bims-tumime Biomed News
on Tumor microenvironment and metabolism
Issue of 2023‒11‒19
five papers selected by
Alex Muir, University of Chicago

  1. bioRxiv. 2023 Nov 03. pii: 2023.11.01.565193. [Epub ahead of print]
      Nucleotides perform important metabolic functions, carrying energy and feeding nucleic acid synthesis. Here, we use isotope tracing-mass spectrometry to quantitate the contributions to purine nucleotides of salvage versus de novo synthesis. We further explore the impact of augmenting a key precursor for purine synthesis, one-carbon (1C) units. We show that tumors and tumor-infiltrating T cells (relative to splenic T cells) synthesize purines de novo . Purine synthesis requires two 1C units, which come from serine catabolism and circulating formate. Shortage of 1C units is a potential bottleneck for anti-tumor immunity. Elevating circulating formate drives its usage by tumor-infiltrating T cells. Orally administered methanol functions as a formate pro-drug, with deuteration enabling control of formate-production kinetics. In MC38 tumors, safe doses of methanol raise formate levels and augment anti-PD-1 checkpoint blockade, tripling durable regressions. Thus, 1C deficiency can gate antitumor immunity and this metabolic checkpoint can be overcome with pharmacological 1C supplementation.Statement of significance: Checkpoint blockade has revolutionized cancer therapy. Durable tumor control, however, is achieved in only a minority of patients. We show that the efficacy of anti-PD-1 blockade can be enhanced by metabolic supplementation with one-carbon donors. Such donors support nucleotide synthesis in tumor-infiltrating T cells and merit future clinical evaluation.
  2. medRxiv. 2023 Oct 25. pii: 2023.10.24.23297489. [Epub ahead of print]
      The brain avidly consumes glucose to fuel neurophysiology. Cancers of the brain, such as glioblastoma (GBM), lose aspects of normal biology and gain the ability to proliferate and invade healthy tissue. How brain cancers rewire glucose utilization to fuel these processes is poorly understood. Here we perform infusions of 13 C-labeled glucose into patients and mice with brain cancer to define the metabolic fates of glucose-derived carbon in tumor and cortex. By combining these measurements with quantitative metabolic flux analysis, we find that human cortex funnels glucose-derived carbons towards physiologic processes including TCA cycle oxidation and neurotransmitter synthesis. In contrast, brain cancers downregulate these physiologic processes, scavenge alternative carbon sources from the environment, and instead use glucose-derived carbons to produce molecules needed for proliferation and invasion. Targeting this metabolic rewiring in mice through dietary modulation selectively alters GBM metabolism and slows tumor growth.Significance: This study is the first to directly measure biosynthetic flux in both glioma and cortical tissue in human brain cancer patients. Brain tumors rewire glucose carbon utilization away from oxidation and neurotransmitter production towards biosynthesis to fuel growth. Blocking these metabolic adaptations with dietary interventions slows brain cancer growth with minimal effects on cortical metabolism.
  3. Nat Metab. 2023 Nov 13.
      Glutamine is a critical metabolite for rapidly proliferating cells as it is used for the synthesis of key metabolites necessary for cell growth and proliferation. Glutamine metabolism has been proposed as a therapeutic target in cancer and several chemical inhibitors are in development or in clinical trials. How cells subsist when glutamine is limiting is poorly understood. Here, using an unbiased screen, we identify ALDH18A1, which encodes P5CS, the rate-limiting enzyme in the proline biosynthetic pathway, as a gene that cells can downregulate in response to glutamine starvation. Notably, P5CS downregulation promotes de novo glutamine synthesis, highlighting a previously unrecognized metabolic plasticity of cancer cells. The glutamate conserved from reducing proline synthesis allows cells to produce the key metabolites necessary for cell survival and proliferation under glutamine-restricted conditions. Our findings reveal an adaptive pathway that cancer cells acquire under nutrient stress, identifying proline biosynthesis as a previously unrecognized major consumer of glutamate, a pathway that could be exploited for developing effective metabolism-driven anticancer therapies.
  4. J Clin Invest. 2023 Nov 16. pii: e170397. [Epub ahead of print]
      While the poor prognosis of glioblastoma arises from the invasion of a subset of tumor cells, little is known of the metabolic alterations within these cells that fuel invasion. We integrated spatially addressable hydrogel biomaterial platforms, patient site-directed biopsies, and multi-omics analyses to define metabolic drivers of invasive glioblastoma cells. Metabolomics and lipidomics revealed elevations in the redox buffers cystathionine, hexosylceramides, and glucosyl ceramides in the invasive front of both hydrogel-cultured tumors and patient site-directed biopsies, with immunofluorescence indicating elevated reactive oxygen species (ROS) markers in invasive cells. Transcriptomics confirmed upregulation of ROS-producing and response genes at the invasive front in both hydrogel models and patient tumors. Amongst oncologic ROS, H2O2 specifically promoted glioblastoma invasion in 3D hydrogel spheroid cultures. A CRISPR metabolic gene screen revealed cystathionine gamma-lyase (CTH), which converts cystathionine to the non-essential amino acid cysteine in the transsulfuration pathway, to be essential for glioblastoma invasion. Correspondingly, supplementing CTH knockdown cells with exogenous cysteine rescued invasion. Pharmacologic CTH inhibition suppressed glioblastoma invasion, while CTH knockdown slowed glioblastoma invasion in vivo. Our studies highlight the importance of ROS metabolism in invasive glioblastoma cells and support further exploration of the transsulfuration pathway as a mechanistic and therapeutic target.
    Keywords:  Amino acid metabolism; Bioenergetics; Brain cancer; Metabolism; Oncology
  5. Cell Rep. 2023 Nov 13. pii: S2211-1247(23)01436-5. [Epub ahead of print]42(11): 113424
      Depletion of CD8+ T cells is a major obstacle in immunotherapy; however, the relevant mechanisms remain largely unknown. Here, we showed that prostate cancer (PCa) cell-derived exosomes hamper CD8+ T cell function by transporting interleukin-8 (IL-8). Compared to the low IL-8 levels detected in immune cells, PCa cells secreted the abundance of IL-8 and further accumulated in exosomes. The delivery of PCa cell-derived exosomes into CD8+ T cells exhausted the cells through enhanced starvation. Mechanistically, exosomal IL-8 overactivated PPARα in recipient cells, thereby decreasing glucose utilization by downregulating GLUT1 and HK2 but increasing fatty acid catabolism via upregulation of CPT1A and ACOX1. PPARα further activates uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1), leading to fatty acid catabolism for thermogenesis rather than ATP synthesis. Consequently, inhibition of PPARα and UCP1 restores CD8+ T cell proliferation by counteracting the effect of exosomal IL-8. This study revealed that the tumor exosome-activated IL-8-PPARα-UCP1 axis harms tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T cells by interfering with energy metabolism.
    Keywords:  CD8(+) T cell; CP: Cancer; CP: Immunology; PPARα; exosome; glucolipid metabolism; interleukin-8; prostate cancer