Special Issue "Targeting Tumour Metabolism for Cancer Therapy"

A special issue of Cells (ISSN 2073-4409).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2022) | Viewed by 16123

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Maria Letizia Taddei
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine, University of Florence, Viale Morgagni 50, 50134 Firenze, Italy
Interests: cancer metabolism; chemo-resistance; cell invasion

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Reprogrammed tumour cell metabolism is considered a hallmark of cancer. Altered metabolic features of cancers cells are observed quite generally across many types of cancer with respect to normal tissues and contribute to the acquisition and maintenance of  malignant properties. Several oncogenic mutations affect directly or indirectly tumorigenesis through the reprogramming of cellular metabolism. Indeed, tumour cells reprogram nutrient acquisition and metabolism through altered glucose and amino acid uptake, the use of metabolite intermediates for biosynthetic processes and NADPH production, sustained metabolic interactions with the microenvironment, and altered metabolism-driven gene regulation to satisfy their energetic demand and sustain tumour biosynthetic and redox pathways. In this Special Issue of Cells, I invite you to contribute original research articles, reviews, or shorter perspective articles on the topic of “Targeting Tumour metabolism for cancer therapy”. Understanding the metabolic basis of cancer cells is crucial to the development of targeted treatments based on metabolic anticancer therapeutics. Relevant topics include, but are not limited to:

deregulated up-take of nutrients

use of intermediates for biosynthetic pathways

metabolite-driven gene expression

tumour–microenvironment metabolic interactions

metabolic features of CSCs

Dr. Maria Letizia Taddei
Guest Editor

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Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Article
Hormonally Induced Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Diabetic Wild Type and Carbohydrate Responsive Element Binding Protein Knockout Mice
Cells 2021, 10(10), 2787; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells10102787 - 18 Oct 2021
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Abstract
Objective: In the rat, the pancreatic islet transplantation model is an established method to induce hepatocellular carcinomas (HCC), due to insulin-mediated metabolic and molecular alterations like increased glycolysis and de novo lipogenesis and the oncogenic AKT/mTOR pathway including upregulation of the transcription factor [...] Read more.
Objective: In the rat, the pancreatic islet transplantation model is an established method to induce hepatocellular carcinomas (HCC), due to insulin-mediated metabolic and molecular alterations like increased glycolysis and de novo lipogenesis and the oncogenic AKT/mTOR pathway including upregulation of the transcription factor Carbohydrate-response element-binding protein (ChREBP). ChREBP could therefore represent an essential oncogenic co-factor during hormonally induced hepatocarcinogenesis. Methods: Pancreatic islet transplantation was implemented in diabetic C57Bl/6J (wild type, WT) and ChREBP-knockout (KO) mice for 6 and 12 months. Liver tissue was examined using histology, immunohistochemistry, electron microscopy and Western blot analysis. Finally, we performed NGS-based transcriptome analysis between WT and KO liver tumor tissues. Results: Three hepatocellular carcinomas were detectable after 6 and 12 months in diabetic transplanted WT mice, but only one in a KO mouse after 12 months. Pre-neoplastic clear cell foci (CCF) were also present in liver acini downstream of the islets in WT and KO mice. In KO tumors, glycolysis, de novo lipogenesis and AKT/mTOR signalling were strongly downregulated compared to WT lesions. Extrafocal liver tissue of diabetic, transplanted KO mice revealed less glycogen storage and proliferative activity than WT mice. From transcriptome analysis, we identified a set of transcripts pertaining to metabolic, oncogenic and immunogenic pathways that are differentially expressed between tumors of WT and KO mice. Of 315 metabolism-associated genes, we observed 199 genes that displayed upregulation in the tumor of WT mice, whereas 116 transcripts showed their downregulated expression in KO mice tumor. Conclusions: The pancreatic islet transplantation model is a suitable method to study hormonally induced hepatocarcinogenesis also in mice, allowing combination with gene knockout models. Our data indicate that deletion of ChREBP delays insulin-induced hepatocarcinogenesis, suggesting a combined oncogenic and lipogenic function of ChREBP along AKT/mTOR-mediated proliferation of hepatocytes and induction of hepatocellular carcinoma. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Targeting Tumour Metabolism for Cancer Therapy)
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Article
Regulation of Tumor Metabolism and Extracellular Acidosis by the TIMP-10–CD63 Axis in Breast Carcinoma
Cells 2021, 10(10), 2721; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells10102721 - 12 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 899
Abstract
A hallmark of malignant solid tumor is extracellular acidification coupled with metabolic switch to aerobic glycolysis. Using the human MCF10A progression model of breast cancer, we show that glycolytic switch and extracellular acidosis in aggressive cancer cells correlate with increased expression of tissue [...] Read more.
A hallmark of malignant solid tumor is extracellular acidification coupled with metabolic switch to aerobic glycolysis. Using the human MCF10A progression model of breast cancer, we show that glycolytic switch and extracellular acidosis in aggressive cancer cells correlate with increased expression of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP-1), known to induce intracellular signal transduction through the interaction with its cell surface receptor CD63, independent of its metalloproteinase inhibitory function. We found that, in aggressive breast carcinoma, the TIMP-1–CD63 signaling axis induced a metabolic switch by upregulating the rate of aerobic glycolysis, lowering mitochondrial respiration, preventing intracellular acidification, and inducing extracellular acidosis. Carbonic anhydrase IX (CAIX), a regulator of cellular pH through the hydration of metabolically released pericellular CO2, was identified as a downstream mediator of the TIMP-1–CD63 signaling axis responsible for extracellular acidosis. Consistently with our previous study, the TIMP-1–CD63 signaling promoted survival of breast cancer cells. Interestingly, breast carcinoma cell survival was drastically reduced upon shRNA-mediated knockdown of CAIX expression, demonstrating the significance of CAIX-regulated pH in the TIMP-1–CD63-mediated cancer cell survival. Taken together, the present study demonstrates the functional significance of TIMP-1–CD63–CAXI signaling axis in the regulation of tumor metabolism, extracellular acidosis, and survival of breast carcinoma. We propose that this axis may serve as a novel therapeutic target. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Targeting Tumour Metabolism for Cancer Therapy)
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Article
Trafficking to the Cell Surface of Amino Acid Transporter SLC6A14 Upregulated in Cancer Is Controlled by Phosphorylation of SEC24C Protein by AKT Kinase
Cells 2021, 10(7), 1800; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells10071800 - 16 Jul 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1752
Abstract
Cancer cells need a constant supply of nutrients. SLC6A14, an amino acid transporter B0,+ (ATB0,+) that is upregulated in many cancers, transports all but acidic amino acids. In its exit from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), it is recognized by the [...] Read more.
Cancer cells need a constant supply of nutrients. SLC6A14, an amino acid transporter B0,+ (ATB0,+) that is upregulated in many cancers, transports all but acidic amino acids. In its exit from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), it is recognized by the SEC24C subunit of coatomer II (COPII) for further vesicular trafficking to the plasma membrane. SEC24C has previously been shown to be phosphorylated by protein kinase B/AKT, which is hyper-activated in cancer; therefore, we analyzed the influence of AKT on SLC6A14 trafficking to the cell surface. Studies on overexpressed and endogenous transporters in the breast cancer cell line MCF-7 showed that AKT inhibition with MK-2206 correlated with a transient increase of the transporter in the plasma membrane, not resulting from the inhibition of ER-associated protein degradation. Two-dimensional electrophoresis demonstrated the decreased phosphorylation of SLC6A14 and SEC24C upon AKT inhibition. A proximity ligation assay confirmed this conclusion: AKT inhibition is correlated with decreased SLC6A14 phosphothreonine and SEC24C phosphoserine. Augmented levels of SLC6A14 in plasma membrane led to increased leucine transport. These results show that the inactivation of AKT can rescue amino acid delivery through SLC6A14 trafficking to the cell surface, supporting cancer cell survival. The regulation of the ER export of the amino acid transporter seems to be a novel function of AKT. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Targeting Tumour Metabolism for Cancer Therapy)
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Article
Oxidative Stress-Induced Unscheduled CDK1–Cyclin B1 Activity Impairs ER–Mitochondria-Mediated Bioenergetic Metabolism
Cells 2021, 10(6), 1280; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells10061280 - 21 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1810
Abstract
Targeting the activities of endoplasmic reticulum (ER)–mitochondrial-dependent metabolic reprogramming is considered one of the most promising strategies for cancer treatment. Here, we present biochemical subcellular fractionation, coimmunoprecipitation, gene manipulation, and pharmacologic evidence that induction of mitochondria-localized phospho (p)-cyclin dependent kinase 1 (CDK1) (Thr [...] Read more.
Targeting the activities of endoplasmic reticulum (ER)–mitochondrial-dependent metabolic reprogramming is considered one of the most promising strategies for cancer treatment. Here, we present biochemical subcellular fractionation, coimmunoprecipitation, gene manipulation, and pharmacologic evidence that induction of mitochondria-localized phospho (p)-cyclin dependent kinase 1 (CDK1) (Thr 161)–cyclin B1 complexes by apigenin in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) cells impairs the ER–mitochondrial bioenergetics and redox regulation of calcium (Ca++) homeostasis through suppressing the B cell lymphoma 2 (BCL-2)/BCL-2/B-cell lymphoma-extra large (BCL-xL)-modulated anti-apoptotic and metabolic functions. Using a specific inducer, inhibitor, or short hairpin RNA for acid sphingomyelinase (ASM) demonstrated that enhanced lipid raft-associated ASM activity confers alteration of the lipid composition of lipid raft membranes, which leads to perturbation of protein trafficking, and induces formation of p110α free p85α–unphosphorylated phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted from chromosome 10 complexes in the lipid raft membranes, causing disruption of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)−protein kinase B (Akt)−GTP-ras-related C3 botulinum toxin substrate 1 (Rac1)-mediated signaling, thus triggering the p-CDK1 (Thr 161))–cyclin B1-mediated BCL-2 (Thr 69/Ser 87)/BCL-xL (Ser 62) phosphorylation and accompanying impairment of ER–mitochondria-regulated bioenergetic, redox, and Ca++ homeostasis. Inhibition of apigenin-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation by a ROS scavenger N-acetyl-L-cysteine blocked the lipid raft membrane localization and activation of ASM and formation of ceramide-enriched lipid raft membranes, returned PI3K−Akt−GTP-Rac1-modulated CDK1–cyclin B1 activity, and subsequently restored the BCL-2/BCL-xL-regulated ER–mitochondrial bioenergetic activity. Thus, this study reveals a novel molecular mechanism of the pro-apoptotic activity of ASM controlled by oxidative stress to modulate the ER–mitochondrial bioenergetic metabolism, as well as suggests the disruption of CDK1–cyclin B1-mediated BCL-2/BCL-xL oncogenic activity by triggering oxidative stress−ASM-induced PI3K−Akt−GTP-Rac1 inactivation as a therapeutic approach for NPC. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Targeting Tumour Metabolism for Cancer Therapy)
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Article
hTERT Downregulation Attenuates Resistance to DOX, Impairs FAK-Mediated Adhesion, and Leads to Autophagy Induction in Breast Cancer Cells
Cells 2021, 10(4), 867; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells10040867 - 10 Apr 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1823
Abstract
Telomerase is known to contribute to telomere maintenance and to provide cancer cell immortality. However, numerous reports are showing that the function of the enzyme goes far beyond chromosome ends. The study aimed to explore how telomerase downregulation in MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 breast [...] Read more.
Telomerase is known to contribute to telomere maintenance and to provide cancer cell immortality. However, numerous reports are showing that the function of the enzyme goes far beyond chromosome ends. The study aimed to explore how telomerase downregulation in MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells affects their ability to survive. Consequently, sensitivity to drug resistance, proliferation, and adhesion were assessed. The lentiviral-mediated human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) downregulation efficiency was performed at gene expression and protein level using qPCR and Western blot, respectively. Telomerase activity was evaluated using the Telomeric Repeat Amplification Protocol (TRAP) assay. The study revealed that hTERT downregulation led to an increased sensitivity of breast cancer cells to doxorubicin which was demonstrated in MTT and clonogenic assays. During a long-term doubling time assessment, a decreased population doubling level was observed. Interestingly, it did not dramatically affect cell cycle distribution. hTERT downregulation was accompanied by an alteration in β1-integrin- and by focal adhesion kinase (FAK)-driven pathways together with the reduction of target proteins phosphorylation, i.e., paxillin and c-Src. Additionally, autophagy activation was observed in MDA-MB-231 cells manifested by alternations in Atg5, Beclin 1, LC3II/I ratio, and p62. These results provide new evidence supporting the possible therapeutic potential of telomerase downregulation leading to induction of autophagy and cancer cells elimination. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Targeting Tumour Metabolism for Cancer Therapy)
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Article
SUMO-Activating Enzyme Subunit 1 (SAE1) Is a Promising Diagnostic Cancer Metabolism Biomarker of Hepatocellular Carcinoma
Cells 2021, 10(1), 178; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells10010178 - 17 Jan 2021
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2949
Abstract
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most diagnosed malignancies and a leading cause of cancer-related mortality globally. This is exacerbated by its highly aggressive phenotype, and limitation in early diagnosis and effective therapies. The SUMO-activating enzyme subunit 1 (SAE1) is a component [...] Read more.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most diagnosed malignancies and a leading cause of cancer-related mortality globally. This is exacerbated by its highly aggressive phenotype, and limitation in early diagnosis and effective therapies. The SUMO-activating enzyme subunit 1 (SAE1) is a component of a heterodimeric small ubiquitin-related modifier that plays a vital role in SUMOylation, a post-translational modification involving in cellular events such as regulation of transcription, cell cycle and apoptosis. Reported overexpression of SAE1 in glioma in a stage-dependent manner suggests it has a probable role in cancer initiation and progression. In this study, hypothesizing that SAE1 is implicated in HCC metastatic phenotype and poor prognosis, we analyzed the expression of SAE1 in several cancer databases and to unravel the underlying molecular mechanism of SAE1-associated hepatocarcinogenesis. Here, we demonstrated that SAE1 is over-expressed in HCC samples compared to normal liver tissue, and this observed SAE1 overexpression is stage and grade-dependent and associated with poor survival. The receiver operating characteristic analysis of SAE1 in TCGA−LIHC patients (n = 421) showed an AUC of 0.925, indicating an excellent diagnostic value of SAE1 in HCC. Our protein-protein interaction analysis for SAE1 showed that SAE1 interacted with and activated oncogenes such as PLK1, CCNB1, CDK4 and CDK1, while simultaneously inhibiting tumor suppressors including PDK4, KLF9, FOXO1 and ALDH2. Immunohistochemical staining and clinicopathological correlate analysis of SAE1 in our TMU-SHH HCC cohort (n = 54) further validated the overexpression of SAE1 in cancerous liver tissues compared with ‘normal’ paracancerous tissue, and high SAE1 expression was strongly correlated with metastasis and disease progression. The oncogenic effect of upregulated SAE1 is associated with dysregulated cancer metabolic signaling. In conclusion, the present study demonstrates that SAE1 is a targetable cancer metabolic biomarker with high potential diagnostic and prognostic implications for patients with HCC. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Targeting Tumour Metabolism for Cancer Therapy)
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Review

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Review
Metabolic Changes in Tumor Microenvironment: How Could They Affect γδ T Cells Functions?
Cells 2021, 10(11), 2896; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells10112896 - 26 Oct 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1440
Abstract
The metabolic changes that occur in tumor microenvironment (TME) can influence not only the biological activity of tumor cells, which become more aggressive and auto sustained, but also the immune response against tumor cells, either producing ineffective responses or polarizing the response toward [...] Read more.
The metabolic changes that occur in tumor microenvironment (TME) can influence not only the biological activity of tumor cells, which become more aggressive and auto sustained, but also the immune response against tumor cells, either producing ineffective responses or polarizing the response toward protumor activity. γδ T cells are a subset of T cells characterized by a plasticity that confers them the ability to differentiate towards different cell subsets according to the microenvironment conditions. On this basis, we here review the more recent studies focused on altered tumor metabolism and γδ T cells, considering their already known antitumor role and the possibility of manipulating their effector functions by in vitro and in vivo approaches. γδ T cells, thanks to their unique features, are themselves a valid alternative to overcome the limits associated with the use of conventional T cells, such as major histocompatibility complex (MHC) restriction, costimulatory signal and specific tumor-associated antigen recognition. Lipids, amino acids, hypoxia, prostaglandins and other metabolic changes inside the tumor microenvironment could reduce the efficacy of this important immune population and polarize γδ T cells toward IL17 producing cells that play a pro tumoral role. A deeper knowledge of this phenomenon could be helpful to formulate new immunotherapeutic approaches that target tumor metabolisms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Targeting Tumour Metabolism for Cancer Therapy)
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Review
Mapping the Metabolic Networks of Tumor Cells and Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts
Cells 2021, 10(2), 304; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells10020304 - 02 Feb 2021
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 2663
Abstract
Metabolism is considered to be the core of all cellular activity. Thus, extensive studies of metabolic processes are ongoing in various fields of biology, including cancer research. Cancer cells are known to adapt their metabolism to sustain high proliferation rates and survive in [...] Read more.
Metabolism is considered to be the core of all cellular activity. Thus, extensive studies of metabolic processes are ongoing in various fields of biology, including cancer research. Cancer cells are known to adapt their metabolism to sustain high proliferation rates and survive in unfavorable environments with low oxygen and nutrient concentrations. Hence, targeting cancer cell metabolism is a promising therapeutic strategy in cancer research. However, cancers consist not only of genetically altered tumor cells but are interwoven with endothelial cells, immune cells and fibroblasts, which together with the extracellular matrix (ECM) constitute the tumor microenvironment (TME). Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), which are linked to poor prognosis in different cancer types, are one important component of the TME. CAFs play a significant role in reprogramming the metabolic landscape of tumor cells, but how, and in what manner, this interaction takes place remains rather unclear. This review aims to highlight the metabolic landscape of tumor cells and CAFs, including their recently identified subtypes, in different tumor types. In addition, we discuss various in vitro and in vivo metabolic techniques as well as different in silico computational tools that can be used to identify and characterize CAF–tumor cell interactions. Finally, we provide our view on how mapping the complex metabolic networks of stromal-tumor metabolism will help in finding novel metabolic targets for cancer treatment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Targeting Tumour Metabolism for Cancer Therapy)
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