bims-pideca Biomed News
on Class IA PI3K signalling in development and cancer
Issue of 2023‒11‒19
seventeen papers selected by
Ralitsa Radostinova Madsen, MRC-PPU

  1. Orphanet J Rare Dis. 2023 Nov 16. 18(1): 360
      BACKGROUND: Hypoketotic hypoglycaemia with suppressed plasma fatty acids and detectable insulin suggests congenital hyperinsulinism (CHI). Severe hypoketotic hypoglycaemia mimicking hyperinsulinism but without detectable insulin has recently been described in syndromic individuals with mosaic genetic activation of post-receptor insulin signalling. We set out to expand understanding of this entity focusing on metabolic phenotypes.METHODS: Metabolic profiling, candidate gene and exome sequencing were performed in six infants with hypoketotic, hypoinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia, with or without syndromic features. Additional signalling studies were carried out in dermal fibroblasts from two individuals.
    RESULTS: Two infants had no syndromic features. One was mistakenly diagnosed with CHI. One had mild features of megalencephaly-capillary malformation-polymicrogyria (MCAP) syndrome, one had non-specific macrosomia, and two had complex syndromes. All required intensive treatment to maintain euglycaemia, with CHI-directed therapies being ineffective. Pathogenic PIK3CA variants were found in two individuals - de novo germline c.323G>A (p.Arg108His) in one non-syndromic infant and postzygotic mosaic c.2740G>A (p.Gly914Arg) in the infant with MCAP. No causal variants were proven in the other individuals despite extensive investigation, although rare variants in mTORC components were identified in one. No increased PI3K signalling in fibroblasts of two individuals was seen.
    CONCLUSIONS: We expand the spectrum of PI3K-related hypoinsulinaemic hypoketotic hypoglycaemia. We demonstrate that pathogenic germline variants activating post-insulin-receptor signalling may cause non-syndromic hypoinsulinaemic hypoketotic hypoglycaemia closely resembling CHI. This distinct biochemical footprint should be sought and differentiated from CHI in infantile hypoglycaemia. To facilitate adoption of this differential diagnosis, we propose the term "pseudohyperinsulinism".
    Keywords:  Hypoinsulinemic hypoglycaemia; Insulin signalling; PI3K; Pseudohyperinsulinism
  2. Nucleic Acids Res. 2023 Nov 11. pii: gkad1018. [Epub ahead of print]
      The single-cell proteomics enables the direct quantification of protein abundance at the single-cell resolution, providing valuable insights into cellular phenotypes beyond what can be inferred from transcriptome analysis alone. However, insufficient large-scale integrated databases hinder researchers from accessing and exploring single-cell proteomics, impeding the advancement of this field. To fill this deficiency, we present a comprehensive database, namely Single-cell Proteomic DataBase (SPDB,, for general single-cell proteomic data, including antibody-based or mass spectrometry-based single-cell proteomics. Equipped with standardized data process and a user-friendly web interface, SPDB provides unified data formats for convenient interaction with downstream analysis, and offers not only dataset-level but also protein-level data search and exploration capabilities. To enable detailed exhibition of single-cell proteomic data, SPDB also provides a module for visualizing data from the perspectives of cell metadata or protein features. The current version of SPDB encompasses 133 antibody-based single-cell proteomic datasets involving more than 300 million cells and over 800 marker/surface proteins, and 10 mass spectrometry-based single-cell proteomic datasets involving more than 4000 cells and over 7000 proteins. Overall, SPDB is envisioned to be explored as a useful resource that will facilitate the wider research communities by providing detailed insights into proteomics from the single-cell perspective.
  3. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2023 Nov 21. 120(47): e2313137120
      KRAS is the most commonly mutated oncogene. Targeted therapies have been developed against mediators of key downstream signaling pathways, predominantly components of the RAF/MEK/ERK kinase cascade. Unfortunately, single-agent efficacy of these agents is limited both by intrinsic and acquired resistance. Survival of drug-tolerant persister cells within the heterogeneous tumor population and/or acquired mutations that reactivate receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK)/RAS signaling can lead to outgrowth of tumor-initiating cells (TICs) and drive therapeutic resistance. Here, we show that targeting the key RTK/RAS pathway signaling intermediates SOS1 (Son of Sevenless 1) or KSR1 (Kinase Suppressor of RAS 1) both enhances the efficacy of, and prevents resistance to, the MEK inhibitor trametinib in KRAS-mutated lung (LUAD) and colorectal (COAD) adenocarcinoma cell lines depending on the specific mutational landscape. The SOS1 inhibitor BI-3406 enhanced the efficacy of trametinib and prevented trametinib resistance by targeting spheroid-initiating cells in KRASG12/G13-mutated LUAD and COAD cell lines that lacked PIK3CA comutations. Cell lines with KRASQ61 and/or PIK3CA mutations were insensitive to trametinib and BI-3406 combination therapy. In contrast, deletion of the RAF/MEK/ERK scaffold protein KSR1 prevented drug-induced SIC upregulation and restored trametinib sensitivity across all tested KRAS mutant cell lines in both PIK3CA-mutated and PIK3CA wild-type cancers. Our findings demonstrate that vertical inhibition of RTK/RAS signaling is an effective strategy to prevent therapeutic resistance in KRAS-mutated cancers, but therapeutic efficacy is dependent on both the specific KRAS mutant and underlying comutations. Thus, selection of optimal therapeutic combinations in KRAS-mutated cancers will require a detailed understanding of functional dependencies imposed by allele-specific KRAS mutations.
    Keywords:  KSR1; RAS; SOS1; resistance; trametinib
  4. Nature. 2023 Nov 15.
      Cellular functions are mediated by protein-protein interactions, and mapping the interactome provides fundamental insights into biological systems. Affinity purification coupled to mass spectrometry is an ideal tool for such mapping, but it has been difficult to identify low copy number complexes, membrane complexes and complexes that are disrupted by protein tagging. As a result, our current knowledge of the interactome is far from complete, and assessing the reliability of reported interactions is challenging. Here we develop a sensitive high-throughput method using highly reproducible affinity enrichment coupled to mass spectrometry combined with a quantitative two-dimensional analysis strategy to comprehensively map the interactome of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Thousand-fold reduced volumes in 96-well format enabled replicate analysis of the endogenous GFP-tagged library covering the entire expressed yeast proteome1. The 4,159 pull-downs generated a highly structured network of 3,927 proteins connected by 31,004 interactions, doubling the number of proteins and tripling the number of reliable interactions compared with existing interactome maps2. This includes very-low-abundance epigenetic complexes, organellar membrane complexes and non-taggable complexes inferred by abundance correlation. This nearly saturated interactome reveals that the vast majority of yeast proteins are highly connected, with an average of 16 interactors. Similar to social networks between humans, the average shortest distance between proteins is 4.2 interactions. AlphaFold-Multimer provided novel insights into the functional roles of previously uncharacterized proteins in complexes. Our web portal ( ) enables extensive exploration of the interactome dataset.
  5. Front Oncol. 2023 ;13 1255832
      Alpelisib plus fulvestrant is a valid second or advanced line of treatment for patients with metastatic hormone receptor (HR)-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer who harbor an activating PIK3CA mutation. The well-known side effects of alpelisib are hyperglycemia, rash, and diarrhea. Herein, we report a case of a woman who developed diffuse depigmented macules on the face, arms and legs, three months after initiating alpelisib. Both clinical and histopathological findings were consistent with new-onset vitiligo. To our knowledge, this is the first case described in literature which suggests a causal relationship between alpelisib and irreversible dermatological adverse effect.
    Keywords:  PIK3CA; alpelisib; breast cancer; skin adverse effects; vitiligo
  6. Cell Syst. 2023 Nov 15. pii: S2405-4712(23)00292-2. [Epub ahead of print]14(11): 940-952.e11
      The generation of distinct cell types in developing tissues depends on establishing spatial patterns of gene expression. Often, this is directed by spatially graded chemical signals-known as morphogens. In the "French Flag model," morphogen concentration instructs cells to acquire specific fates. How this mechanism produces timely and organized cell-fate decisions, despite the presence of changing morphogen levels, molecular noise, and individual variability, is unclear. Moreover, feedback is present at various levels in developing tissues, breaking the link between morphogen concentration, signaling activity, and position. Here, we develop an alternative framework using optimal control theory to tackle the problem of morphogen-driven patterning: intracellular signaling is derived as the control strategy that guides cells to the correct fate while minimizing a combination of signaling levels and time. This approach recovers experimentally observed properties of patterning strategies and offers insight into design principles that produce timely, precise, and reproducible morphogen patterning.
    Keywords:  French Flag; control theory; dynamical systems; embryonic development; morphogen; optimal control
  7. Mol Cell. 2023 Nov 16. pii: S1097-2765(23)00854-7. [Epub ahead of print]83(22): 4078-4092.e6
      Tumor growth is driven by continued cellular growth and proliferation. Cyclin-dependent kinase 7's (CDK7) role in activating mitotic CDKs and global gene expression makes it therefore an attractive target for cancer therapies. However, what makes cancer cells particularly sensitive to CDK7 inhibition (CDK7i) remains unclear. Here, we address this question. We show that CDK7i, by samuraciclib, induces a permanent cell-cycle exit, known as senescence, without promoting DNA damage signaling or cell death. A chemogenetic genome-wide CRISPR knockout screen identified that active mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) signaling promotes samuraciclib-induced senescence. mTOR inhibition decreases samuraciclib sensitivity, and increased mTOR-dependent growth signaling correlates with sensitivity in cancer cell lines. Reverting a growth-promoting mutation in PIK3CA to wild type decreases sensitivity to CDK7i. Our work establishes that enhanced growth alone promotes CDK7i sensitivity, providing an explanation for why some cancers are more sensitive to CDK inhibition than normally growing cells.
    Keywords:  CDK inhibition; CDK7 inhibitor; cancer treatment; cell cycle; cell size; cell-cycle arrest; cellular growth; mTOR singaling; proliferation; samuraciclib; senescence
  8. Stem Cell Reports. 2023 Nov 08. pii: S2213-6711(23)00415-0. [Epub ahead of print]
      The capability to generate induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines, in tandem with CRISPR-Cas9 DNA editing, offers great promise to understand the underlying genetic mechanisms of human disease. The low efficiency of available methods for homogeneous expansion of singularized CRISPR-transfected iPSCs necessitates the coculture of transfected cells in mixed populations and/or on feeder layers. Consequently, edited cells must be purified using labor-intensive screening and selection, culminating in inefficient editing. Here, we provide a xeno-free method for single-cell cloning of CRISPRed iPSCs achieving a clonal survival of up to 70% within 7-10 days. This is accomplished through improved viability of the transfected cells, paralleled with provision of an enriched environment for the robust establishment and proliferation of singularized iPSC clones. Enhanced cell survival was accompanied by a high transfection efficiency exceeding 97%, and editing efficiencies of 50%-65% for NHEJ and 10% for HDR, indicative of the method's utility in stem cell disease modeling.
    Keywords:  CRISPR-Cas9 editing; clonal homogeneity; electroporatio; human iPSC; lipofection; single-cell cloning; transfection
  9. Mol Cell. 2023 Nov 16. pii: S1097-2765(23)00857-2. [Epub ahead of print]83(22): 4047-4061.e6
      CDK4/6 inhibitors are remarkable anti-cancer drugs that can arrest tumor cells in G1 and induce their senescence while causing only relatively mild toxicities in healthy tissues. How they achieve this mechanistically is unclear. We show here that tumor cells are specifically vulnerable to CDK4/6 inhibition because during the G1 arrest, oncogenic signals drive toxic cell overgrowth. This overgrowth causes permanent cell cycle withdrawal by either preventing progression from G1 or inducing genotoxic damage during the subsequent S-phase and mitosis. Inhibiting or reverting oncogenic signals that converge onto mTOR can rescue this excessive growth, DNA damage, and cell cycle exit in cancer cells. Conversely, inducing oncogenic signals in non-transformed cells can drive these toxic phenotypes and sensitize the cells to CDK4/6 inhibition. Together, this demonstrates that cell cycle arrest and oncogenic cell growth is a synthetic lethal combination that is exploited by CDK4/6 inhibitors to induce tumor-specific toxicity.
    Keywords:  CDK4/6; breast cancer; cell cycle; cell growth; chemotherapy; growth factors; oncogenes; p21; p53; replication stress
  10. Mol Cell. 2023 Nov 16. pii: S1097-2765(23)00855-9. [Epub ahead of print]83(22): 4032-4046.e6
      Cellular senescence refers to an irreversible state of cell-cycle arrest and plays important roles in aging and cancer biology. Because senescence is associated with increased cell size, we used reversible cell-cycle arrests combined with growth rate modulation to study how excessive growth affects proliferation. We find that enlarged cells upregulate p21, which limits cell-cycle progression. Cells that re-enter the cell cycle encounter replication stress that is well tolerated in physiologically sized cells but causes severe DNA damage in enlarged cells, ultimately resulting in mitotic failure and permanent cell-cycle withdrawal. We demonstrate that enlarged cells fail to recruit 53BP1 and other non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) machinery to DNA damage sites and fail to robustly initiate DNA damage-dependent p53 signaling, rendering them highly sensitive to genotoxic stress. We propose that an impaired DNA damage response primes enlarged cells for persistent replication-acquired damage, ultimately leading to cell division failure and permanent cell-cycle exit.
    Keywords:  DNA damage; cell cycle; cell growth; cell size; senescence
  11. Mol Cell. 2023 Nov 16. pii: S1097-2765(23)00860-2. [Epub ahead of print]83(22): 4141-4157.e11
      Biomolecular condensates have emerged as a major organizational principle in the cell. However, the formation, maintenance, and dissolution of condensates are still poorly understood. Transcriptional machinery partitions into biomolecular condensates at key cell identity genes to activate these. Here, we report a specific perturbation of WNT-activated β-catenin condensates that disrupts oncogenic signaling. We use a live-cell condensate imaging method in human cancer cells to discover FOXO and TCF-derived peptides that specifically inhibit β-catenin condensate formation on DNA, perturb nuclear β-catenin condensates in cells, and inhibit β-catenin-driven transcriptional activation and colorectal cancer cell growth. We show that these peptides compete with homotypic intermolecular interactions that normally drive condensate formation. Using this framework, we derive short peptides that specifically perturb condensates and transcriptional activation of YAP and TAZ in the Hippo pathway. We propose a "monomer saturation" model in which short interacting peptides can be used to specifically inhibit condensate-associated transcription in disease.
    Keywords:  NMR; WNT-signaling; biomolecular condensates; signaling inhibition; transcriptional regulation
  12. Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2023 Nov;30(11): 1816-1825
      A translating ribosome is typically thought to follow the reading frame defined by the selected start codon. Using super-resolution ribosome profiling, here we report pervasive out-of-frame translation immediately from the start codon. Start codon-associated ribosomal frameshifting (SCARF) stems from the slippage of ribosomes during the transition from initiation to elongation. Using a massively paralleled reporter assay, we uncovered sequence elements acting as SCARF enhancers or repressors, implying that start codon recognition is coupled with reading frame fidelity. This finding explains thousands of mass spectrometry spectra that are unannotated in the human proteome. Mechanistically, we find that the eukaryotic initiation factor 5B (eIF5B) maintains the reading frame fidelity by stabilizing initiating ribosomes. Intriguingly, amino acid starvation induces SCARF by proteasomal degradation of eIF5B. The stress-induced SCARF protects cells from starvation by enabling amino acid recycling and selective mRNA translation. Our findings illustrate a beneficial effect of translational 'noise' in nutrient stress adaptation.
  13. Science. 2023 Nov 16. eadg5314
      Ephrin type-A receptor 2 (EphA2) is a receptor tyrosine kinase that initiates both ligand-dependent tumor suppressive and ligand-independent oncogenic signaling. We used time-resolved, live-cell fluorescence spectroscopy to show that the ligand-free EphA2 assembles into multimers driven by two types of intermolecular interactions in the ectodomain. The first type entails extended symmetric interactions required for ligand-induced receptor clustering and tumor-suppressive signaling that inhibits activity of the oncogenic ERK and Akt protein kinases and suppresses cell migration. The second type is an asymmetric interaction between the N terminus and the membrane proximal domain of the neighboring receptors, which supports oncogenic signaling and promotes migration in vitro and tumor invasiveness in vivo. Our results identify the molecular interactions driving the formation of the EphA2 multimeric signaling clusters and reveal the pivotal role of EphA2 assembly in dictating its opposing functions in oncogenesis.
  14. Science. 2023 Nov 17. 382(6672): eadj8543
      CRISPR-associated transposases (CASTs) repurpose nuclease-deficient CRISPR effectors to catalyze RNA-guided transposition of large genetic payloads. Type V-K CASTs offer potential technology advantages but lack accuracy, and the molecular basis for this drawback has remained elusive. Here, we reveal that type V-K CASTs maintain an RNA-independent, "untargeted" transposition pathway alongside RNA-dependent integration, driven by the local availability of TnsC filaments. Using cryo-electron microscopy, single-molecule experiments, and high-throughput sequencing, we found that a minimal, CRISPR-less transpososome preferentially directs untargeted integration at AT-rich sites, with additional local specificity imparted by TnsB. By exploiting this knowledge, we suppressed untargeted transposition and increased type V-K CAST specificity up to 98.1% in cells without compromising on-target integration efficiency. These findings will inform further engineering of CAST systems for accurate, kilobase-scale genome engineering applications.
  15. Mol Cell. 2023 Nov 16. pii: S1097-2765(23)00853-5. [Epub ahead of print]83(22): 4062-4077.e5
      Abnormal increases in cell size are associated with senescence and cell cycle exit. The mechanisms by which overgrowth primes cells to withdraw from the cell cycle remain unknown. We address this question using CDK4/6 inhibitors, which arrest cells in G0/G1 and are licensed to treat advanced HR+/HER2- breast cancer. We demonstrate that CDK4/6-inhibited cells overgrow during G0/G1, causing p38/p53/p21-dependent cell cycle withdrawal. Cell cycle withdrawal is triggered by biphasic p21 induction. The first p21 wave is caused by osmotic stress, leading to p38- and size-dependent accumulation of p21. CDK4/6 inhibitor washout results in some cells entering S-phase. Overgrown cells experience replication stress, resulting in a second p21 wave that promotes cell cycle withdrawal from G2 or the subsequent G1. We propose that the levels of p21 integrate signals from overgrowth-triggered stresses to determine cell fate. This model explains how hypertrophy can drive senescence and why CDK4/6 inhibitors have long-lasting effects in patients.
    Keywords:  DNA damage; cell cycle; cell growth; cell size; mTOR; p21(Cip1/Waf1); p38MAPK; p53; palbociclib; rapamycin
  16. Trends Cell Biol. 2023 Nov 13. pii: S0962-8924(23)00206-4. [Epub ahead of print]
      Non-genetic alterations can produce changes in a cell's phenotype. In cancer, these phenomena can influence a cell's fitness by conferring access to heritable, beneficial phenotypes. Herein, we argue that current discussions of 'phenotypic plasticity' in cancer evolution ignore a salient feature of the original definition: namely, that it occurs in response to an environmental change. We suggest 'phenotypic noise' be used to distinguish non-genetic changes in phenotype that occur independently from the environment. We discuss the conceptual and methodological techniques used to identify these phenomena during cancer evolution. We propose that the distinction will guide efforts to define mechanisms of phenotype change, accelerate translational work to manipulate phenotypes through treatment, and, ultimately, improve patient outcomes.
    Keywords:  cancer; evolution; noise; phenotype; plasticity
  17. Nat Commun. 2023 Nov 14. 14(1): 7364
      Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that poses a major threat to public health. Hyperactivation of mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) is believed to lead to abnormal network rhythmicity associated with epilepsy, and its inhibition is proposed to provide some therapeutic benefit. However, mTOR complex 2 (mTORC2) is also activated in the epileptic brain, and little is known about its role in seizures. Here we discover that genetic deletion of mTORC2 from forebrain neurons is protective against kainic acid-induced behavioral and EEG seizures. Furthermore, inhibition of mTORC2 with a specific antisense oligonucleotide robustly suppresses seizures in several pharmacological and genetic mouse models of epilepsy. Finally, we identify a target of mTORC2, Nav1.2, which has been implicated in epilepsy and neuronal excitability. Our findings, which are generalizable to several models of human seizures, raise the possibility that inhibition of mTORC2 may serve as a broader therapeutic strategy against epilepsy.