bims-pideca Biomed News
on Class IA PI3K signalling in development and cancer
Issue of 2024‒01‒14
eighteen papers selected by
Ralitsa Radostinova Madsen, MRC-PPU

  1. Genome Res. 2023 Dec 15. pii: gr.277960.123. [Epub ahead of print]
      Single-cell technologies offer unprecedented opportunities to dissect gene regulatory mechanisms in context-specific ways. Although there are computational methods for extracting gene regulatory relationships from scRNA-seq and scATAC-seq data, the data integration problem, essential for accurate cell type identification, has been mostly treated as a standalone challenge. Here we present scTIE, a unified method that integrates temporal multimodal data and infers regulatory relationships predictive of cellular state changes. scTIE uses an autoencoder to embed cells from all time points into a common space using iterative optimal transport, followed by extracting interpretable information to predict cell trajectories. Using a variety of synthetic and real temporal multimodal datasets, we demonstrate scTIE achieves effective data integration while preserving more biological signals than existing methods, particularly in the presence of batch effects and noise. Furthermore, on the exemplar multiome dataset we generated from differentiating mouse embryonic stem cells over time, we demonstrate scTIE captures regulatory elements highly predictive of cell transition probabilities, providing new avenues to understand the regulatory landscape driving developmental processes.
  2. Elife. 2024 Jan 08. pii: RP89489. [Epub ahead of print]12
      Full-length Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK) has been refractory to structural analysis. The nearest full-length structure of BTK to date consists of the autoinhibited SH3-SH2-kinase core. Precisely how the BTK N-terminal domains (the Pleckstrin homology/Tec homology [PHTH] domain and proline-rich regions [PRR] contain linker) contribute to BTK regulation remains unclear. We have produced crystals of full-length BTK for the first time but despite efforts to stabilize the autoinhibited state, the diffraction data still reveal only the SH3-SH2-kinase core with no electron density visible for the PHTH-PRR segment. Cryo-electron microscopy (cryoEM) data of full-length BTK, on the other hand, provide the first view of the PHTH domain within full-length BTK. CryoEM reconstructions support conformational heterogeneity in the PHTH-PRR region wherein the globular PHTH domain adopts a range of states arrayed around the autoinhibited SH3-SH2-kinase core. On the way to activation, disassembly of the SH3-SH2-kinase core opens a new autoinhibitory site on the kinase domain for PHTH domain binding that is ultimately released upon interaction of PHTH with phosphatidylinositol (3,4,5)-trisphosphate. Membrane-induced dimerization activates BTK and we present here a crystal structure of an activation loop swapped BTK kinase domain dimer that likely represents the conformational state leading to trans-autophosphorylation. Together, these data provide the first structural elucidation of full-length BTK and allow a deeper understanding of allosteric control over the BTK kinase domain during distinct stages of activation.
    Keywords:  BTK; conformational states; kinase regulation; kinase structure; molecular biophysics; none; structural biology
  3. Nat Commun. 2024 Jan 09. 15(1): 406
      Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC) is caused by TSC1 or TSC2 mutations, leading to hyperactivation of mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) and lesions  in multiple organs including lung (lymphangioleiomyomatosis) and kidney (angiomyolipoma and renal cell carcinoma). Previously, we found that TFEB is constitutively active in TSC. Here, we generated two mouse models of TSC in which kidney pathology is the primary phenotype. Knockout of TFEB rescues kidney pathology and overall survival, indicating that TFEB is the primary driver of renal disease in TSC. Importantly, increased mTORC1 activity in the TSC2 knockout kidneys is normalized by TFEB knockout. In TSC2-deficient cells, Rheb knockdown or Rapamycin treatment paradoxically increases TFEB phosphorylation at the mTORC1-sites and relocalizes TFEB from nucleus to cytoplasm. In mice, Rapamycin treatment normalizes lysosomal gene expression, similar to TFEB knockout, suggesting that Rapamycin's benefit in TSC is TFEB-dependent. These results change the view of the mechanisms of mTORC1 hyperactivation in TSC and may lead to therapeutic avenues.
  4. Cancer Cell. 2024 Jan 03. pii: S1535-6108(23)00444-0. [Epub ahead of print]
      Genetic screens in cancer cell lines inform gene function and drug discovery. More comprehensive screen datasets with multi-omics data are needed to enhance opportunities to functionally map genetic vulnerabilities. Here, we construct a second-generation map of cancer dependencies by annotating 930 cancer cell lines with multi-omic data and analyze relationships between molecular markers and cancer dependencies derived from CRISPR-Cas9 screens. We identify dependency-associated gene expression markers beyond driver genes, and observe many gene addiction relationships driven by gain of function rather than synthetic lethal effects. By combining clinically informed dependency-marker associations with protein-protein interaction networks, we identify 370 anti-cancer priority targets for 27 cancer types, many of which have network-based evidence of a functional link with a marker in a cancer type. Mapping these targets to sequenced tumor cohorts identifies tractable targets in different cancer types. This target prioritization map enhances understanding of gene dependencies and identifies candidate anti-cancer targets for drug development.
    Keywords:  CRISPR; Cancer; biomarker; cell lines; drug discovery; gene dependencies; genomics; protein interactions; target
  5. bioRxiv. 2023 Dec 23. pii: 2023.12.21.572913. [Epub ahead of print]
      Physiological processes, such as epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), are mediated by changes in protein interactions. These changes may be better reflected in protein covariation within cellular cluster than in the temporal dynamics of cluster-average protein abundance. To explore this possibility, we quantified proteins in single human cells undergoing EMT. Covariation analysis of the data revealed that functionally coherent protein clusters dynamically changed their protein-protein correlations without concomitant changes in cluster-average protein abundance. These dynamics of protein-protein correlations were monotonic in time and delineated protein modules functioning in actin cytoskeleton organization, energy metabolism and protein transport. These protein modules are defined by protein covariation within the same time point and cluster and thus reflect biological regulation masked by the cluster-average protein dynamics. Thus, protein correlation dynamics across single cells offer a window into protein regulation during physiological transitions.
  6. Cancer Res. 2024 Jan 09. OF1-OF17
      Inactivating mutations in PTEN are prevalent in melanoma and are thought to support tumor development by hyperactivating the AKT/mTOR pathway. Conversely, activating mutations in AKT are relatively rare in melanoma, and therapies targeting AKT or mTOR have shown disappointing outcomes in preclinical models and clinical trials of melanoma. This has led to the speculation that PTEN suppresses melanoma by opposing AKT-independent pathways, potentially through noncanonical functions beyond its lipid phosphatase activity. In this study, we examined the mechanisms of PTEN-mediated suppression of melanoma formation through the restoration of various PTEN functions in PTEN-deficient cells or mouse models. PTEN lipid phosphatase activity predominantly inhibited melanoma cell proliferation, invasion, and tumor growth, with minimal contribution from its protein phosphatase and scaffold functions. A drug screen underscored the exquisite dependence of PTEN-deficient melanoma cells on the AKT/mTOR pathway. Furthermore, activation of AKT alone was sufficient to counteract several aspects of PTEN-mediated melanoma suppression, particularly invasion and the growth of allograft tumors. Phosphoproteomics analysis of the lipid phosphatase activity of PTEN validated its potent inhibition of AKT and many of its known targets, while also identifying the AP-1 transcription factor FRA1 as a downstream effector. The restoration of PTEN dampened FRA1 translation by inhibiting AKT/mTOR signaling, and FRA1 overexpression negated aspects of PTEN-mediated melanoma suppression akin to AKT. This study supports AKT as the key mediator of PTEN inactivation in melanoma and identifies an AKT/mTOR/FRA1 axis as a driver of melanomagenesis.SIGNIFICANCE: PTEN suppresses melanoma predominantly through its lipid phosphatase function, which when lost, elevates FRA1 levels through AKT/mTOR signaling to promote several aspects of melanomagenesis.
  7. Cells. 2023 Dec 28. pii: 68. [Epub ahead of print]13(1):
      Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor 3 (VEGFR3), a receptor tyrosine kinase encoded by the FLT4 gene, plays a significant role in the morphogenesis and maintenance of lymphatic vessels. Under both normal and pathologic conditions, VEGF-C and VEGF-D bind VEGFR3 on the surface of lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) and induce lymphatic proliferation, migration, and survival by activating intracellular PI3K-Akt and MAPK-ERK signaling pathways. Impaired lymphatic function and VEGFR3 signaling has been linked with a myriad of commonly encountered clinical conditions. This review provides a brief overview of intracellular VEGFR3 signaling in LECs and explores examples of dysregulated VEGFR3 signaling in various disease states, including (1) lymphedema, (2) tumor growth and metastasis, (3) obesity and metabolic syndrome, (4) organ transplant rejection, and (5) autoimmune disorders. A more complete understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the lymphatic pathology of each disease will allow for the development of novel strategies to treat these chronic and often debilitating illnesses.
    Keywords:  RTK signaling; VEGFR-3; cancer; endothelial cells; inflammation; lymphangiogenesis; lymphatics
  8. Nat Commun. 2024 Jan 08. 15(1): 371
      Aurora Kinase A (AURKA) promotes cell proliferation and is overexpressed in different types of polycystic kidney disease (PKD). To understand AURKA's role in regulating renal cyst development we conditionally deleted the gene in mouse models of Autosomal Dominant PKD (ADPKD) and Joubert Syndrome, caused by Polycystin 1 (Pkd1) and Inositol polyphosphate-5-phosphatase E (Inpp5e) mutations respectively. We show that while Aurka is dispensable for collecting duct development and homeostasis, its deletion prevents cyst formation in both disease models. Cross-comparison of transcriptional changes implicated AKT signaling in cyst prevention and we show that (i) AURKA and AKT physically interact, (ii) AURKA regulates AKT activity in a kinase-independent manner and (iii) inhibition of AKT can reduce disease severity. AKT activation also regulates Aurka expression, creating a feed-forward loop driving renal cystogenesis. We find that the AURKA kinase inhibitor Alisertib stabilises the AURKA protein, agonizing its cystogenic functions. These studies identify AURKA as a master regulator of renal cyst development in different types of PKD, functioning in-part via AKT.
  9. Nat Biotechnol. 2024 Jan 08.
      Prime editing enables precise installation of genomic substitutions, insertions and deletions in living systems. Efficient in vitro and in vivo delivery of prime editing components, however, remains a challenge. Here we report prime editor engineered virus-like particles (PE-eVLPs) that deliver prime editor proteins, prime editing guide RNAs and nicking single guide RNAs as transient ribonucleoprotein complexes. We systematically engineered v3 and v3b PE-eVLPs with 65- to 170-fold higher editing efficiency in human cells compared to a PE-eVLP construct based on our previously reported base editor eVLP architecture. In two mouse models of genetic blindness, single injections of v3 PE-eVLPs resulted in therapeutically relevant levels of prime editing in the retina, protein expression restoration and partial visual function rescue. Optimized PE-eVLPs support transient in vivo delivery of prime editor ribonucleoproteins, enhancing the potential safety of prime editing by reducing off-target editing and obviating the possibility of oncogenic transgene integration.
  10. Genome Med. 2024 Jan 09. 16(1): 8
      BACKGROUND: As normal cells transform into cancers, their cell state changes, which may drive cancer cells into a stem-like or more primordial, foetal, or embryonic cell state. The transcriptomic profile of this final state may encode information about cancer's origin and how cancers relate to their normal cell counterparts.METHODS: Here, we used single-cell atlases to study cancer transformation in transcriptional terms. We utilised bulk transcriptomes across a wide spectrum of adult and childhood cancers, using a previously established method to interrogate their relationship to normal cell states. We extend and validate these findings using single-cell cancer transcriptomes and organ-specific atlases of colorectal and liver cancer.
    RESULTS: Our bulk transcriptomic data reveals that adult cancers rarely return to an embryonic state, but that a foetal state is a near-universal feature of childhood cancers. This finding was confirmed with single-cell cancer transcriptomes.
    CONCLUSIONS: Our findings provide a nuanced picture of transformation in human cancer, indicating cancer-specific rather than universal patterns of transformation pervade adult epithelial cancers.
  11. Sci Immunol. 2024 Jan 12. 9(91): eadj5948
      Defective FAS (CD95/Apo-1/TNFRSF6) signaling causes autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome (ALPS). Hypergammaglobulinemia is a common feature in ALPS with FAS mutations (ALPS-FAS), but paradoxically, fewer conventional memory cells differentiate from FAS-expressing germinal center (GC) B cells. Resistance to FAS-induced apoptosis does not explain this phenotype. We tested the hypothesis that defective non-apoptotic FAS signaling may contribute to impaired B cell differentiation in ALPS. We analyzed secondary lymphoid organs of patients with ALPS-FAS and found low numbers of memory B cells, fewer GC B cells, and an expanded extrafollicular (EF) B cell response. Enhanced mTOR activity has been shown to favor EF versus GC fate decision, and we found enhanced PI3K/mTOR and BCR signaling in ALPS-FAS splenic B cells. Modeling initial T-dependent B cell activation with CD40L in vitro, we showed that FAS competent cells with transient FAS ligation showed specifically decreased mTOR axis activation without apoptosis. Mechanistically, transient FAS engagement with involvement of caspase-8 induced nuclear exclusion of PTEN, leading to mTOR inhibition. In addition, FASL-dependent PTEN nuclear exclusion and mTOR modulation were defective in patients with ALPS-FAS. In the early phase of activation, FAS stimulation promoted expression of genes related to GC initiation at the expense of processes related to the EF response. Hence, our data suggest that non-apoptotic FAS signaling acts as molecular switch between EF versus GC fate decisions via regulation of the mTOR axis and transcription. The defect of this modulatory circuit may explain the observed hypergammaglobulinemia and low memory B cell numbers in ALPS.
  12. bioRxiv. 2023 Dec 24. pii: 2023.12.23.573219. [Epub ahead of print]
      The Shoc2 scaffold protein is crucial in transmitting signals within the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR)-mediated Extracellular signal-regulated Kinase (ERK1/2) pathway. While the significance of Shoc2 in this pathway is well-established, the precise mechanisms through which Shoc2 governs signal transmission remain to be fully elucidated. Hereditary mutations in Shoc2 are responsible for Noonan Syndrome with Loose anagen Hair (NSLH). However, due to the absence of known enzymatic activity in Shoc2, directly assessing how these mutations affect its function is challenging. ERK1/2 phosphorylation is used as a primary parameter of Shoc2 function, but the impact of Shoc2 mutants on the pathway activation is unclear. This study investigates how the NSLH-associated Shoc2 variants influence EGFR signals in the context of the ERK1/2 and AKT downstream signaling pathways. We show that when the ERK1/2 pathway is a primary signaling pathway activated downstream of EGFR, Shoc2 variants cannot upregulate ERK1/2 phosphorylation to the level of the WT Shoc2. Yet, when the AKT and ERK1/2 pathways were activated, in cells expressing Shoc2 variants, ERK1/2 phosphorylation was higher than in cells expressing WT Shoc2. We found that, in cells expressing the Shoc2 NSLH mutants, the AKT signaling pathway triggers the PAK activation, followed by phosphorylation and Raf-1/MEK1/2 /ERK1/2 signaling axis activation. Hence, our studies reveal a previously unrecognized feedback regulation downstream of the EGFR and provide evidence for the Shoc2 role as a "gatekeeper" in controlling the selection of downstream effectors within the EGFR signaling network.
  13. Nat Biotechnol. 2024 Jan 10.
      Single-cell RNA sequencing and other profiling assays have helped interrogate cells at unprecedented resolution and scale, but are inherently destructive. Raman microscopy reports on the vibrational energy levels of proteins and metabolites in a label-free and nondestructive manner at subcellular spatial resolution, but it lacks genetic and molecular interpretability. Here we present Raman2RNA (R2R), a method to infer single-cell expression profiles in live cells through label-free hyperspectral Raman microscopy images and domain translation. We predict single-cell RNA sequencing profiles nondestructively from Raman images using either anchor-based integration with single molecule fluorescence in situ hybridization, or anchor-free generation with adversarial autoencoders. R2R outperformed inference from brightfield images (cosine similarities: R2R >0.85 and brightfield <0.15). In reprogramming of mouse fibroblasts into induced pluripotent stem cells, R2R inferred the expression profiles of various cell states. With live-cell tracking of mouse embryonic stem cell differentiation, R2R traced the early emergence of lineage divergence and differentiation trajectories, overcoming discontinuities in expression space. R2R lays a foundation for future exploration of live genomic dynamics.
  14. bioRxiv. 2023 Dec 23. pii: 2023.12.21.569665. [Epub ahead of print]
      Foxp3 + regulatory T cells (Treg) are required for maintaining immune tolerance and preventing systemic autoimmunity. PI3Kδ is required for normal Treg development and function. However, the impacts of dysregulated PI3Kδ signaling on Treg function remain incompletely understood. Here, we used a conditional mouse model of activated PI3Kδ syndrome (APDS) to investigate the role of altered PI3Kδ signaling specifically within the Treg compartment. Aged mice expressing a PIK3CD gain-of-function mutation (aPIK3CD) specifically within the Treg compartment exhibited weight loss and evidence for chronic inflammation as demonstrated by increased memory/effector CD4 + and CD8 + T cells with enhanced IFN-γ secretion, spontaneous germinal center responses and production of broad-spectrum autoantibodies. Intriguingly, aPIK3CD facilitated Treg precursor development within the thymus and an increase in peripheral Treg numbers. Peripheral Treg, however, exhibited an altered phenotype including increased PD1 expression and reduced competitive fitness. Consistent with these findings, Treg specific-aPIK3CD mice mounted an elevated humoral response following immunization with a T-cell dependent antigen, that correlated with a decrease in follicular Treg. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that an optimal threshold of PI3Kδ activity is critical for Treg homeostasis and function, suggesting that PI3Kδ signaling in Treg might be therapeutically targeted to either augment or inhibit immune responses.
  15. bioRxiv. 2023 Dec 21. pii: 2023.12.20.572593. [Epub ahead of print]
      Amino acid withdrawal suppresses mTORC1 signaling rapidly, which initiates macroautophagy (herein, autophagy). Prolonged amino acid deprivation, however, leads to partial reactivation of mTORC1 due to the liberation of free amino acids by autophagic proteolysis. We observed impaired reactivation of mTORC1 signaling and increased apoptotic cell death upon prolonged amino acid withdrawal in cells lacking the AMPKα1/α2 catalytic subunits. These findings align well with the role of AMPK in promoting cell survival during energetic stress but oppose the well-documented inhibitory action of AMPK toward mTORC1. AMPK-mediated reactivation of mTORC1 during prolonged amino acid deprivation could be explained, however, if AMPK were required for autophagy. Indeed, a prevailing view posits that activation of AMPK by glucose withdrawal promotes autophagy and mitophagy through multisite phosphorylation of ULK1. When we examined the role of AMPK in autophagy induced by amino acid deprivation, however, we found unexpectedly that autophagy remained unimpaired in cells lacking AMPK α1/α2, as monitored by several autophagic readouts in several cell lines. Moreover, the absence of AMPK increased ULK1 signaling, LC3b lipidation, and lysosomal acidity, and the phosphorylation of ULK1 S555 (an AMPK site proposed to induce autophagy) decreased upon amino acid withdrawal or pharmacological mTORC1 inhibition. In addition, activation of AMPK with compound 991, glucose deprivation, or AICAR blunted basal and amino acid withdrawal-induced autophagy. Together our results demonstrate that AMPK suppresses rather than promotes autophagy and supports mTORC1 signaling during prolonged amino acid deprivation, revealing unexpected roles for AMPK in control of these processes.
  16. Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2024 Jan 10. pii: S1043-2760(23)00250-3. [Epub ahead of print]
      Tumours are heterogeneous tissues containing diverse populations of cells and an abundant extracellular matrix (ECM). This tumour microenvironment prompts cancer cells to adapt their metabolism to survive and grow. Besides epigenetic factors, the metabolism of cancer cells is shaped by crosstalk with stromal cells and extracellular components. To date, most experimental models neglect the complexity of the tumour microenvironment and its relevance in regulating the dynamics of the metabolism in cancer. We discuss emerging strategies to model cellular and extracellular aspects of cancer metabolism. We highlight cancer models based on bioengineering, animal, and mathematical approaches to recreate cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions and patient-specific metabolism. Combining these approaches will improve our understanding of cancer metabolism and support the development of metabolism-targeting therapies.
    Keywords:  cancer metabolism; cancer models; mathematical models; tumour microenvironment
  17. Nat Methods. 2024 Jan 08.
      Single-cell omics technologies have revolutionized the study of gene regulation in complex tissues. A major computational challenge in analyzing these datasets is to project the large-scale and high-dimensional data into low-dimensional space while retaining the relative relationships between cells. This low dimension embedding is necessary to decompose cellular heterogeneity and reconstruct cell-type-specific gene regulatory programs. Traditional dimensionality reduction techniques, however, face challenges in computational efficiency and in comprehensively addressing cellular diversity across varied molecular modalities. Here we introduce a nonlinear dimensionality reduction algorithm, embodied in the Python package SnapATAC2, which not only achieves a more precise capture of single-cell omics data heterogeneities but also ensures efficient runtime and memory usage, scaling linearly with the number of cells. Our algorithm demonstrates exceptional performance, scalability and versatility across diverse single-cell omics datasets, including single-cell assay for transposase-accessible chromatin using sequencing, single-cell RNA sequencing, single-cell Hi-C and single-cell multi-omics datasets, underscoring its utility in advancing single-cell analysis.
  18. Nat Biotechnol. 2024 Jan 09.
      To survey cancer-related mutations in human pluripotent stem cells and their derivatives, we analyzed >2,200 transcriptomes from 146 independent lines in the NCBI's Sequence Read Archive. Twenty-two per cent of samples had at least one cancer-related mutation; of these, 64% had TP53 mutations, which conferred a pronounced selective advantage, perturbed target gene expression and altered cellular differentiation. These findings underscore the need for robust surveillance of cancer-related mutations in pluripotent cells, especially in clinical applications.