Persistent cancer cells are the discrete and usually undetected cells that survive cancer drug treatment and constitute a major cause of treatment failure. These cells are characterized by their slow proliferation, highly flexible energy consumption, adaptation to their microenvironment, and phenotypic plasticity. Mechanisms that underlie their persistence offer highly coveted and sought-after therapeutic targets, and include diverse epigenetic, transcriptional, and translational regulatory processes, as well as complex cell-cell interactions. Although the successful clinical targeting of persistent cancer cells remains to be realized, immense progress has been made in understanding their persistence, yielding promising preclinical results.
Posttranslational modifications of the microtubule cytoskeleton have emerged as key regulators of cellular functions, and their perturbations have been linked to a growing number of human pathologies. Tubulin glycylation modifies microtubules specifically in cilia and flagella, but its functional and mechanistic roles remain unclear. In this study, we generated a mouse model entirely lacking tubulin glycylation. Male mice were subfertile owing to aberrant beat patterns of their sperm flagella, which impeded the straight swimming of sperm cells. Using cryo-electron tomography, we showed that lack of glycylation caused abnormal conformations of the dynein arms within sperm axonemes, providing the structural basis for the observed dysfunction. Our findings reveal the importance of microtubule glycylation for controlled flagellar beating, directional sperm swimming, and male fertility.
Copyright © 2021, American Association for the Advancement of Science.
The prevalence of chronic kidney disease is increased in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). The study of urinary exosomal proteins might provide insight into the pathophysiology of CF kidney disease. Urine samples were collected from 19 CF patients (among those 7 were treated by cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) modulators), and 8 healthy subjects. Urine exosomal protein content was determined by high resolution mass spectrometry. A heatmap of the differentially expressed proteins in urinary exosomes showed a clear separation between control and CF patients. Seventeen proteins were upregulated in CF patients (including epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR); proteasome subunit beta type-6, transglutaminases, caspase 14) and 118 were downregulated (including glutathione S-transferases, superoxide dismutase, klotho, endosomal sorting complex required for transport, and matrisome proteins). Gene set enrichment analysis revealed 20 gene sets upregulated and 74 downregulated. Treatment with CFTR modulators yielded no significant modification of the proteomic content. These results highlight that CF kidney cells adapt to the CFTR defect by upregulating proteasome activity and that autophagy and endosomal targeting are impaired. Increased expression of EGFR and decreased expression of klotho and matrisome might play a central role in this CF kidney signature by inducing oxidation, inflammation, accelerated senescence, and abnormal tissue repair. Our study unravels novel insights into consequences of CFTR dysfunction in the urinary tract, some of which may have clinical and therapeutic implications.
Local translation allows spatial control of gene expression. Here, we performed a dual protein-mRNA localization screen, using smFISH on 523 human cell lines expressing GFP-tagged genes. 32 mRNAs displayed specific cytoplasmic localizations with local translation at unexpected locations, including cytoplasmic protrusions, cell edges, endosomes, Golgi, the nuclear envelope, and centrosomes, the latter being cell-cycle-dependent. Automated classification of mRNA localization patterns revealed a high degree of intercellular heterogeneity. Surprisingly, mRNA localization frequently required ongoing translation, indicating widespread co-translational RNA targeting. Interestingly, while P-body accumulation was frequent (15 mRNAs), four mRNAs accumulated in foci that were distinct structures. These foci lacked the mature protein, but nascent polypeptide imaging showed that they were specialized translation factories. For β-catenin, foci formation was regulated by Wnt, relied on APC-dependent polysome aggregation, and led to nascent protein degradation. Thus, translation factories uniquely regulate nascent protein metabolism and create a fine granular compartmentalization of translation.
Tumors are made of evolving and heterogeneous populations of cells which arise from successive appearance and expansion of subclonal populations, following acquisition of mutations conferring them a selective advantage. Those subclonal populations can be sensitive or resistant to different treatments, and provide information about tumor aetiology and future evolution. Hence, it is important to be able to assess the level of heterogeneity of tumors with high reliability for clinical applications. In the past few years, a large number of methods have been proposed to estimate intra-tumor heterogeneity from whole exome sequencing (WES) data, but the accuracy and robustness of these methods on real data remains elusive. Here we systematically apply and compare 6 computational methods to estimate tumor heterogeneity on 1,697 WES samples from the cancer genome atlas (TCGA) covering 3 cancer types (breast invasive carcinoma, bladder urothelial carcinoma, and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma), and two distinct input mutation sets. We observe significant differences between the estimates produced by different methods, and identify several likely confounding factors in heterogeneity assessment for the different methods. We further show that the prognostic value of tumor heterogeneity for survival prediction is limited in those datasets, and find no evidence that it improves over prognosis based on other clinical variables. In conclusion, heterogeneity inference from WES data on a single sample, and its use in cancer prognosis, should be considered with caution. Other approaches to assess intra-tumoral heterogeneity such as those based on multiple samples may be preferable for clinical applications.