The 8th International RASopathies Symposium: Expanding research and care practice through global collaboration and advocacy
Germline pathogenic variants in the RAS/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway are the molecular cause of RASopathies, a group of clinically overlapping genetic syndromes. RASopathies constitute a wide clinical spectrum characterized by distinct facial features, short stature, predisposition to cancer, and variable anomalies in nearly all the major body systems. With increasing global recognition of these conditions, the 8th International RASopathies Symposium spotlighted global perspectives on clinical care and research, including strategies for building international collaborations and developing diverse patient cohorts in anticipation of interventional trials. This biannual meeting, organized by RASopathies Network, was held in a hybrid virtual/in-person format. The agenda featured emerging discoveries and case findings as well as progress in preclinical and therapeutic pipelines. Stakeholders including basic scientists, clinician-scientists, practitioners, industry representatives, patients, and family advocates gathered to discuss cutting edge science, recognize current gaps in knowledge, and hear from people with RASopathies about the experience of daily living. Presentations by RASopathy self-advocates and early-stage investigators were featured throughout the program to encourage a sustainable, diverse, long-term research and advocacy partnership focused on improving health and bringing treatments to people with RASopathies.
Papillomas of Costello syndrome are not associated with human papillomavirus infection in a small case series
RAS-dependent RAF-MAPK hyperactivation by pathogenic RIT1 is a therapeutic target in Noonan syndrome-associated cardiac hypertrophy
RIT1 is a RAS guanosine triphosphatase (GTPase) that regulates different aspects of signal transduction and is mutated in lung cancer, leukemia, and in the germline of individuals with Noonan syndrome. Pathogenic RIT1 proteins promote mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) hyperactivation; however, this mechanism remains poorly understood. Here, we show that RAF kinases are direct effectors of membrane-bound mutant RIT1 necessary for MAPK activation. We identify critical residues in RIT1 that facilitate interaction with membrane lipids and show that these are necessary for association with RAF kinases and MAPK activation. Although mutant RIT1 binds to RAF kinases directly, it fails to activate MAPK signaling in the absence of classical RAS proteins. Consistent with aberrant RAF/MAPK activation as a driver of disease, we show that pathway inhibition alleviates cardiac hypertrophy in a mouse model of RIT1 mutant Noonan syndrome. These data shed light on the function of pathogenic RIT1 and identify avenues for therapeutic intervention.
Impaired proteolysis of non-canonical RAS proteins drives clonal hematopoietic transformation
Recently, screens for mediators of resistance to FLT3 and ABL kinase inhibitors in leukemia resulted in the discovery of LZTR1 as an adaptor of a Cullin-3 RING E3 ubiquitin ligase complex responsible for degradation of RAS GTPases. In parallel, dysregulated LZTR1 expression via aberrant splicing and mutations were identified in clonal hematopoietic conditions. Here we identify that loss of LZTR1, or leukemia-associated mutants in the LZTR1 substrate and RAS GTPase RIT1 which escape degradation, drive hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) expansion and leukemia in vivo. While RIT1 stabilization was sufficient to drive hematopoietic transformation, transformation mediated by LZTR1 loss required MRAS. RAS targeting bioPROTACs or reduction of GTP-loaded RAS overcomes LZTR1 loss-mediated resistance to FLT3 inhibitors. These data reveal proteolysis of non-canonical RAS proteins as novel regulators of HSC self-renewal, define the function of RIT1 and LZTR1 mutations in leukemia, and identify means to overcome drug resistance due to LZTR1 downregulation.
Noncanonical function of Capicua as a growth termination signal in Drosophila oogenesis
Capicua (Cic) proteins are conserved HMG-box transcriptional repressors that control receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) signaling responses and are implicated in human neurological syndromes and cancer. While Cic is known to exist as short (Cic-S) and long (Cic-L) isoforms with identical HMG-box and associated core regions but distinct N termini, most previous studies have focused on Cic-S, leaving the function of Cic-L unexplored. Here we show that Cic-L acts in two capacities during Drosophila oogenesis: 1) as a canonical sensor of RTK signaling in somatic follicle cells, and 2) as a regulator of postmitotic growth in germline nurse cells. In these latter cells, Cic-L behaves as a temporal signal that terminates endoreplicative growth before they dump their contents into the oocyte. We show that Cic-L is necessary and sufficient for nurse cell endoreplication arrest and induces both stabilization of CycE and down-regulation of Myc. Surprisingly, this function depends mainly on the Cic-L-specific N-terminal module, which is capable of acting independently of the Cic HMG-box-containing core. Mirroring these observations, basal metazoans possess truncated Cic-like proteins composed only of Cic-L N-terminal sequences, suggesting that this module plays unique, ancient roles unrelated to the canonical function of Cic.
The oncogenic PI3K-induced transcriptomic landscape reveals key functions in splicing and gene expression regulation
The PI3K pathway regulates proliferation, survival, and metabolism and is frequently activated across human cancers. A comprehensive elucidation of how this signaling pathway controls transcriptional and co-transcriptional processes could provide new insights into the key functions of PI3K signaling in cancer. Here, we undertook a transcriptomic approach to investigate genome-wide gene expression and transcription factor (TF) activity changes, as well as splicing and isoform usage dynamics, downstream of PI3K. These analyses uncovered widespread alternatively spliced (AS) isoforms linked to proliferation, metabolism, and splicing in PIK3CA mutant cells, which were reversed by inhibition of PI3KÎ±. Analysis of paired tumor biopsies from PIK3CA-mutated breast cancer patients undergoing treatment with PI3KÎ± inhibitors identified widespread splicing alterations that affect specific isoforms in common with the preclinical models, and these alterations, namely PTK2/FRNK and AFMID isoforms, were validated as functional drivers of cancer cell growth or migration. Mechanistically, isoform-specific splicing factors mediated PI3K-dependent RNA splicing. Treatment with splicing inhibitors rendered breast cancer cells more sensitive to the PI3KÎ± inhibitor alpelisib, resulting in greater growth inhibition than alpelisib alone. This study provides the first comprehensive analysis of widespread splicing alterations driven by oncogenic PI3K in breast cancer. The atlas of PI3K-mediated splicing programs establishes a key role for the PI3K pathway in regulating splicing, opening new avenues for exploiting PI3K signaling as a therapeutic vulnerability in breast cancer.
The seventh international RASopathies symposium: Pathways to a cure-expanding knowledge, enhancing research, and therapeutic discovery
RASopathies are a group of genetic disorders that are caused by genes that affect the canonical Ras/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway. Despite tremendous progress in understanding the molecular consequences of these genetic anomalies, little movement has been made in translating these findings to the clinic. This year, the seventh International RASopathies Symposium focused on expanding the research knowledge that we have gained over the years to enhance new discoveries in the field, ones that we hope can lead to effective therapeutic treatments. Indeed, for the first time, research efforts are finally being translated to the clinic, with compassionate use of Ras/MAPK pathway inhibitors for the treatment of RASopathies. This biannual meeting, organized by the RASopathies Network, brought together basic scientists, clinicians, clinician scientists, patients, advocates, and their families, as well as representatives from pharmaceutical companies and the National Institutes of Health. A history of RASopathy gene discovery, identification of new disease genes, and the latest research, both at the bench and in the clinic, were discussed.
Cross-species analysis of LZTR1 loss-of-function mutants demonstrates dependency to RIT1 orthologs
RAS GTPases are highly conserved proteins involved in the regulation of mitogenic signaling. We have previously described a novel Cullin 3 RING E3 ubiquitin ligase complex formed by the substrate adaptor protein LZTR1 that binds, ubiquitinates, and promotes proteasomal degradation of the RAS GTPase RIT1. In addition, others have described that this complex is also responsible for the ubiquitination of classical RAS GTPases. Here, we have analyzed the phenotypes of Lztr1 loss-of-function mutants in both fruit flies and mice and have demonstrated a biochemical preference for their RIT1 orthologs. Moreover, we show that Lztr1 is haplosufficient in mice and that embryonic lethality of the homozygous null allele can be rescued by deletion of Rit1. Overall, our results indicate that, in model organisms, RIT1 orthologs are the preferred substrates of LZTR1.
Angiocrine polyamine production regulates adiposity
Reciprocal interactions between endothelial cells (ECs) and adipocytes are fundamental to maintain white adipose tissue (WAT) homeostasis, as illustrated by the activation of angiogenesis upon WAT expansion, a process that is impaired in obesity. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the crosstalk between ECs and adipocytes remain poorly understood. Here, we show that local production of polyamines in ECs stimulates adipocyte lipolysis and regulates WAT homeostasis in mice. We promote enhanced cell-autonomous angiogenesis by deleting Pten in the murine endothelium. Endothelial Pten loss leads to a WAT-selective phenotype, characterized by reduced body weight and adiposity in pathophysiological conditions. This phenotype stems from enhanced fatty acid Î²-oxidation in ECs concomitant with a paracrine lipolytic action on adipocytes, accounting for reduced adiposity. Combined analysis of murine models, isolated ECs and human specimens reveals that WAT lipolysis is mediated by mTORC1-dependent production of polyamines by ECs. Our results indicate that angiocrine metabolic signals are important for WAT homeostasis and organismal metabolism.
Defective protein degradation in genetic disorders
Understanding the molecular mechanisms that underlie different human pathologies is necessary to develop novel therapeutic strategies. An emerging mechanism of pathogenesis in many genetic disorders is the dysregulation of protein degradation, which leads to the accumulation of proteins that are responsible for the disease phenotype. Among the different cellular pathways that regulate active proteolysis, the Cullin RING E3 ligases represent an important group of sophisticated enzymatic complexes that mediate substrate ubiquitination through the interaction with specific adaptors. However, pathogenic variants in these adaptors affect the physiological ubiquitination of their substrates. This review discusses our current understanding of this emerging field.