bims-tumime Biomed News
on Tumor microenvironment and metabolism
Issue of 2024‒05‒19
six papers selected by
Alex Muir, University of Chicago

  1. Cell Chem Biol. 2024 May 16. pii: S2451-9456(24)00169-7. [Epub ahead of print]31(5): 932-943.e8
      Nucleotides perform important metabolic functions, carrying energy and feeding nucleic acid synthesis. Here, we use isotope tracing-mass spectrometry to quantitate contributions to purine nucleotides from 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 or lymph node T cells) synthesize purines de novo. Shortage of 1C units for T cell purine synthesis is accordingly a potential bottleneck for anti-tumor immunity. Supplementing 1C units by infusing formate drives formate assimilation into purines in tumor-infiltrating T cells. Orally administered methanol functions as a formate pro-drug, with deuteration enabling kinetic control of formate production. Safe doses of methanol raise formate levels and augment anti-PD-1 checkpoint blockade in MC38 tumors, tripling durable regressions. Thus, 1C deficiency can gate antitumor immunity and this metabolic checkpoint can be overcome with pharmacological 1C supplementation.
  2. J Clin Invest. 2024 May 14. pii: e171294. [Epub ahead of print]
      Tumor cells are known to undergo considerable metabolic reprogramming to meet their unique demands and drive tumor growth. At the same time, this reprogramming may come at a cost with resultant metabolic vulnerabilities. The small molecule L-2-hdroxyglutarate (L-2HG) is elevated in the most common histology of renal cancer. Similar to other oncometabolites, L-2HG has the potential to profoundly impact gene expression. Here, we demonstrate that L-2HG remodels amino acid metabolism in renal cancer cells through the combined effects on histone methylation and RNA N6-methyladenosine (m6A). The combined effects of L-2HG result in a metabolic liability that renders tumors cells reliant on exogenous serine to support proliferation, redox homeostasis, and tumor growth. In concert with these data, high L-2HG kidney cancers demonstrates reduced expression of multiple serine biosynthetic enzymes. Collectively, our data indicate that high L-2HG renal tumors could be specifically targeted by strategies that limit serine availability to tumors.
    Keywords:  Metabolism; Oncology; Urology
  3. Nat Commun. 2024 May 14. 15(1): 4083
      Energetic stress compels cells to evolve adaptive mechanisms to adjust their metabolism. Inhibition of mTOR kinase complex 1 (mTORC1) is essential for cell survival during glucose starvation. How mTORC1 controls cell viability during glucose starvation is not well understood. Here we show that the mTORC1 effectors eukaryotic initiation factor 4E binding proteins 1/2 (4EBP1/2) confer protection to mammalian cells and budding yeast under glucose starvation. Mechanistically, 4EBP1/2 promote NADPH homeostasis by preventing NADPH-consuming fatty acid synthesis via translational repression of Acetyl-CoA Carboxylase 1 (ACC1), thereby mitigating oxidative stress. This has important relevance for cancer, as oncogene-transformed cells and glioma cells exploit the 4EBP1/2 regulation of ACC1 expression and redox balance to combat energetic stress, thereby supporting transformation and tumorigenicity in vitro and in vivo. Clinically, high EIF4EBP1 expression is associated with poor outcomes in several cancer types. Our data reveal that the mTORC1-4EBP1/2 axis provokes a metabolic switch essential for survival during glucose starvation which is exploited by transformed and tumor cells.
  4. Cancer Res. 2024 May 15. 84(10): 1543-1545
      Nutrient stress accompanies several stages of tumor progression, including metastasis formation. Metabolic reprogramming is a hallmark of cancer, and it has been associated with stress tolerance and anchorage-independent cell survival. Adaptive responses are required to support cancer cell survival under these conditions. In this issue of Cancer Research, Nam and colleagues showed that the extracellular matrix (ECM) receptor integrin β3 was upregulated in lung cancer cells in response to nutrient starvation, resulting in increased cell survival that was independent from ECM binding. Delving into the molecular mechanisms responsible for this, the authors found that integrin β3 promoted glutamine metabolism and oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) by activating a Src/AMPK/PGC1α signaling pathway. Importantly, in vivo experiments confirmed that OXPHOS inhibition suppressed tumor initiation in an orthotopic model of lung cancer, while β3 knockout completely abrogated tumor initiation. These observations indicate that targeting signaling pathways downstream of αvβ3 could represent a promising therapeutic avenue to prevent lung cancer progression and metastasis. See related article by Nam et al., p. 1630.
  5. bioRxiv. 2024 May 05. pii: 2024.05.03.592368. [Epub ahead of print]
      Cancer cells must maintain lipid supplies for their proliferation and do so by upregulating lipogenic gene programs. The sterol regulatory element-binding proteins (SREBPs) act as modulators of lipid homeostasis by acting as transcriptional activators of genes required for fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis and uptake. SREBPs have been recognized as chemotherapeutic targets in multiple cancers, however it is not well understood which SREBP target genes are essential for tumorigenesis. Using parallel in vitro and in vivo CRISPR knockout screens, we identified terpenoid backbone biosynthesis genes as essential for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) tumor development. Specifically, we identified the non-sterol isoprenoid product of the mevalonate pathway, geranylgeranyl diphosphate (GGPP), as an essential lipid for tumor growth. Mechanistically, we observed that restricting mevalonate pathway activity using statins and SREBP inhibitors synergistically induced apoptosis and caused disruptions in small G protein prenylation that have pleiotropic effects on cellular signaling pathways. Finally, we demonstrated that geranylgeranyl diphosphate synthase 1 ( GGPS1 ) knockdown significantly reduces tumor burden in an orthotopic xenograft mouse model. These findings indicate that PDAC tumors selectively require GGPP over other lipids such as cholesterol and fatty acids and that this is a targetable vulnerability of pancreatic cancer cells.
  6. Adv Sci (Weinh). 2024 May 17. e2308255
      Metabolic alterations in cancers can be exploited for diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic purposes. This is exemplified by 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG)-positron emission tomography (FDG-PET), an imaging tool that relies on enhanced glucose uptake by tumors for diagnosis and staging. By performing transcriptomic analysis of breast cancer (BC) samples from patients stratified by FDG-PET, a 54-gene signature (PETsign) is identified that recapitulates FDG uptake. PETsign is independently prognostic of clinical outcome in luminal BCs, the most common and heterogeneous BC molecular subtype, which requires improved stratification criteria to guide therapeutic decision-making. The prognostic power of PETsign is stable across independent BC cohorts and disease stages including the earliest BC stage, arguing that PETsign is an ab initio metabolic signature. Transcriptomic and metabolomic analysis of BC cells reveals that PETsign predicts enhanced glycolytic dependence and reduced reliance on fatty acid oxidation. Moreover, coamplification of PETsign genes occurs frequently in BC arguing for their causal role in pathogenesis. CXCL8 and EGFR signaling pathways feature strongly in PETsign, and their activation in BC cells causes a shift toward a glycolytic phenotype. Thus, PETsign serves as a molecular surrogate for FDG-PET that could inform clinical management strategies for BC patients.
    Keywords:  FDG‐PET; breast cancer; gene signature; glycolysis; metabolism