cellular aging and show that metabolically cooperating cells can shape the metabolic environment to extend their lifespan.
    Keywords:  chronological aging; eukaryotic longevity; metabolic microenvironment; metabolite exchange interactions
  22. Brief Bioinform. 2023 Jan 08. pii: bbac529. [Epub ahead of print]
      DNA and RNA sequencing technologies have revolutionized biology and biomedical sciences, sequencing full genomes and transcriptomes at very high speeds and reasonably low costs. RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) enables transcript identification and quantification, but once sequencing has concluded researchers can be easily overwhelmed with questions such as how to go from raw data to differential expression (DE), pathway analysis and interpretation. Several pipelines and procedures have been developed to this effect. Even though there is no unique way to perform RNA-Seq analysis, it usually follows these steps: 1) raw reads quality check, 2) alignment of reads to a reference genome, 3) aligned reads' summarization according to an annotation file, 4) DE analysis and 5) gene set analysis and/or functional enrichment analysis. Each step requires researchers to make decisions, and the wide variety of options and resulting large volumes of data often lead to interpretation challenges. There also seems to be insufficient guidance on how best to obtain relevant information and derive actionable knowledge from transcription experiments. In this paper, we explain RNA-Seq steps in detail and outline differences and similarities of different popular options, as well as advantages and disadvantages. We also discuss non-coding RNA analysis, multi-omics, meta-transcriptomics and the use of artificial intelligence methods complementing the arsenal of tools available to researchers. Lastly, we perform a complete analysis from raw reads to DE and functional enrichment analysis, visually illustrating how results are not absolute truths and how algorithmic decisions can greatly impact results and interpretation.
    Keywords:  RNA sequencing; differential expression; functional analysis; machine learning; multi-omics
  23. Nat Commun. 2023 Jan 13. 14(1): 213
      Connecting genes to their cis-regulatory elements has been enabled by genome-wide mapping of chromatin interactions using proximity ligation in ChIA-PET, Hi-C, and their derivatives. However, these methods require millions of input cells for high-quality data and thus are unsuitable for many studies when only limited cells are available. Conversely, epigenomic profiling via transposase digestion in ATAC-seq requires only hundreds to thousands of cells to robustly map open chromatin associated with transcription activity, but it cannot directly connect active genes to their distal enhancers. Here, we combine proximity ligation in ChIA-PET and transposase accessibility in ATAC-seq into ChIATAC to efficiently map interactions between open chromatin loci in low numbers of input cells. We validate ChIATAC in Drosophila cells and optimize it for mapping 3D epigenomes in human cells robustly. Applying ChIATAC to primary human T cells, we reveal mechanisms that topologically regulate transcriptional programs during T cell activation.
  24. Sci Rep. 2023 Jan 11. 13(1): 529
      In this article, we consider a double phosphorylation cycle, a ubiquitous signaling component, having the ability to display bistability, a behavior strongly related to the existence of positive feedback loops. If this component is connected to other signaling elements, it very likely undergoes some sort of protein-protein interaction. In several cases, these interactions result in a non-explicit negative feedback effect, leading to interlinked positive and negative feedbacks. This combination was studied in the literature as a way to generate relaxation-type oscillations. Here, we show that the two feedbacks together ensure two types of oscillations, the relaxation-type ones and a smoother type of oscillations functioning in a very narrow range of frequencies, in such a way that outside that range, the amplitude of the oscillations is severely compromised. Even more, we show that the two feedbacks are essential for both oscillatory types to emerge, and it is their hierarchy what determines the type of oscillation at work. We used bifurcation analyses and amplitude vs. frequency curves to characterize and classify the oscillations. We also applied the same ideas to another simple model, with the goal of generalizing what we learned from signaling models. The results obtained display the wealth of oscillatory dynamics that exists in a system with a bistable module nested within a negative feedback loop, showing how to transition between different types of oscillations and other dynamical behaviors such as excitability. Our work provides a framework for the study of other oscillatory systems based on bistable modules, from simple two-component models to more complex examples like the MAPK cascade and experimental cases like cell cycle oscillators.
  25. Trends Cancer. 2023 Jan 11. pii: S2405-8033(22)00265-5. [Epub ahead of print]
      The dogma that cancer is a genetic disease is being questioned. Recent findings suggest that genetic/nongenetic duality is necessary for cancer progression. A think tank organized by the Shraman Foundation's Institute for Theoretical Biology compiled key challenges and opportunities that theoreticians, experimentalists, and clinicians can explore from a systems biology perspective to provide a better understanding of the disease as well as help discover new treatment options and therapeutic strategies.
  26. Am J Hum Genet. 2023 Jan 05. pii: S0002-9297(22)00538-9. [Epub ahead of print]110(1): 3-12
      Although genomic research has predominantly relied on phenotypic ascertainment of individuals affected with heritable disease, the falling costs of sequencing allow consideration of genomic ascertainment and reverse phenotyping (the ascertainment of individuals with specific genomic variants and subsequent evaluation of physical characteristics). In this research modality, the scientific question is inverted: investigators gather individuals with a genomic variant and test the hypothesis that there is an associated phenotype via targeted phenotypic evaluations. Genomic ascertainment research is thus a model of predictive genomic medicine and genomic screening. Here, we provide our experience implementing this research method. We describe the infrastructure we developed to perform reverse phenotyping studies, including aggregating a super-cohort of sequenced individuals who consented to recontact for genomic ascertainment research. We assessed 13 studies completed at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that piloted our reverse phenotyping approach. The studies can be broadly categorized as (1) facilitating novel genotype-disease associations, (2) expanding the phenotypic spectra, or (3) demonstrating ex vivo functional mechanisms of disease. We highlight three examples of reverse phenotyping studies in detail and describe how using a targeted reverse phenotyping approach (as opposed to phenotypic ascertainment or clinical informatics approaches) was crucial to the conclusions reached. Finally, we propose a framework and address challenges to building collaborative genomic ascertainment research programs at other institutions. Our goal is for more researchers to take advantage of this approach, which will expand our understanding of the predictive capability of genomic medicine and increase the opportunity to mitigate genomic disease.
  27. Endocrinology. 2023 Jan 04. pii: bqac214. [Epub ahead of print]
      Targeting the type I insulin-like growth factor receptor (IGF-IR) has not been successful in breast cancer. Data suggest the highly homologous insulin receptor (IR) may be an alternate growth stimulatory pathway used by cancer cells. Since both receptors phosphorylate the insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS-1) protein as an immediate consequence of ligand binding, disruption of both receptors could be accomplished by suppression of IRS-1. IRS-1 gene deletion by CRISPR/Cas9 editing resulted in suppression of IGF-I, insulin, and estrogen stimulated growth in hormone dependent MCF-7L breast cancer cells. A doxycycline-inducible IRS-1 shRNA lentiviral construct was also used to infect MCF-7L breast cancer cells. IRS-1 shRNA downregulation resulted in decreased responses to IGF-I, insulin, and estradiol in monolayer and anchorage independent growth assays. Decreased IRS-1 levels also suppressed estradiol stimulated gene expression and estrogen receptor binding to DNA. Xenograft growth was also inhibited by induction of IRS-1 shRNA. These data show IRS-1 is a critical regulator of endocrine responsive breast cancer. Efforts to target this adaptor protein could have broader growth inhibitory effects and receptor targeting.
    Keywords:  Breast cancer; estrogen receptor; insulin receptor substrates; insulin-like growth factors; type I insulin-like growth factor receptor
  28. Nat Methods. 2023 Jan 09.
      The ability to align individual cellular information from multiple experimental sources is fundamental for a systems-level understanding of biological processes. However, currently available tools are mainly designed for single-cell transcriptomics matching and integration, and generally rely on a large number of shared features across datasets for cell matching. This approach underperforms when applied to single-cell proteomic datasets due to the limited number of parameters simultaneously accessed and lack of shared markers across these experiments. Here, we introduce a cell-matching algorithm, matching with partial overlap (MARIO) that accounts for both shared and distinct features, while consisting of vital filtering steps to avoid suboptimal matching. MARIO accurately matches and integrates data from different single-cell proteomic and multimodal methods, including spatial techniques and has cross-species capabilities. MARIO robustly matched tissue macrophages identified from COVID-19 lung autopsies via codetection by indexing imaging to macrophages recovered from COVID-19 bronchoalveolar lavage fluid by cellular indexing of transcriptomes and epitopes by sequencing, revealing unique immune responses within the lung microenvironment of patients with COVID.