[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cancer cells are hypersensitive to nutrient limitation because oncogenes constitutively drive glycolytic and TCA (tricarboxylic acid) cycle intermediates into biosynthetic pathways. As the anaplerotic reactions that replace these intermediates are fueled by imported nutrients, the cancer cell's ability to generate ATP becomes compromised under nutrient-limiting conditions. In addition, most cancer cells have defects in autophagy, the catabolic process that provides nutrients from internal sources when external nutrients are unavailable. Normal cells, in contrast, can adapt to the nutrient stress that kills cancer cells by becoming quiescent and catabolic. In the present study we show that FTY720, a water-soluble sphingolipid drug that is effective in many animal cancer models, selectively starves cancer cells to death by down-regulating nutrient transporter proteins. Consistent with a bioenergetic mechanism of action, FTY720 induced homoeostatic autophagy. Cells were protected from FTY720 by cell-permeant nutrients or by reducing nutrient demand, but blocking apoptosis was ineffective. Importantly, AAL-149, a FTY720 analogue that lacks FTY720's dose-limiting toxicity, also triggered transporter loss and killed patient-derived leukaemias while sparing cells isolated from normal donors. As they target the metabolic profile of cancer cells rather than specific oncogenic mutations, FTY720 analogues such as AAL-149 should be effective against many different tumour types, particularly in combination with drugs that inhibit autophagy.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Intense research efforts over the last two decades have focused on establishing the significance of apoptotic signaling in adaptive immunity. Without doubt, caspase-dependent apoptosis plays vital roles in many immune processes, including lymphocyte development, positive and negative selection, homeostasis, and self-tolerance. Cell biologists have developed new insights into cell death, establishing that other modes of cell death exist, such as programmed necrosis and type II/autophagic cell death. Additionally, immunologists have identified a number of immunological processes that are highly dependent upon cellular autophagy, including antigen presentation, lymphocyte development and function, pathogen recognition and destruction, and inflammatory regulation. In this review, we provide detailed mechanistic descriptions of cellular autophagy and programmed necrosis induced in response to death receptor ligation, including methods to identify them, and compare and contrast these processes with apoptosis. The crosstalk between these three processes is emphasized as newly formulated evidence suggests that this interplay is vital for efficient T-cell clonal expansion. This new evidence indicates that in addition to apoptosis, autophagy and programmed necrosis play significant roles in the termination of T-cell-dependent immune responses.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The small GTPase Rab7 promotes fusion events between late endosomes and lysosomes. Rab7 activity is regulated by extrinsic signals, most likely via effects on its guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) or GTPase-activating protein (GAP). Based on their homology to the yeast proteins that regulate the Ypt7 GTP binding state, TBC1D15, and mammalian Vps39 (mVps39) have been suggested to function as the Rab7 GAP and GEF, respectively. We developed an effector pull-down assay to test this model. TBC1D15 functioned as a Rab7 GAP in cells, reducing Rab7 binding to its effector protein RILP, fragmenting the lysosome, and conferring resistance to growth factor withdrawal-induced cell death. In a cellular context, TBC1D15 GAP activity was selective for Rab7. TBC1D15 overexpression did not inhibit transferrin internalization or recycling, Rab7-independent processes that require Rab4, Rab5, and Rab11 activation. TBC1D15 was thus renamed Rab7-GAP. Contrary to expectations for a Rab7 GEF, mVps39 induced lysosomal clustering without increasing Rab7 GTP binding. Moreover, a dominant-negative mVps39 mutant fragmented the lysosome and promoted growth factor independence without decreasing Rab7-GTP levels. These findings suggest that a protein other than mVps39 serves as the Rab7 GEF. In summary, although only TBC1D15/Rab7-GAP altered Rab7-GTP levels, both Rab7-GAP and mVps39 regulate lysosomal morphology and play a role in maintaining growth factor dependence.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 04/2010; 285(22):16814-21. · 4.65 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The BCL-2 family members BAK and BAX are required for apoptosis and trigger mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization (MOMP). Here we identify a MOMP-independent function of BAK as a required factor for long-chain ceramide production in response to pro-apoptotic stress. UV-C irradiation of wild-type (WT) cells increased long-chain ceramides; blocking ceramide generation prevented caspase activation and cell death, demonstrating that long-chain ceramides play a key role in UV-C-induced apoptosis. In contrast, UV-C irradiation did not increase long-chain ceramides in BAK and BAX double knock-out cells. Notably, this was not specific to the cell type (baby mouse kidney cells, hematopoietic) nor the apoptotic stimulus employed (UV-C, cisplatin, and growth factor withdrawal). Importantly, long-chain ceramide generation was dependent on the presence of BAK, but not BAX. However, ceramide generation was independent of the known downstream actions of BAK in apoptosis (MOMP or caspase activation), suggesting a novel role for BAK in apoptosis. Finally, enzymatic assays identified ceramide synthase as the mechanism by which BAK regulates ceramide metabolism. There was no change in CerS expression at the message or protein level, indicating regulation at the post-translational level. Moreover, CerS activity in BAK KO microsomes can be reactivated upon addition of BAK-containing microsomes. The data presented indicate that ceramide-induced apoptosis is dependent upon BAK and identify a novel role for BAK during apoptosis. By establishing a unique role for BAK in long-chain ceramide metabolism, these studies further demonstrate that the seemingly redundant proteins BAK and BAX have distinct mechanisms of action during apoptosis induction.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 02/2010; 285(16):11818-26. · 4.65 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Rab7 GTPase promotes membrane fusion reactions between late endosomes and lysosomes. In previous studies, we demonstrated that Rab7 inactivation blocks growth factor withdrawal-induced cell death. These results led us to hypothesize that growth factor withdrawal activates Rab7. Here, we show that growth factor deprivation increased both the fraction of Rab7 that was associated with cellular membranes and the percentage of Rab7 bound to guanosine triphosphate (GTP). Moreover, expressing a constitutively GTP-bound mutant of Rab7, Rab7-Q67L, was sufficient to trigger cell death even in the presence of growth factors. This activated Rab7 mutant was also able to reverse the growth factor-independent cell survival conferred by protein kinase C (PKC) delta inhibition. PKCdelta is one of the most highly induced proteins after growth factor withdrawal and contributes to the induction of apoptosis. To evaluate whether PKCdelta regulates Rab7, we first examined lysosomal morphology in cells with reduced PKCdelta activity. Consistent with a potential role as a Rab7 activator, blocking PKCdelta function caused profound lysosomal fragmentation comparable to that observed when Rab7 was directly inhibited. Interestingly, PKCdelta inhibition fragmented the lysosome without decreasing Rab7-GTP levels. Taken together, these results suggest that Rab7 activation by growth factor withdrawal contributes to the induction of apoptosis and that Rab7-dependent fusion reactions may be targeted by signaling pathways that limit growth factor-independent cell survival.
Molecular biology of the cell 05/2009; 20(12):2831-40. · 5.98 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ceramide induces differentiation, proliferative arrest, senescence and death in mammalian cells. The mechanism by which ceramide produces these outcomes has proved difficult to define. Building on observations that ceramide stimulates autophagy, we have identified a novel mechanism of action for this sphingolipid: ceramide starves cells to death subsequent to profound nutrient transporter down-regulation. In yeast, ceramide generated in response to heat stress adaptively slows cell growth by down-regulating nutrient permeases. In mammalian cells, a lethal dose of ceramide triggers a bioenergetic crisis by so severely limiting cellular access to extracellular nutrients that autophagy is insufficient to meet the metabolic demands of the cell. In keeping with this bioenergetic explanation for ceramide toxicity, methyl pyruvate, a membrane-permeable nutrient, protects cells from ceramide-induced starvation. Also consistent with this model, we have found that the metabolic state of the cell determines its sensitivity to ceramide. Thus the increased sensitivity of cancer cells to ceramide may relate to their inflexible biosynthetic metabolic programme. These studies highlight the value of assessing nutrient transporter expression in autophagic cells and the important role that culture conditions play in determining the cellular response to ceramide.
Biochemical Society Transactions 03/2009; 37(Pt 1):253-8. · 2.59 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ceramide induces cell death in response to many stimuli. Its mechanism of action, however, is not completely understood. Ceramide induces autophagy in mammalian cells maintained in rich media and nutrient permease downregulation in yeast. These observations suggested to us that ceramide might kill mammalian cells by limiting cellular access to extracellular nutrients. Consistent with this proposal, physiologically relevant concentrations of ceramide produced a profound and specific downregulation of nutrient transporter proteins in mammalian cells. Blocking ceramide-induced nutrient transporter loss or supplementation with the cell-permeable nutrient, methyl pyruvate, reversed ceramide-dependent toxicity. Conversely, cells became more sensitive to ceramide when nutrient stress was increased by acutely limiting extracellular nutrients, inhibiting autophagy, or deleting AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). Observations that ceramide can trigger either apoptosis or caspase-independent cell death may be explained by this model. We found that methyl pyruvate (MP) also protected cells from ceramide-induced, nonapoptotic death consistent with the idea that severe bioenergetic stress was responsible. Taken together, these studies suggest that the cellular metabolic state is an important arbiter of the cellular response to ceramide. In fact, increasing nutrient demand by incubating cells in high levels of growth factor sensitized cells to ceramide. On the other hand, gradually adapting cells to tolerate low levels of extracellular nutrients completely blocked ceramide-induced death. In sum, these results support a model where ceramide kills cells by inducing intracellular nutrient limitation subsequent to nutrient transporter downregulation.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 12/2008; 105(45):17402-7. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Does the LKB1-AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase) pathway act to suppress tumorigenesis or to rescue cancer cells from metabolic collapse? New work from the Alessi laboratory in this issue of the Biochemical Journal shows conclusively that AMPK activators delay the growth of tumours that occur spontaneously in PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homologue deleted on chromosome 10) heterozygous mice.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although all cells depend upon nutrients they acquire from the extracellular space, surprisingly little is known about how nutrient uptake is regulated in mammalian cells. Most nutrients are brought into cells by means of specific transporter proteins. In yeast, the expression and trafficking of a wide variety of nutrient transporters is controlled by the TOR (target of rapamycin) kinase. Consistent with this, recent studies in mammalian cells have shown that mTOR (mammalian TOR) and the related protein, PI3K (phosphoinositide 3-kinase), play central roles in coupling nutrient transporter expression to the availability of extrinsic trophic and survival signals. In the case of lymphocytes, it has been particularly well established that these extrinsic signals stimulate cell growth and proliferation in part by regulating nutrient transporter expression. The ability of growth factors to control nutrient access may also play an important role in tumour suppression: the non-homoeostatic growth of tumour cells requires that nutrient transporter expression is uncoupled from trophic factor availability. Also supporting a link between nutrient transporter expression levels and oncogenesis, several recent studies demonstrate that nutrient transporter expression drives, rather than simply parallels, cellular metabolism. This review summarizes the evidence that regulated nutrient transporter expression plays a central role in cellular growth control and highlights the implications of these findings for human disease.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Apoptosis is the principal mechanism by which cells are physiologically eliminated in metazoan organisms. During apoptotic death, cells are neatly carved up by caspases and packaged into apoptotic bodies as a mechanism to avoid immune activation. Recently, necrosis, once thought of as simply a passive, unorganized way to die, has emerged as an alternate form of programmed cell death whose activation might have important biological consequences, including the induction of an inflammatory response. Autophagy has also been suggested as a possible mechanism for non-apoptotic death despite evidence from many species that autophagy represents a survival strategy in times of stress. Recent advances have helped to define the function of and mechanism for programmed necrosis and the role of autophagy in cell survival and suicide.
Current Opinion in Cell Biology 01/2005; 16(6):663-9. · 11.41 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In yeast, TOR couples cellular growth and metabolism to the availability of extracellular nutrients. In contrast, mammalian TOR kinase activity has been reported to be regulated by growth factor stimulation via the PI3K/Akt pathway. Consistent with this, growth factor deprivation results in dephosphorylation of the mTOR target proteins p70S6k and 4EBP1 in the face of abundant extracellular nutrients. To determine whether the activation of mTOR was sufficient to support cell survival in the absence of other growth factor-mediated signal transduction, we evaluated the ability of a growth factor-independent mTOR mutant, DeltaTOR, to protect cells from growth factor deprivation. DeltaTOR- but not wild-type mTOR-expressing cells were protected from many of the sequelae of growth factor deprivation including amino-acid transporter degradation, reduction of the glycolytic rate, cellular atrophy, decreased mitochondrial membrane potential, and Bax activation. Furthermore, DeltaTOR expression increased growth factor-independent, nutrient-dependent cell survival and enhanced the ability of p53-/- MEFs to form colonies in soft agar. These results suggest that activating mutations of mTOR can contribute to apoptotic resistance and might contribute to cellular transformation.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cellular proteins are degraded within two distinct compartments: the proteasome and the lysosome. Alterations in proteasomal degradation can contribute to carcinogenesis. In contrast, alterations in autophagic protein degradation through the lysosome have not been linked to cancer. Now two reports demonstrate that the autophagic gene, Beclin 1, is a haploinsufficient tumor suppressor gene. These new data suggest that autophagic degradation provides an important mechanism to prevent cellular transformation.
Cancer Cell 01/2004; 4(6):422-4. · 24.76 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rapamycin and its analogues have shown promising anticancer activities in preclinical and clinical studies. However, the mechanism whereby rapamycin inhibits signaling through the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) remains poorly understood. Here, we show that the FKBP12/rapamycin complex is an essentially irreversible inhibitor of mTOR kinase activity in vitro. However, we observe no suppression of mTOR catalytic activity after immunoprecipitation from rapamycin-treated cells. These results suggest either that rapamycin acts as a reversible kinase inhibitor in intact cells or that the cellular effects of rapamycin are not mediated through global suppression in mTOR kinase activity. To better understand the cellular pharmacology of rapamycin, we compared the individual and combined effects of rapamycin and kinase-inactive mTOR expression on a panel of mTOR-dependent cellular responses. These studies identified glycolytic activity, amino acid transporter trafficking, and Akt kinase activity as novel, mTOR-modulated functions in mammalian cells. Whereas kinase-inactive mTOR did not enhance the decreases in cell size and glycolysis induced by rapamycin, expression of this mTOR mutant significantly enhanced the inhibitory effects of rapamycin on cell proliferation, 4EBP1 phosphorylation, and Akt activity. Unexpectedly, amino acid transporter trafficking was perturbed by kinase-inactive mTOR but not by rapamycin, indicating that this process is rapamycin insensitive. These results indicate that rapamycin exerts variable inhibitory actions on mTOR signaling functions and suggest that direct inhibitors of the mTOR kinase domain will display substantially broader anticancer activities than rapamycin.
Cancer Research 01/2004; 63(23):8451-60. · 8.65 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Growth factor withdrawal results in the endocytosis and degradation of transporter proteins for glucose and amino acids. Here, we show that this process is under the active control of the small GTPase Rab7. In the presence of growth factor, Rab7 inhibition had no effect on nutrient transporter expression. In growth factor-deprived cells, however, blocking Rab7 function prevented the clearance of glucose and amino acid transporter proteins from the cell surface. When Rab7 was inhibited, growth factor deprived cells maintained their mitochondrial membrane potential and displayed prolonged, growth factor-independent, nutrient-dependent cell survival. Thus, Rab7 functions as a proapoptotic protein by limiting cell-autonomous nutrient uptake. Consistent with this, dominant-negative Rab7 cooperated with E1A to promote the transformation of p53(-/-) mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs). These results suggest that proteins that limit nutrient transporter expression function to prevent cell-autonomous growth and survival.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In multicellular organisms, constituent cells depend on extracellular signals for growth, proliferation, and survival. When cells are withdrawn from growth factors, they undergo apoptosis. Expression of constitutively active forms of the serine/threonine kinase Akt/PKB can prevent apoptosis upon growth factor withdrawal. Akt-mediated survival depends in part on the maintenance of glucose metabolism, suggesting that reduced glucose utilization contributes to growth factor withdrawal-induced death. However, it is unclear how restricting access to extracellular glucose alone would lead to the metabolic collapse observed after growth factor withdrawal. We report herein that growth factor withdrawal results in the loss of surface transporters for not only glucose but also amino acids, low-density lipoprotein, and iron. This coordinated decline in transporters and receptors for extracellular molecules creates a catabolic state characterized by atrophy and a decline in the mitochondrial membrane potential. Activated forms of Akt maintained these transporters on the cell surface in the absence of growth factor through an mTOR-dependent mechanism. The mTOR inhibitor rapamycin diminished Akt-mediated increases in cell size, mitochondrial membrane potential, and cell survival. These results suggest that growth factors control cellular growth and survival by regulating cellular access to extracellular nutrients in part by modulating the activity of Akt and mTOR.
Molecular Biology of the Cell 08/2002; 13(7):2276-88. · 4.60 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To investigate the basis for envelope (Env) determinants influencing simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) tropism, we studied a number of Envs that are closely related to that of SIVmac239, a pathogenic, T-tropic virus that is neutralization resistant. The Envs from macrophage-tropic (M-tropic) virus strains SIVmac316, 1A11, 17E-Fr, and 1100 facilitated infection of CCR5-positive, CD4-negative cells. In contrast, the SIVmac239 Env was strictly dependent upon the presence of CD4 for membrane fusion. We also found that the Envs from M-tropic virus strains, which are less pathogenic in vivo, were very sensitive to antibody-mediated neutralization. Antibodies to the V3-loop, as well as antibodies that block SIV gp120 binding to CCR5, efficiently neutralized CD4-independent, M-tropic Envs but not the 239 Env. However, triggering the 239 Env with soluble CD4, presumably resulting in exposure of the CCR5 binding site, made it as neutralization sensitive as the M-tropic Envs. In addition, mutations of N-linked glycosylation sites in the V1/V2 region, previously shown to enhance antigenicity and immunogenicity, made the 239 Env partially CD4 independent. These findings indicate that Env-based determinants of M tropism of these strains are generally associated with decreased dependence on CD4 for entry into cells. Furthermore, CD4 independence and M tropism are also associated with neutralization sensitivity and reduced pathogenicity, suggesting that the humoral immune response may exert strong selective pressure against CD4-independent M-tropic SIVmac strains. Finally, genetic modification of viral Envs to enhance CD4 independence may also result in improved humoral immune responses.
Journal of Virology 04/2002; 76(6):2595-605. · 5.08 Impact Factor