Our study aimed at finding a mechanistic relationship between the gut microbiome and breast cancer. Breast cancer cells are not in direct contact with these microbes, but disease could be influenced by bacterial metabolites including secondary bile acids that are exclusively synthesized by the microbiome and known to enter the human circulation. In murine and bench experiments, a secondary bile acid, lithocholic acid (LCA) in concentrations corresponding to its tissue reference concentrations (< 1 μM), reduced cancer cell proliferation (by 10-20%) and VEGF production (by 37%), aggressiveness and metastatic potential of primary tumors through inducing mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition, increased antitumor immune response, OXPHOS and the TCA cycle. Part of these effects was due to activation of TGR5 by LCA. Early stage breast cancer patients, versus control women, had reduced serum LCA levels, reduced chenodeoxycholic acid to LCA ratio, and reduced abundance of the baiH (7α/β-hydroxysteroid dehydroxylase, the key enzyme in LCA generation) gene in fecal DNA, all suggesting reduced microbial generation of LCA in early breast cancer.
In breast cancer patients, the diversity of the microbiome decreases, coinciding with decreased production of cytostatic bacterial metabolites like lithocholic acid (LCA). We hypothesized that LCA can modulate oxidative stress to exert cytostatic effects in breast cancer cells. Treatment of breast cancer cells with LCA decreased nuclear factor-2 (NRF2) expression and increased Kelch-like ECH associating protein 1 (KEAP1) expression via activation of Takeda G-protein coupled receptor (TGR5) and constitutive androstane receptor (CAR). Altered NRF2 and KEAP1 expression subsequently led to decreased expression of glutathione peroxidase 3 (GPX3), an antioxidant enzyme, and increased expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). The imbalance between the pro- and antioxidant enzymes increased cytostatic effects via increased levels of lipid and protein oxidation. These effects were reversed by the pharmacological induction of NRF2 with RA839, tBHQ, or by thiol antioxidants. The expression of key components of the LCA-elicited cytostatic pathway (iNOS and 4HNE) gradually decreased as the breast cancer stage advanced. The level of lipid peroxidation in tumors negatively correlated with the mitotic index. The overexpression of iNOS, nNOS, CAR, KEAP1, NOX4, and TGR5 or the downregulation of NRF2 correlated with better survival in breast cancer patients, except for triple negative cases. Taken together, LCA, a metabolite of the gut microbiome, elicits oxidative stress that slows down the proliferation of breast cancer cells. The LCA–oxidative stress protective pathway is lost as breast cancer progresses, and the loss correlates with poor prognosis.
Oncobiotic transformation of the gut microbiome may contribute to the risk of breast cancer. Recent studies have provided evidence that the microbiome secretes cytostatic metabolites that inhibit the proliferation, movement, and metastasis formation of cancer cells. In this study, we show that indolepropionic acid (IPA), a bacterial tryptophan metabolite, has cytostatic properties. IPA selectively targeted breast cancer cells, but it had no effects on non-transformed, primary fibroblasts. In cell-based and animal experiments, we showed that IPA supplementation reduced the proportions of cancer stem cells and the proliferation, movement, and metastasis formation of cancer cells. These were achieved through inhibiting epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, inducing oxidative and nitrosative stress, and boosting antitumor immune response. Increased oxidative/nitrosative stress was due to the IPA-mediated downregulation of nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (NRF2), upregulation of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), and enhanced mitochondrial reactive species production. Increased oxidative/nitrosative stress led to cytostasis and reductions in cancer cell stem-ness. IPA exerted its effects through aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) and pregnane X receptor (PXR) receptors. A higher expression of PXR and AHR supported better survival in human breast cancer patients, highlighting the importance of IPA-elicited pathways in cytostasis in breast cancer. Furthermore, AHR activation and PXR expression related inversely to cancer cell proliferation level and to the stage and grade of the tumor. The fecal microbiome’s capacity for IPA biosynthesis was suppressed in women newly diagnosed with breast cancer, especially with stage 0. Bacterial indole biosynthesis showed correlation with lymphocyte infiltration to tumors in humans. Taken together, we found that IPA is a cytostatic bacterial metabolite, the production of which is suppressed in human breast cancer. Bacterial metabolites, among them, IPA, have a pivotal role in regulating the progression but not the initiation of the disease.
Microbes, which live in the human body, affect a large set of pathophysiological processes. Changes in the composition and proportion of the microbiome are associated with metabolic diseases (
Aging contributes to cellular stress and neurodegeneration. Our understanding is limited regarding the tissue-restricted mechanisms providing protection in postmitotic cells throughout life. Here, we show that spinal cord motoneurons exhibit a high abundance of asymmetric dimethyl arginines (ADMAs) and the presence of this posttranslational modification provides protection against environmental stress. We identify protein arginine methyltransferase 8 (PRMT8) as a tissue-restricted enzyme responsible for proper ADMA level in postmitotic neurons. Male PRMT8 knock-out mice display decreased muscle strength with aging due to premature destabilization of neuromuscular junctions. Mechanistically, inhibition of methyltransferase activity or loss of PRMT8 results in accumulation of unrepaired DNA double-stranded breaks and decrease in the cAMP response-element-binding protein 1 (CREB1) level. As a consequence, the expression of CREB1-mediated prosurvival and regeneration-associated immediate early genes is dysregulated in aging PRMT8 knock-out mice. The uncovered role of PRMT8 represents a novel mechanism of stress tolerance in long-lived postmitotic neurons and identifies PRMT8 as a tissue-specific therapeutic target in the prevention of motoneuron degeneration. Although most of the cells in our body have a very short lifespan, postmitotic neurons must survive for many decades. Longevity of a cell within the organism depends on its ability to properly regulate signaling pathways that counteract perturbations, such as DNA damage, oxidative stress, or protein misfolding. Here, we provide evidence that tissue-specific regulators of stress tolerance exist in postmitotic neurons. Specifically, we identify protein arginine methyltransferase 8 (PRMT8) as a cell-type-restricted arginine methyltransferase in spinal cord motoneurons (MNs). PRMT8-dependent arginine methylation is required for neuroprotection against age-related increased of cellular stress. Tissue-restricted expression and the enzymatic activity of PRMT8 make it an attractive target for drug development to delay the onset of neurodegenerative disorders.
Changes to bacterial metabolite-elicited signaling, in oncobiosis associated with breast cancer, plays a role in facilitating the progression of the disease. We show that indoxyl-sulfate (IS), a tryptophan metabolite, has cytostatic properties in models of breast cancer. IS supplementation, in concentrations corresponding to the human serum reference range, suppressed tumor infiltration to the surrounding tissues and metastasis formation in a murine model of breast cancer. In cellular models, IS suppressed NRF2 and induced iNOS, leading to induction of oxidative and nitrosative stress, and, consequently, reduction of cell proliferation; enhanced oxidative and nitrosative stress are crucial in the subsequent cytostasis. IS also suppressed epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition vital for suppressing cellular movement and diapedesis. Furthermore, IS rendered cells hypometabolic, leading to a reduction in aldehyde-dehydrogenase positive cells. Pharmacological inhibition of the pregnane-X receptor using CH223191 and the aryl-hydrocarbon receptor using ketoconazole diminished the IS-elicited effects, suggesting that these receptors were the major receptors of IS in these models. Finally, we showed that increased expression of the human enzymes that form IS (Cyp2E1, Sult1A1, and Sult1A2) is associated with better survival in breast cancer, an effect that is lost in triple negative cases. Taken together, IS, similar to indolepropionic acid (another tryptophan metabolite), has cytostatic properties and higher expression of the metabolic machinery responsible for the formation of IS supports survival in breast cancer.
Poly(ADP-Ribose) polymerases (PARPs) are enzymes that metabolize NAD+. PARP1 and PARP10 were previously implicated in the regulation of autophagy. Here we showed that cytosolic electron-dense particles appear in the cytoplasm of C2C12 myoblasts in which PARP2 is silenced by shRNA. The cytosolic electron-dense bodies resemble autophagic vesicles and, in line with that, we observed an increased number of LC3-positive and Lysotracker-stained vesicles. Silencing of PARP2 did not influence the maximal number of LC3-positive vesicles seen upon chloroquine treatment or serum starvation, suggesting that the absence of PARP2 inhibits autophagic breakdown. Silencing of PARP2 inhibited the activity of AMP-activated kinase (AMPK) and the mammalian target of rapamycin complex 2 (mTORC2). Treatment of PARP2-silenced C2C12 cells with AICAR, an AMPK activator, nicotinamide-riboside (an NAD+ precursor), or EX-527 (a SIRT1 inhibitor) decreased the number of LC3-positive vesicles cells to similar levels as in control (scPARP2) cells, suggesting that these pathways inhibit autophagic flux upon PARP2 silencing. We observed a similar increase in the number of LC3 vesicles in primary PARP2 knockout murine embryonic fibroblasts. We provided evidence that the enzymatic activity of PARP2 is important in regulating autophagy. Finally, we showed that the silencing of PARP2 induces myoblast differentiation. Taken together, PARP2 is a positive regulator of autophagic breakdown in mammalian transformed cells and its absence blocks the progression of autophagy.
Breast cancer is characterized by oncobiosis, the abnormal composition of the microbiome in neoplastic diseases. The biosynthetic capacity of the oncobiotic flora in breast cancer is suppressed, as suggested by metagenomic studies. The microbiome synthesizes a set of cytostatic and antimetastatic metabolites that are downregulated in breast cancer, including cadaverine, a microbiome metabolite with cytostatic properties. We set out to assess how the protein expression of constitutive lysine decarboxylase (LdcC), a key enzyme for cadaverine production, changes in the feces of human breast cancer patients (n = 35). We found that the fecal expression of Escherichia coli LdcC is downregulated in lobular cases as compared to invasive carcinoma of no special type (NST) cases. Lobular breast carcinoma is characterized by low or absent expression of E-cadherin. Fecal E. coli LdcC protein expression is downregulated in E-cadherin negative breast cancer cases as compared to positive ones. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis of LdcC expression in lobular and NST cases revealed that fecal E. coli LdcC protein expression might have predictive values. These data suggest that the oncobiotic transformation of the microbiome indeed leads to the downregulation of the production of cytostatic and antimetastatic metabolites. In E-cadherin negative lobular carcinoma that has a higher potential for metastasis formation, the protein levels of enzymes producing antimetastatic metabolites are downregulated. This finding represents a new route that renders lobular cases permissive for metastasis formation. Furthermore, our findings underline the role of oncobiosis in regulating metastasis formation in breast cancer.
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