bims-pimaco Biomed News
on PI3K and MAPK signalling in colorectal cancer
Issue of 2022‒03‒27
thirty papers selected by
Lucas B. Zeiger
Beatson Institute for Cancer Research

  1. J Cell Biol. 2022 Apr 04. pii: e202106160. [Epub ahead of print]221(4):
      Epithelial cells are constantly exposed to osmotic stress. The influx of water molecules into the cell in a hypo-osmotic environment increases plasma membrane tension as it rapidly expands. Therefore, the plasma membrane must be supplied with membrane lipids since expansion beyond its elastic limit will cause the cell to rupture. However, the molecular mechanism to maintain a constant plasma membrane tension is not known. In this study, we found that the apical membrane selectively expands when epithelial cells are exposed to hypo-osmotic stress. This requires the activation of mTORC2, which enhances the transport of secretory vesicles containing sphingomyelin, the major lipid of the apical membrane. We further show that the mTORC2-Rab35 axis plays an essential role in the defense against hypotonic stress by promoting the degradation of the actin cortex through the up-regulation of PI(4,5)P2 metabolism, which facilitates the apical tethering of sphingomyelin-loaded vesicles to relieve plasma membrane tension.
  2. BMB Rep. 2022 Mar 24. pii: 5583. [Epub ahead of print]
      The mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) regulates numerous extracellular and intracellular signals involved in the maintenance of cellular homeostasis and cell growth. mTOR also functions as an endogenous inhibitor of autophagy. Under nutrient-rich conditions, mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) phosphorylates the ULK1 complex, preventing its activation and subsequent autophagosome formation, while inhibition of mTORC1 using either rapamycin or nutrient deprivation induces autophagy. Autophagy and proteasomal proteolysis provide amino acids necessary for protein translation. Although the connection between mTORC1 and autophagy is well characterized, the association of mTORC1 inhibition with proteasome biogenesis and activity has not been fully elucidated yet. Proteasomes are long-lived cellular organelles. Their spatiotemporal rather than homeostatic regulation could be another adaptive cellular mechanism to respond to starvation. Here, we reviewed several published reports and the latest research from our group to examine the connection between mTORC1 and proteasome. We have also investigated and described the effect of mTORC1 inhibition on proteasome activity using purified proteasomes. Since mTORC1 inhibitors are currently evaluated as treatments for several human diseases, a better understanding of the link between mTORC1 activity and proteasome function is of utmost importance.
  3. Mol Biomed. 2022 Mar 21. 3(1): 10
      Mutant KRAS is a key driver in colorectal cancer (CRC) and promotes Myc translation and Myc-dependent stress adaptation and proliferation. Here, we report that the combination of two FDA-approved drugs Bortezomib and Everolimus (RAD001) (BR) is highly efficacious against mutant KRAS CRC cells. Mechanistically, the combination, not single agent, rapidly depletes Myc protein, not mRNA, and leads to GCN2- and p-eIF2α-dependent cell death through the activation of extrinsic and intrinsic apoptotic pathways. Cell death is selectively induced in mutant KRAS CRC cells with elevated basal Myc and p-eIF2α and is characterized by CHOP induction and transcriptional signatures in proteotoxicity, oxidative stress, metabolic inhibition, and immune activation. BR-induced p-GCN2/p-eIF2α elevation and cell death are strongly attenuated by MYC knockdown and enhanced by MYC overexpression. The BR combination is efficacious against mutant KRAS patient derived organoids (PDO) and xenografts (PDX) by inducing p-eIF2α/CHOP and cell death. Interestingly, an elevated four-gene (DDIT3, GADD45B, CRYBA4 and HSPA1L) stress signature is linked to shortened overall survival in CRC patients. These data support that Myc-dependent stress adaptation drives the progression of mutant KRAS CRC and serves as a therapeutic vulnerability, which can be targeted using dual translational inhibitors.
    Keywords:  Bortezomib; Colorectal cancer; Everolimus; Mutant KRAS; Myc; eIF2α
  4. Nat Commun. 2022 Mar 25. 13(1): 1618
      Loss of expression or activity of the tumor suppressor PTEN acts similarly to an activating mutation in the oncogene PIK3CA in elevating intracellular levels of phosphatidylinositol (3,4,5)-trisphosphate (PIP3), inducing signaling by AKT and other pro-tumorigenic signaling proteins. Here, we analyze sequence data for 34,129 colorectal cancer (CRC) patients, capturing 3,434 PTEN mutations. We identify specific patterns of PTEN mutation associated with microsatellite stability/instability (MSS/MSI), tumor mutational burden (TMB), patient age, and tumor location. Within groups separated by MSS/MSI status, this identifies distinct profiles of nucleotide hotspots, and suggests differing profiles of protein-damaging effects of mutations. Moreover, discrete categories of PTEN mutations display non-identical patterns of co-occurrence with mutations in other genes important in CRC pathogenesis, including KRAS, APC, TP53, and PIK3CA. These data provide context for clinical targeting of proteins upstream and downstream of PTEN in distinct CRC cohorts.
  5. Mol Oncol. 2022 Mar 21.
      The kinase suppressor of RAS proteins (KSR1 and KSR2) have long been considered as scaffolding proteins required for optimal MAPK pathway signaling. However, recent evidence suggests that they play a more complex role within this pathway. Here, we demonstrate that ectopic expression of KSR1 or KSR2 is sufficient to activate the MAPK pathway and to induce cell proliferation in the absence of RAS proteins. In contrast, ectopic expression of KSR proteins is not sufficient to induce cell proliferation in the absence of either RAF or MEK proteins, indicating that they act upstream of RAF. Indeed, KSR1 requires dimerization with at least one member of the RAF family to stimulate proliferation, an event that results in the translocation of the heterodimerized RAF protein to the cell membrane. Mutations in the conserved DFG motif of KSR1 that affect ATP binding impair induction of cell proliferation. We also show that increased expression levels of KSR1 decrease the responsiveness to the KRASG12C inhibitor sotorasib in human cancer cell lines, thus suggesting that increased levels of expression of KSR may make tumor cells less dependent on KRAS oncogenic signaling.
    Keywords:  ATP binding; KRASG12C; MAPK pathway; RAS-independent proliferation; resistance; sotorasib
  6. Cell Commun Signal. 2022 Mar 19. 20(1): 34
      BACKGROUND: KRAS mutation is one of the dominant gene mutations in colorectal cancer (CRC). Up to present, targeting KRAS for CRC treatment remains a clinical challenge. WNT974 (LGK974) is a porcupine inhibitor that interferes Wnt signaling pathway. Artesunate (ART) is a water-soluble semi-synthetic derivative of artemisinin.METHODS: The synergistic effect of ART and WNT974 combination in reducing CRC cell viability was determined by the 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay. RT-PCR was utilized for the mRNA levels of KRAS, CUL7, ANAPC2, UBE2M, RNF123, SYVN1, or β-TrCP. Western blot assay was utilized for the protein levels of NRAS, HRAS, KRAS, ANAPC2, β-TrCP, GSK-3β, p-Akt (Ser473), t-Akt, p-PI3K (Tyr458), t-PI3K, p-mTOR (Ser2448), t-mTOR. Xenograft mouse model assay was performed for the anti-CRC effect of combination of ART and WNT974 in vivo. IHC assay was utilized for the levels of KRAS, β-TrCP, GSK-3β or ANAPC2 in tumor tissues.
    RESULTS: Our study shows that the combination of WNT974 and ART exhibits synergistic effect in reducing CRC growth. The combination treatment significantly reduces KRAS protein level and activity in CRC cells. Interestingly, the combination treatment increases E3 ligases ANAPC2 expression. Our data show that overexpression of ANAPC2 significantly reduces KRAS protein levels, which is reversed by MG132. Knockdown of ANAPC2 in CRC abolishes the combination treatment-reduce KRAS expression. Besides, the treatment also increases the expressions of GSK-3β and E3 ligase β-TrCP that is known to degrade GSK-3β-phosphorylated KRAS protein. Knockdown of β-TrCP- and inhibition of GSK-3β abolish the combination treatment-induce KRAS ubiquitination and reduction in expression. Last but not least, combination treatment suppresses PI3K/Akt/m-TOR signaling pathway.
    CONCLUSIONS: Our data clearly show that the combination treatment significantly enhances KRAS protein degradation via the ubiquitination ubiquitin-proteasome pathway, which is also demonstrated in xenograft mouse model. The study provides strong scientific evidence for the development of the combination of WNT974 and ART as KRAS-targeting therapeutics for CRC treatment. Video Abstract.
    Keywords:  Artesunate; Colorectal cancer; Combination treatment; KRAS; Protein degradation; WNT974
  7. Cancers (Basel). 2022 Mar 08. pii: 1378. [Epub ahead of print]14(6):
      Targeted therapies for MET exon 14-skipping (METΔex14)-driven lung cancers have generated some promising results but response rates remain below that seen for other kinase-driven cancers. One strategy for improving treatment outcomes is to employ rational combination therapies to enhance the suppression of tumour growth and delay or prevent the emergence of resistance. To this end, we profiled the transcriptomes of MET-addicted lung tumours and cell lines and identified the RAS-mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway as a critical effector required for METΔex14-dependent growth. Ectopic expression of MET in an isogenic cell line model showed that overexpression of the mutant MET receptor led to higher levels of MAPK phosphorylation and nuclear import, resulting in increased expression and phosphorylation of nuclear MAPK targets. In comparison, other known MET effectors were unaffected. Inhibition of this pathway by KRAS knockdown in MET-addicted cells in vitro led to decreased viability in only the METΔex14-mutant cells. Conversely, decoupling RAS-MAPK axis, but not other effector pathways, from MET activity via the introduction of constitutively active mutants conferred resistance to MET inhibitors in vitro. Our results suggest that aberrant hyperactivity of the MET receptor caused by the exon 14-skipping mutation does not uniformly upregulate all known downstream effectors, rather gaining a predilection for aberrantly activating and subsequently relying on the RAS-MAPK pathway. These findings provide a rationale for the co-targeting of the RAS-MAPK pathway alongside MET to prolong therapeutic response and circumvent resistance to improve patient survival.
    Keywords:  Hepatocyte Growth Factor Receptor; RAS; lung cancer; splice-site mutations; targeted therapies
  8. Nat Chem Biol. 2022 Mar 21.
      Current small-molecule inhibitors of KRAS(G12C) bind irreversibly in the switch-II pocket (SII-P), exploiting the strong nucleophilicity of the acquired cysteine as well as the preponderance of the GDP-bound form of this mutant. Nevertheless, many oncogenic KRAS mutants lack these two features, and it remains unknown whether targeting the SII-P is a practical therapeutic approach for KRAS mutants beyond G12C. Here we use NMR spectroscopy and a cellular KRAS engagement assay to address this question by examining a collection of SII-P ligands from the literature and from our own laboratory. We show that the SII-Ps of many KRAS hotspot (G12, G13, Q61) mutants are accessible using noncovalent ligands, and that this accessibility is not necessarily coupled to the GDP state of KRAS. The results we describe here emphasize the SII-P as a privileged drug-binding site on KRAS and unveil new therapeutic opportunities in RAS-driven cancer.
  9. Sci Signal. 2022 Mar 22. 15(726): eabm4452
      Mutations that activate members of the RAS family of GTPases are associated with various cancers and drive tumor growth. The glucocorticoid receptor (GR), a member of the nuclear receptor family, has been proposed to interact with and inhibit the activation of components of the PI3K-AKT and MAPK pathways downstream of RAS. In the absence of activating ligands, we found that GR was present in cytoplasmic KRAS-containing complexes and inhibited the activation of wild-type and oncogenic KRAS in mouse embryonic fibroblasts and human lung cancer A549 cells. The DNA binding domain of GR was involved in the interaction with KRAS, but GR-dependent inhibition of RAS activation did not depend on the nuclear translocation of GR. The addition of ligand released GR-dependent inhibition of RAS, AKT, the MAPK p38, and the MAPKK MEK. CRISPR-Cas9-mediated deletion of GR in A549 cells enhanced tumor growth in xenografts in mice. Patient samples of non-small cell lung carcinomas showed lower expression of NR3C1, the gene encoding GR, compared to adjacent normal tissues and lower NR3C1 expression correlated with a worse disease outcome. These results suggest that glucocorticoids prevent the ability of GR to limit tumor growth by inhibiting RAS activation, which has potential implications for the use of glucocorticoids in patients with cancer.
  10. Nat Commun. 2022 Mar 22. 13(1): 1548
      Functioning as a master kinase, 3-phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase 1 (PDK1) plays a fundamental role in phosphorylating and activating protein kinases A, B and C (AGC) family kinases, including AKT. However, upstream regulation of PDK1 remains largely elusive. Here we report that ribosomal protein S6 kinase beta 1 (S6K1), a member of AGC kinases and downstream target of mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1), directly phosphorylates PDK1 at its pleckstrin homology (PH) domain, and impairs PDK1 interaction with and activation of AKT. Mechanistically, S6K1-mediated phosphorylation of PDK1 augments its interaction with 14-3-3 adaptor protein and homo-dimerization, subsequently dissociating PDK1 from phosphatidylinositol 3,4,5 triphosphate (PIP3) and retarding its interaction with AKT. Pathologically, tumor patient-associated PDK1 mutations, either attenuating S6K1-mediated PDK1 phosphorylation or impairing PDK1 interaction with 14-3-3, result in elevated AKT kinase activity and oncogenic functions. Taken together, our findings not only unravel a delicate feedback regulation of AKT signaling via S6K1-mediated PDK1 phosphorylation, but also highlight the potential strategy to combat mutant PDK1-driven cancers.
  11. Dev Cell. 2022 Mar 15. pii: S1534-5807(22)00126-5. [Epub ahead of print]
      The protein kinase mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) functions as a central regulator of metabolism, integrating diverse nutritional and hormonal cues to control anabolic processes, organismal physiology, and even aging. This review discusses the current state of knowledge regarding the regulation of mTOR signaling and the metabolic regulation of the four macromolecular building blocks of the cell: carbohydrate, nucleic acid, lipid, and protein by mTOR. We review the role of mTOR in the control of organismal physiology and aging through its action in key tissues and discuss the potential for clinical translation of mTOR inhibition for the treatment and prevention of diseases of aging.
    Keywords:  amino acids; lipids; mTOR; mTORC1; mTORC2; metabolism; protein; rapamycin
  12. Metabolites. 2022 Feb 26. pii: 213. [Epub ahead of print]12(3):
      Colorectal cancer (CRC) to date still ranks as one of the deadliest cancer entities globally, and despite recent advances, the incidence in young adolescents is dramatically increasing. Lipid metabolism has recently received increased attention as a crucial element for multiple aspects of carcinogenesis and our knowledge of the underlying mechanisms is steadily growing. However, the mechanism how fatty acid metabolism contributes to CRC is still not understood in detail. In this review, we aim to summarize our vastly growing comprehension and the accompanied complexity of cellular fatty acid metabolism in CRC by describing inputs and outputs of intracellular free fatty acid pools and how these contribute to cancer initiation, disease progression and metastasis. We highlight how different lipid pathways can contribute to the aggressiveness of tumors and affect the prognosis of patients. Furthermore, we focus on the role of lipid metabolism in cell communication and interplay within the tumor microenvironment (TME) and beyond. Understanding these interactions in depth might lead to the discovery of novel markers and new therapeutic interventions for CRC. Finally, we discuss the crucial role of fatty acid metabolism as new targetable gatekeeper in colorectal cancer.
    Keywords:  colorectal cancer; immunometabolism; lipid metabolism; metabolites
  13. ACS Pharmacol Transl Sci. 2022 Mar 11. 5(3): 149-155
      As an important regulator of cell metabolism, proliferation, and survival, mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) signaling provides both a potential target for cancer treatment and a research tool for investigation of cell metabolism. One inhibitor for both mTORC1 and mTORC2 pathways, OSI-027, exhibited robust anticancer efficacy but induced side effects. Herein, we designed a photoactivatable OSI-027 prodrug, which allowed the release of OSI-027 after light irradiation to inhibit the mTOR signaling pathway, triggering autophagy and leading to cell death. This photoactivatable prodrug can provide novel strategies for mTOR-targeting cancer therapy and act as a new tool for investigating mTOR signaling and its related biological processes.
  14. Biochim Biophys Acta Rev Cancer. 2022 Mar 18. pii: S0304-419X(22)00048-8. [Epub ahead of print]1877(3): 188723
      Tumor suppressor activation or reactivation has long been a sought-after, yet elusive, therapeutic strategy for human cancer. Phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) is one of the most frequently mutated tumor suppressor genes that regulate many biological processes, including proliferation, survival, cellular architecture, motility, energy metabolism, and genomic stability. As a dose-dependent tumor suppressor, subtle reductions in PTEN protein levels and activity will alter the gene-expression profiles involved in tumor progression, laying the foundation for PTEN reactivation in cancer treatment. However, treatment strategies that manipulate and/or replace PTEN activity to successfully block and reverse the destructive progression of cancer are not yet available. Ubiquitination/de-ubiquitination is one of the major regulatory mechanisms of PTEN by influencing its stability, subcellular localization, and activity. Recent discoveries, including new ubiquitination sites, E3 ubiquitin ligases, de-ubiquitinases of PTEN, and participation of accessory and adaptor proteins, have revealed new modes of PTEN ubiquitination regulation. Furthermore, either pharmaceutical or gene-targeted inhibition of E3 ligase-mediated ubiquitination of PTEN potently releases PTEN's anticancer activity and suppresses tumorigenesis. These findings shed light on therapeutic strategies for reactivating PTEN in cancer that target ubiquitination/de-ubiquitination. Therefore, a comprehensive understanding of the ubiquitination/de-ubiquitination regulation of PTEN could help improve clinical conceptualization and treatment of cancer. This review aimed to summarize and discuss recent discoveries on PTEN ubiquitination and de-ubiquitination, with the goal of providing a systematic summary in the field and promoting clinical transformation of targeting ubiquitination for PTEN reactivation in the treatment of cancer.
    Keywords:  PI3K/Akt signaling; PTEN; PTEN reactivation; Ubiquitination; de-ubiquitination
  15. Oncologist. 2022 Mar 24. pii: oyab080. [Epub ahead of print]
      BACKGROUND: Patients with KRAS-mutant cancers have limited treatment options. Here we present a phase I study of JNJ-74699157, an oral, selective, covalent inhibitor of the KRAS G12C isoform, in patients with advanced cancer harboring the KRAS G12C mutation.METHODS: Eligible patients (aged ≥18 years) who had previously received or were ineligible for standard treatment received JNJ-74699157 once daily on a 21-day cycle. Dose escalation was guided by a modified continual reassessment method.
    RESULTS: Ten patients (100 mg: 9 and 200 mg: 1) were enrolled. Tumor types included non-small cell lung cancer (n = 5), colorectal cancer (n = 4), and carcinoma of unknown primary site (n = 1). The median age was 65 (range: 36-74) years and median treatment duration was 2.91 (range: 0.5-7.5) months. Dose-limiting toxicities of grades 3-4 increased blood creatinine phosphokinase (CPK) were observed in 100 mg and 200 mg dose levels. The most common adverse event was increased blood CPK (6 patients). No significant clinical benefit was observed; the best response was stable disease in 4 patients (40%).
    CONCLUSION: Based on dose-limiting skeletal muscle toxicities and the lack of efficacy at the 100 mg dose, further enrollment was stopped. The safety profile of JNJ-74699157 was not considered favorable for further clinical development.
    Keywords:   KRAS G12C mutation; JNJ-74699157; advanced solid tumors; pharmacokinetics; safety
  16. EMBO J. 2022 Mar 22. e109823
      Translational control of mRNAs is a point of convergence for many oncogenic signals through which cancer cells tune protein expression in tumorigenesis. Cancer cells rely on translational control to appropriately adapt to limited resources while maintaining cell growth and survival, which creates a selective therapeutic window compared to non-transformed cells. In this review, we first discuss how cancer cells modulate the translational machinery to rapidly and selectively synthesize proteins in response to internal oncogenic demands and external factors in the tumor microenvironment. We highlight the clinical potential of compounds that target different translation factors as anti-cancer therapies. Next, we detail how RNA sequence and structural elements interface with the translational machinery and RNA-binding proteins to coordinate the translation of specific pro-survival and pro-growth programs. Finally, we provide an overview of the current and emerging technologies that can be used to illuminate the mechanisms of selective translational control in cancer cells as well as within the microenvironment.
    Keywords:  cancer; protein synthesis; translation and protein quality; translation inhibitors; translational control
  17. J Cell Biol. 2022 Apr 04. pii: e202203026. [Epub ahead of print]221(4):
      Signaling by the activated epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) results in diverse cell fates. In this issue, Cabral-Dias et al. (2022. J. Cell Biol. demonstrate how plasma membrane clathrin coated pits can act as a signaling platform for one branch of EGFR downstream signaling.
  18. Cancers (Basel). 2022 Mar 11. pii: 1451. [Epub ahead of print]14(6):
      Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. The RAS pathway is activated in more than 55% of CRC and has been targeted for therapeutic intervention with MEK inhibitors. Unfortunately, many patients have de novo resistance, or can develop resistance to this new class of drugs. We have hypothesized that much of this resistance may pass through SRC as a common signal transduction node, and that inhibition of SRC may suppress MEK inhibition resistance mechanisms. CRC tumors of the Consensus Molecular Subtype (CMS) 4, enriched in stem cells, are difficult to successfully treat and have been suggested to evade traditional chemotherapy agents through resistance mechanisms. Here, we evaluate targeting two pathways simultaneously to produce an effective treatment by overcoming resistance. We show that combining Trametinib (MEKi) with Dasatinib (SRCi) provides enhanced cell death in 8 of the 16 tested CRC cell lines compared to treatment with either agent alone. To be able to select sensitive cells, we simultaneously evaluated a validated 18-gene RAS pathway activation signature score along with a 13-gene MEKi resistance signature score, which we hypothesize predict tumor sensitivity to this dual targeted therapy. We found the cell lines that were sensitive to the dual treatment were predominantly CMS4 and had both a high 18-gene and a high 13-gene score, suggesting these cell lines had potential for de novo MEKi sensitivity but were subject to the rapid development of MEKi resistance. The 13-gene score is highly correlated to a score for SRC activation, suggesting resistance is dependent on SRC. Our data show that gene expression signature scores for RAS pathway activation and for MEKi resistance may be useful in determining which CRC tumors will respond to the novel drug combination of MEKi and SRCi.
    Keywords:  MEK inhibition; SRC inhibition; biomarkers; colorectal cancer (CRC); consensus molecular subtype (CMS); drug resistance; drugs sensitivity selection; gene expression; gene signature score
  19. Cell Death Differ. 2022 Mar 24.
      Cancer cells are known for their ability to adapt variable metabolic programs depending on the availability of specific nutrients. Our previous studies have shown that uptake of fatty acids alters cellular metabolic pathways in colon cancer cells to favor fatty acid oxidation. Here, we show that fatty acids activate Drp1 to promote metabolic plasticity in cancer cells. Uptake of fatty acids (FAs) induces mitochondrial fragmentation by promoting ERK-dependent phosphorylation of Drp1 at the S616 site. This increased phosphorylation of Drp1 enhances its dimerization and interaction with Mitochondrial Fission Factor (MFF) at the mitochondria. Consequently, knockdown of Drp1 or MFF attenuates fatty acid-induced mitochondrial fission. In addition, uptake of fatty acids triggers mitophagy via a Drp1- and p62-dependent mechanism to protect mitochondrial integrity. Moreover, results from metabolic profiling analysis reveal that silencing Drp1 disrupts cellular metabolism and blocks fatty acid-induced metabolic reprograming by inhibiting fatty acid utilization. Functionally, knockdown of Drp1 decreases Wnt/β-catenin signaling by preventing fatty acid oxidation-dependent acetylation of β-catenin. As a result, Drp1 depletion inhibits the formation of tumor organoids in vitro and xenograft tumor growth in vivo. Taken together, our study identifies Drp1 as a key mediator that connects mitochondrial dynamics with fatty acid metabolism and cancer cell signaling.
  20. BMC Cancer. 2022 Mar 24. 22(1): 320
      BACKGROUND: Targeted therapies for Primary liver cancer (HCC) is limited to the multi-kinase inhibitors, and not fully effective due to the resistance to these agents because of the heterogeneous molecular nature of HCC developed during chronic liver disease stages and cirrhosis. Although combinatorial therapy can increase the efficiency of targeted therapies through synergistic activities, isoform specific effects of the inhibitors are usually ignored. This study concentrated on PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway and the differential combinatory bioactivities of isoform specific PI3K-α inhibitor (PIK-75) or PI3K-β inhibitor (TGX-221) with Sorafenib dependent on PTEN context.METHODS: The bioactivities of inhibitors on PTEN adequate Huh7 and deficient Mahlavu cells were investigated with real time cell growth, cell cycle and cell migration assays. Differentially expressed genes from RNA-Seq were identified by edgeR tool. Systems level network analysis of treatment specific pathways were performed with Prize Collecting Steiner Tree (PCST) on human interactome and enriched networks were visualized with Cytoscape platform.
    RESULTS: Our data from combinatory treatment of Sorafenib and PIK-75 and TGX-221 showed opposite effects; while PIK-75 displays synergistic effects on Huh7 cells leading to apoptotic cell death, Sorafenib with TGX-221 display antagonistic effects and significantly promotes cell growth in PTEN deficient Mahlavu cells. Signaling pathways were reconstructed and analyzed in-depth from RNA-Seq data to understand mechanism of differential synergistic or antagonistic effects of PI3K-α (PIK-75) and PI3K-β (TGX-221) inhibitors with Sorafenib. PCST allowed as to identify AOX1 and AGER as targets in PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway for this combinatory effect. The siRNA knockdown of AOX1 and AGER significantly reduced cell proliferation in HCC cells.
    CONCLUSIONS: Simultaneously constructed and analyzed differentially expressed cellular networks presented in this study, revealed distinct consequences of isoform specific PI3K inhibition in PTEN adequate and deficient liver cancer cells. We demonstrated the importance of context dependent and isoform specific PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling inhibition in drug resistance during combination therapies. ( ).
    Keywords:  Liver Cancer; Network analysis; PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway; Resistance; Synergy
  21. Biomolecules. 2022 Mar 15. pii: 453. [Epub ahead of print]12(3):
      Targeting cancer hallmarks is a cardinal strategy to improve antineoplastic treatment. However, cross-talk between signaling pathways and key oncogenic processes frequently convey resistance to targeted therapies. The p53 and Wnt pathway play vital roles for the biology of many tumors, as they are critically involved in cancer onset and progression. Over recent decades, a high level of interaction between the two pathways has been revealed. Here, we provide a comprehensive overview of molecular interactions between the p53 and Wnt pathway discovered in cancer, including complex feedback loops and reciprocal transactivation. The mutational landscape of genes associated with p53 and Wnt signaling is described, including mutual exclusive and co-occurring genetic alterations. Finally, we summarize the functional consequences of this cross-talk for cancer phenotypes, such as invasiveness, metastasis or drug resistance, and discuss potential strategies to pharmacologically target the p53-Wnt interaction.
    Keywords:  APC; Wnt; beta-catenin; cancer; drug resistance; metastasis; p53
  22. Nat Commun. 2022 Mar 21. 13(1): 1500
      Although the mammalian intestinal epithelium manifests robust regenerative capacity after various cytotoxic injuries, the underlying mechanism has remained unclear. Here we identify the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p57 as a specific marker for a quiescent cell population located around the +4 position of intestinal crypts. Lineage tracing reveals that the p57+ cells serve as enteroendocrine/tuft cell precursors under normal conditions but dedifferentiate and act as facultative stem cells to support regeneration after injury. Single-cell transcriptomics analysis shows that the p57+ cells undergo a dynamic reprogramming process after injury that is characterized by fetal-like conversion and metaplasia-like transformation. Population-level analysis also detects such spatiotemporal reprogramming widely in other differentiated cell types. In intestinal adenoma, p57+ cells manifest homeostatic stem cell activity, in the context of constitutively activated spatiotemporal reprogramming. Our results highlight a pronounced plasticity of the intestinal epithelium that supports maintenance of tissue integrity in normal and neoplastic contexts.
  23. World J Gastrointest Oncol. 2022 Mar 15. 14(3): 654-663
      Colorectal cancer (CRC) remains one of the main causes of cancer death in developed countries. Yet, it is potentially preventable, by removing the precursor lesions - adenomas or serrated lesions. Several studies proved that this intervention reduces CRC mortality and that the first colonoscopy's results can guide surveillance strategies. More recently, it became clear that several carcinogenesis pathways may lead to sporadic CRC. CRC is a heterogeneous disease, characterized by multiple molecular subtypes. Three main pathways have been implicated in the development of CRC: Chromosomal instability, microsatellite instability, and the "serrated" pathways, with overlapping features between them. This and other molecular and genetic based CRC classifications are known to have clinical implications, spanning from familial risk assessment to therapy choices. The authors review basic science data and provide insight on current implications for the management of patients with CRC.
    Keywords:  APC; BRAF; Carcinogenesis pathways; Colorectal cancer; KRAS; Microsatellite instability
  24. Chem Sci. 2022 Feb 16. 13(7): 2001-2010
      In this work, we experimentally investigate the allosteric transitions between conformational states on the Ras oncogene protein using high pressure crystallography. Ras protein is a small GTPase involved in central regulatory processes occurring in multiple conformational states. Ras acts as a molecular switch between active GTP-bound, and inactive GDP-bound states, controlling essential signal transduction pathways. An allosteric network of interactions between the effector binding regions and the membrane interacting regions is involved in Ras cycling. The conformational states which coexist simultaneously in solution possess higher Gibbs free energy than the ground state. Equilibria between these states can be shifted by applying pressure favouring conformations with lower partial molar volume, and has been previously analyzed by high-pressure NMR spectroscopy. High-pressure macromolecular crystallography (HPMX) is a powerful tool perfectly complementary to high-pressure NMR, allowing characterization at the molecular level with a high resolution the different allosteric states involved in the Ras cycling. We observe a transition above 300 MPa in the crystal leading to more stable conformers. Thus, we compare the crystallographic structures of Ras(wt)·Mg2+·GppNHp and Ras(D33K)·Mg2+·GppNHp at various high hydrostatic pressures. This gives insight into per-residue descriptions of the structural plasticity involved in allosteric equilibria between conformers. We have mapped out at atomic resolution the different segments of Ras protein which remain in the ground-state conformation or undergo structural changes, adopting excited-energy conformations corresponding to transient intermediate states. Such in crystallo phase transitions induced by pressure open the possibility to finely explore the structural determinants related to switching between Ras allosteric sub-states without any mutations nor exogenous partners.
  25. Nat Commun. 2022 Mar 21. 13(1): 1503
      Although reprogramming of cellular metabolism is a hallmark of cancer, little is known about how metabolic reprogramming contributes to early stages of transformation. Here, we show that the histone deacetylase SIRT6 regulates tumor initiation during intestinal cancer by controlling glucose metabolism. Loss of SIRT6 results in an increase in the number of intestinal stem cells (ISCs), which translates into enhanced tumor initiating potential in APCmin mice. By tracking down the connection between glucose metabolism and tumor initiation, we find a metabolic compartmentalization within the intestinal epithelium and adenomas, where a rare population of cells exhibit features of Warburg-like metabolism characterized by high pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK) activity. Our results show that these cells are quiescent cells expressing +4 ISCs and enteroendocrine markers. Active glycolysis in these cells suppresses ROS accumulation and enhances their stem cell and tumorigenic potential. Our studies reveal that aerobic glycolysis represents a heterogeneous feature of cancer, and indicate that this metabolic adaptation can occur in non-dividing cells, suggesting a role for the Warburg effect beyond biomass production in tumors.
  26. Cancer. 2022 Mar 24.
      LAY SUMMARY: Over the past year, studies have demonstrated better ways of using the agents that we have to improve outcomes for patients with colon and Rectal cancers.
    Keywords:  adjuvant therapy; colon cancer; immunotherapy; rectal cancer; total neoadjuvant therapy
  27. Cell Rep. 2022 Mar 22. pii: S2211-1247(22)00275-3. [Epub ahead of print]38(12): 110534
      A growing number of studies support a direct role for nuclear mTOR in gene regulation and chromatin structure. Still, the scarcity of known chromatin-bound mTOR partners limits our understanding of how nuclear mTOR controls transcription. Herein, comprehensive mapping of the mTOR chromatin-bound interactome in both androgen-dependent and -independent cellular models of prostate cancer (PCa) identifies a conserved 67-protein interaction network enriched for chromatin modifiers, transcription factors, and SUMOylation machinery. SUMO2/3 and nuclear pore protein NUP210 are among the strongest interactors, while the androgen receptor (AR) is the dominant androgen-inducible mTOR partner. Further investigation reveals that NUP210 facilitates mTOR nuclear trafficking, that mTOR and AR form a functional transcriptional module with the nucleosome remodeling and deacetylase (NuRD) complex, and that androgens specify mTOR-SUMO2/3 promoter-enhancer association. This work identifies a vast network of mTOR-associated nuclear complexes advocating innovative molecular strategies to modulate mTOR-dependent gene regulation with conceivable implications for PCa and other diseases.
    Keywords:  AR; CP: Cancer; CP: Molecular biology; ChIP-MS; ESRRA; FOXA1; HDAC2; HOXB13; PML; ZNF618
  28. Cell Rep. 2022 Mar 22. pii: S2211-1247(22)00279-0. [Epub ahead of print]38(12): 110538
      β-Catenin is a central component in the Wnt signaling pathway; its degradation has been tightly connected to ubiquitylation, but it is rarely examined by loss-of-function assays. Here we observe that endogenous β-catenin is not stabilized upon ubiquitylation depletion by a ubiquitylation inhibitor, TAK-243. We demonstrate that N-terminal phosphorylated β-catenin is quickly and strongly stabilized by a specific neddylation inhibitor, MLN4924, in all examined cell types, and that β-catenin and TCF4 interaction is strongly enhanced by inhibition of neddylation but not ubiquitylation. We also confirm that the E3 ligase β-TrCP2, but not β-TrCP1, is associated with neddylation and destruction of β-catenin. GSK3β and adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) are not required for β-catenin neddylation but essential for its subsequent degradation. Our findings not only clarify the process of β-catenin modification and degradation in the Wnt signaling pathway but also highlight the importance of reassessing previously identified ubiquitylation substrates.
    Keywords:  CP; CP: Molecular Biology; Molecular Biology; Wnt signaling pathway; neddylation; stabilization; ubiquitylation; β-TrCP2; β-catenin
  29. Nucleic Acids Res. 2022 Mar 22. pii: gkac179. [Epub ahead of print]
      The core catalytic unit of telomerase comprises telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) and telomerase RNA (TERC). Unlike TERT, which is predominantly expressed in cancer and stem cells, TERC is ubiquitously expressed in normal somatic cells without telomerase activity. However, the functions of TERC in these telomerase-negative cells remain elusive. Here, we reported positive feedback regulation between TERC and the PI3K-AKT pathway that controlled cell proliferation independent of telomerase activity in human fibroblasts. Mechanistically, we revealed that TERC activated the transcription of target genes from the PI3K-AKT pathway, such as PDPK1, by targeting their promoters. Overexpression of PDPK1 partially rescued the deficiency of AKT activation caused by TERC depletion. Furthermore, we found that FOXO1, a transcription factor negatively regulated by the PI3K-AKT pathway, bound to TERC promoter and suppressed its expression. Intriguingly, TERC-induced activation of the PI3K-AKT pathway also played a critical role in the proliferation of activated CD4+ T cells. Collectively, our findings identify a novel function of TERC that regulates the PI3K-AKT pathway via positive feedback to elevate cell proliferation independent of telomerase activity and provide a potential strategy to promote CD4+ T cells expansion that is responsible for enhancing adaptive immune reactions to defend against pathogens and tumor cells.
  30. Front Oncol. 2022 ;12 848952
      The PI3K/AKT pathway plays a central role in human cancers, aberrant activation of this pathway is associated with tumorigenesis, cancer progression and angiogenesis. Based on the importance of the PI3K/AKT pathway in malignancies, we developed a 4-aminoquinazoline derivative, ZDQ-0620, initially envisioned as a novel pan-PI3K inhibitor. This study aimed to evaluate the potential target of ZDQ-0620 and its anticancer effect in human colorectal carcinoma (CRC). PI3K-kinase activity test showed IC50 of ZDQ-0620 against PI3Ka was 0.5 nM; molecular docking, CETSA assay and western blotting was further performed to predict ZDQ-0620 was a PI3K/AKT pathway inhibitor by targeting PI3K. To identify the effect of ZDQ-0620 on CRC cells, Sulforhodamine B (SRB) assay, flow cytometry, and Cell morphology analysis were conducted. The results showed that ZDQ-0620 inhibited the proliferation, migration and invasion of CRC cells, induced apoptosis through G0/G1 cell cycle arrest and mitochondrial pathway. Additionally, ZDQ-0620 inhibited the migration and tube formation of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). In vivo, neovascularization of rat aortic ring and chick chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) induced by VEGF was diminished when treated with ZDQ-0620. These results indicate that ZDQ-0620 induce apoptosis and anti-angiogenesis via inhibits the PI3K/AKT pathway. We suggest that the great potential of ZDQ-0620 as an effective treatment candidate against CRC.
    Keywords:  PI3K; angiogenesis; apoptosis; cell cycle arrest; colorectal cancer