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Abstract Background Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1) and tryptophan-dioxygenase (TDO) are enzymes catabolizing the essential amino acid tryptophan into kynurenine. Expression of these enzymes is frequently observed in advanced-stage cancers and is associated with poor disease prognosis and immune suppression. Mechanistically, the respective roles of tryptophan shortage and kynurenine production in suppressing immunity remain unclear. Kynurenine was proposed as an endogenous ligand for the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR), which can regulate inflammation and immunity. However, controversy remains regarding the role of AHR in IDO1/TDO-mediated immune suppression, as well as the involvement of kynurenine. In this study, we aimed to clarify the link between IDO1/TDO expression, AHR pathway activation and immune suppression. Methods AHR expression and activation was analyzed by RT-qPCR and western blot analysis in cells engineered to express IDO1/TDO, or cultured in medium mimicking tryptophan catabolism by IDO1/TDO. In vitro differentiation of naïve CD4+ T cells into regulatory T cells (Tregs) was compared in T cells isolated from mice bearing different Ahr alleles or a knockout of Ahr, and cultured in medium with or without tryptophan and kynurenine. Results We confirmed that IDO1/TDO expression activated AHR in HEK-293-E cells, as measured by the induction of AHR target genes. Unexpectedly, AHR was also overexpressed on IDO1/TDO expression. AHR overexpression did not depend on kynurenine but was triggered by tryptophan deprivation. Multiple human tumor cell lines overexpressed AHR on tryptophan deprivation. AHR overexpression was not dependent on general control non-derepressible 2 (GCN2), and strongly sensitized the AHR pathway. As a result, kynurenine and other tryptophan catabolites, which are weak AHR agonists in normal conditions, strongly induced AHR target genes in tryptophan-depleted conditions. Tryptophan depletion also increased kynurenine uptake by increasing SLC7A5 (LAT1) expression in a GCN2-dependent manner. Tryptophan deprivation potentiated Treg differentiation from naïve CD4+ T cells isolated from mice bearing an AHR allele of weak affinity similar to the human AHR. Conclusions Tryptophan deprivation sensitizes the AHR pathway by inducing AHR overexpression and increasing cellular kynurenine uptake. As a result, tryptophan catabolites such as kynurenine more potently activate AHR, and Treg differentiation is promoted. Our results propose a molecular explanation for the combined roles of tryptophan deprivation and kynurenine production in mediating IDO1/TDO-induced immune suppression.

Authors: Marie Solvay, Pauline Holfelder, Simon Klaessens, Luc Pilotte, Vincent Stroobant, Juliette Lamy, Stefan Naulaerts, Quentin Spillier, Raphaël Frédérick, Etienne De Plaen, Christine Sers, Christiane A Opitz, Benoit J Van den Eynde, Jingjing Zhu

Date Published: 21st Jun 2023

Publication Type: Journal

Abstract (Expand)

Limited supply and catabolism restrict the essential amino acid tryptophan (Trp) in tumors. How tumors sustain translation under Trp stress remains unclear. Unlike other amino acids, Trp stress activatess the EGFR, which enhances macropinocytosis and RAS signaling to the MTORC1 and p38/MAPK kinases, sustaining translation. The AHR forms part of the Trp stress proteome and promotes autophagy to sustain Trp levels, and ceramide biosynthesis. Thus, Trp restriction elicits pro-translation signals enabling adaptation to nutrient stress, placing Trp into a unique position in the amino acid-mediated stress response. Our findings challenge the current perception that Trp restriction inhibits MTORC1 and the AHR and explain how both cancer drivers remain active. A glioblastoma patient subgroup with enhanced MTORC1 and AHR displays an autophagy signature, highlighting the clinical relevance of MTORC1-AHR crosstalk. Regions of high Trp or high ceramides are mutually exclusive, supporting that low Trp activates the EGFR-MTORC1-AHR axis in glioblastoma tissue.

Authors: Pauline Pfänder, Lucas Hensen, Patricia Razquin Navas, Marie Solvay, Mirja Tamara Prentzell, Ahmed Sadik, Alexander M. Heberle, Sophie Seifert, Leon Regin, Tobias Bausbacher, Anna-Sophia Egger, Madlen Hotze, Tobias Kipura, Bianca Berdel, Ivana Karabogdan, Luis F. Somarribas Patterson, Michele Reil, Deepak Sayeeram, Vera Peters, Jose Ramos Pittol, Ineke van ’t Land-Kuper, Teresa Börding, Saskia Trump, Alienke van Pijkeren, Yang Zhang, Fabricio Loayza-Puch, Alexander Kowar, Sönke Harder, Lorenz Waltl, André Gollowitzer, Tetsushi Kataura, Viktor I. Korolchuk, Shad A. Mohammed, Phillipp Sievers, Felix Sahm, Hartmut Schlüter, Andreas Koeberle, Carsten Hopf, Marcel Kwiatkowski, Christine Sers, Benoit J. Van den Eynde, Christiane A. Opitz, Kathrin Thedieck

Date Published: 17th Jan 2023

Publication Type: Journal

Abstract (Expand)

All cells and organisms exhibit stress-coping mechanisms to ensure survival. Cytoplasmic protein-RNA assemblies termed stress granules are increasingly recognized to promote cellular survival under stress. Thus, they might represent tumor vulnerabilities that are currently poorly explored. The translationinhibitory eIF2α kinases are established as main drivers of stress granule assembly. Using a systems approach, we identify the translation enhancers PI3K and MAPK/p38 as pro-stressgranule- kinases. They act through the metabolic master regulator mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) to promote stress granule assembly.When highly active, PI3K is the main driver of stress granules; however, the impact of p38 becomes apparent as PI3K activity declines. PI3K and p38 thus act in a hierarchical manner to drive mTORC1 activity and stress granule assembly. Of note, this signaling hierarchy is also present in human breast cancer tissue. Importantly, only the recognition of the PI3K-p38 hierarchy under stress enabled the discovery of p38’s role in stress granule formation. In summary, we assign a new prosurvival function to the key oncogenic kinases PI3K and p38, as they hierarchically promote stress granule formation.

Authors: Alexander Martin Heberle, Patricia Razquin Navas, Miriam Langelaar-Makkinje, Katharina Kasack, Ahmed Sadik, Erik Faessler, Udo Hahn, Philip Marx-Stoelting, Christiane A Opitz, Christine Sers, Ines Heiland, Sascha Schäuble, Kathrin Thedieck

Date Published: 28th Mar 2019

Publication Type: Not specified

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