(2021) Science advances. 7, 21, eabg6165. Abstract
Virus-infected cells and cancers share metabolic commonalities that stem from their insatiable need to replicate while evading the host immune system. These similarities include hijacking signaling mechanisms that induce metabolic rewiring in the host to up-regulate nucleotide metabolism and, in parallel, suppress the immune response. In both cancer and viral infections, the host immune cells and, specifically, lymphocytes augment nucleotide synthesis to support their own proliferation and effector functions. Consequently, established treatment modalities targeting nucleotide metabolism against cancers and virally infected cells may result in restricted immune response. Encouragingly, following the introduction of immunotherapy against cancers, multiple studies improved our understanding for improving antigen presentation to the immune system. We propose here that understanding the immune consequences of targeting nucleotide metabolism against cancers may be harnessed to optimize therapy against viral infections.
(2020) Cancer Discovery. 10, 12, p. 1797-1807 Abstract
Cancer cells continuously rewire their metabolism to fulfill their need for rapid growth and survival while subject to changes in environmental cues. Thus, a vital component of a cancer cell lies in its metabolic adaptability. The constant demand for metabolic alterations requires flexibility, that is, the ability to utilize different metabolic substrates; as well as plasticity, that is, the ability to process metabolic substrates in different ways. In this review, we discuss how dynamic changes in cancer metabolism affect tumor progression and the consequential implications for cancer therapy. Significance: Recognizing cancer dynamic metabolic adaptability as an entity can lead to targeted therapy that is expected to decrease drug resistance.
Targeting purine synthesis in ASS1-expressing tumors enhances the response to immune checkpoint inhibitors(2020) Nature Cancer. 1, 9, p. 894-908 Abstract
Argininosuccinate synthase (ASS1) downregulation in different tumors has been shown to support cell proliferation and yet, in several common cancer subsets ASS1 expression associates with poor patient prognosis. Here we demonstrate that ASS1 expression under glucose deprivation is induced by c-MYC, providing survival benefit by increasing nitric oxide synthesis and activating the gluconeogenic enzymes pyruvate carboxylase and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase by S-nitrosylation. The resulting increased flux through gluconeogenesis enhances serine, glycine and subsequently purine synthesis. Notably, high ASS1-expressing breast cancer mice do not respond to immune checkpoint inhibitors and patients with breast cancer with high ASS1 have more metastases. We further find that inhibiting purine synthesis increases pyrimidine to purine ratio, elevates expression of the immunoproteasome and significantly enhances the response of autologous primary CD8(+) T cells to anti-PD-1. These results suggest that treating patients with high-ASS1 cancers with purine synthesis inhibition is beneficial and may also sensitize them to immune checkpoint inhibition therapy.
(2020) Oncogene. 39, 1, p. 164-175 Abstract
Citrin, encoded by SLC25A13 gene, is an inner mitochondrial transporter that is part of the malate-aspartate shuttle, which regulates the NAD+/NADH ratio between the cytosol and mitochondria. Citrullinemia type II (CTLN-II) is an inherited disorder caused by germline mutations in SLC25A13, manifesting clinically in growth failure that can be alleviated by dietary restriction of carbohydrates. The association of citrin with glycolysis and NAD+/NADH ratio led us to hypothesize that it may play a role in carcinogenesis. Indeed, we find that citrin is upregulated in multiple cancer types and is essential for supplementing NAD+ for glycolysis and NADH for oxidative phosphorylation. Consequently, citrin deficiency associates with autophagy, whereas its overexpression in cancer cells increases energy production and cancer invasion. Furthermore, based on the human deleterious mutations in citrin, we found a potential inhibitor of citrin that restricts cancerous phenotypes in cells. Collectively, our findings suggest that targeting citrin may be of benefit for cancer therapy.
(2019) Journal of Inherited Metabolic Disease. 42, 6, p. 1147-1161 Abstract
The first patients affected by argininosuccinic aciduria (ASA) were reported 60 years ago. The clinical presentation was initially described as similar to other urea cycle defects, but increasing evidence has shown overtime an atypical systemic phenotype with a paradoxical observation, that is, a higher rate of neurological complications contrasting with a lower rate of hyperammonaemic episodes. The disappointing long-term clinical outcomes of many of the patients have challenged the current standard of care and therapeutic strategy, which aims to normalize plasma ammonia and arginine levels. Interrogations have raised about the benefit of newborn screening or liver transplantation on the neurological phenotype. Over the last decade, novel discoveries enabled by the generation of new transgenic argininosuccinate lyase (ASL)-deficient mouse models have been achieved, such as, a better understanding of ASL and its close interaction with nitric oxide metabolism, ASL physiological role outside the liver, and the pathophysiological role of oxidative/nitrosative stress or excessive arginine treatment. Here, we present a collaborative review, which highlights these recent discoveries and novel emerging concepts about ASL role in human physiology, ASA clinical phenotype and geographic prevalence, limits of current standard of care and newborn screening, pathophysiology of the disease, and emerging novel therapies. We propose recommendations for monitoring of ASA patients. Ongoing research aims to better understand the underlying pathogenic mechanisms of the systemic disease to design novel therapies.
(2019) Cell Reports. 29, 8, p. 2144-2153.e7 Abstract
Patients with germline mutations in the urea-cycle enzyme argininosuccinate lyase (ASL) are at risk for developing neurobehavioral and cognitive deficits. We find that ASL is prominently expressed in the nucleus locus coeruleus (LC), the central source of norepinephrine. Using natural history data, we show that individuals with ASL deficiency are at risk for developing attention deficits. By generating LC-ASL-conditional knockout (cKO) mice, we further demonstrate altered response to stressful stimuli with increased seizure reactivity in LC-ASL-cKO mice. Depletion of ASL in LC neurons leads to reduced amount and activity of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and to decreased catecholamines synthesis, due to decreased nitric oxide (NO) signaling. NO donors normalize catecholamine levels in the LC, seizure sensitivity, and the stress response in LC-ASL-cKO mice. Our data emphasize ASL importance for the metabolic regulation of LC function with translational relevance for ASL deficiency (ASLD) patients as well as for LC-related pathologies.
Mutant p53-dependent mitochondrial metabolic alterations in a mesenchymal stem cell-based model of progressive malignancy(2019) Cell Death and Differentiation. 26, 9, p. 1566-1581 Abstract
It is well accepted that malignant transformation is associated with unique metabolism. Malignant transformation involves a variety of cellular pathways that are associated with initiation and progression of the malignant process that remain to be deciphered still. Here we used a mouse model of mutant p53 that presents a stepwise progressive transformation of adult Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs). While the established parental p53Mut-MSCs induce tumors, the parental p53WT-MSCs that were established in parallel, did not. Furthermore, tumor lines derived from the parental p53Mut-MSCs (p53Mut-MSC-TLs), exhibited yet a more aggressive transformed phenotype, suggesting exacerbation in tumorigenesis. Metabolic tracing of these various cell types, indicated that while malignant transformation is echoed by a direct augmentation in glycolysis, the more aggressive p53Mut-MSC-TLs demonstrate increased mitochondrial oxidation that correlates with morphological changes in mitochondria mass and function. Finally, we show that these changes are p53Mut-dependent. Computational transcriptional analysis identified a mitochondrial gene signature specifically downregulated upon knock/out of p53Mut in MSC-TLs. Our results suggest that stem cells exhibiting different state of malignancy are also associated with a different quantitative and qualitative metabolic profile in a p53Mut-dependent manner. This may provide important insights for cancer prognosis and the use of specific metabolic inhibitors in a personalized designed cancer therapy.
(2019) Cancer Research. 79, 3, p. 518-533 Abstract
Downregulation of the urea cycle enzyme argininosuccinate synthase (ASS1) by either promoter methylation or by HIF1 alpha is associated with increased metastasis and poor prognosis in multiple cancers. We have previously shown that in normoxic conditions, ASS1 downregulation facilitates cancer cell proliferation by increasing aspartate availability for pyrimidine synthesis by the enzyme complex CAD. Here we report that in hypoxia, ASS1 expression in cancerous cells is downregulated further by HIF1 alpha-mediated induction of miR-224-5p, making the cells more invasive and dependent on upstream substrates of ASS1 for survival. ASS1 was downregulated under acidic conditions, and ASS1-depleted cancer cells maintained a higher intracellular pH (pHi), depended less on extracellular glutamine, and displayed higher glutathione levels. Depletion of substrates of urea cycle enzymes in ASS1-deficient cancers decreased cancer cell survival. Thus, ASS1 levels in cancer are differentially regulated in various environmental conditions to metabolically benefit cancer progression. Understanding these alterations may help uncover specific context-dependent cancer vulnerabilities that may be targeted for therapeutic purposes.Significance: Cancer cells in an acidic or hypoxic environment downregulate the expression of the urea cycle enzyme ASS1, which provides them with a redox and pH advantage, resulting in better survival.
(2018) Nature Communications. 9, 5132. Abstract
The role of mitochondria dynamics and its molecular regulators remains largely unknown during naive-to-primed pluripotent cell interconversion. Here we report that mitochondrial MTCH2 is a regulator of mitochondrial fusion, essential for the naive-to-primed interconversion of murine embryonic stem cells (ESCs). During this interconversion, wild-type ESCs elongate their mitochondria and slightly alter their glutamine utilization. In contrast, MTCH2(-/-) ESCs fail to elongate their mitochondria and to alter their metabolism, maintaining high levels of histone acetylation and expression of naive pluripotency markers. Importantly, enforced mitochondria elongation by the pro-fusion protein Mitofusin (MFN) 2 or by a dominant negative form of the pro-fission protein dynamin-related protein (DRP) 1 is sufficient to drive the exit from naive pluripotency of both MTCH2(-/-) and wild-type ESCs. Taken together, our data indicate that mitochondria elongation, governed by MTCH2, plays a critical role and constitutes an early driving force in the naive-to-primed pluripotency interconversion of murine ESCs.
(2018) Nature Reviews Cancer. 18, 10, p. 634-645 Abstract
Cancer cells reprogramme metabolism to maximize the use of nitrogen and carbon for the anabolic synthesis of macromolecules that are required during tumour proliferation and growth. To achieve this aim, one strategy is to reduce catabolism and nitrogen disposal. The urea cycle (UC) in the liver is the main metabolic pathway to convert excess nitrogen into disposable urea. Outside the liver, UC enzymes are differentially expressed, enabling the use of nitrogen for the synthesis of UC intermediates that are required to accommodate cellular needs. Interestingly, the expression of UC enzymes is altered in cancer, revealing a revolutionary mechanism to maximize nitrogen incorporation into biomass. In this Review, we discuss the metabolic benefits underlying UC deregulation in cancer and the relevance of these alterations for cancer diagnosis and therapy.
(2018) Cell. 174, 6, p. 1559-1570 Abstract
The urea cycle (UC) is the main pathway by which mammals dispose of waste nitrogen. We find that specific alterations in the expression of most UC enzymes occur in many tumors, leading to a general metabolic hallmark termed “UC dysregulation” (UCD). UCD elicits nitrogen diversion toward carbamoyl-phosphate synthetase2, aspartate transcarbamylase, and dihydrooratase (CAD) activation and enhances pyrimidine synthesis, resulting in detectable changes in nitrogen metabolites in both patient tumors and their bio-fluids. The accompanying excess of pyrimidine versus purine nucleotides results in a genomic signature consisting of transversion mutations at the DNA, RNA, and protein levels. This mutational bias is associated with increased numbers of hydrophobic tumor antigens and a better response to immune checkpoint inhibitors independent of mutational load. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that UCD is a common feature of tumors that profoundly affects carcinogenesis, mutagenesis, and immunotherapy response. Urea cycle dysregulation (UCD) in cancer is a prevalent phenomenon in multiple cancers. UCD increases nitrogen utilization for pyrimidine synthesis, generating nucleotide imbalance that leads to detectable mutation patterns and biochemical signatures in cancer patients’ samples. UCD is associated with a worse prognosis but a better response to immunotherapy.
(2018) American Journal of Human Genetics. 103, 2, p. 276-287 Abstract
Primary hypertension is a major risk factor for ischemic heart disease, stroke, and chronic kidney disease. Insights obtained from the study of rare Mendelian forms of hypertension have been invaluable in elucidating the mechanisms causing primary hypertension and development of antihypertensive therapies. Endothelial cells play a key role in the regulation of blood pressure; however, a Mendelian form of hypertension that is primarily due to endothelial dysfunction has not yet been described. Here, we show that the urea cycle disorder, argininosuccinate lyase deficiency (ASLD), can manifest as a Mendelian form of endothelial-dependent hypertension. Using data from a human clinical study, a mouse model with endothelial-specific deletion of argininosuccinate lyase (Asl), and in vitro studies in human aortic endothelial cells and induced pluripotent stem cell-derived endothelial cells from individuals with ASLD, we show that loss of ASL in endothelial cells leads to endothelial-dependent vascular dysfunction with reduced nitric oxide (NO) production, increased oxidative stress, and impaired angiogenesis. Our findings show that ASLD is a unique model for studying NO-dependent endothelial dysfunction in human hypertension.
(2018) Disease Models & Mechanisms. 11, 8, dmm033332. Abstract
Nitric oxide (NO) is a signaling molecule that plays important roles in diverse biological processes and thus its dysregulation is involved in the pathogenesis of various disorders. In cancer, NO has broad and sometimes dichotomous roles; it is involved in cancer initiation and progression, but also restricts cancer proliferation and invasion, and contributes to the anti-tumor immune response. The importance of NO in a range of cellular processes is exemplified by its tight spatial and dosage control at multiple levels, including via its transcriptional, post-translational and metabolic regulation. In this Review, we focus on the regulation of NO via the synthesis and availability of its precursor, arginine, and discuss the implications of this metabolic regulation for cancer biology and therapy. Despite the established contribution of NO to cancer pathogenesis, the implementation of NO-related cancer therapeutics remains limited, likely due to the challenge of targeting and inducing its protective functions in a celland dosage-specific manner. A better understanding of how arginine regulates the production of NO in cancer might thus support the development of anti-cancer drugs that target this key metabolic pathway, and other metabolic pathways involved in NO production.
(2018) Scientific Reports. 8, 7097. Abstract
Bacteria in nature often reside in differentiated communities termed biofilms, which are an active interphase between uni-cellular and multicellular life states for bacteria. Here we demonstrate that the development of B. subtilis biofilms is dependent on the use of glutamine or glutamate as a nitrogen source. We show a differential metabolic requirement within the biofilm; while glutamine is necessary for the dividing cells at the edges, the inner cell mass utilizes lactic acid. Our results indicate that biofilm cells preserve a short-term memory of glutamate metabolism. Finally, we establish that drugs that target glutamine and glutamate utilization restrict biofilm development. Overall, our work reveals a spatial regulation of nitrogen and carbon metabolism within the biofilm, which contributes to the fitness of bacterial complex communities. This acquired metabolic division of labor within biofilm can serve as a target for novel anti-biofilm chemotherapies
Induction of Nitric-Oxide Metabolism in Enterocytes Alleviates Colitis and Inflammation-Associated Colon Cancer(2018) Cell Reports. 23, 7, p. 1962-1976 Abstract
Nitric oxide (NO) plays an established role in numerous physiological and pathological processes, but the specific cellular sources of NO in disease pathogenesis remain unclear, preventing the implementation of NO-related therapy. Argininosuccinate lyase (ASL) is the only enzyme able to produce arginine, the substrate for NO generation by nitric oxide synthase (NOS) isoforms. Here, we generated cell-specific conditional ASL knockout mice in combination with genetic and chemical colitis models. We demonstrate that NO derived from enterocytes alleviates colitis by decreasing macrophage infiltration and tissue damage, whereas immune cell-derived NO is associated with macrophage activation, resulting in increased severity of inflammation. We find that induction of endogenous NO production by enterocytes with supplements that upregulate ASL expression and complement its substrates results in improved epithelial integrity and alleviation of colitis and of inflammation-associated colon cancer.
(2018) Tomography. 4, 1, p. 4-13 Abstract
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) characterized by a chronic flaring inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. To determine disease activity, the inflammatory state of the colon should be assessed. Endoscopy in patients with IBD aids visualization of mucosa' inflammation. However, because the mucosa is fragile, there is a significant risk of perforation. In addition, the technique is based on grading of the entire colon, which is highly operator-dependent. An improved, noninvasive, objective magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique will effectively assess pathologies in the small intestinal mucosa, more specifically, along the colon , and the bowel wall and surrounding structures. Here, dextran sodium sulfate polymer induced acute colitis in mice that was subsequently characterized by multisection magnetic resonance colonography. This study aimed to develop a noninvasive, objective, quantitative MRI technique for detecting mucosa! inflammation in a dextran sodium sulfate-induced colitis mouse model, MRI results were correlated with endoscopic and his-. topathological evaluations.
(2017) Nature. 551, 7680, p. 384-388 Abstract
The branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) pathway and high levels of BCAA transaminase 1 (BCAT1) have recently been associated with aggressiveness in several cancer entities(1-6). However, the mechanistic role of BCAT1 in this process remains largely uncertain. Here, by performing high-resolution proteomic analysis of human acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) stem-cell and non-stem-cell populations, we find the BCAA pathway enriched and BCAT1 protein and transcripts overexpressed in leukaemia stem cells. We show that BCAT1, which transfers a-amino groups from BCAAs to alpha-ketoglutarate (alpha KG), is a critical regulator of intracellular aKG homeostasis. Further to its role in the tricarboxylic acid cycle, alpha KG is an essential cofactor for alpha KG-dependent dioxygenases such as Egl-9 family hypoxia inducible factor 1 (EGLN1) and the ten-eleven translocation (TET) family of DNA demethylases(7-10). Knockdown of BCAT1 in leukaemia cells caused accumulation of aKG, leading to EGLN1-mediated HIF1 alpha protein degradation. This resulted in a growth and survival defect and abrogated leukaemia-initiating potential. By contrast, overexpression of BCAT1 in leukaemia cells decreased intracellular alpha KG levels and caused DNA hypermethylation through altered TET activity. AML with high levels of BCAT1 (BCAT1(high)) displayed a DNA hypermethylation phenotype similar to cases carrying a mutant isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDHmut), in which TET2 is inhibited by the oncometabolite 2-hydroxyglutarate(11,12). High levels of BCAT1 strongly correlate with shorter overall survival in IDH(WT)TET2(WT), but not IDHmut or TET2(mut) AML. Gene sets characteristic for IDHmut AML(13) were enriched in samples from patients with an IDH(WT)TET2(WT)BCAT1(high) status. BCAT1(high) AML showed robust enrichment for leukaemia stem-cell signatures(14,15), and paired sample analysis showed a significant increase in BCAT1 levels upon disease relapse. In summary, by limiting intracellular alpha KG, BCAT1 links BCAA catabolism to HIF1 alpha stability and regulation of the epigenomic landscape, mimicking the effects of IDH mutations. Our results suggest the BCAA-BCAT1-alpha KG pathway as a therapeutic target to compromise leukaemia stem-cell function in patients with IDH(WT)TET2(WT) AML.
(2017) Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism. 28, 9, p. 637-644 Abstract
Bacteria in nature reside in organized communities, termed biofilms, which are composed of multiple individual cells adhering to each other. Similarly, tumors are a multicellular mass with distinct cellular phenotypes. Both tumors and biofilms are considered to be an active interphase between unicellular and multicellular life states. Because both of these units depend on glutamine for growth and survival, we review here glutamine flux within them as a readout for intra- and inter -commensal metabolism. We suggest that the difference between glutamine fluxes in these cellular communities lies mainly in their global multicellular metabolic organization. Both the differences and similarities described here should be taken into account when considering glutaminetargeting therapeutic approaches.
(2017) Clinical Cancer Research. 23, 12, p. E46-E53 Abstract
Although the neurofibromatoses consist of at least three autosomal dominantly inherited disorders, neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1), neurofibromatosis 2 (NF2), and schwannomatosis, NF1 represents a multisystem pleiotropic condition very different from the other two. NF1 is a genetic syndrome first manifesting in childhood; affecting multiple organs, childhood development, and neurocognitive status; and presenting the clinician with often complex management decisions that require a multidisciplinary approach. Molecular genetic testing (see article for detailed discussion) is recommended to confirm NF1, particularly in children fulfilling only pigmentary features of the diagnostic criteria. Although cancer risk is not the major issue facing an individual with NF1 during childhood, the condition causes significantly increased malignancy risks compared with the general population. Specifically, NF1 is associated with highly elevated risks of juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia, rhabdomyosarcoma, and malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor as well as substantial risks of noninvasive pilocytic astrocytoma, particularly optic pathway glioma (OPG), which represent a major management issue. Until 8 years of age, clinical assessment for OPG is advised every 6 to 12 months, but routine MRI assessment is not currently advised in asymptomatic individuals with NF1 and no signs of clinical visual pathway disturbance. Routine surveillance for other malignancies is not recommended, but clinicians and parents should be aware of the small risks (
Von Hippel-Lindau and Hereditary Pheochromocytoma/Paraganglioma Syndromes: Clinical Features, Genetics, and Surveillance Recommendations in Childhood(2017) Clinical Cancer Research. 23, 12, p. E68-E75 Abstract
Von Hippel-Lindau disease (vHL) is a hereditary tumor predisposition syndrome that places affected individuals at risk for multiple tumors, which are predominantly benign and generally occur in the central nervous system or abdomen. Although the majority of tumors occur in adults, children and adolescents with the condition develop a significant proportion of vHL manifestations and are vulnerable to delayed tumor detection and their sequelae. Although multiple tumor screening paradigms are currently being utilized for patients with vHL, surveillance should be reassessed as the available relevant clinical information continues to expand. We propose a new vHL screening paradigm similar to existing approaches, with important modifications for some tumor types, placing an emphasis on risks in childhood. This includes advancement in the timing of surveillance initiation and increased frequency of screening evaluations. Another neuroendocrine-related familial condition is the rapidly expanding hereditary paraganglioma and pheochromocytoma syndrome (HPP). The tumor spectrum for patients with HPP syndrome includes paragangliomas, pheochromocytomas, renal cancer, and gastrointestinal stromal tumors. The majority of patients with HPP syndrome harbor an underlying variant in one of the SHDx genes (SDHA, SDHB, SDHC, SDHD, SDHA, and SDHAF2), although other genes also have been described (MAX and TMEM127). Annual screening for elevated plasma or urine markers along with complete blood count and biennial whole-body MRI accompanied by focal neck MRI is recommended for older children and adults with HPP syndrome to detect tumors early and to decrease morbidity and mortality from HPP-related tumors. (C) 2017 AACR. See all articles in the online-only CCR Pediatric Oncology Series.
Cancer and Central Nervous System Tumor Surveillance in Pediatric Neurofibromatosis 2 and Related Disorders(2017) Clinical Cancer Research. 23, 12, p. E54-E61 Abstract
The neurofibromatoses consist of at least three autosomal-dominant inherited disorders: neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2), and schwannomatosis. For over 80 years, these conditions were inextricably tied together under generalized neurofibromatosis. In 1987, the localization of NF1 to chromosome 17q and NF2 (bilateral vestibular schwannoma) to 22q led to a consensus conference at Bethesda, Maryland. The two main neurofibromatoses, NF1 and NF2, were formally separated. More recently, the SMARCB1 and LZTR1 genes on 22q have been confirmed as causing a subset of schwannomatosis. The last 26 years have seen a great improvement in understanding of the clinical and molecular features of these conditions as well as insights into management. Childhood presentation of NF2 (often with meningioma) in particular predicts a severe multitumor disease course. Malignancy is rare in NF2, particularly in childhood; however, there are substantial risks from benign and low-grade central nervous system (CNS) tumors necessitating MRI surveillance to optimize management. At least annual brain MRI, including high-resolution images through the auditory meatus, and a clinical examination and auditory assessment are required from diagnosis or from around 10 to 12 years of age if asymptomatic. Spinal imaging at baseline and every 2 to 3 years is advised with more frequent imaging if warranted on the basis of sites of tumor involvement. The malignancy risk in schwannomatosis is not well defined but may include an increased risk of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor in SMARCB1. Imaging protocols are also proposed for SMARCB1 and LZTR1 schwannomatosis and SMARCE1-related meningioma predisposition. (C) 2017 AACR. See all articles in the online-only CCR Pediatric Oncology Series.
(2017) Clinical Cancer Research. 23, 11, p. E14-E22 Abstract
Leukemia, the most common childhood cancer, has long been recognized to occasionally run in families. The first clues about the genetic mechanisms underlying familial leukemia emerged in 1990 when Li-Fraumeni syndrome was linked to TP53 mutations. Since this discovery, many other genes associated with hereditary predisposition to leukemia have been identified. Although several of these disorders also predispose individuals to solid tumors, certain conditions exist in which individuals are specifically at increased risk to develop myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and/or acute leukemia. The increasing identification of affected individuals and families has raised questions around the efficacy, timing, and optimal methods of surveillance. As part of the AACR Childhood Cancer Predisposition Workshop, an expert panel met to review the spectrum of leukemia-predisposing conditions, with the aim to develop consensus recommendations for surveillance for pediatric patients. The panel recognized that for several conditions, routine monitoring with complete blood counts and bone marrow evaluations is essential to identify disease evolution and enable early intervention with allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. However, for others, less intensive surveillance may be considered. Because few reports describing the efficacy of surveillance exist, the recommendations derived by this panel are based on opinion, and local experience and will need to be revised over time. The development of registries and clinical trials is urgently needed to enhance understanding of the natural history of the leukemia-predisposing conditions, such that these surveillance recommendations can be optimized to further enhance long-term outcomes. (C) 2017 AACR.
(2016) Molecular & cellular oncology. 3, 2, 1127314. Abstract
Clinical observations in citrullinemia type I, an inborn error of metabolism, led us to explore the benefits of somatic ASS1 silencing in cancer. We found that downregulation of ASS1 results in preferential utilization of its substrate, aspartate, for pyrimidine synthesis to support cell proliferation. Reducing aspartate availability for pyrimidine synthesis restricted cancerous proliferation.
PAR1 signaling regulates the retention and recruitment of EPCR-expressing bone marrow hematopoietic stem cells.(2015) Nature Medicine. 21, 11, p. 1307-1317 Abstract
Retention of long-term repopulating hematopoietic stem cells (LT-HSCs) in the bone marrow is essential for hematopoiesis and for protection from myelotoxic injury. We report that signaling cascades that are traditionally viewed as coagulation related also control retention of endothelial protein C receptor-positive (EPCR(+)) LT-HSCs in the bone marrow and their recruitment to the blood via two pathways mediated by protease activated receptor 1 (PAR1). Thrombin-PAR1 signaling induces nitric oxide (NO) production, leading to EPCR shedding mediated by tumor necrosis factor-alpha-converting enzyme (TACE), enhanced CXCL12-CXCR4-induced motility and rapid stem and progenitor cell mobilization. Conversely, bone marrow blood vessels provide a microenvironment enriched with activated protein C (aPC) that retains EPCR(+) LT-HSCs by limiting NO generation, reducing Cdc42 activity and enhancing integrin VLA4 affinity and adhesion. Inhibition of NO production by aPC-EPCR-PAR1 signaling reduces progenitor cell egress from the bone marrow, increases retention of bone marrow NO(low) EPCR(+) LT-HSCs and protects mice from chemotherapy-induced hematological failure and death. Our study reveals new roles for PAR1 and EPCR in controlling NO production to balance maintenance and recruitment of bone marrow EPCR(+) LT-HSCs, with potential clinical relevance for stem cell transplantation.
(2015) Nature. 527, 7578, p. 379-383 Abstract
Cancer cells hijack and remodel existing metabolic pathways for their benefit. Argininosuccinate synthase (ASS1) is a urea cycle enzyme that is essential in the conversion of nitrogen from ammonia and aspartate to urea. A decrease in nitrogen flux through ASS1 in the liver causes the urea cycle disorder citrullinaemia(1). In contrast to the well-studied consequences of loss of ASS1 activity on ureagenesis, the purpose of its somatic silencing in multiple cancers is largely unknown(2). Here we show that decreased activity of ASS1 in cancers supports proliferation by facilitating pyrimidine synthesis via CAD (carbamoyl-phosphate synthase 2, aspartate transcarbamylase, and dihydroorotase complex) activation. Our studies were initiated by delineating the consequences of loss of ASS1 activity in humans with two types of citrullinaemia. We find that in citrullinaemia type I (CTLN I), which is caused by deficiency of ASS1, there is increased pyrimidine synthesis and proliferation compared with citrullinaemia type II (CTLN II), in which there is decreased substrate availability for ASS1 caused by deficiency of the aspartate transporter citrin. Building on these results, we demonstrate that ASS1 deficiency in cancer increases cytosolic aspartate levels, which increases CAD activation by upregulating its substrate availability and by increasing its phosphorylation by S6K1 through the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway. Decreasing CAD activity by blocking citrin, the mTOR signalling, or pyrimidine synthesis decreases proliferation and thus may serve as a therapeutic strategy in multiple cancers where ASS1 is downregulated. Our results demonstrate that ASS1 downregulation is a novel mechanism supporting cancerous proliferation, and they provide a metabolic link between the urea cycle enzymes and pyrimidine synthesis.
Alu-mediated diverse and complex pathogenic copy-number variants within human chromosome 17 at p13.3(2015) Human Molecular Genetics. 24, 14, p. 4061-4077 Abstract
Alu repetitive elements are known to be major contributors to genome instability by generating Alu-mediated copy-number variants (CNVs). Most of the reported Alu-mediated CNVs are simple deletions and duplications, and the mechanism underlying Alu-Alu-mediated rearrangement has been attributed to non-allelic homologous recombination (NAHR). Chromosome 17 at the p13.3 genomic region lacks extensive low-copy repeat architecture; however, it is highly enriched for Alu repetitive elements, with a fraction of 30% of total sequence annotated in the human reference genome, compared with the 10% genome-wide and 18% on chromosome 17. We conducted mechanistic studies of the 17p13.3 CNVs by performing high-density oligonucleotide array comparative genomic hybridization, specifically interrogating the 17p13.3 region with similar to 150 bp per probe density; CNV breakpoint junctions were mapped to nucleotide resolution by polymerase chain reaction and Sanger sequencing. Studied rearrangements include 5 interstitial deletions, 14 tandem duplications, 7 terminal deletions and 13 complex genomic rearrangements (CGRs). Within the 17p13.3 region, Alu-Alu-mediated rearrangements were identified in 80% of the interstitial deletions, 46% of the tandem duplications and 50% of the CGRs, indicating that this mechanism was a major contributor for formation of breakpoint junctions. Our studies suggest that Alu repetitive elements facilitate formation of non-recurrent CNVs, CGRs and other structural aberrations of chromosome 17 at p13.3. The common observation of Alu-mediated rearrangement in CGRs and breakpoint junction sequences analysis further demonstrates that this type of mechanism is unlikely attributed to NAHR, but rather may be due to a recombination-coupled DNA replicative repair process.
(2015) Nature reviews. Cancer. 15, 7, p. 440-8 26084394. Abstract
Cancer is a prime example of a disease process in which carcinogenic and metabolic changes are intertwined to promote cell survival and growth. One approach to unravel this complex relationship is by studying rare, monogenic disorders caused by mutations in genes encoding metabolic enzymes or regulators. There are hundreds of these diseases, most of which manifest in childhood and are collectively termed 'inborn errors of metabolism' (IEMs). Several IEMs demonstrate the consequences of chronic, systemic loss of a particular metabolic activity that can result in malignancy. In this Opinion article, we present a conceptual categorization of IEMs associated with cancer and discuss how assessment of these rare diseases might inform us about the biological foundations of common types of cancer and opportunities for cancer diagnosis and therapy.
Delineation of candidate genes responsible for structural brain abnormalities in patients with terminal deletions of chromosome 6q27(2015) European Journal of Human Genetics. 23, 1, p. 54-60 Abstract
Patients with terminal deletions of chromosome 6q present with structural brain abnormalities including agenesis of corpus callosum, hydrocephalus, periventricular nodular heterotopia, and cerebellar malformations. The 6q27 region harbors genes that are important for the normal development of brain and delineation of a critical deletion region for structural brain abnormalities may lead to a better genotype-phenotype correlation. We conducted a detailed clinical and molecular characterization of seven unrelated patients with deletions involving chromosome 6q27. All patients had structural brain abnormalities. Using array comparative genomic hybridization, we mapped the size, extent, and genomic content of these deletions. The smallest region of overlap spans 1.7Mb and contains DLL1, THBS2, PHF10, and C6orf70 (ERMARD) that are plausible candidates for the causation of structural brain abnormalities. Our study reiterates the importance of 6q27 region in normal development of brain and helps identify putative genes in causation of structural brain anomalies.
(2014) American Journal Of Physiology-Gastrointestinal And Liver Physiology. 307, 3, p. G347-G354 Abstract
Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), the most common neonatal gastrointestinal emergency, results in significant mortality and morbidity, yet its pathogenesis remains unclear. Argininosuccinate lyase (ASL) is the only enzyme in mammals that is capable of synthesizing arginine. Arginine has several homeostatic roles in the gut and its deficiency has been associated with NEC. Because enterocytes are the primary sites of arginine synthesis in neonatal mammals, we evaluated the consequences of disruption of arginine synthesis in the enterocytes on the pathogenesis of NEC. We devised a novel approach to study the role of enterocyte-derived ASL in NEC by generating and characterizing a mouse model with enterocyte-specific deletion of Asl (Asl(flox/flox); VillinCre(tg/+), or CKO). We hypothesized that the presence of ASL in a cell-specific manner in the enterocytes is protective in the pathogenesis of NEC. Loss of ASL in enterocytes resulted in an increased incidence of NEC that was associated with a proinflammatory state and increased enterocyte apoptosis. Knockdown of ASL in intestinal epithelial cell lines resulted in decreased migration in response to lipopolysaccharide. Our results show that enterocyte-derived ASL has a protective role in NEC.
(2013) Genetics in Medicine. 15, 4, p. 251-257 Abstract
In the early 1930s, phenylketonuria was among the first metabolic diseases to be defined. In the following years, multiple attempts to correlate genotype and phenotype in several inherited metabolic diseases, including phenylketonuria, were encountered with difficulties. It is becoming evident that the phenotype of metabolic disorders is often more multifaceted than expected from the disruption of a specific enzyme function caused by a single-gene disorder. Undoubtedly, revealing the factors contributing to the discrepancy between the loss of a single enzymatic function and the wide spectrum of clinical consequences would allow clinicians to optimize treatment for their patients. This article discusses several possible contributors to the unique, complex phenotypes observed in inherited metabolic disorders, using argininosuccinic aciduria as a disease model. Genet Med 2013:15(4):251-257
Erratum: The SIL gene is essential for mitotic entry and survival of cancer cells (Cancer Research (2007) 67, (4022-4027))(2007) Cancer Research. 67, 12, p. 5998 Abstract
In the article on SIL in mitosis and cancer in the May 1, 2007 issue of Cancer Research ( 1), there is an error in the bottom left panel of Fig. 3B. The corrected figure appears below.
(2007) Cancer Research. 67, 9, p. 4022-4027 Abstract
Although mitosis is a general physiologic process, cancer cells are unusually sensitive to mitotic inhibitors. Therefore, there is an interest in the identification of novel mitotic inhibitors. Here, we report the novel discovery of the SIL gene as a regulator of mitotic entry and cell survival. The SLE gene was cloned from leukemia-associated chromosomal translocation. It encodes a cytosolic protein with an unknown function and no homology to known proteins. Previously, we observed an increased expression of SIL in multiple cancers that correlated with the expression of mitotic spindle checkpoint genes and with increased metastatic potential. Here, we show that SIL is important for the transition from the G(2) to the M phases of the cell cycle. Inducible knockdown of SIL in cancer cells in vitro delayed entrance into mitosis, decreased activation of the CDK1 (CDC2)-cyclin B complex, and induced apoptosis in a p530-independent manner. SIL is also essential for the growth of tumor explants in mice. Thus, SIL is required for mitotic entry and cancer cell survival. Because increased expression of SIL has been noted in multiple types of cancers and correlates with metastatic spread, it may be a suitable target for novel anticancer therapy.