Targeting glutaminase 1 attenuates stemness properties in hepatocellular carcinoma by increasing reactive oxygen species and suppressing Wnt/beta-catenin pathway.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is an aggressive malignant disease with poor prognosis. Recent advances suggest the existence of cancer stem cells (CSCs) within liver cancer, which are considered to be responsible for tumor relapse, metastasis, and chemoresistance. However, novel therapeutic approaches for eradicating CSCs are yet to be established. Here, we aimed to identify the role of glutaminase 1 (GLS1) in stemness, and the feasibility that GLS1 serves as a therapeutic target for elimination CSCs as well as the possible mechanism. METHODS:Publicly-available data from the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) was mined to unearth the association between GLS1 and stemness phenotype. Using big data, human tissues and multiple cell lines, we gained a general picture of GLS1 expression in HCC progression. We generated stable cell lines by lentiviral-mediated overexpression or CRISPR/Cas9-based knockout. Sphere formation assays and colony formation assays were employed to analyze the relationship between GLS1 and stemness. A series of bioinformatics analyses and molecular experiments including qRT-PCR, immunoblotting, flow cytometry, and immunofluorescence were employed to investigate the role of GLS1 in regulating stemness in vitro and in vivo. FINDINGS:We observed GLS1 (both KGA and GAC isoform) is highly expressed in HCC, and that high expression of GAC predicts a poor prognosis. GLS1 is exclusively expressed in the mitochondrial matrix. Upregulation of GLS1 is positively associated with advanced clinicopathological features and stemness phenotype. Targeting GLS1 reduced the expression of stemness-related genes and suppressed CSC properties in vitro. We further found GLS1 regulates stemness properties via ROS/Wnt/?-catenin signaling and that GLS1 knockout inhibits tumorigenicity in vivo. INTERPRETATION:Targeting GLS1 attenuates stemness properties in HCC by increasing ROS accumulation and suppressing Wnt/?-catenin pathway, which implied that GLS1 could serve as a therapeutic target for elimination of CSCs.
Project description:Background:Cancer stem cells are the main reason of relapse, metastasis and resistance to anti-cancer therapies of Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are an important part of the tumor microenvironment. MSCs have been demonstrated to be involved in drug resistance in tumor. How MSCs contribute to radiotherapy resistance of HCC is still indistinct. Methods:Flow cytometry analysis was performed to isolate CD133+ cells from HCC cell lines Huh7 and PLC. The stemness of Huh7-CD133 and PLC-CD133 those were co-cultured with IR-MSCs were investigated by Colony formation assay. Tumor formation in nude mice was used to explore the tumorigenicity of CD133+ cancer cells. The activating Wnt/?-catenin signaling pathway in CSCs were also detected by RT-PCR and Western blotting. Results:We report that irradiated MSCs (IR-MSCs) could increase the ratio of CD133+ cells in hepatocellular carcinoma cells. IR-MSCs could promote stemness maintenance of HCC stem cells. After co-cultured with IR-MSCs, liver cancer stem cells (CSCs) presented increased colony formation ability and tumor formation ability. We also found IR-MSCs promoted Wnt expression of CSCs. Reverse suppression experiment showed that when Wnt inhibitor was added into the culture medium, the effect of IR-MSCs on stemness maintenance was counteracted. Conclusions:These data showed that IR-MSCs could support stemness maintenance of CSCs by activating Wnt/?-catenin signaling pathway.
Project description:Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are the key factor in determining cancer recurrence, metastasis, chemoresistance and patient prognosis in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The role of miR-5188 in cancer stemness has never been documented. In this study, we investigated the clinical and biological roles of miR-5188 in HCC. Methods: MiRNA expression in HCC was analyzed by bioinformatics analysis and in situ hybridization. The biological effect of miR-5188 was demonstrated in both in vitro and in vivo studies through the ectopic expression of miR-5188. The target gene and molecular pathway of miR-5188 were characterized using bioinformatics tools, dual-luciferase reporter assays, gene knockdown, and rescue experiments. Results: MiR-5188 was shown to be upregulated and confer poor prognosis in HCC patient data from TCGA database. MiR-5188 was subsequently identified as a significant inducer of cancer stemness that promotes HCC pathogenesis. Specifically, the targeting of miR-5188 by its antagomir markedly prolonged the survival time of HCC-bearing mice and improved HCC cell chemosensitivity in vivo. Mechanistic analysis indicated that miR-5188 directly targets FOXO1, which interacts with ?-catenin in the cytoplasm to reduce the nuclear translocation of ?-catenin and promotes the activation of Wnt signaling and downstream tumor stemness, EMT, and c-Jun. Moreover, c-Jun transcriptionally activates miR-5188 expression, forming a positive feedback loop. Interestingly, the miR-5188-FOXO1/?-catenin-c-Jun feedback loop was induced by hepatitis X protein (HBX) through Wnt signaling and participated in the HBX-induced pathogenesis of HCC. Finally, analyses of transcriptomics data and our clinical data supported the significance of the abnormal expression of the miR-5188 pathway in HCC pathogenesis. Conclusions: These findings present the inhibition of miR-5188 as a novel strategy for the efficient elimination of CSCs to prevent tumor metastasis, recurrence and chemoresistance in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. Our study highlights the importance of miR-5188 as a tumor stemness inducer that acts as a potential target for HCC treatment.
Project description:Immune responses often take place where nutrients and O2 availability are limited. This has an impact on T cell metabolism and influences activation and effector functions. T cell proliferation and expansion are associated with increased consumption of glutamine which is needed in a number of metabolic pathways and regulate various physiological processes. The first step in endogenous glutamine metabolism is reversible and is regulated by glutaminase (GLS1 and GLS2) and glutamine synthase (GLUL). There are two isoforms of GLS1, Kidney type glutaminase (KGA) and Glutaminase C (GAC). The aim of this study is to investigate the expression, localization and role of GLS1 and GLUL in naïve and activated human CD4+ T cells stimulated through the CD3 and CD28 receptors under normoxia and hypoxia. In proliferating cells, GAC was upregulated and KGA was downregulated, and both enzymes were located to the mitochondria irrespective of O2 levels. By contrast GLUL is localized to the cytoplasm and was upregulated under hypoxia. Proliferation was dependent on glutamine consumption, as glutamine deprivation and GLS1 inhibition decreased proliferation and expression of CD25 and CD226, regardless of O2 availability. Again irrespective of O2, GLS1 inhibition decreased the proportion of CCR6 and CXCR3 expressing CD4+ T cells as well as cytokine production. We propose that systemic Th cell activation and expansion might be dependent on glutamine but not O2 availability.
Project description:Glutaminolysis, a metabolic process that converts glutamine to glutamate, is particularly important for the central nervous system since glutamate is the major transmitter of excitatory synapses. Glutaminase is the mitochondrial enzyme that catalyzes the first step of glutaminolysis. Two genes encode at least four isoforms of glutaminase in humans. Gls1 gene encodes isoforms kidney-type glutaminase (KGA) and glutaminase C (GAC) through alternative splicing, whereas Gls2 gene encodes liver-type glutaminase isoforms. KGA and GAC have been associated with several neurological diseases. However, it remains unclear whether changes in their expressions can directly cause brain abnormalities. Using a transgenic approach, we generated mice that overexpressed GAC in the brain. The resulting transgenic mice had severe impairments in spatial and fear learning compared with littermate controls. The learning deficits were consistent with diminished hippocampal long-term potentiation in the hippocampal slices of the GAC transgenic mice. Furthermore, we found increases in astrocyte and microglia markers, inflammatory factors, and a decrease in synapse marker synaptophysin, suggesting neuroinflammation and synaptic changes in the GAC transgenic mouse brains. In conclusion, these findings provide the first evidence that GAC overexpression in the brain has deleterious effects on learning and synaptic integrity in vivo.
Project description:Tobacco smoke (TS) is the most important single risk factor for bladder cancer. Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a transdifferentiation process, involved in the initiation of TS-related cancer. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) have an essential role in the progression of many tumors including TS-related cancer. However, the molecular mechanisms of TS exposure induced urocystic EMT and acquisition of CSCs properties remains undefined. Wnt/?-catenin pathway is critical for EMT and the maintenance of CSCs. The aim of our present study was to investigate the role of Wnt/?-catenin pathway in chronic TS exposure induced urocystic EMT, stemness acquisition and the preventive effect of curcumin. Long time TS exposure induced EMT changes and the levels of CSCs' markers were significant upregulated. Furthermore, we demonstrated that Wnt/?-catenin pathway modulated TS-triggered EMT and stemness, as evidenced by the findings that TS elevated Wnt/?-catenin activation, and that TS-mediated EMT and stemness were attenuated by Wnt/?-catenin inhibition. Treatment of curcumin reversed TS-elicited activation of Wnt/?-catenin, EMT and CSCs properties. Collectively, these data indicated the regulatory role of Wnt/?-catenin in TS-triggered urocystic EMT, acquisition of CSCs properties and the chemopreventive effect of curcumin.
Project description:Glutaminase, which converts glutamine to glutamate, is involved in Warburg effect in cancer cells. Two human glutaminase genes have been identified, GLS (GLS1) and GLS2. Two alternative transcripts arise from each glutaminase gene: first, the kidney isoform (KGA) and glutaminase C (GAC) for GLS; and, second, the liver isoform (LGA) and glutaminase B (GAB) for GLS2. While GLS1 is considered as a cancer therapeutic target, the potential role of GLS2 in cancer remains unclear. Here, we discovered a series of alkyl benzoquinones that preferentially inhibit glutaminase B isoform (GAB, GLS2) rather than the kidney isoform of glutaminase (KGA, GLS1). We identified amino acid residues in an allosteric binding pocket responsible for the selectivity. Treatment with the alkyl benzoquinones decreased intracellular glutaminase activity and glutamate levels. GLS2 inhibition by either alkyl benzoquinones or GLS2 siRNA reduced carcinoma cell proliferation and anchorage-independent colony formation, and induced autophagy via AMPK mediated mTORC1 inhibition. Our findings demonstrate amino acid sequences for selective inhibition of glutaminase isozymes and validate GLS2 as a potential anti-cancer target.
Project description:Metabolic reprogramming has been described as a hallmark of transformed cancer cells. In this study, we examined the role of the glutamine (Gln) utilization pathway in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cell lines and primary AML samples. Our results indicate that a subset of AML cell lines is sensitive to Gln deprivation. Glutaminase (GLS) is a mitochondrial enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of Gln to glutamate. One of the two GLS isoenzymes, GLS1 is highly expressed in cancer and encodes two different isoforms: kidney (KGA) and glutaminase C (GAC). We analyzed mRNA expression of GLS1 splicing variants, GAC and KGA, in several large AML datasets and identified increased levels of expression in AML patients with complex cytogenetics and within specific molecular subsets. Inhibition of glutaminase by allosteric GLS inhibitor bis-2-(5-phenylacetamido-1, 2, 4-thiadiazol-2-yl) ethyl sulfide or by novel, potent, orally bioavailable GLS inhibitor CB-839 reduced intracellular glutamate levels and inhibited growth of AML cells. In cell lines and patient samples harboring IDH1/IDH2 (Isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 and 2) mutations, CB-839 reduced production of oncometabolite 2-hydroxyglutarate, inducing differentiation. These findings indicate potential utility of glutaminase inhibitors in AML therapy, which can inhibit cell growth, induce apoptosis and/or differentiation in specific leukemia subtypes.
Project description:Circular RNA (circRNA) possesses great pre-clinical diagnostic and therapeutic potentials in multiple cancers. It has been reported playing roles in multiple malignant behaviors including proliferation, migration, metastasis and chemoresistance. However, the underlying correlation between circRNAs and cancer stem cells (CSCs) has not been reported yet. Methods: circZKSCAN1 level was detected in HCC tissue microarrays to clarify its prognostic values. Gain and loss function experiments were applied to investigate the role of circZKSCAN1 in HCC stemness. Bioinformatic analysis was used to predict the possible downstream RNA binding protein and further RNA immunoprecipitation sequencing was carried out to identify the RBP-regulated genes. Results: The absence of circZKSCAN1 endowed several malignant properties including cancer stemness and tightly correlated with worse overall and recurrence-free survival rate in HCC. Bioinformatics analysis and RNA immunoprecipitation-sequencing (RIP-seq) results revealed that circZKSCAN1 exerted its inhibitive role by competitively binding FMRP, therefore, block the binding between FMRP and ?-catenin-binding protein-cell cycle and apoptosis regulator 1 (CCAR1) mRNA, and subsequently restrain the transcriptional activity of Wnt signaling. In addition, RNA-splicing protein Quaking 5 was found downregulated in HCC tissues and responsible for the reduction of circZKSCAN1. Conclusion: Collectively, this study revealed the mechanisms underlying the regulatory role of circZKSCAN1 in HCC CSCs and identified the newly discovered Qki5-circZKSCAN1-FMRP-CCAR1-Wnt signaling axis as a potentially important therapeutic target for HCC treatment.
Project description:Reprogrammed metabolism and redox homeostasis are potential targets of cancer therapy. Our previous study demonstrated that the kidney form of glutaminase (GLS1) is highly expressed in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells and can be used as a target for effective anticancer therapy. Dihydroartemisinin (DHA) increases intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels leading to cytotoxicity in cancer cells. However, the heterogeneity of cancer cells often leads to differing responses to oxidative lesions. For instance, cancer cells with high ratio of GSH/GSSG, a critical ROS scavenger, are resistant to ROS-induced cytotoxicity. We postulate that a combinatorial strategy firstly disrupting redox homeostasis followed by DHA might yield a profound antitumor efficacy. In this study, when HCC cells were treated with a GLS1 inhibitor 968, the ROS elimination capacity was significantly reduced in HCC cells, which rendered HCC cells but not normal endothelial cells more sensitive to DHA-mediated cytotoxicity. We further confirmed that this synergistic antitumor efficacy was mediated by excessive ROS generation in HCC cells. NAC, a ROS inhibitor, partly rescued the combinatorial cytotoxic effect of 968 and DHA. Given that GLS1 is a potential antitumor target and DHA has been safely used in clinic, our findings provide new insight into liver cancer therapy targeting glutamine metabolism combined with the ROS generator DHA, which can be readily translated into cancer clinical trials.
Project description:Various populations of cancer stem cells (CSCs) have been identified in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Wnt signaling is variably activated in HCC and regulates CSCs and tumorigenesis. We explored cell-to-cell Wnt and stemness heterogeneity in HCC by labeling freshly isolated cancer cells with a Wnt-specific reporter, thereby identifying a small subset (0.4%-8.9%) of Wnt-activity<sup>high</sup> cells. Further cellular subset analysis identified a refined subset of Wnt-activity<sup>high</sup>ALDH1<sup>+</sup>EpCAM<sup>+</sup> triple-positive (TP) cells as the most stem-like, phenotypically plastic, and tumorigenic among all putative CSC populations. These TP "superpotent CSCs" (spCSCs) specifically upregulate the expression of dishevelled 1 (DVL1) through the antagonism between abnormal spindle-like microcephaly-associated (ASPM) and the ubiquitin ligase complex Cullin-3/KLHL-12. Subsequent functional and molecular studies revealed the role of DVL1 in controlling spCSCs and their tumorigenic potential. These findings provide the mechanistic basis of the Wnt and stemness heterogeneity in HCC and highlight the important role of DVL1<sup>high</sup> spCSCs in tumor progression.