Publications by authors named "Joanna Maria Merchut-Maya"

9 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

The Contribution of Lysosomes to DNA Replication.

Cells 2021 04 30;10(5). Epub 2021 Apr 30.

DNA Replication and Cancer Group, Danish Cancer Society Research Center, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark.

Lysosomes, acidic, membrane-bound organelles, are not only the core of the cellular recycling machinery, but they also serve as signaling hubs regulating various metabolic pathways. Lysosomes maintain energy homeostasis and provide pivotal substrates for anabolic processes, such as DNA replication. Every time the cell divides, its genome needs to be correctly duplicated; therefore, DNA replication requires rigorous regulation. Challenges that negatively affect DNA synthesis, such as nucleotide imbalance, result in replication stress with severe consequences for genome integrity. The lysosomal complex mTORC1 is directly involved in the synthesis of purines and pyrimidines to support DNA replication. Numerous drugs have been shown to target lysosomal function, opening an attractive avenue for new treatment strategies against various pathologies, including cancer. In this review, we focus on the interplay between lysosomal function and DNA replication through nucleic acid degradation and nucleotide biosynthesis and how these could be exploited for therapeutic purposes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cells10051068DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8147142PMC
April 2021

AMBRA1 regulates cyclin D to guard S-phase entry and genomic integrity.

Nature 2021 Apr 14;592(7856):799-803. Epub 2021 Apr 14.

Department of Pediatric Onco-Hematology and Cell and Gene Therapy, IRCCS Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital, Rome, Italy.

Mammalian development, adult tissue homeostasis and the avoidance of severe diseases including cancer require a properly orchestrated cell cycle, as well as error-free genome maintenance. The key cell-fate decision to replicate the genome is controlled by two major signalling pathways that act in parallel-the MYC pathway and the cyclin D-cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK)-retinoblastoma protein (RB) pathway. Both MYC and the cyclin D-CDK-RB axis are commonly deregulated in cancer, and this is associated with increased genomic instability. The autophagic tumour-suppressor protein AMBRA1 has been linked to the control of cell proliferation, but the underlying molecular mechanisms remain poorly understood. Here we show that AMBRA1 is an upstream master regulator of the transition from G1 to S phase and thereby prevents replication stress. Using a combination of cell and molecular approaches and in vivo models, we reveal that AMBRA1 regulates the abundance of D-type cyclins by mediating their degradation. Furthermore, by controlling the transition from G1 to S phase, AMBRA1 helps to maintain genomic integrity during DNA replication, which counteracts developmental abnormalities and tumour growth. Finally, we identify the CHK1 kinase as a potential therapeutic target in AMBRA1-deficient tumours. These results advance our understanding of the control of replication-phase entry and genomic integrity, and identify the AMBRA1-cyclin D pathway as a crucial cell-cycle-regulatory mechanism that is deeply interconnected with genomic stability in embryonic development and tumorigenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03422-5DOI Listing
April 2021

Targeting the NPL4 Adaptor of p97/VCP Segregase by Disulfiram as an Emerging Cancer Vulnerability Evokes Replication Stress and DNA Damage while Silencing the ATR Pathway.

Cells 2020 02 18;9(2). Epub 2020 Feb 18.

Laboratory of Genome Integrity, Institute of Molecular and Translational Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, Palacky University, 77 147 Olomouc, Czech Republic.

Research on repurposing the old alcohol-aversion drug disulfiram (DSF) for cancer treatment has identified inhibition of NPL4, an adaptor of the p97/VCP segregase essential for turnover of proteins involved in multiple pathways, as an unsuspected cancer cell vulnerability. While we reported that NPL4 is targeted by the anticancer metabolite of DSF, the bis-diethyldithiocarbamate-copper complex (CuET), the exact, apparently multifaceted mechanism(s) through which the CuET-induced aggregation of NPL4 kills cancer cells remains to be fully elucidated. Given the pronounced sensitivity to CuET in tumor cell lines lacking the genome integrity caretaker proteins BRCA1 and BRCA2, here we investigated the impact of NPL4 targeting by CuET on DNA replication dynamics and DNA damage response pathways in human cancer cell models. Our results show that CuET treatment interferes with DNA replication, slows down replication fork progression and causes accumulation of single-stranded DNA (ssDNA). Such a replication stress (RS) scenario is associated with DNA damage, preferentially in the S phase, and activates the homologous recombination (HR) DNA repair pathway. At the same time, we find that cellular responses to the CuET-triggered RS are seriously impaired due to concomitant malfunction of the ATRIP-ATR-CHK1 signaling pathway that reflects an unorthodox checkpoint silencing mode through ATR (Ataxia telangiectasia and Rad3 related) kinase sequestration within the CuET-evoked NPL4 protein aggregates.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cells9020469DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7072750PMC
February 2020

Autophagy role(s) in response to oncogenes and DNA replication stress.

Cell Death Differ 2020 03 14;27(3):1134-1153. Epub 2019 Aug 14.

Danish Cancer Society Research Center, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved process that captures aberrant intracellular proteins and/or damaged organelles for delivery to lysosomes, with implications for cellular and organismal homeostasis, aging and diverse pathologies, including cancer. During cancer development, autophagy may play both tumour-supporting and tumour-suppressing roles. Any relationships of autophagy to the established oncogene-induced replication stress (RS) and the ensuing DNA damage response (DDR)-mediated anti-cancer barrier in early tumorigenesis remain to be elucidated. Here, assessing potential links between autophagy, RS and DDR, we found that autophagy is enhanced in both early and advanced stages of human urinary bladder and prostate tumorigenesis. Furthermore, a high-content, single-cell-level microscopy analysis of human cellular models exposed to diverse genotoxic insults showed that autophagy is enhanced in cells that experienced robust DNA damage, independently of the cell-cycle position. Oncogene- and drug-induced RS triggered first DDR and later autophagy. Unexpectedly, genetic inactivation of autophagy resulted in RS, despite cellular retention of functional mitochondria and normal ROS levels. Moreover, recovery from experimentally induced RS required autophagy to support DNA synthesis. Consistently, RS due to the absence of autophagy could be partly alleviated by exogenous supply of deoxynucleosides. Our results highlight the importance of autophagy for DNA synthesis, suggesting that autophagy may support cancer progression, at least in part, by facilitating tumour cell survival and fitness under replication stress, a feature shared by most malignancies. These findings have implications for better understanding of the role of autophagy in tumorigenesis, as well as for attempts to manipulate autophagy as an anti-tumour therapeutic strategy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41418-019-0403-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7206042PMC
March 2020

Perturbation of mitochondrial bioenergetics by polycations counteracts resistance to BRAF inhibition in melanoma cells.

J Control Release 2019 09 23;309:158-172. Epub 2019 Jul 23.

Danish Cancer Society Research Center, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark; Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Science for Life Laboratory, Karolinska Institute, 171 65 Solna, Sweden. Electronic address:

Acquired resistance to the oncogenic BRAF inhibitor vemurafenib is a major clinical challenge in the treatment of melanoma. Vemurafenib resistance is poorly understood; however, available evidence indicates that reprogrammed mitochondrial metabolism could contribute to the resistance mechanism. Here we show that synthetic polycations, such as polyethylenimines and poly(l-lysine)s, prevent vemurafenib resistance in melanoma cells through induction of mitochondrial bioenergetic crisis. Polycations accumulate to a higher degree in hyperpolarized mitochondria (i.e. mitochondria with greater negative charge) which partly explains greater cellular uptake and mitochondrial accumulation of polycations in melanoma cells compared with epidermal melanocytes. Combined treatment of polycations and vemurafenib diminishes the metabolic flexibility of melanoma cells, making them unable to shift between glycolysis and mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation according to energy demands. Thus, polycations exert considerable detrimental effects on melanoma cells at concentrations better tolerated by epidermal melanocytes and act synergistically with vemurafenib in effectuating bioenergetic crisis, DNA damage and cell death selectively in melanoma cells. Mechanistic understanding of this synergy could lead to the development of macromolecular and polymer therapeutics with structural attributes that encompass even greater cancer-specific cytotoxicity, and provide strategies for tailor-made combination therapies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jconrel.2019.07.032DOI Listing
September 2019

Regulation of replication fork speed: Mechanisms and impact on genomic stability.

DNA Repair (Amst) 2019 09 8;81:102654. Epub 2019 Jul 8.

DNA Replication and Cancer Group, Genome Integrity Unit, Danish Cancer Society Research Center, Copenhagen, Denmark. Electronic address:

Replication of DNA is a fundamental biological process that ensures precise duplication of the genome and thus safeguards inheritance. Any errors occurring during this process must be repaired before the cell divides, by activating the DNA damage response (DDR) machinery that detects and corrects the DNA lesions. Consistent with its significance, DNA replication is under stringent control, both spatial and temporal. Defined regions of the genome are replicated at specific times during S phase and the speed of replication fork progression is adjusted to fully replicate DNA in pace with the cell cycle. Insults that impair DNA replication cause replication stress (RS), which can lead to genomic instability and, potentially, to cell transformation. In this perspective, we review the current concept of replication stress, including the recent findings on the effects of accelerated fork speed and their impact on genomic (in)stability. We discuss in detail the Fork Speed Regulatory Network (FSRN), an integrated molecular machinery that regulates the velocity of DNA replication forks. Finally, we explore the potential for targeting FSRN components as an avenue to treat cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dnarep.2019.102654DOI Listing
September 2019

High speed of fork progression induces DNA replication stress and genomic instability.

Nature 2018 07 27;559(7713):279-284. Epub 2018 Jun 27.

Genome Integrity Unit, Danish Cancer Society Research Center, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Accurate replication of DNA requires stringent regulation to ensure genome integrity. In human cells, thousands of origins of replication are coordinately activated during S phase, and the velocity of replication forks is adjusted to fully replicate DNA in pace with the cell cycle. Replication stress induces fork stalling and fuels genome instability. The mechanistic basis of replication stress remains poorly understood despite its emerging role in promoting cancer. Here we show that inhibition of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) increases the speed of fork elongation and does not cause fork stalling, which is in contrast to the accepted model in which inhibitors of PARP induce fork stalling and collapse. Aberrant acceleration of fork progression by 40% above the normal velocity leads to DNA damage. Depletion of the treslin or MTBP proteins, which are involved in origin firing, also increases fork speed above the tolerated threshold, and induces the DNA damage response pathway. Mechanistically, we show that poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation (PARylation) and the PCNA interactor p21 (p21) are crucial modulators of fork progression. PARylation and p21 act as suppressors of fork speed in a coordinated regulatory network that is orchestrated by the PARP1 and p53 proteins. Moreover, at the fork level, PARylation acts as a sensor of replication stress. During PARP inhibition, DNA lesions that induce fork arrest and are normally resolved or repaired remain unrecognized by the replication machinery. Conceptually, our results show that accelerated replication fork progression represents a general mechanism that triggers replication stress and the DNA damage response. Our findings contribute to a better understanding of the mechanism of fork speed control, with implications for genomic (in)stability and rational cancer treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-018-0261-5DOI Listing
July 2018

Replication stress, DNA damage signalling, and cytomegalovirus infection in human medulloblastomas.

Mol Oncol 2017 08 17;11(8):945-964. Epub 2017 Jun 17.

Danish Cancer Society Research Center, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Medulloblastomas are the most common, and often fatal, paediatric brain tumours that feature high genomic instability, frequent infection by human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) and resistance to radiation and chemotherapy. The causes of the pronounced chromosomal instability and its potential links with HCMV infection and/or resistance to genotoxic therapies remain largely unknown. To address these issues, here we have combined immunohistochemical analysis of a series of 25 paediatric medulloblastomas, complemented by medulloblastoma cell culture models including experimental HCMV infection. Using eight established immunohistochemical markers to assess the status of the DDR machinery, we found pronounced endogenous DNA damage signalling (γH2AX marker) and robust constitutive activation of both the ATM-Chk2 and ATR-Chk1 DNA damage checkpoint kinase cascades, yet unexpectedly modest p53 tumour suppressor activation, across our medulloblastoma cohort. Most tumours showed high proliferation (Ki67 marker), variable oxidative DNA damage (8-oxoguanine lesions) and formation of 53BP1 nuclear 'bodies', the latter indicating (along with ATR-Chk1 signalling) endogenous replication stress. The bulk of the clinical specimens also showed expression of HCMV immediate early and late proteins, in comparative analyses using three immunohistochemical protocols. Cell culture experiments validated the chronic endogenous replication stress in medulloblastoma cell lines and showed sharply differential, intriguing responses of normal cells and medulloblastoma cells to HCMV infection, including differential subcellular mislocalization and enhancement of replication stress-related 53BP1 body formation, the latter in cell-non-autonomous manner. Overall, our results strongly indicate that in human medulloblastomas, the DDR checkpoint barrier is widely activated, at least in part due to replication stress. Furthermore, we propose that unorthodox p53 defects other than mutations may allow high proliferation despite the ongoing checkpoint signalling and that the highly prevalent HCMV may impact the medulloblastoma host cell replication stress and DNA repair. Collectively, the scenario we report here likely fuels genomic instability and evolution of medulloblastoma resistance to standard-of-care genotoxic treatments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/1878-0261.12061DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5537913PMC
August 2017

Myc and Ras oncogenes engage different energy metabolism programs and evoke distinct patterns of oxidative and DNA replication stress.

Mol Oncol 2015 Mar 15;9(3):601-16. Epub 2014 Nov 15.

Danish Cancer Society Research Center, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark; Department of Genome Integrity, Institute of Molecular Genetics, v.v.i., Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, CZ-142 20 Prague, Czech Republic; Institute of Molecular and Translational Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, Palacky University, CZ-775 15 Olomouc, Czech Republic. Electronic address:

Both Myc and Ras oncogenes impact cellular metabolism, deregulate redox homeostasis and trigger DNA replication stress (RS) that compromises genomic integrity. However, how are such oncogene-induced effects evoked and temporally related, to what extent are these kinetic parameters shared by Myc and Ras, and how are these cellular changes linked with oncogene-induced cellular senescence in different cell context(s) remain poorly understood. Here, we addressed the above-mentioned open questions by multifaceted comparative analyses of human cellular models with inducible expression of c-Myc and H-RasV12 (Ras), two commonly deregulated oncoproteins operating in a functionally connected signaling network. Our study of DNA replication parameters using the DNA fiber approach and time-course assessment of perturbations in glycolytic flux, oxygen consumption and production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) revealed the following results. First, overabundance of nuclear Myc triggered RS promptly, already after one day of Myc induction, causing slow replication fork progression and fork asymmetry, even before any metabolic changes occurred. In contrast, Ras overexpression initially induced a burst of cell proliferation and increased the speed of replication fork progression. However, after several days of induction Ras caused bioenergetic metabolic changes that correlated with slower DNA replication fork progression and the ensuing cell cycle arrest, gradually leading to senescence. Second, the observed oncogene-induced RS and metabolic alterations were cell-type/context dependent, as shown by comparative analyses of normal human BJ fibroblasts versus U2-OS sarcoma cells. Third, the energy metabolic reprogramming triggered by Ras was more robust compared to impact of Myc. Fourth, the detected oncogene-induced oxidative stress was due to ROS (superoxide) of non-mitochondrial origin and mitochondrial OXPHOS was reduced (Crabtree effect). Overall, our study provides novel insights into oncogene-evoked metabolic reprogramming, replication and oxidative stress, with implications for mechanisms of tumorigenesis and potential targeting of oncogene addiction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.molonc.2014.11.001DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5528704PMC
March 2015
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