Over the past decade, the Nomenclature Committee on Cell Death (NCCD) has formulated guidelines for the definition and interpretation of cell death from morphological, biochemical, and functional perspectives. Since the field continues to expand and novel mechanisms that orchestrate multiple cell death pathways are unveiled, we propose an updated classification of cell death subroutines focusing on mechanistic and essential (as opposed to correlative and dispensable) aspects of the process. As we provide molecularly oriented definitions of terms including intrinsic apoptosis, extrinsic apoptosis, mitochondrial permeability transition (MPT)-driven necrosis, necroptosis, ferroptosis, pyroptosis, parthanatos, entotic cell death, NETotic cell death, lysosome-dependent cell death, autophagy-dependent cell death, immunogenic cell death, cellular senescence, and mitotic catastrophe, we discuss the utility of neologisms that refer to highly specialized instances of these processes. The mission of the NCCD is to provide a widely accepted nomenclature on cell death in support of the continued development of the field.
HighlightsSerine and glycine are essential metabolites for cancer cells.Serine and glycine provide precursors for macromolecules and antioxidant defence.Metabolic enzymes of serine and glycine biosynthesis are upregulated in cancer.Innovative anticancer therapy is aiming to target serine and glycine biosynthesis.
Cancer progression often benefits from the selective conditions present in the tumour microenvironment, such as the presence of cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), deregulated ECM deposition, expanded vascularisation and repression of the immune response. Generation of a hypoxic environment and activation of its main effector, hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1), are common features of advanced cancers. In addition to the impact on tumour cell biology, the influence that hypoxia exerts on the surrounding cells represents a critical step in the tumorigenic process. Hypoxia indeed enables a number of events in the tumour microenvironment that lead to the expansion of aggressive clones from heterogeneous tumour cells and promote a lethal phenotype. In this article, we review the most relevant findings describing the influence of hypoxia and the contribution of HIF activation on the major components of the tumour microenvironment, and we summarise their role in cancer development and progression.
Head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs) are an aggressive, genetically complex and difficult to treat group of cancers. In lieu of truly effective targeted therapies, surgery and radiotherapy represent the primary treatment options for most patients. But these treatments are associated with significant morbidity and a reduction in quality of life. Resistance to both radiotherapy and the only available targeted therapy, and subsequent relapse are common. Research has therefore focussed on identifying biomarkers to stratify patients into clinically meaningful groups and to develop more effective targeted therapies. However, as we are now discovering, the poor response to therapy and aggressive nature of HNSCCs is not only affected by the complex alterations in intracellular signalling pathways but is also heavily influenced by the behaviour of the extracellular microenvironment. The HNSCC tumour landscape is an environment permissive of these tumours’ aggressive nature, fostered by the actions of the immune system, the response to tumour hypoxia and the influence of the microbiome. Solving these challenges now rests on expanding our knowledge of these areas, in parallel with a greater understanding of the molecular biology of HNSCC subtypes. This update aims to build on our earlier 2014 review by bringing up to date our understanding of the molecular biology of HNSCCs and provide insights into areas of ongoing research and perspectives for the future.
Head and neck cancers encompass a heterogeneous group of tumours that, in general, are biologically aggressive in nature. These cancers remain difficult to treat and treatment can cause severe, long-term side effects. For patients who are not cured by surgery and/or (chemo)radiotherapy, there are few effective treatment options. Targeted therapies and predictive biomarkers are urgently needed in order to improve the management and minimise the treatment toxicity, and to allow selection of patients who are likely to benefit from both nonselective and targeted therapies. This clinical update aims to provide an insight into the current understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of the disease, and explores the novel therapies under development and in clinical trials.
Inhibition of distinct ubiquitin E3 ligases might represent a powerful therapeutic tool. ITCH is a HECT domain-containing E3 ligase that promotes the ubiquitylation and degradation of several proteins, including p73, p63, c-Jun, JunB, Notch and c-FLIP, thus affecting cell fate. Accordingly, ITCH depletion potentiates the effect of chemotherapeutic drugs, revealing ITCH as a potential pharmacological target in cancer therapy. Using high throughput screening of ITCH auto-ubiquitylation, we identified several putative ITCH inhibitors, one of which is clomipramine—a clinically useful antidepressant drug. Previously, we have shown that clomipramine inhibits autophagy by blocking autophagolysosomal fluxes and thus could potentiate chemotherapy in vitro. Here, we found that clomipramine specifically blocks ITCH auto-ubiquitylation, as well as p73 ubiquitylation. By screening structural homologs of clomipramine, we identified several ITCH inhibitors and putative molecular moieties that are essential for ITCH inhibition. Treating a panel of breast, prostate and bladder cancer cell lines with clomipramine, or its homologs, we found that they reduce cancer cell growth, and synergize with gemcitabine or mitomycin in killing cancer cells by blocking autophagy. We also discuss a potential mechanism of inhibition. Together, our study (i) demonstrates the feasibility of using high throughput screening to identify E3 ligase inhibitors and (ii) provides insight into how clomipramine and its structural homologs might interfere with ITCH and other HECT E3 ligase catalytic activity in (iii) potentiating chemotherapy by regulating autophagic fluxes. These results may have direct clinical applications.
Tumor hypoxia and hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) activation are associated with cancer progression. Here, we demonstrate that the transcription factor TAp73 opposes HIF-1 activity through a nontranscriptional mechanism, thus affecting tumor angiogenesis. TAp73-deficient mice have an increased incidence of spontaneous and chemically induced tumors that also display enhanced vascularization. Mechanistically, TAp73 interacts with the regulatory subunit (α) of HIF-1 and recruits mouse double minute 2 homolog into the protein complex, thus promoting HIF-1α polyubiquitination and consequent proteasomal degradation in an oxygen-independent manner. In human lung cancer datasets, TAp73 strongly predicts good patient prognosis, and its expression is associated with low HIF-1 activation and angiogenesis. Our findings, supported by in vivo and clinical evidence, demonstrate a mechanism for oxygen-independent HIF-1 regulation, which has important implications for individualizing therapies in patients with cancer.
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