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1.  Tumor-Activated Mesenchymal Stromal Cells Promote Osteosarcoma Stemness and Migratory Potential via IL-6 Secretion 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(11):e0166500.
Osteosarcoma (OS) is an aggressive bone malignancy with a high relapse rate despite combined treatment with surgery and multiagent chemotherapy. As for other cancers, OS-associated microenvironment may contribute to tumor initiation, growth, and metastasis. We consider mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) as a relevant cellular component of OS microenvironment, and have previously found that the interaction between MSC and tumor cells is bidirectional: tumor cells can modulate their peripheral environment that in turn becomes more favorable to tumor growth through metabolic reprogramming. Here, we determined the effects of MSC on OS stemness and migration, two major features associated with recurrence and chemoresistance. The presence of stromal cells enhanced the number of floating spheres enriched in cancer stem cells (CSC) of the OS cell population. Furthermore, the co-culturing with MSC stimulated the migratory capacity of OS via TGFβ1 and IL-6 secretion, and the neutralizing antibody anti-IL-6 impaired this effect. Thus, stromal cells in combination with OS spheres exploit a vicious cycle where the presence of CSC stimulates mesenchymal cytokine secretion, which in turn increases stemness, proliferation, migration, and metastatic potential of CSC, also through the increase of expression of adhesion molecules like ICAM-1. Altogether, our data corroborate the concept that a comprehensive knowledge of the interplay between tumor and stroma that also includes the stem-like fraction of tumor cells is needed to develop novel and effective anti-cancer therapies.
PMCID: PMC5112800  PMID: 27851822
2.  Tumour-specific metabolic adaptation to acidosis is coupled to epigenetic stability in osteosarcoma cells 
The glycolytic-based metabolism of cancers promotes an acidic microenvironment that is responsible for increased aggressiveness. However, the effects of acidosis on tumour metabolism have been almost unexplored. By using capillary electrophoresis with time-of-flight mass spectrometry, we observed a significant metabolic difference associated with glycolysis repression (dihydroxyacetone phosphate), increase of amino acid catabolism (phosphocreatine and glutamate) and urea cycle enhancement (arginino succinic acid) in osteosarcoma (OS) cells compared with normal fibroblasts. Noteworthy, metabolites associated with chromatin modification, like UDP-glucose and N8-acetylspermidine, decreased more in OS cells than in fibroblasts. COBRA assay and acetyl-H3 immunoblotting indicated an epigenetic stability in OS cells than in normal cells, and OS cells were more sensitive to an HDAC inhibitor under acidosis than under neutral pH. Since our data suggest that acidosis promotes a metabolic reprogramming that can contribute to the epigenetic maintenance under acidosis only in tumour cells, the acidic microenvironment should be considered for future therapies.
PMCID: PMC4859889  PMID: 27186436
Acidosis; metabolome; epigenome; osteosarcoma
3.  Mitochondrial mass, a new metabolic biomarker for stem-like cancer cells: Understanding WNT/FGF-driven anabolic signaling 
Oncotarget  2015;6(31):30453-30471.
Here, we developed an isogenic cell model of “stemness” to facilitate protein biomarker discovery in breast cancer. For this purpose, we used knowledge gained previously from the study of the mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV). MMTV initiates mammary tumorigenesis in mice by promoter insertion adjacent to two main integration sites, namely Int-1 (Wnt1) and Int-2 (Fgf3), which ultimately activates Wnt/β-catenin signaling, driving the propagation of mammary cancer stem cells (CSCs). Thus, to develop a humanized model of MMTV signaling, we over-expressed WNT1 and FGF3 in MCF7 cells, an ER(+) human breast cancer cell line. We then validated that MCF7 cells over-expressing both WNT1 and FGF3 show a 3.5-fold increase in mammosphere formation, and that conditioned media from these cells is also sufficient to promote stem cell activity in untransfected parental MCF7 and T47D cells, as WNT1 and FGF3 are secreted factors. Proteomic analysis of this model system revealed the induction of i) EMT markers, ii) mitochondrial proteins, iii) glycolytic enzymes and iv) protein synthesis machinery, consistent with an anabolic CSC phenotype. MitoTracker staining validated the expected WNT1/FGF3-induced increase in mitochondrial mass and activity, which presumably reflects increased mitochondrial biogenesis. Importantly, many of the proteins that were up-regulated by WNT/FGF-signaling in MCF7 cells, were also transcriptionally over-expressed in human breast cancer cells in vivo, based on the bioinformatic analysis of public gene expression datasets of laser-captured patient samples. As such, this isogenic cell model should accelerate the discovery of new biomarkers to predict clinical outcome in breast cancer, facilitating the development of personalized medicine.
Finally, we used mitochondrial mass as a surrogate marker for increased mitochondrial biogenesis in untransfected MCF7 cells. As predicted, metabolic fractionation of parental MCF7 cells, via MitoTracker staining, indicated that high mitochondrial mass is a new metabolic biomarker for the enrichment of anabolic CSCs, as functionally assessed by mammosphere-forming activity. This observation has broad implications for understanding the role of mitochondrial biogenesis in the propagation of stem-like cancer cells. Technically, this general metabolic approach could be applied to any cancer type, to identify and target the mitochondrial-rich CSC population.
The implications of our work for understanding the role of mitochondrial metabolism in viral oncogenesis driven by random promoter insertions are also discussed, in the context of MMTV and ALV infections.
PMCID: PMC4741544  PMID: 26421711
mitochondria; MitoTracker; MMTV; WNT; FGF
4.  Dissecting tumor metabolic heterogeneity: Telomerase and large cell size metabolically define a sub-population of stem-like, mitochondrial-rich, cancer cells 
Oncotarget  2015;6(26):21892-21905.
Tumor cell metabolic heterogeneity is thought to contribute to tumor recurrence, distant metastasis and chemo-resistance in cancer patients, driving poor clinical outcome. To better understand tumor metabolic heterogeneity, here we used the MCF7 breast cancer line as a model system to metabolically fractionate a cancer cell population. First, MCF7 cells were stably transfected with an hTERT-promoter construct driving GFP expression, as a surrogate marker of telomerase transcriptional activity. To enrich for immortal stem-like cancer cells, MCF7 cells expressing the highest levels of GFP (top 5%) were then isolated by FACS analysis. Notably, hTERT-GFP(+) MCF7 cells were significantly more efficient at forming mammospheres (i.e., stem cell activity) and showed increased mitochondrial mass and mitochondrial functional activity, all relative to hTERT-GFP(−) cells. Unbiased proteomics analysis of hTERT-GFP(+) MCF7 cells directly demonstrated the over-expression of 33 key mitochondrial proteins, 17 glycolytic enzymes, 34 ribosome-related proteins and 17 EMT markers, consistent with an anabolic cancer stem-like phenotype. Interestingly, MT-CO2 (cytochrome c oxidase subunit 2; Complex IV) expression was increased by >20-fold. As MT-CO2 is encoded by mt-DNA, this finding is indicative of increased mitochondrial biogenesis in hTERT-GFP(+) MCF7 cells. Importantly, most of these candidate biomarkers were transcriptionally over-expressed in human breast cancer epithelial cells in vivo. Similar results were obtained using cell size (forward/side scatter) to fractionate MCF7 cells. Larger stem-like cells also showed increased hTERT-GFP levels, as well as increased mitochondrial mass and function. Thus, this simple and rapid approach for the enrichment of immortal anabolic stem-like cancer cells will allow us and others to develop new prognostic biomarkers and novel anti-cancer therapies, by specifically and selectively targeting this metabolic sub-population of aggressive cancer cells. Based on our proteomics and functional analysis, FDA-approved inhibitors of protein synthesis and/or mitochondrial biogenesis, may represent novel treatment options for targeting these anabolic stem-like cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC4673134  PMID: 26323205
hTERT; telomerase; cell size; mitochondrial biogenesis; cancer stem cells; proteomic analysis; tumor metabolism
5.  Impairment of Lysosomal Activity as a Therapeutic Modality Targeting Cancer Stem Cells of Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma Cell Line RD 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e110340.
Rhabdomyosarcoma is the most frequent soft tissue sarcoma in children and adolescents, with a high rate of relapse that dramatically affects the clinical outcome. Multiagent chemotherapy, in combination with surgery and/or radiation therapy, is the treatment of choice. However, the relapse rate is disappointingly high and identification of new therapeutic tools is urgently needed. Under this respect, the selective block of key features of cancer stem cells (CSC) appears particularly promising. In this study, we isolated rhabdomyosarcoma CSC with stem-like features (high expression of NANOG and OCT3/4, self-renewal ability, multipotency). Rhabdomyosarcoma CSC showed higher invasive ability and a reduced cytotoxicity to doxorubicin in comparison to native cells, through a mechanism unrelated to the classical multidrug resistance process. This was dependent on a high level of lysosome acidity mediated by a high expression of vacuolar ATPase (V-ATPase). Since it was not associated with other paediatric cancers, like Ewing’s sarcoma and neuroblastoma, V-ATPase higher expression in CSC was rhabdomyosarcoma specific. Inhibition of lysosomal acidification by the V-ATPase inhibitor omeprazole, or by specific siRNA silencing, significantly enhanced doxorubicin cytoxicity. Unexpectedly, lysosomal targeting also blocked cell growth and reduced the invasive potential of rhabdomyosarcoma CSC, even at very low doses of omeprazole (10 and 50 µM, respectively). Based on these observations, we propose lysosome acidity as a valuable target to enhance chemosensitivity of rhabdomyosarcoma CSC, and suggest the use of anti-V-ATPase agents in combination with standard regimens as a promising tool for the eradication of minimal residual disease or the prevention of metastatic disease.
PMCID: PMC4203792  PMID: 25329465
6.  Role of mesenchymal stem cells in osteosarcoma and metabolic reprogramming of tumor cells 
Oncotarget  2014;5(17):7575-7588.
The tumor microenvironment plays an important role in cancer progression. Here, we focused on the role of reactive mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) in osteosarcoma (OS), and used human adipose MSC and a panel of OS cell lines (Saos-2, HOS, and 143B) to investigate the mutual effect of normal-cancer cell metabolic programming. Our results showed that MSC are driven by oxidative stress induced by OS cells to undergo Warburg metabolism, with increased lactate production. Therefore, we analyzed the expression of lactate monocarboxylate transporters. By real time PCR and immunofluorescence, in MSC we detected the expression of MCT-4, the transporter for lactate efflux, whereas MCT-1, responsible for lactate uptake, was expressed in OS cells. In agreement, silencing of MCT-1 by siRNA significantly affected the ATP production in OS cancer cells. Thus, cancer cells directly increase their mitochondrial biogenesis using this energy-rich metabolite that is abundantly provided by MSC as an effect of the altered microenvironmental conditions induced by OS cells. We also showed that lactate produced by MSC promotes the migratory ability of OS cells. These data provide novel information to be exploited for cancer therapies targeting the mutual metabolic reprogramming of cancer cells and their stroma.
PMCID: PMC4202145  PMID: 25277190
osteosarcoma; mesenchymal stem cells; lactate; MCT-1; MCT-4
7.  The milk protein α-casein functions as a tumor suppressor via activation of STAT1 signaling, effectively preventing breast cancer tumor growth and metastasis 
Cell Cycle  2012;11(21):3972-3982.
Here, we identified the milk protein α-casein as a novel suppressor of tumor growth and metastasis. Briefly, Met-1 mammary tumor cells expressing α-casein showed a ~5-fold reduction in tumor growth and a near 10-fold decrease in experimental metastasis. To identify the molecular mechanism(s), we performed genome-wide transcriptional profiling. Interestingly, our results show that α-casein upregulates gene transcripts associated with interferon/STAT1 signaling and downregulates genes associated with “stemness.” These findings were validated by immunoblot and FACS analysis, which showed the upregulation and hyperactivation of STAT1 and a decrease in the number of CD44(+) “cancer stem cells.” These gene signatures were also able to predict clinical outcome in human breast cancer patients. Thus, we conclude that a lactation-based therapeutic strategy using recombinant α-casein would provide a more natural and non-toxic approach to the development of novel anticancer therapies.
PMCID: PMC3507493  PMID: 23047602
breast cancer; lactation; milk proteins; casein; STAT1; interferon signaling; cancer stem cells; metastasis
8.  Bortezomib (PS-341) Treatment Decreases Inflammation and Partially Rescues the Expression of the Dystrophin-Glycoprotein Complex in GRMD Dogs 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61367.
Golden retriever muscular dystrophy (GRMD) is a genetic myopathy corresponding to Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) in humans. Muscle atrophy is known to be associated with degradation of the dystrophin-glycoprotein complex (DGC) via the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. In the present study, we investigated the effect of bortezomib treatment on the muscle fibers of GRMD dogs. Five GRMD dogs were examined; two were treated (TD- Treated dogs) with the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib, and three were control dogs (CD). Dogs were treated with bortezomib using the same treatment regimen used for multiple myeloma. Pharmacodynamics were evaluated by measuring the inhibition of 20S proteasome activity in whole blood after treatment and comparing it to that in CD. We performed immunohistochemical studies on muscle biopsy specimens to evaluate the rescue of dystrophin and dystrophin-associated proteins in the muscles of GRMD dogs treated with bortezomib. Skeletal tissue from TD had lower levels of connective tissue deposition and inflammatory cell infiltration than CD as determined by histology, collagen morphometry and ultrastructural analysis. The CD showed higher expression of phospho-NFκB and TGF-β1, suggesting a more pronounced activation of anti-apoptotic factors and inflammatory molecules and greater connective tissue deposition, respectively. Immunohistochemical analysis demonstrated that dystrophin was not present in the sarcoplasmic membrane of either group. However, bortezomib-TD showed higher expression of α- and β-dystroglycan, indicating an improved disease histopathology phenotype. Significant inhibition of 20S proteasome activity was observed 1 hour after bortezomib administration in the last cycle when the dose was higher. Proteasome inhibitors may thus improve the appearance of GRMD muscle fibers, lessen connective tissue deposition and reduce the infiltration of inflammatory cells. In addition, proteasome inhibitors may rescue some dystrophin-associated proteins in the muscle fiber membrane.
PMCID: PMC3620287  PMID: 23579193
9.  Caveolin-1 promotes pancreatic cancer cell differentiation and restores membranous E-cadherin via suppression of the epithelial-mesenchymal transition 
Cell Cycle  2011;10(21):3692-3700.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest cancers due to early rapid metastasis and chemoresistance. Recently, epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) was shown to play a key role in the pathogenesis of pancreatic cancer. To understand the role of caveolin-1 (Cav-1) in EMT, we overexpressed Cav-1 in a pancreatic cancer cell line, Panc 10.05, that does not normally express Cav-1. Here, we show that Cav-1 expression in pancreatic cancer cells induces an epithelial phenotype and promotes cell-cell contact, with increased expression of plasma membrane bound E-cadherin and β-catenin. Mechanistically, Cav-1 induces Snail downregulation and decreased activation of AKT, MAPK and TGFβ-Smad signaling pathways. In vitro, Cav-1 expression reduces cell migration and invasion, and attenuates doxorubicin-chemoresistance of pancreatic cancer cells. Importantly, in vivo studies revealed that Cav-1 expression greatly suppresses tumor formation in a xenograft model. Most interestingly, Panc/Cav-1 tumors displayed organized nests of differentiated cells that were totally absent in control tumors. Confirming our in vitro results, these nests of differentiated cells showed reexpression of E-cadherin and β-catenin at the cell membrane. Thus, we provide evidence that Cav-1 functions as a crucial modulator of EMT and cell differentiation in pancreatic cancer.
PMCID: PMC3266007  PMID: 22041584
caveolae; caveolin-1; epithelial-mesenchymal transition; E-cadherin; pancreatic cancer; cell differentiation; chemoresistance
10.  Metabolic remodeling of the tumor microenvironment 
Cell Cycle  2012;11(18):3403-3414.
Migration stimulating factor (MSF) is a genetically truncated N-terminal isoform of fibronectin that is highly expressed during mammalian development in fetal fibroblasts, and during tumor formation in human cancer-associated myofibroblasts. However, its potential functional role in regulating tumor metabolism remains unexplored. Here, we generated an immortalized fibroblast cell line that recombinantly overexpresses MSF and studied their properties relative to vector-alone control fibroblasts. Our results indicate that overexpression of MSF is sufficient to confer myofibroblastic differentiation, likely via increased TGF-b signaling. In addition, MSF activates the inflammation-associated transcription factor NFκB, resulting in the onset of autophagy/mitophagy, thereby driving glycolytic metabolism (L-lactate production) in the tumor microenvironment. Consistent with the idea that glycolytic fibroblasts fuel tumor growth (via L-lactate, a high-energy mitochondrial fuel), MSF fibroblasts significantly increased tumor growth, by up to 4-fold. Mechanistic dissection of the MSF signaling pathway indicated that Cdc42 lies downstream of MSF and fibroblast activation. In accordance with this notion, Cdc42 overexpression in immortalized fibroblasts was sufficient to drive myofibroblast differentiation, to provoke a shift towards glycolytic metabolism and to promote tumor growth by up to 2-fold. In conclusion, the MSF/Cdc42/NFκB signaling cascade may be a critical druggable target in preventing “Warburg-like” cancer metabolism in tumor-associated fibroblasts. Thus, MSF functions in the metabolic remodeling of the tumor microenvironment by metabolically reprogramming cancer-associated fibroblasts toward glycolytic metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3466551  PMID: 22918248
TGF-beta signaling; aerobic glycolysis; cancer-associated fibroblasts; metabolic coupling; migration stimulating factor (MSF); myofibroblast; tumor stroma
11.  Matrix remodeling stimulates stromal autophagy, “fueling” cancer cell mitochondrial metabolism and metastasis 
Cell Cycle  2011;10(12):2021-2034.
We have previously demonstrated that loss of stromal caveolin-1 (Cav-1) in cancer-associated fibroblasts is a strong and independent predictor of poor clinical outcome in human breast cancer patients. However, the signaling mechanism(s) by which Cav-1 downregulation leads to this tumor-promoting microenvironment are not well understood. To address this issue, we performed an unbiased comparative proteomic analysis of wild-type (WT) and Cav-1-/- null mammary stromal fibroblasts (MSFs). Our results show that plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1 and type 2 (PAI-1 and PAI-2) expression is significantly increased in Cav-1-/- MSFs. To establish a direct cause-effect relationship, we next generated immortalized human fibroblast lines stably overexpressing either PAI-1 or PAI-2. Importantly, PAI-1/2(+) fibroblasts promote the growth of MDA-MB-231 tumors (a human breast cancer cell line) in a murine xenograft model, without any increases in angiogenesis. Similarly, PAI-1/2(+) fibroblasts stimulate experimental metastasis of MDA-MB-231 cells using an in vivo lung colonization assay. Further mechanistic studies revealed that fibroblasts overexpressing PAI-1 or PAI-2 display increased autophagy (“self-eating”) and are sufficient to induce mitochondrial biogenesis/activity in adjacent cancer cells, in co-culture experiments. In xenografts, PAI-1/2(+) fibroblasts significantly reduce the apoptosis of MDA-MB-231 tumor cells. The current study provides further support for the “Autophagic Tumor Stroma Model of Cancer” and identifies a novel “extracellular matrix”-based signaling mechanism, by which a loss of stromal Cav-1 generates a metastatic phenotype. Thus, the secretion and remodeling of extracellular matrix components (such as PAI-1/2) can directly regulate both (1) autophagy in stromal fibroblasts and (2) epithelial tumor cell mitochondrial metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3154420  PMID: 21646868
caveolin-1; plasminogen activator inhibitor; cancer-associated fibroblasts; autophagy; tumor stroma; apoptosis; breast cancer; metastasis
12.  Autophagy and senescence in cancer-associated fibroblasts metabolically supports tumor growth and metastasis via glycolysis and ketone production 
Cell Cycle  2012;11(12):2285-2302.
Senescent fibroblasts are known to promote tumor growth. However, the exact mechanism remains largely unknown. An important clue comes from recent studies linking autophagy with the onset of senescence. Thus, autophagy and senescence may be part of the same physiological process, known as the autophagy-senescence transition (AST). To test this hypothesis, human fibroblasts immortalized with telomerase (hTERT-BJ1) were stably transfected with autophagy genes (BNIP3, CTSB or ATG16L1). Their overexpression was sufficient to induce a constitutive autophagic phenotype, with features of mitophagy, mitochondrial dysfunction and a shift toward aerobic glycolysis, resulting in L-lactate and ketone body production. Autophagic fibroblasts also showed features of senescence, with increased p21(WAF1/CIP1), a CDK inhibitor, cellular hypertrophy and increased β-galactosidase activity. Thus, we genetically validated the existence of the autophagy-senescence transition. Importantly, autophagic-senescent fibroblasts promoted tumor growth and metastasis, when co-injected with human breast cancer cells, independently of angiogenesis. Autophagic-senescent fibroblasts stimulated mitochondrial metabolism in adjacent cancer cells, when the two cell types were co-cultured, as visualized by MitoTracker staining. In particular, autophagic ATG16L1 fibroblasts, which produced large amounts of ketone bodies (3-hydroxy-butyrate), had the strongest effects and promoted metastasis by up to 11-fold. Conversely, expression of ATG16L1 in epithelial cancer cells inhibited tumor growth, indicating that the effects of autophagy are compartment-specific. Thus, autophagic-senescent fibroblasts metabolically promote tumor growth and metastasis, by paracrine production of high-energy mitochondrial fuels. Our current studies provide genetic support for the importance of “two-compartment tumor metabolism” in driving tumor growth and metastasis via a simple energy transfer mechanism. Finally, β-galactosidase, a known lysosomal enzyme and biomarker of senescence, was localized to the tumor stroma in human breast cancer tissues, providing in vivo support for our hypothesis. Bioinformatic analysis of genome-wide transcriptional profiles from tumor stroma, isolated from human breast cancers, also validated the onset of an autophagy-senescence transition. Taken together, these studies establish a new functional link between host aging, autophagy, the tumor microenvironment and cancer metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3383590  PMID: 22684298
ATG16L1; BNIP3; BNIP3L; Beclin1; autophagy; cancer metabolism; cancer-associated fibroblasts; cathepsin B; glycolysis; senescence; tumor stroma
13.  CAV1 Inhibits Metastatic Potential in Melanomas through Suppression of the Integrin/Src/FAK Signaling Pathway 
Cancer research  2010;70(19):7489-7499.
Caveolin-1 (CAV1) is the main structural component of Caveolae which are plasma membrane invaginations that participate in vesicular trafficking and signal transduction events. Although evidence has recently accumulated describing the function of CAV1 in several cancer types, its role in melanoma tumor formation and progression remains poorly explored. Here, by employing B16F10 melanoma cells as an experimental system, we directly explore the function of CAV1 in melanoma tumor growth and metastasis. We first show that CAV1 expression promotes proliferation, while it suppresses migration and invasion of B16F10 cells in vitro. When orthotopically implanted in the skin of mice, B16F10 cells expressing CAV1 form tumors that are similar in size to their control counterparts. An experimental metastasis assay demonstrates that CAV1 expression suppresses the ability of B16F10 cells to form lung metastases in C57Bl/6 syngeneic mice. Additionally, CAV1 protein and mRNA levels are found to be significantly reduced in human metastatic melanoma cell lines and human tissue from metastatic lesions. Finally, we demonstrate that following integrin activation, B16F10 cells expressing CAV1 display reduced expression levels and activity of FAK and Src proteins. Furthermore, CAV1 expression markedly reduces the expression of integrin β3 in B16F10 melanoma cells. In summary, our findings provide experimental evidence that CAV1 may function as an antimetastatic gene in malignant melanoma.
PMCID: PMC2948597  PMID: 20709760
14.  The autophagic tumor stroma model of cancer or “battery-operated tumor growth” 
Cell Cycle  2010;9(21):4297-4306.
The role of autophagy in tumorigenesis is controversial. Both autophagy inhibitors (chloroquine) and autophagy promoters (rapamycin) block tumorigenesis by unknown mechanism(s). This is called the “Autophagy Paradox.” We have recently reported a simple solution to this paradox. We demonstrated that epithelial cancer cells use oxidative stress to induce autophagy in the tumor microenvironment. As a consequence, the autophagic tumor stroma generates recycled nutrients that can then be used as chemical building blocks by anabolic epithelial cancer cells. This model results in a net energy transfer from the tumor stroma to epithelial cancer cells (an energy imbalance), thereby promoting tumor growth. This net energy transfer is both unilateral and vectorial, from the tumor stroma to the epithelial cancer cells, representing a true host-parasite relationship. We have termed this new paradigm “The Autophagic Tumor Stroma Model of Cancer Cell Metabolism” or “Battery-Operated Tumor Growth.” In this sense, autophagy in the tumor stroma serves as a “battery” to fuel tumor growth, progression and metastasis, independently of angiogenesis. Using this model, the systemic induction of autophagy will prevent epithelial cancer cells from using recycled nutrients, while the systemic inhibiton of autophagy will prevent stromal cells from producing recycled nutrients—both effectively “starving” cancer cells. We discuss the idea that tumor cells could become resistant to the systemic induction of autophagy by the upregulation of natural, endogenous autophagy inhibitors in cancer cells. Alternatively, tumor cells could also become resistant to the systemic induction of autophagy by the genetic silencing/deletion of pro-autophagic molecules, such as Beclin1. If autophagy resistance develops in cancer cells, then the systemic inhibition of autophagy would provide a therapeutic solution to this type of drug resistance, as it would still target autophagy in the tumor stroma. As such, an anti-cancer therapy that combines the alternating use of both autophagy promoters and autophagy inhibitors would be expected to prevent the onset of drug resistance. We also discuss why anti-angiogenic therapy has been found to promote tumor recurrence, progression and metastasis. More specifically, anti-angiogenic therapy would induce autophagy in the tumor stroma via the induction of stromal hypoxia, thereby converting a non-aggressive tumor type to a “lethal” aggressive tumor phenotype. Thus, uncoupling the metabolic parasitic relationship between cancer cells and an autophagic tumor stroma may hold great promise for anti-cancer therapy. Finally, we believe that autophagy in the tumor stroma is the local microscopic counterpart of systemic wasting (cancer-associated cachexia), which is associated with advanced and metastatic cancers. Cachexia in cancer patients is not due to decreased energy intake, but instead involves an increased basal metabolic rate and increased energy expenditures, resulting in a negative energy balance. Importantly, when tumors were surgically excised, this increased metabolic rate returned to normal levels. This view of cachexia, resulting in energy transfer to the tumor, is consistent with our hypothesis. So, cancer-associated cachexia may start locally as stromal autophagy and then spread systemically. As such, stromal autophagy may be the requisite precursor of systemic cancer-associated cachexia.
PMCID: PMC3055183  PMID: 21051947
caveolin-1; autophagy; cancer associated fibroblasts; hypoxia; mitophagy; oxidative stress; DNA damage; genomic instability; tumor stroma; wasting (cancer cachexia); Warburg effect
15.  Ketones and lactate “fuel” tumor growth and metastasis 
Cell Cycle  2010;9(17):3506-3514.
Previously, we proposed a new model for understanding the “Warburg effect” in tumor metabolism. In this scheme, cancer-associated fibroblasts undergo aerobic glycolysis and the resulting energy-rich metabolites are then transferred to epithelial cancer cells, where they enter the TCA cycle, resulting in high ATP production via oxidative phosphorylation. We have termed this new paradigm “The Reverse Warburg Effect.” Here, we directly evaluate whether the end-products of aerobic glycolysis (3-hydroxy-butyrate and L-lactate) can stimulate tumor growth and metastasis, using MDA-MB-231 breast cancer xenografts as a model system. More specifically, we show that administration of 3-hydroxy-butyrate (a ketone body) increases tumor growth by ∼2.5-fold, without any measurable increases in tumor vascularization/angiogenesis. Both 3-hydroxy-butyrate and L-lactate functioned as chemo-attractants, stimulating the migration of epithelial cancer cells. Although L-lactate did not increase primary tumor growth, it stimulated the formation of lung metastases by ∼10-fold. Thus, we conclude that ketones and lactate fuel tumor growth and metastasis, providing functional evidence to support the “reverse Warburg effect.” Moreover, we discuss the possibility that it may be unwise to use lactate-containing i.v. solutions (such as lactated Ringer's or Hartmann's solution) in cancer patients, given the dramatic metastasis-promoting properties of L-lactate. Also, we provide evidence for the upregulation of oxidative mitochondrial metabolism and the TCA cycle in human breast cancer cells in vivo, via an informatics analysis of the existing raw transcriptional profiles of epithelial breast cancer cells and adjacent stromal cells. Lastly, our findings may explain why diabetic patients have an increased incidence of cancer, due to increased ketone production, and a tendency towards autophagy/mitophagy in their adipose tissue.
PMCID: PMC3047616  PMID: 20818174
3-hydroxybutyrate (ketone bodies); L-lactate; stroma; tumor growth; metastasis; the Warburg effect; aerobic glycolysis; tumor microenvironment; cancer associated fibroblasts
16.  Caveolin-1-Deficient Mice Show Defects in Innate Immunity and Inflammatory Immune Response during Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhimurium Infection▿ †  
Infection and Immunity  2006;74(12):6665-6674.
A number of studies have shown an association of pathogens with caveolae. To this date, however, there are no studies showing a role for caveolin-1 in modulating immune responses against pathogens. Interestingly, expression of caveolin-1 has been shown to occur in a regulated manner in immune cells in response to lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Here, we sought to determine the role of caveolin-1 (Cav-1) expression in Salmonella pathogenesis. Cav-1−/− mice displayed a significant decrease in survival when challenged with Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. Spleen and tissue burdens were significantly higher in Cav-1−/− mice. However, infection of Cav-1−/− macrophages with serovar Typhimurium did not result in differences in bacterial invasion. In addition, Cav-1−/− mice displayed increased production of inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, and nitric oxide. Regardless of this, Cav-1−/− mice were unable to control the systemic infection of Salmonella. The increased chemokine production in Cav-1−/− mice resulted in greater infiltration of neutrophils into granulomas but did not alter the number of granulomas present. This was accompanied by increased necrosis in the liver. However, Cav-1−/− macrophages displayed increased inflammatory responses and increased nitric oxide production in vitro in response to Salmonella LPS. These results show that caveolin-1 plays a key role in regulating anti-inflammatory responses in macrophages. Taken together, these data suggest that the increased production of toxic mediators from macrophages lacking caveolin-1 is likely to be responsible for the marked susceptibility of caveolin-1-deficient mice to S. enterica serovar Typhimurium.
PMCID: PMC1698056  PMID: 16982844
17.  Intracellular Retention of Glycosylphosphatidyl Inositol-Linked Proteins in Caveolin-Deficient Cells 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2002;22(11):3905-3926.
The relationship between glycosylphosphatidyl inositol (GPI)-linked proteins and caveolins remains controversial. Here, we derived fibroblasts from Cav-1 null mouse embryos to study the behavior of GPI-linked proteins in the absence of caveolins. These cells lack morphological caveolae, do not express caveolin-1, and show a ∼95% down-regulation in caveolin-2 expression; these cells also do not express caveolin-3, a muscle-specific caveolin family member. As such, these caveolin-deficient cells represent an ideal tool to study the role of caveolins in GPI-linked protein sorting. We show that in Cav-1 null cells GPI-linked proteins are preferentially retained in an intracellular compartment that we identify as the Golgi complex. This intracellular pool of GPI-linked proteins is not degraded and remains associated with intracellular lipid rafts as judged by its Triton insolubility. In contrast, GPI-linked proteins are transported to the plasma membrane in wild-type cells, as expected. Furthermore, recombinant expression of caveolin-1 or caveolin-3, but not caveolin-2, in Cav-1 null cells complements this phenotype and restores the cell surface expression of GPI-linked proteins. This is perhaps surprising, as GPI-linked proteins are confined to the exoplasmic leaflet of the membrane, while caveolins are cytoplasmically oriented membrane proteins. As caveolin-1 normally undergoes palmitoylation on three cysteine residues (133, 143, and 156), we speculated that palmitoylation might mechanistically couple caveolin-1 to GPI-linked proteins. In support of this hypothesis, we show that palmitoylation of caveolin-1 on residues 143 and 156, but not residue 133, is required to restore cell surface expression of GPI-linked proteins in this complementation assay. We also show that another lipid raft-associated protein, c-Src, is retained intracellularly in Cav-1 null cells. Thus, Golgi-associated caveolins and caveola-like vesicles could represent part of the transport machinery that is necessary for efficiently moving lipid rafts and their associated proteins from the trans-Golgi to the plasma membrane. In further support of these findings, GPI-linked proteins were also retained intracellularly in tissue samples derived from Cav-1 null mice (i.e., lung endothelial and renal epithelial cells) and Cav-3 null mice (skeletal muscle fibers).
PMCID: PMC133834  PMID: 11997523

Results 1-17 (17)