Concurrent Targeting of Glutaminolysis and Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor 1 (GRM1) Reduces Glutamate Bioavailability in GRM1+ Melanoma.
ABSTRACT: Aberrant glutamatergic signaling has been implicated in altered metabolic activity in many cancer types, including malignant melanoma. Previously, we have illustrated the role of metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (GRM1) in neoplastic transformation of melanocytes in vitro and spontaneous metastatic melanoma in vivo. In this study, we showed that autocrine stimulation constitutively activates the GRM1 receptor and its downstream mitogenic signaling. GRM1-activated (GRM1+) melanomas exhibited significantly increased expression of glutaminase (GLS), which catalyzes the first step in the conversion of glutamine to glutamate. In cultured GRM1+ melanoma cell lines, CB-839, a potent, selective, and orally bioavailable inhibitor of GLS, suppressed cell proliferation, while riluzole, an inhibitor of glutamate release, promoted apoptotic cell death in vitro and in vivo. Combined treatment with CB-839 and riluzole treatment proved to be superior to single-agent treatment, restricting glutamate bioavailability and leading to effective suppression of tumor cell proliferation in vitro and tumor progression in vivo. Hyperactivation of GRM1 in malignant melanoma is an oncogenic driver, which acts independently of canonical melanoma proto-oncogenes, BRAF or NRAS. Overall, these results indicate that expression of GRM1 promotes a metabolic phenotype that supports increased glutamate production and autocrine glutamatergic signaling, which can be pharmacologically targeted by decreasing glutamate bioavailability and the GLS-dependent glutamine to glutamate conversion. SIGNIFICANCE: These findings demonstrate that targeting glutaminolytic glutamate bioavailability is an effective therapeutic strategy for GRM1-activated tumors.
Project description:Glutamate-triggered signal transduction is thought to contribute widely to cancer pathogenesis. In melanoma, overexpression of the metabotropic glutamate receptor (GRM)-1 occurs frequently and its ectopic expression in melanocytes is sufficient for neoplastic transformation. Clinical evaluation of the GRM1 signaling inhibitor riluzole in patients with advanced melanoma has demonstrated tumor regressions that are associated with a suppression of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and phosphoinositide 3-kinase/protein kinase B (PI3K/AKT) pathways. Together, these results prompted us to investigate the downstream consequences of GRM1 signaling and its disruption in more detail. We found that melanoma cells with enhanced GRM1 expression generated larger tumors in vivo marked by more abundant blood vessels. Media conditioned by these cells in vitro contained relatively higher concentrations of interleukin-8 and VEGF due to GRM1-mediated activation of the AKT-mTOR-HIF1 pathway. In clinical specimens from patients receiving riluzole, we confirmed an inhibition of MAPK and PI3K/AKT activation in posttreatment as compared with pretreatment tumor specimens, which exhibited a decreased density of blood vessels. Together, our results demonstrate that GRM1 activation triggers proangiogenic signaling in melanoma, offering a mechanistic rationale to design treatment strategies for the most suitable combinatorial use of GRM1 inhibitors in patients.
Project description:Gain of function of the neuronal receptor, metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (Grm1), was sufficient to induce melanocytic transformation in vitro and spontaneous melanoma development in vivo when ectopically expressed in melanocytes. The human form of this receptor, GRM1, has been shown to be ectopically expressed in a subset of human melanomas but not benign nevi or normal melanocytes, suggesting that misregulation of GRM1 is involved in the pathogenesis of certain human melanomas. Sustained stimulation of Grm1 by the ligand, glutamate, is required for the maintenance of transformed phenotypes in vitro and tumorigenicity in vivo. In this study, we investigate the mechanism of an inhibitor of glutamate release, riluzole, on human melanoma cells that express metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (GRM1). Various in vitro assays conducted show that inhibition of glutamate release in several human melanoma cell lines resulted in an increase of oxidative stress and DNA damage response markers.
Project description:Studies demonstrate that GRM, expressed by >60% of human melanomas, may be a therapeutic target. We performed a phase II trial of 100 mg PO bid of riluzole, an inhibitor of GRM1 signaling, in patients with advanced melanoma with the primary endpoint of response rate. Thirteen patients with GRM1-positive tumors were enrolled. No objective responses were observed, and accrual was stopped. Stable disease was noted in six (46%) patients, with one patient on study for 42 weeks. Riluzole was well tolerated, with fatigue (62%) as the most common adverse event. Downregulation of MAPK and PI3K/AKT was noted in 33% of paired tumor biopsies. Hypothesis-generating correlative studies suggested that downregulation of angiogenic markers and increased leukocytes at the active edge of tumor correlate with clinical benefit. Pharmacokinetic analysis showed interpatient variability consistent with prior riluzole studies. Future investigations should interrogate mechanisms of biologic activity and advance the development of agents with improved bioavailability.
Project description:The goal of this study was to examine the effects of metabotropic glutamate receptor-1 (GRM1) blockade on melanoma anchorage-independent growth and invasion. We performed colony and invasion assays using GRM1-expressing melanoma lines and the GRM1-negative UACC930 line. Using the glutamate-release inhibitor Riluzole or the non-competitive GRM1 antagonist BAY 36-7620 we were able to induce considerable inhibition of colony formation and invasion in GRM1-expressing melanoma lines. Neither pharmacological agent induced significant reduction in colony formation or invasion in the GRM1-negative melanoma line, UACC930. Additionally we assessed the efficacy of these inhibitors to inhibit the growth of fresh melanoma tumor samples cultured on a 74-mum nylon mesh. Both Riluzole and BAY 36-7620 significantly inhibited tumor cell growth into the interstitial spaces of the mesh. When repeated with normal mole samples both inhibitors were much less effective in preventing the outgrowth of cells. These experiments show that a specific antagonist of GRM1 (BAY 36-7620) or an inhibitor of glutamate release (Riluzole) can significantly suppress melanoma migration, invasion and colony formation as well as inhibit the proliferation of fresh melanoma cells. These findings, added to our previous work, strengthen the case that GRM1 is a valid therapeutic target in patients with melanoma.
Project description:To identify new protein and pharmacological regulators of Wnt/?-catenin signaling, we used a cell-based reporter assay to screen a collection of 1857 human-experienced compounds for their ability to enhance activation of the ?-catenin reporter by a low concentration of WNT3A. This identified 44 unique compounds, including the FDA-approved drug riluzole, which is presently in clinical trials for treating melanoma. We found that treating melanoma cells with riluzole in vitro enhances the ability of WNT3A to regulate gene expression, to promote pigmentation, and to decrease cell proliferation. Furthermore riluzole, like WNT3A, decreases metastases in a mouse melanoma model. Interestingly, siRNAs targeting the metabotropic glutamate receptor, GRM1, a reported indirect target of riluzole, enhance ?-catenin signaling. The unexpected regulation of ?-catenin signaling by both riluzole and GRM1 has implications for the future uses of this drug.
Project description:Our group has previously reported that the majority of human melanomas (>60%) express the metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (GRM1) and that the glutamate release inhibitor riluzole, a drug currently used to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, can induce apoptosis in GRM1-expressing melanoma cells. Our group previously reported that in vitro riluzole treatment reduces cell growth in three-dimensional (3D) soft agar colony assays by 80% in cells with wildtype phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway activation. However, melanoma cell lines harboring constitutive activating mutations of the PI3K pathway (PTEN and NRAS mutations) showed only a 35% to 40% decrease in colony formation in soft agar in the presence of riluzole. In this study, we have continued our preclinical studies of riluzole and its effect on melanoma cells alone and in combination with inhibitors of the PI3 kinase pathway: the AKT inhibitor, API-2, and the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitor, rapamycin. We modeled these combinatorial therapies on various melanoma cell lines in 3D and 2D systems and in vivo. Riluzole combined with mTOR inhibition is more effective at halting melanoma anchorage-independent growth and xenograft tumor progression than either agent alone. PI3K signaling changes associated with this combinatorial treatment shows that 3D (nanoculture) modeling of cell signaling more closely resembles in vivo signaling than monolayer models. Riluzole combined with mTOR inhibition is effective at halting tumor cell progression independent of BRAF mutational status. This makes this combinatorial therapy a potentially viable alternative for metastatic melanoma patients who are BRAF WT and are therefore ineligible for vemurafenib therapy.
Project description:Non-neuronal expression of components of the glutamatergic system has been increasingly observed, and our laboratory previously had demonstrated the etiological role of ectopically expressed metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (Grm1/mGluR1) in mouse models of melanoma. We hypothesize that inappropriate glutamatergic signaling in other cell types can dysregulate growth leading to transformation and tumorigenesis. As most cancers are carcinomas, we selected an immortalized primary baby mouse kidney (iBMK) cell model to assess whether Grm1 can transform epithelial cells. These iBMK cells, engineered to be immortal yet nontumorigenic and retaining normal epithelial characteristics, were used as recipients for exogenous Grm1 cDNA. Several stable Grm1-expressing clones were isolated and the Grm1-receptors were shown to be functional, as evidenced by the accumulation of second messengers in response to Grm1 agonist. Additionally activated by agonist were mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and AKT/protein kinase B signaling cascades, the major intracellular pathways shown by many investigators to be critical in melanomagenesis and other neoplasms. These Grm1-iBMK cells exhibited enhanced cell proliferation in in vitro methylthiazolyldiphenyl-tetrazolium bromide (MTT) assays and significant tumorigenicity in in vivo allografts. Persistent Grm1 expression was required for the maintenance of the in vivo tumorigenic phenotype as demonstrated by an inducible Grm1-silencing RNA. These are the first results that indicate that Grm1 can be an oncogene in epithelial cells. In addition, relevance to human disease in the corresponding tumor type of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) may be suggested by observed expression of GRM1/mGluR1 in a number of RCC tumor biopsy samples and cell lines, and the effects of GRM1 modulation on tumorigenicity therein. Moreover, RCC cell lines exhibited elevated levels of extracellular glutamate, and some lines responded to drugs, which modulate the glutamatergic system. These findings imply a possible role for glutamate signaling apparatus in RCC cell growth, and that the glutamatergic system may be a therapeutic target in RCC.
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:PURPOSE:Brain metastases are a common preterminal event in patients with metastatic melanoma and require radiation therapy. Our group has previously shown that human GRM1 (hGRM1) expressing melanoma cells release excess extracellular glutamate and are growth inhibited by riluzole, an inhibitor of glutamate release. Riluzole-treated cells accumulate in G(2)/M phase of the cell cycle at 24 hours, and then undergo apoptotic cell death. We evaluated whether riluzole enhanced radiosensitivity in melanoma cells. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN:Clonogenic assays were performed to evaluate clonogenic survival after treatment in hGRM1 expressing and nonexpressing melanoma cells. Western immunoblots were performed to confirm apoptotic cell death. A xenograft mouse model was used to validate the in vitro experiments. Tumors harvested from the xenografts were fixed and stained for apoptosis and DNA damage markers. RESULTS:In the hGRM1-positive cell lines C8161 and UACC903, riluzole enhanced the lethal effects of ionizing radiation; no difference was seen in the hGRM1-negative UACC930 cell line. C8161 cells treated with riluzole plus irradiation also showed the highest levels of the cleaved forms of PARP and caspase-3; excised C8161 xenografts showed the greatest number of apoptotic cells by immunohistochemistry (P < 0.001). On cell cycle analysis, a sequence-dependent enrichment in the G(2)/M phase was shown with the combination of riluzole and irradiation. Xenografts treated with riluzole and weekly radiation fractions showed significant growth inhibition and revealed markedly increased DNA damage. CONCLUSIONS:We have shown, in vitro and in vivo, that the combination of riluzole and ionizing radiation leads to greater cytotoxicity. These results have clinical implications for patients with brain metastases receiving whole brain radiation therapy.
Project description:Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is an aggressive hematopoietic disease characterized by glutamine-dependent metabolism. A novel glutaminase (GLS) inhibitor, CB-839, is currently under evaluation for treatment of hematopoietic malignancies and solid tumors. Our purpose was to measure cellular changes in AML associated with CB-839 treatment and to test the ability of hyperpolarized pyruvate for interrogating these changes to OCI-AML3 cells. Our results show that treatment with CB-839 interfered with the citric acid cycle, reduced the NADH/NAD+ ratio and ATP levels, reduced cell proliferation and viability, and reduced the basal and maximal respiratory capacities [oxygen consumption rate (OCR)]. We observed a reduction of the conversion of hyperpolarized pyruvate to lactate in cell lines and in a mouse AML model after CB-839 treatment. Our in vitro and in vivo results support the hypothesis that, in AML, glutamine is utilized to generate reducing equivalents (NADH, FADH2) through the citric acid cycle and that reduction in redox state by GLS inhibition decreases the rate of pyruvate to lactate conversion catalyzed by lactate dehydrogenase. We propose hyperpolarized pyruvate/lactate measurement as a method for direct monitoring of metabolic changes occurring in AML patients receiving CB-839. With further optimization, this method may provide a noninvasive imaging tool to assess the early efficacy of therapeutic intervention with GLS inhibitors.