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Cancer-cell-secreted miR-122 suppresses O-GlcNAcylation to promote skeletal muscle proteolysis

Abstract

A decline in skeletal muscle mass and low muscular strength are prognostic factors in advanced human cancers. Here we found that breast cancer suppressed O-linked N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) protein modification in muscle through extracellular-vesicle-encapsulated miR-122, which targets O-GlcNAc transferase (OGT). Mechanistically, O-GlcNAcylation of ryanodine receptor 1 (RYR1) competed with NEK10-mediated phosphorylation and increased K48-linked ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation; the miR-122-mediated decrease in OGT resulted in increased RYR1 abundance. We further found that muscular protein O-GlcNAcylation was regulated by hypoxia and lactate through HIF1A-dependent OGT promoter activation and was elevated after exercise. Suppressed O-GlcNAcylation in the setting of cancer, through increasing RYR1, led to higher cytosolic Ca2+ and calpain protease activation, which triggered cleavage of desmin filaments and myofibrillar destruction. This was associated with reduced skeletal muscle mass and contractility in tumour-bearing mice. Our findings link O-GlcNAcylation to muscular protein homoeostasis and contractility and reveal a mechanism of cancer-associated muscle dysregulation.

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Fig. 1: Cancer-secreted EVs suppress O-GlcNAcylation in skeletal muscle through miR-122.
Fig. 2: O-GlcNAcylation increases RYR1 ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation.
Fig. 3: miR-122 regulates RYR1 and SERCA3 by directly targeting OGT.
Fig. 4: OGT expression is induced by lactate and hypoxia through HIF1A activation.
Fig. 5: Cytosolic Ca2+ level is regulated by the miR-122–OGT–RYR1 axis.
Fig. 6: BC-secreted miR-122 induces calpain activity and protein cleavage in myotubes through regulating RYR1.
Fig. 7: Regulation of calpain activity and protein cleavage in skeletal muscle by tumour-derived EVs.
Fig. 8: Exogenous OGT expression alleviates BC-associated proteolysis and skeletal muscle loss.

Data availability

The RNA-seq data that support the findings of this study have been deposited in the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) under accession code GSE156909. MS data have been deposited in ProteomeXchange Consortium via the PRIDE partner repository with the primary accession code PXD021232. The previously published GEO dataset GSE50429 was re-analysed for miRNA levels in the cells and EVs of MDA-MB-231 and MCF-10A (Supplementary Table 1). The GSEA data in Fig. 1b involved re-analyses of the Reactome pathway datasets R-HSA-1630316 and R-HSA-445355 as well as the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway dataset hsa04020. All other data supporting the findings of this study are available from the corresponding authors on reasonable request. Source data are provided with this paper.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Cancer Institute (NCI) grants R01CA218140 (S.E.W.) and R01CA206911 (S.E.W.), National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) grant R21AR072882 (S.S.) and National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) grant R01GM102362 (D.W.). Research reported in this publication includes work performed in core facilities supported by the NIH NCI under grant numbers P30CA23100 (UC San Diego Cancer Center) and P30CA030199 (Sanford Burnham Prebys Cancer Center Flow Cytometry Core). We thank M. C. Hogan for constructive suggestions,A. de Maio and his group for assistance with EV characterization by NTA, X. Yu for kindly providing the expression plasmids of WT and enzymatic dead (G482S) human OGT, K. Stowell for kindly providing the pcDNA3.0-RYR1 expression plasmid and Q. Zhang for kindly providing the expression plasmids of WT and dpA mutant of HIF1A.

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Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

S.E.W., S.S. and W.Y. conceived ideas. S.E.W., S.S., W.Y. and J.D.E. contributed to project planning and manuscript writing. W.Y. and S.E.W. designed and performed most of the experiments. S.L., A.L. and S.S. performed muscle mechanics tests and analyses. M.G. assisted with MS analysis. M.C. and A.R.C. assisted with cell line construction. M.C., X.R., L.J. and Y.W. assisted with mouse experiments. Y.Q. assisted with data analysis. E.D. and J.P.N. performed EV characterization by flow cytometry. D.P.P. assisted with tissue processing and histological analyses. D.W. contributed to characterization of RYR1 PTMs and functional domains.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Wei Yan, Simon Schenk or Shizhen Emily Wang.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Nature Cell Biology thanks Shenhav Cohen, Xiaoyong Yang and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Extended data

Extended Data Fig. 1 Characterization of EVs used in this study.

(a) Flow cytometry showing size distribution and expression of GFP and selected tetraspanins in EVs collected from MDA-MB-231/Lck-GFP and MCF-10A/Lck-GFP cells. GFP-positive EVs are displayed in green on dot plots of tetraspanin expression. (b) GFP fluorescence (green) in GA sections from NSG mice receiving tail vein injections of Lck-GFP-labelled EVs or bearing MDA-MB-231/Lck-GFP tumours. Scale bar=100 µm. (c) Western blots of nuclear, cytosolic, and mitochondrial fractions prepared from GA of tumour-free or MDA-MB-231/Lck-GFP-tumour-bearing mice showing the subcellular localization of GFP in the cytosol. Histone H3, GAPDH, and COXIV served as the markers for the nuclear, cytosolic, and mitochondrial fractions, respectively. (d) Western blots of indicated whole cell lysates and EVs showing EV markers and a Golgi marker (GM130, as a negative control for EV-specific proteins). (e,g) NTA of indicated EVs showing size distribution (n=3 biological replicates). Western blots showing Rab27a knockdown in 4T1 cells were included next to the NTA in (g). (f,h) Levels of indicated EV proteins and RT-qPCR-determined miR-122 levels (normalized to a synthetic cel-miR-39-3p spike-in control added into each fraction) in OptiPrep gradient fractions (n=3 biological replicates). In bar graphs, values are shown as mean ± SEM. Unprocessed original scans of blots are shown in source data file.

Source data

Extended Data Fig. 2 MS-identified O‑GlcNAcylation of RYR1 and SERCA3 in skeletal muscle.

(a) Western blots showing O‑GlcNAcylation in lung, liver, adipose tissue, kidney, and brain of tumour-free and tumour-bearing mice described in Fig. 1e. (b) Western blots of GA from mice that have received repeated injections of indicated EVs as in Fig. 1e. (c) The MS/MS spectra of O-GlcNAcylated peptides of mouse RYR1 (residues 4324–4353) and SERCA3 (residues 534–550) with the triply charged precursor ion m/z 638.9881 (M + 3H)3+. The c- and z-type product ions were assigned. The O-GlcNAc oxonium ion (m/z, 204.09) and a series of its fragments (m/z, 186.08, 168.06, 138.05, and 126.05) were also assigned. (d) OGTSite analysis predicting the herein identified O-GlcNAcylation sites in RYR1 and SERCA3 of human and mouse.

Source data

Extended Data Fig. 3 MS-identified RYR1 phosphorylation and the predicted kinases and nearby ubiquitylation sites.

(a) IF of C2C12 myotubes showing colocalization of exogenously expressed HA-tagged RYR1 and an ER marker PDI. DAPI stains the nuclei. Bar=100 μm. (b) MS-identified phosphorylation in immunoprecipitated, endogenous RYR1 from C2C12 with OGT knockdown but not from control C2C12. (c) Scansite 4.0 analysis predicting kinases that can potentially phosphorylate the identified threonine. (d) PhosphoSitePlus analysis showing published phosphorylation and ubiquitylation sites in the surrounding region in human and mouse RYR1.

Extended Data Fig. 4 O-GlcNAcylation increases the abundance of SERCA3.

(a,b) C2C12 expressing FLAG-tagged wild-type SERCA3 or T534A mutant and with OGT overexpression (a) or knockdown (b) were analysed by western blots. Unprocessed original scans of blots are shown in source data file.

Source data

Extended Data Fig. 5 miR-122 regulates O-GlcNAcylation in myotubes in the presence of LA or under hypoxia in an HIF1A-dependent manner.

(a) GFP signals in C2C12 myotubes treated with indicated EVs for 24 h indicating EV uptake. Bar=100 μm. (b,c) Western blots showing indicated protein levels in treated C2C12 (b) and L6 myotubes (c) grown in the absence of LA and under 21% O2. (d,e) Protein levels in L6 treated as indicated and grown in 2 mM LA (d) or under 1% O2 (e). (f) Western blots showing indicated protein levels in L6 myotubes grown under indicated concentrations of LA for 24 h. (g,h) Protein levels (g) and ROS levels (h) in C2C12 myotubes treated with HCl to match the pH of indicated concentrations of LA (2mM: 2 mM LA). Values are shown as mean ± SEM in h (one-way ANOVA with Tukey’s multiple comparisons test, n=3 biologically independent wells of cells). ns: not significant. (i,j) Protein levels in L6 treated with 2 mM LA (for 2 h, for 2 h followed by 22 h of incubation in LA-free medium, or for 24 h) and cultured under 21% or 1% O2, and transfected with control siRNA or siRNA targeting HIF1A (i) or OGT (j), as indicated. Unprocessed original scans of blots are shown in source data file.

Source data

Extended Data Fig. 6 IHC of skeletal muscle and calpain activity assessments after aerobic exercise.

(a,b) IHC staining of GA from EV-treated (a) or tumour-bearing (b) mice. For tumour-bearing mice, muscle was analysed when tumours reached ~300 mm3 in all groups. Bar=100 μm. (c,d) GA were collected from female C57BL/6J mice immediately after 1 h of high-intensity treadmill running (aerobic exercise/AEX) and from mice under sedentary lifestyle (SED). Tissue lysates were assessed for calpain protease activity (c; unpaired two-tailed t-test, n=6 mice per group) and by western blots for indicated protein cleavage (d). The boxes in the box-and-whiskers plot show the median (centre line) and the quartile range (25-75%), and the whiskers extend from the quartile to the minimum and maximum values. ***P<0.0001. Unprocessed original scans of blots are shown in source data file.

Source data

Extended Data Fig. 7 AAV-delivered gene expression in various organs.

(a) Fluorescent microscopy showing the presence or absence of GFP in various organs. Bar=100 μm. (b) Western blots of indicated tumour lysates from AAV-treated mice showing lack of GFP expression and lack of changes in OGT protein levels. Unprocessed original scans of blots are shown in source data file.

Source data

Extended Data Fig. 8 Structure of RYR1 monomer showing the O-GlcNAcylated threonine possibly residing in an EF-hand domain.

(a) Previously resolved structure of rabbit RYR1 monomer (PDB: 3J8H). Structure is displayed by PyMOL. (b) Partial structure showing the position of A4330 in rabbit RYR1 (equivalent to the O-GlcNAcylated threonine in human/mouse RYR1) within the linker region between central domain and channel domain. (c) JPred-predicted secondary structure of the peptide region with poor EM quality showing the O-GlcNAcylated threonine residing in the E alpha-helix of an EF hand.

Extended Data Fig. 9 Method of vesicle flow cytometry (VFC).

(a) Schematic of VFC workflow. Vesicle flow cytometry (vFCTM) is a homogeneous assay in which a cell-free sample, prepared by centrifugation, is stained with a fluorogenic membrane stain and one or more additional fluorescence probes then analysed by flow cytometry with detection triggered by membrane fluorescence. (b) VFC gating. Flow cytometry data is gated on time (left, to eliminate a fluidics-related background that occurs at the beginning of each sample measured in the CytoFlex), Membrane Stain fluorescence pulse height vs area (middle, vFRed-H v- A, which can help resolve EV-associated events from some sources of background), and by a gate (right, Vesicles) on Membrane fluorescence vs VSSC, which selects events with characteristic fluorescence and light scatter characteristics. (c) Vesicle size estimation. Vesicle size was estimated from the relationship between fluorescence intensity and vesicle surface area, as determined by the staining and analysis of a well-characterized synthetic vesicle size standard (Lipo100, Cellarcus Biosciences). The Lipo100 diameter distribution measured by NTA (upper left) was used to calculate the surface area distribution (upper middle), which, when compared to the fluorescence intensity distribution after staining with vFRed (upper right), showed a linear relationship (lower left) that was used to convert the arbitrary vFRed fluorescence intensity into units of estimated equivalent surface area (lower middle) and diameter (lower right). (d) vFC Buffer +reagent and dilution controls. The single EV specificity of the measured marker positive events (left) was demonstrated by comparison to a Buffer +vFRed (no vesicle) sample and by serial dilution (middle) which demonstrated a ~2 log dynamic range (right) with no detectable coincidence/swarm. (e) Negligible Fc Receptor-mediated antibody binding as measured using an isotype-matched irrelevant control antibody. A representative EV sample immunostained with the indicated PE-labelled antibodies. MESF: mean equivalent soluble fluorochromes.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Methods: vesicle flow cytometry.

Reporting Summary

Supplementary Tables

Supplementary Tables 1–5.

Source data

Source Data Fig. 1

Statistical source data.

Source Data Fig. 1

Unprocessed western blots.

Source Data Fig. 2

Statistical source data.

Source Data Fig. 2

Unprocessed western blots.

Source Data Fig. 3

Statistical source data.

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Yan, W., Cao, M., Ruan, X. et al. Cancer-cell-secreted miR-122 suppresses O-GlcNAcylation to promote skeletal muscle proteolysis. Nat Cell Biol 24, 793–804 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41556-022-00893-0

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