A chemical screen designed to identify novel inducers of autophagy led to the discovery that signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) inhibitors can potently stimulate the autophagic flux. Although STAT3 is best known as a pro-inflammatory and oncogenic transcription factor, mechanistic analyses revealed that autophagy is regulated by the cytoplasmic, not nuclear, pool of STAT3. Cytoplasmic STAT3 normally interacts with the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2, subunit 1α, 35kDa (EIF2S1/eIF2α) kinase 2/protein kinase, RNA-activated (EIF2AK2/PKR), a sensor of double-stranded RNA. This interaction, which could be recapitulated using recombinant proteins in pull-down experiments, involves the catalytic domain of EIF2AK2 as well as the SH2 domain of STAT3, which can adopt a fold similar to that of EIF2S1. Thus, STAT3 may act as a competitive inhibitor of EIF2AK2. Indeed, pharmacological or genetic inhibition of STAT3 stimulates EIF2AK2-dependent EIF2S1 phosphorylation and autophagy. Conversely, the overexpression of wild-type STAT3 as well as of STAT3 mutants that cannot be phosphorylated by JAK2 or are excluded from the nucleus inhibits autophagy. However, STAT3 mutants that fail to interact with EIF2AK2 are unable to suppress autophagy. Both STAT3-targeting agents (i.e., Stattic, JSI-124 and WP1066) and EIF2AK2 activators (such as the double-strand RNA mimetic polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid) are capable of disrupting the inhibitory interaction between STAT3 and EIF2AK2 in cellula, yet only the latter does so in cell-free systems in vitro. A further screen designed to identify EIF2AK2-dependent autophagy inducers revealed that several fatty acids including palmitate trigger autophagy via a pathway that involves the disruption of the STAT3-EIF2AK2 complex as well as the phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinase 8/c-Jun N-terminal kinase 1 (MAPK8/JNK1) and EIF2S1. These results reveal an unsuspected crosstalk between cellular metabolism (fatty acids), pro-inflammatory signaling (STAT3), innate immunity (EIF2AK2), and translational control (EIF2S1) that regulates autophagy.
EIF2S1S51A; endoplasmic reticulum; IRS1; palmitate; polyI:C; STAT3Y705F
B lymphocytes; SAHA; histone deacetylase inhibitors; immunogenic cell death; interferon γ; natural killer cells
ATP; caspases; chemotherapy; immunogenic cell death; radiotherapy; tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes
Although chemically non-reactive, inert noble gases may influence multiple physiological and pathological processes via hitherto uncharacterized physical effects. Here we report a cell-based detection system for assessing the effects of pre-defined gas mixtures on the induction of apoptotic cell death. In this setting, the conventional atmosphere for cell culture was substituted with gas combinations, including the same amount of oxygen (20%) and carbon dioxide (5%) but 75% helium, neon, argon, krypton, or xenon instead of nitrogen. The replacement of nitrogen with noble gases per se had no effects on the viability of cultured human osteosarcoma cells in vitro. Conversely, argon and xenon (but not helium, neon, and krypton) significantly limited cell loss induced by the broad-spectrum tyrosine kinase inhibitor staurosporine, the DNA-damaging agent mitoxantrone and several mitochondrial toxins. Such cytoprotective effects were coupled to the maintenance of mitochondrial integrity, as demonstrated by means of a mitochondrial transmembrane potential-sensitive dye and by assessing the release of cytochrome c into the cytosol. In line with this notion, argon and xenon inhibited the apoptotic activation of caspase-3, as determined by immunofluorescence microscopy coupled to automated image analysis. The antiapoptotic activity of argon and xenon may explain their clinically relevant cytoprotective effects.
antimycin A, menadione, mitochondrial membrane permeabilization, rotenone; U2OS cells, Z-VAD-fmk
antigenicity; cognate immune effectors; immunogenicity; immunosuppressive networks; innate immune effectors; MDSCs
The antineoplastic effects of anthracyclines have been shown to rely, at least in part, on a local immune response that involves dendritic cells (DCs) and several distinct subsets of T lymphocytes. Here, we show that the administration of anthracyclines to mice bearing established neoplasms stimulates the intratumoral secretion of tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα). However, blocking the TNFα/TNF receptor (TNFR) system by three different strategies—namely, (1) neutralizing antibodies, (2) etanercept, a recombinant protein in which TNFR is fused to the constant domain of an IgG1 molecule, and (3) gene knockout—failed to negatively affect the therapeutic efficacy of anthracyclines in three distinct tumor models. In particular, TNFα-blocking strategies did not influence the antineoplastic effects of doxorubicin (a prototypic anthracycline) against MCA205 fibrosarcomas growing in C57BL/6 mice, F244 sarcomas developing in 129/Sv hosts and H2N100 mammary carcinomas arising in BALB/c mice. These findings imply that, in contrast to other cytokines (such as interleukin-1β, interleukin-17 and interferon γ), TNFα is not required for anthracyclines to elicit therapeutic anticancer immune responses.
T cells; apoptosis; calreticulin; dendritic cell; immunogenic cell death; interferon γ
Tumor cells succumb to chemotherapy while releasing ATP. We have found that extracellular ATP attracts dendritic cell (DC) precursors into the tumor bed, facilitates their permanence in the proximity of dying cells and promotes their differentiation into mature DCs endowed with the capacity of presenting tumor-associated antigens.
apoptosis; autophagy; calreticulin; CD39; doxorubicin; immunogenic cell death
The BCL-2 homolog BCL-XL, one of the two protein products of BCL2L1, has originally been characterized for its prominent prosurvival functions. Similar to BCL-2, BCL-XL binds to its multidomain proapoptotic counterparts BAX and BAK, hence preventing the formation of lethal pores in the mitochondrial outer membrane, as well as to multiple BH3-only proteins, thus interrupting apical proapoptotic signals. In addition, BCL-XL has been suggested to exert cytoprotective functions by sequestering a cytosolic pool of the pro-apoptotic transcription factor p53 and by binding to the voltage-dependent anion channel 1 (VDAC1), thereby inhibiting the so-called mitochondrial permeability transition (MPT). Thus, BCL-XL appears to play a prominent role in the regulation of multiple distinct types of cell death, including apoptosis and regulated necrosis. More recently, great attention has been given to the cell death-unrelated functions of BCL-2-like proteins. In particular, BCL-XL has been shown to modulate a number of pathophysiological processes, including—but not limited to—mitochondrial ATP synthesis, protein acetylation, autophagy and mitosis. In this short review article, we will discuss the functions of BCL-XL at the interface between cell death and metabolism.
Cardiac glycosides (CGs) are natural compounds sharing the ability to operate as potent inhibitors of the plasma membrane Na+/K+-ATPase, hence promoting—via an indirect mechanism—the intracellular accumulation of Ca2+ ions. In cardiomyocytes, increased intracellular Ca2+ concentrations exert prominent positive inotropic effects, that is, they increase myocardial contractility. Owing to this feature, two CGs, namely digoxin and digitoxin, have extensively been used in the past for the treatment of several cardiac conditions, including distinct types of arrhythmia as well as contractility disorders. Nowadays, digoxin is approved by the FDA and indicated for the treatment of congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter with rapid ventricular response, whereas the use of digitoxin has been discontinued in several Western countries. Recently, CGs have been suggested to exert potent antineoplastic effects, notably as they appear to increase the immunogenicity of dying cancer cells. In this Trial Watch, we summarize the mechanisms that underpin the unsuspected anticancer potential of CGs and discuss the progress of clinical studies that have evaluated/are evaluating the safety and efficacy of CGs for oncological indications.
breast carcinoma; Digitalis purpurea; estrogen receptor; immunogenic cell death; ouabain; phytoestrogens
The illicit generation of tetraploid cells constitutes a prominent driver of oncogenesis, as it often precedes the development of aneuploidy and genomic instability. In addition, tetraploid (pre-)malignant cells display an elevated resistance against radio- and chemotherapy. Here, we report a strategy to preferentially kill tetraploid tumor cells based on the broad-spectrum kinase inhibitor SP600125. Live videomicroscopy revealed that SP600125 affects the execution of mitosis, impedes proper cell division and/or activates apoptosis in near-to-tetraploid, though less so in parental, cancer cells. We propose a novel graphical model to quantify the differential response of diploid and tetraploid cells to mitotic perturbators, including SP600125, which we baptized “transgenerational cell fate profiling.” We speculate that this representation constitutes a valid alternative to classical “single-cell fate” and “genealogical” profiling and, hence, may facilitate the analysis of cell fate within a heterogeneous population as well as the visual examination of cell cycle alterations.
cell death; cytokinesis failure; mitotic catastrophe; microtubules; polyploidy; time-lapse microscopy
One of the driving forces of oncogenesis is tetraploidy, a duplication of the DNA content that, upon asymmetric cell division or progressive chromosome loss, can originate aneuploidy. Recent findings from our group indicate the existence of an immunosurveillance system that eliminates tetraploid cancer cells. We surmise that tetraploidy-inducing chemotherapeutic agents may elicit potent anticancer responses by re-activating this immunosurveillance system.
breast carcinoma; calreticulin; HMGB1; hyperploidy; immunogenic cell death; mitotic catastrophe
Retrospective clinical data indicate that cardiac glycosides (CGs), notably digoxin, prolong the survival of carcinoma patients treated with conventional chemotherapy. CGs are known to influence the immune response at multiple levels. In addition, recent results suggest that CGs trigger the immunogenic demise of cancer cells, an effect that most likely contributes to their clinical anticancer activity.
calreticulin; digitoxin; digoxin; HMGB1; immunogenic cell death; Na+/K+ ATPase
The genetic or functional inactivation of p53 is highly prevalent in human cancers. Using high-content videomicroscopy based on fluorescent TP53+/+ and TP53−/− human colon carcinoma cells, we discovered that SP600125, a broad-spectrum serine/threonine kinase inhibitor, kills p53-deficient cells more efficiently than their p53-proficient counterparts, in vitro. Similar observations were obtained in vivo, in mice carrying p53-deficient and -proficient human xenografts. Such a preferential cytotoxicity could be attributed to the failure of p53-deficient cells to undergo cell cycle arrest in response to SP600125. TP53−/− (but not TP53+/+) cells treated with SP600125 became polyploid upon mitotic abortion and progressively succumbed to mitochondrial apoptosis. The expression of an SP600125-resistant variant of the mitotic kinase MPS1 in TP53−/− cells reduced SP600125-induced polyploidization. Thus, by targeting MPS1, SP600125 triggers a polyploidization program that cannot be sustained by TP53−/− cells, resulting in the activation of mitotic catastrophe, an oncosuppressive mechanism for the eradication of mitosis-incompetent cells.
caspases; HCT 116; high-throughput screening; mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization; MPS1
The success of anticancer chemotherapy relies at least in part on the induction of an immune response against tumor cells. Thus, tumors growing on mice that lack the pattern recognition receptor TLR4 or the purinergic receptor P2RX7 fail to respond to chemotherapy with anthracyclins or oxaliplatin in conditions in which the same neoplasms growing on immunocompetent mice would do so. Similarly, the therapeutic efficacy (measured as progression-free survival) of adjuvant chemotherapy with anthracyclins is reduced in breast cancer patients bearing loss-of-function alleles of TLR4 or P2RX7. TLR4 loss-of-function alleles also have a negative impact on the therapeutic outcome of oxaliplatin in colorectal cancer patients. Here, we report that loss-of-function TLR4 and P2RX7 alleles do not affect overall survival in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients, irrespective of the administration and type of chemotherapy. The intrinsic characteristics of NSCLC (which near-to-always is chemoresistant and associated with poor prognosis) and/or the type of therapy that is employed to treat this malignancy (which near-to-always is based on cisplatin) may explain why two genes that affect the immune response to dying cells fail to influence the clinical progression of NSCLC patients.
IALT; calreticulin; immunogenic cell death; necrosis factor α; rs3751143; rs4986790; tumor
The acetylase inhibitor spermidine and the sirtuin-1 activator resveratrol disrupt the antagonistic network of acetylases and deacetylases that regulate autophagy.
Autophagy protects organelles, cells, and organisms against several stress conditions. Induction of autophagy by resveratrol requires the nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide–dependent deacetylase sirtuin 1 (SIRT1). In this paper, we show that the acetylase inhibitor spermidine stimulates autophagy independent of SIRT1 in human and yeast cells as well as in nematodes. Although resveratrol and spermidine ignite autophagy through distinct mechanisms, these compounds stimulate convergent pathways that culminate in concordant modifications of the acetylproteome. Both agents favor convergent deacetylation and acetylation reactions in the cytosol and in the nucleus, respectively. Both resveratrol and spermidine were able to induce autophagy in cytoplasts (enucleated cells). Moreover, a cytoplasm-restricted mutant of SIRT1 could stimulate autophagy, suggesting that cytoplasmic deacetylation reactions dictate the autophagic cascade. At doses at which neither resveratrol nor spermidine stimulated autophagy alone, these agents synergistically induced autophagy. Altogether, these data underscore the importance of an autophagy regulatory network of antagonistic deacetylases and acetylases that can be pharmacologically manipulated.
The full spectrum of activities of the tumor suppressor p53 (TP53) has not been completely elucidated yet. Recently, it was demonstrated that TP53 communicates with the metabolic regulator mechanistic target of rapamycin (MTOR) to determine whether stressed cells undergo cell death, reversible quiescence or irreversible senescence, thereby adding yet another level of complexity to the signaling network that emanate from TP53.
Aging; cancer; DNA damage response; nutlin; p21; rapamycin
The vacuolating toxin VacA, released by Helicobacter pylori, is an important virulence factor in the pathogenesis of gastritis and gastroduodenal ulcers. VacA contains two subunits: The p58 subunit mediates entry into target cells, and the p34 subunit mediates targeting to mitochondria and is essential for toxicity. In this study we found that targeting to mitochondria is dependent on a unique signal sequence of 32 uncharged amino acid residues at the p34 N-terminus. Mitochondrial import of p34 is mediated by the import receptor Tom20 and the import channel of the outer membrane TOM complex, leading to insertion of p34 into the mitochondrial inner membrane. p34 assembles in homo-hexamers of extraordinary high stability. CD spectra of the purified protein indicate a content of >40% β-strands, similar to pore-forming β-barrel proteins. p34 forms an anion channel with a conductivity of about 12 pS in 1.5 M KCl buffer. Oligomerization and channel formation are independent both of the 32 uncharged N-terminal residues and of the p58 subunit of the toxin. The conductivity is efficiently blocked by 5-nitro-2-(3-phenylpropylamino)benzoic acid (NPPB), a reagent known to inhibit VacA-mediated apoptosis. We conclude that p34 essentially acts as a small pore-forming toxin, targeted to the mitochondrial inner membrane by a special hydrophobic N-terminal signal.
VacA is a toxic protein produced by Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria that cause gastritis and ulcer diseases. p34, the toxic component of VacA, is known to damage mitochondria, defined cell organelles in the target cells. However, both the mechanism of mitochondrial targeting and the toxic activity inside the mitochondria are unclear. In this study, we show that p34 carries a unique targeting signal that is different from all targeting signatures that were previously identified in endogenous mitochondrial proteins. Eventually, p34 seems to act as an anion channel in the mitochondrial inner membrane and thus to destroy the balance of salt ions in the organelles.
autophagy has widely been conceived as a self-destructive mechanism that
causes cell death, accumulating evidence suggests that autophagy usually
mediates cytoprotection, thereby avoiding the apoptotic or necrotic demise
of stressed cells. Recent evidence produced by our groups demonstrates that
autophagy is also involved in pharmacological manipulations that increase
longevity. Exogenous supply of the polyamine spermidine can prolong the
lifespan of (while inducing autophagy in) yeast, nematodes and flies.
Similarly, resveratrol can trigger autophagy in cells from different
organisms, extend lifespan in nematodes, and ameliorate the fitness of
human cells undergoing metabolic stress. These beneficial effects are lost
when essential autophagy modulators are genetically or pharmacologically
inactivated, indicating that autophagy is required for the cytoprotective
and/or anti-aging effects of spermidine and resveratrol. Genetic and
functional studies indicate that spermidine inhibits histone acetylases,
while resveratrol activates the histone deacetylase Sirtuin 1 to confer
cytoprotection/longevity. Although it remains elusive whether the same
histones (or perhaps other nuclear or cytoplasmic proteins) act as the downstream
targets of spermidine and resveratrol, these results point to an essential
role of protein hypoacetylation in autophagy control and in the regulation
AMPK; Caenorhabditis elegans; IKK; mTOR; p53; Saccharomyces cerevisiae
The bacterial PorB porin, an ATP-binding β-barrel protein of pathogenic Neisseria gonorrhoeae, triggers host cell apoptosis by an unknown mechanism. PorB is targeted to and imported by host cell mitochondria, causing the breakdown of the mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm). Here, we show that PorB induces the condensation of the mitochondrial matrix and the loss of cristae structures, sensitizing cells to the induction of apoptosis via signaling pathways activated by BH3-only proteins. PorB is imported into mitochondria through the general translocase TOM but, unexpectedly, is not recognized by the SAM sorting machinery, usually required for the assembly of β-barrel proteins in the mitochondrial outer membrane. PorB integrates into the mitochondrial inner membrane, leading to the breakdown of ΔΨm. The PorB channel is regulated by nucleotides and an isogenic PorB mutant defective in ATP-binding failed to induce ΔΨm loss and apoptosis, demonstrating that dissipation of ΔΨm is a requirement for cell death caused by neisserial infection.
PorB is a bacterial porin that plays an important role in the pathogenicity of Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Upon infection with these bacteria, PorB is transported into mitochondria of infected cells, causing the loss of mitochondrial membrane potential and eventually leading to apoptotic cell death. Here, we show that PorB enters mitochondria through the TOM complex, similar to other mitochondria-targeted proteins, but then bypasses the SAM complex machinery that assembles all other porin-like proteins into the outer mitochondrial membrane. This leads to the accumulation of PorB in the intermembrane space and the integration of a fraction of PorB into the inner mitochondrial membrane (IMM). In the IMM, ATP-regulated pores are formed, leading to dissipation of membrane potential and the loss of cristae structure in affected mitochondria, the necessary first steps in induction of apoptosis. Our work offers, for the first time, a detailed analysis of the mechanism by which PorB targets and damages host cell mitochondria.
Bcl-2 family proteins including the pro-apoptotic BH3-only proteins are central regulators of apoptotic cell death. Here we show by a focused siRNA miniscreen that the synergistic action of the BH3-only proteins Bim and Bmf is required for apoptosis induced by infection with Neisseria gonorrhoeae (Ngo). While Bim and Bmf were associated with the cytoskeleton of healthy cells, they both were released upon Ngo infection. Loss of Bim and Bmf from the cytoskeleton fraction required the activation of Jun-N-terminal kinase-1 (JNK-1), which in turn depended on Rac-1. Depletion and inhibition of Rac-1, JNK-1, Bim, or Bmf prevented the activation of Bak and Bax and the subsequent activation of caspases. Apoptosis could be reconstituted in Bim-depleted and Bmf-depleted cells by additional silencing of antiapoptotic Mcl-1 and Bcl-XL, respectively. Our data indicate a synergistic role for both cytoskeletal-associated BH3-only proteins, Bim, and Bmf, in an apoptotic pathway leading to the clearance of Ngo-infected cells.
A variety of physiological death signals, as well as pathological insults, trigger apoptosis, a genetically programmed form of cell death. Pathogens often induce host cell apoptosis to establish a successful infection. Neisseria gonorrhoeae (Ngo), the etiological agent of the sexually transmitted disease gonorrhoea, is a highly adapted obligate human-specific pathogen and has been shown to induce apoptosis in infected cells. Here we unveil the molecular mechanisms leading to apoptosis of infected cells. We show that Ngo-mediated apoptosis requires a special subset of proapoptotic proteins from the group of BH3-only proteins. BH3-only proteins act as stress sensors to translate toxic environmental signals to the initiation of apoptosis. In a siRNA-based miniscreen, we found Bim and Bmf, BH3-only proteins associated with the cytoskeleton, necessary to induce host cell apoptosis upon infection. Bim and Bmf inactivated different inhibitors of apoptosis and thereby induced cell death in response to infection. Our data unveil a novel pathway of infection-induced apoptosis that enhances our understanding of the mechanism by which BH3-only proteins control apoptotic cell death.
Infection with the human microbial pathogen Helicobacter pylori is assumed to lead to invasive gastric cancer. We find that H. pylori activates the hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor receptor c-Met, which is involved in invasive growth of tumor cells. The H. pylori effector protein CagA intracellularly targets the c-Met receptor and promotes cellular processes leading to a forceful motogenic response. CagA could represent a bacterial adaptor protein that associates with phospholipase Cγ but not Grb2-associated binder 1 or growth factor receptor–bound protein 2. The H. pylori–induced motogenic response is suppressed and blocked by the inhibition of PLCγ and of MAPK, respectively. Thus, upon translocation, CagA modulates cellular functions by deregulating c-Met receptor signaling. The activation of the motogenic response in H. pylori–infected epithelial cells suggests that CagA could be involved in tumor progression.
epithelial–mesenchymal transition; hepatocyte growth factor; motility; tumor invasion; motogenic response; PLCγ