Doctor of Philosophy, Unlisted School (2015)
Bingwei Lu, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
The c-Myc oncogene drives malignant progression and induces robust anabolic and proliferative programmes leading to intrinsic stress. The mechanisms enabling adaptation to MYC-induced stress are not fully understood. Here we reveal an essential role for activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4) in survival following MYC activation. MYC upregulates ATF4 by activating general control nonderepressible 2 (GCN2) kinase through uncharged transfer RNAs. Subsequently, ATF4 co-occupies promoter regions of over 30 MYC-target genes, primarily those regulating amino acid and protein synthesis, including eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E-binding protein 1 (4E-BP1), a negative regulator of translation. 4E-BP1 relieves MYC-induced proteotoxic stress and is essential to balance protein synthesis. 4E-BP1 activity is negatively regulated by mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1)-dependent phosphorylation and inhibition of mTORC1 signalling rescues ATF4-deficient cells from MYC-induced endoplasmic reticulum stress. Acute deletion of ATF4 significantly delays MYC-driven tumour progression and increases survival in mouse models. Our results establish ATF4 as a cellular rheostat of MYC activity, which ensures that enhanced translation rates are compatible with survival and tumour progression.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41556-019-0347-9
View details for PubMedID 31263264
Resistance to BRAF and MEK inhibitors (BRAFi + MEKi) in BRAF-mutant tumors occurs through heterogeneous mechanisms, including ERK reactivation and autophagy. Little is known about the mechanisms by which ERK reactivation or autophagy is induced by BRAFi + MEKi. Here, we report that in BRAF-mutant melanoma cells, BRAFi + MEKi induced SEC61-dependent endoplasmic reticulum (ER) translocation of the MAPK pathway via GRP78 and KSR2. Inhibition of ER translocation prevented ERK reactivation and autophagy. Following ER translocation, ERK exited the ER and was rephosphorylated by PERK. Reactivated ERK phosphorylated ATF4, which activated cytoprotective autophagy. Upregulation of GRP78 and phosphorylation of ATF4 were detected in tumors of patients resistant to BRAFi + MEKi. ER translocation of the MAPK pathway was demonstrated in therapy-resistant patient-derived xenografts. Expression of a dominant-negative ATF4 mutant conferred sensitivity to BRAFi + MEKi in vivo. This mechanism reconciles two major targeted therapy resistance pathways and identifies druggable targets, whose inhibition would likely enhance the response to BRAFi + MEKi. SIGNIFICANCE: ERK reactivation and autophagy are considered distinct resistance pathways to BRAF + MEK inhibition (BRAFi + MEKi) in BRAFV600E cancers. Here, we report BRAFi + MEKi-induced ER translocation of the MAPK pathway is necessary for ERK reactivation, which drives autophagy. The ER translocation mechanism is a major druggable driver of resistance to targeted therapy.This article is highlighted in the In This Issue feature, p. 305.
View details for DOI 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-18-0348
View details for PubMedID 30563872
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6397701
Clinical trials repurposing lysosomotropic chloroquine (CQ) derivatives as autophagy inhibitors in cancer demonstrate encouraging results, but the underlying mechanism of action remains unknown. Here, we report a novel dimeric CQ (DC661) capable of deacidifying the lysosome and inhibiting autophagy significantly better than hydroxychloroquine (HCQ). Using an in situ photoaffinity pulldown strategy, we identified palmitoyl-protein thioesterase 1 (PPT1) as a molecular target shared across monomeric and dimeric CQ derivatives. HCQ and Lys05 also bound to and inhibited PPT1 activity, but only DC661 maintained activity in acidic media. Knockout of PPT1 in cancer cells using CRISPR/Cas9 editing abrogates autophagy modulation and cytotoxicity of CQ derivatives, and results in significant impairment of tumor growth similar to that observed with DC661. Elevated expression of PPT1 in tumors correlates with poor survival in patients in a variety of cancers. Thus, PPT1 represents a new target in cancer that can be inhibited with CQ derivatives. SIGNIFICANCE: This study identifies PPT1 as the previously unknown lysosomal molecular target of monomeric and dimeric CQ derivatives. Genetic suppression of PPT1 impairs tumor growth, and PPT1 levels are elevated in cancer and associated with poor survival. These findings provide a strong rationale for targeting PPT1 in cancer. This article is highlighted in the In This Issue feature, p. 151.
View details for DOI 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-18-0706
View details for PubMedID 30442709
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6368875
Autophagy is a conserved, self-degradation system that is critical for maintaining cellular homeostasis during stress conditions. Dysregulated autophagy has implications in health and disease. Specifically, in cancer, autophagy plays a dichotomous role by inhibiting tumor initiation but supporting tumor progression. Early results from clinical trials that repurposed hydroxychloroquine for cancer have suggested that autophagy inhibition may be a promising approach for advanced cancers. In this review of the literature, the authors present fundamental advances in the biology of autophagy, approaches to targeting autophagy, the preclinical rationale and clinical experience with hydroxychloroquine in cancer clinical trials, the potential role of autophagy in tumor immunity, and recent developments in next-generation autophagy inhibitors that have clinical potential. Autophagy is a promising target for drug development in cancer. Cancer 2018. © 2018 American Cancer Society.
View details for DOI 10.1002/cncr.31335
View details for PubMedID 29671878
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6108917