Mevalonate pathway provides ubiquinone to maintain pyrimidine synthesis and survival in p53-deficient cancer cells exposed to…

Oncogene activation and loss of tumor suppressor function changes the metabolic activity of cancer cells to drive unrestricted proliferation. Moreover, cancer cells adapt their metabolism to sustain growth and survival when access to oxygen and nutrients is restricted, such as in poorly vascularized tumor areas. We show here that p53-deficient colon cancer cells exposed to tumor-like metabolic stress in spheroid culture activated the mevalonate pathway to promote the synthesis of ubiquinone. This was essential to maintain mitochondrial electron transport for respiration and pyrimidine synthesis in metabolically compromised environments. Induction of mevalonate pathway enzyme expression in the absence of p53 was mediated by accumulation and stabilization of mature SREBP2. Mevalonate pathway inhibition by statins blocked pyrimidine nucleotide biosynthesis and induced oxidative stress and apoptosis in p53-deficient cancer cells in spheroid culture. Moreover, ubiquinone produced by the mevalonate pathway was essential for the growth of p53-deficient tumor organoids. In contrast, inhibition of intestinal hyperproliferation by statins in an Apc/KrasG12D-mutant mouse model was independent of de novo pyrimidine synthesis. Our results highlight the importance of the mevalonate pathway for maintaining mitochondrial electron transfer and biosynthetic activity in cancer cells exposed to metabolic stress. They also demonstrate that the metabolic output of this pathway depends on both genetic and environmental context.

Significance: These findings suggest that p53-deficient cancer cells activate the mevalonate pathway via SREBP2 and promote the synthesis of ubiquinone that plays an essential role in reducing oxidative stress and supports the synthesis of pyrimidine nucleotide

Team Rosetta
Journal Cancer Research
Authors Irem Kaymak et al
DATE 19 November 2019
Dissociation of solid tumor tissues with cold active protease for single-cell RNA-seq minimizes conserved collagenase-…

Background: Single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) is a powerful tool for studying complex biological systems, such as tumor heterogeneity and tissue microenvironments. However, the sources of technical and biological variation in primary solid tumor tissues and patient-derived mouse xenografts for scRNA-seq are not well understood.

Results: We use low temperature (6 °C) protease and collagenase (37 °C) to identify the transcriptional signatures associated with tissue dissociation across a diverse scRNA-seq dataset comprising 155,165 cells from patient cancer tissues, patient-derived breast cancer xenografts, and cancer cell lines. We observe substantial variation in standard quality control metrics of cell viability across conditions and tissues. From the contrast between tissue protease dissociation at 37 °C or 6 °C, we observe that collagenase digestion results in a stress response. We derive a core gene set of 512 heat shock and stress response genes, including FOS and JUN, induced by collagenase (37 °C), which are minimized by dissociation with a cold active protease (6 °C). While induction of these genes was highly conserved across all cell types, cell type-specific responses to collagenase digestion were observed in patient tissues.

Conclusions: The method and conditions of tumor dissociation influence cell yield and transcriptome state and are both tissue- and cell-type dependent. Interpretation of stress pathway expression differences in cancer single-cell studies, including components of surface immune recognition such as MHC class I, may be especially confounded. We define a core set of 512 genes that can assist with the identification of such effects in dissociated scRNA-seq experiments.

Journal Genome Biology
Authors Ciara H. O’Flanagan et al
DATE 17 November 2019
Clonal decomposition and DNA replication states defined by scaled single-cell genome sequencing

Accurate measurement of clonal genotypes, mutational processes, and replication states from individual tumor-cell genomes will facilitate improved understanding of tumor evolution. We have developed DLP+, a scalable single-cell whole-genome sequencing platform implemented using commodity instruments, image-based object recognition, and open source computational methods. Using DLP+, we have generated a resource of 51,926 single-cell genomes and matched cell images from diverse cell types including cell lines, xenografts, and diagnostic samples with limited material. From this resource we have defined variation in mitotic mis-segregation rates across tissue types and genotypes. Analysis of matched genomic and image measurements revealed correlations between cellular morphology and genome ploidy states. Aggregation of cells sharing copy number profiles allowed for calculation of single-nucleotide resolution clonal genotypes and inference of clonal phylogenies and avoided the limitations of bulk deconvolution. Finally, joint analysis over the above features defined clone-specific chromosomal aneuploidy in polyclonal populations.

Journal Cell
Authors Emma Laks et al
DATE 14 November 2019
Characterising Mutational Spectra of Carcinogens in the Tumour Suppressor Gene TP53 Using Human TP53 Knock-in (Hupki) Mouse…

DNA in dividing cells is prone to mutagenesis, with mutations making key contributions to human disease including cancer. The tumour suppressor gene TP53 is the most frequently mutated gene in human tumours. Here, we present a robust protocol for studying TP53 mutagenesis utilising human TP53 knock-in (Hupki) mouse embryonic fibroblasts (HUFs). In the HUF immortalisation assay (HIMA), primary HUFs are treated with known or suspected carcinogens at 3% oxygen and then transferred to 20% atmospheric oxygen to induce senescence. Cells containing mutations (e.g., in TP53) that allow bypassing of senescence eventually emerge as immortalised clonal cell lines after 2-3 months of serial passaging. As not all immortalised HUF cells contain TP53 mutations, we developed a Nutlin-3a counter-screen to select for TP53-mutated clones prior to sequencing. TP53 mutation spectra generated can be compared with those of human tumours recorded in the International Agency for Research on Cancer TP53 mutation database. Environmental mutagens that have demonstrated and validated the utility of the HIMA include ultraviolet radiation, aristolochic acid, and benzo[a]pyrene. The TP53 mutation patterns induced by these mutagens in the HIMA corresponded to those found in human tumours from patients exposed to these mutagens. The approach presented helps to deepen our understanding of human cancer aetiology.

Team Mutographs
Journal Methods and protocols
Authors Lisa Hölzl-Armstrong et al
DATE 13 November 2019
Somatic mutations and clonal dynamics in healthy and cirrhotic human liver

The most common causes of chronic liver disease are excess alcohol intake, viral hepatitis and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, with the clinical spectrum ranging in severity from hepatic inflammation to cirrhosis, liver failure or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The genome of HCC exhibits diverse mutational signatures, resulting in recurrent mutations across more than 30 cancer genes. Stem cells from normal livers have a low mutational burden and limited diversity of signatures, which suggests that the complexity of HCC arises during the progression to chronic liver disease and subsequent malignant transformation. Here, by sequencing whole genomes of 482 microdissections of 100–500 hepatocytes from 5 normal and 9 cirrhotic livers, we show that cirrhotic liver has a higher mutational burden than normal liver. Although rare in normal hepatocytes, structural variants, including chromothripsis, were prominent in cirrhosis. Driver mutations, such as point mutations and structural variants, affected 1–5% of clones. Clonal expansions of millimetres in diameter occurred in cirrhosis, with clones sequestered by the bands of fibrosis that surround regenerative nodules. Some mutational signatures were universal and equally active in both non-malignant hepatocytes and HCCs; some were substantially more active in HCCs than chronic liver disease; and others—arising from exogenous exposures—were present in a subset of patients. The activity of exogenous signatures between adjacent cirrhotic nodules varied by up to tenfold within each patient, as a result of clone-specific and microenvironmental forces. Synchronous HCCs exhibited the same mutational signatures as background cirrhotic liver, but with higher burden. Somatic mutations chronicle the exposures, toxicity, regeneration and clonal structure of liver tissue as it progresses from health to disease.

Team Mutographs
Journal Nature
Authors Simon F. Brunner et al
DATE October 2019