1. PKM1 Confers Metabolic Advantages and Promotes Cell-Autonomous Tumor Cell Growth
Expression of PKM2, which diverts glucose-derived carbon from catabolic to biosynthetic pathways, is a hallmark of cancer. However, PKM2 function in tumorigenesis remains controversial. Here, Mami Morita at Miyagi Cancer Center Research Institute in Natori, Japan and his colleagues show that, when expressed rather than PKM2, the PKM isoform PKM1 exhibits a tumor-promoting function in KRASG12D-induced or carcinogen-initiated mouse models or in some human cancers. Analysis of Pkm mutant mouse lines expressing specific PKM isoforms established that PKM1 boosts tumor growth cell intrinsically. PKM1 activated glucose catabolism and stimulated autophagy/mitophagy, favoring malignancy. Importantly, they observed that pulmonary neuroendocrine tumors (NETs), including small-cell lung cancer (SCLC), express PKM1, and that PKM1 expression is required for SCLC cell proliferation. Their findings provide a rationale for targeting PKM1 therapeutically in certain cancer subtypes, including pulmonary NETs.
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2. Genome-wide CRISPR-Cas9 Screen Identifies Leukemia-Specific Dependence on a Pre-mRNA Metabolic Pathway Regulated by DCPS
To identify novel targets for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) therapy, Takuji Yamauchi at Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA and his colleagues performed genome-wide CRISPR-Cas9 screening using AML cell lines, followed by a second screen in vivo. Here, we show that the mRNA decapping enzyme scavenger (DCPS) gene is essential for AML cell survival. The DCPS enzyme interacted with components of pre-mRNA metabolic pathways, including spliceosomes, as revealed by mass spectrometry. RG3039, a DCPS inhibitor originally developed to treat spinal muscular atrophy, exhibited anti-leukemic activity via inducing pre-mRNA mis-splicing. Humans harboring germline biallelic DCPS loss-of-function mutations do not exhibit aberrant hematologic phenotypes, indicating that DCPS is dispensable for human hematopoiesis. Their findings shed light on a pre-mRNA metabolic pathway and identify DCPS as a target for AML therapy.
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3. Fibroblast Heterogeneity and Immunosuppressive Environment in Human Breast Cancer
Carcinoma-associated fibroblasts (CAF) are key players in the tumor microenvironment. Here, Ana Costa at PSL Research University in Paris, France and her colleagues characterize four CAF subsets in breast cancer with distinct properties and levels of activation. Two myofibroblastic subsets (CAF-S1, CAF-S4) accumulate differentially in triple-negative breast cancers (TNBC). CAF-S1 fibroblasts promote an immunosuppressive environment through a multi-step mechanism. By secreting CXCL12, CAF-S1 attracts CD4+CD25+ T lymphocytes and retains them by OX40L, PD-L2, and JAM2. Moreover, CAF-S1 increases T lymphocyte survival and promotes their differentiation into CD25HighFOXP3High, through B7H3, CD73, and DPP4. Finally, in contrast to CAF-S4, CAF-S1 enhances the regulatory T cell capacity to inhibit T effector proliferation. These data are consistent with FOXP3+ T lymphocyte accumulation in CAF-S1-enriched TNBC and show how a CAF subset contributes to immunosuppression.
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4. BRD4 Inhibition Is Synthetic Lethal with PARP Inhibitors through the Induction of Homologous Recombination Deficiency
Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibitors (PARPi) are selectively active in cells with homologous recombination (HR) deficiency (HRD) caused by mutations in BRCA1, BRCA2, and other pathway members. Chaoyang Sun at Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China and his colleagues sought small molecules that induce HRD in HR-competent cells to induce synthetic lethality with PARPi and extend the utility of PARPi. They demonstrated that inhibition of bromodomain containing 4 (BRD4) induced HRD and sensitized cells across multiple tumor lineages to PARPi regardless of BRCA1/2, TP53, RAS, or BRAF mutation status through depletion of the DNA double-stand break resection protein CtIP (C-terminal binding protein interacting protein). Importantly, BRD4 inhibitor (BRD4i) treatment reversed multiple mechanisms of resistance to PARPi. Furthermore, PARPi and BRD4i are synergistic in multiple in vivo models.
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5. Fc Effector Function Contributes to the Activity of Human Anti-CTLA-4 Antibodies
With the use of a mouse model expressing human Fc-gamma receptors (FcγRs), Frederick Arce Vargas at University College London (UCL) Cancer Institute in London, UK and his colleagues demonstrated that antibodies with isotypes equivalent to ipilimumab and tremelimumab mediate intra-tumoral regulatory T (Treg) cell depletion in vivo, increasing the CD8+ to Treg cell ratio and promoting tumor rejection. Antibodies with improved FcγR binding profiles drove superior anti-tumor responses and survival. In patients with advanced melanoma, response to ipilimumab was associated with the CD16a-V158F high affinity polymorphism. Such activity only appeared relevant in the context of inflamed tumors, explaining the modest response rates observed in the clinical setting. Their data suggest that the activity of anti-CTLA-4 in inflamed tumors may be improved through enhancement of FcγR binding, whereas poorly infiltrated tumors will likely require combination approaches.
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