Jen-Tsan Chi

Overview:

We are using functional genomic approaches to investigate the nutrient signaling and stress adaptations of cancer cells when exposed to various nutrient deprivations and microenvironmental stress conditions. Recently, we focus on two areas. First, we are elucidating the genetic determinants and disease relevance of ferroptosis, a newly recognized form of cell death. Second, we have identified the mammalian stringent response pathway which is highly similar to bacterial stringent response, but with some very interesting twists and novel mechanisms.

A. The genetic determinants and disease relevance of ferroptosis

Ferroptosis is a newly recognized form of cell death that is characterized by iron dependency and lipid peroxidation. The importance of ferroptosis is being recognized in many human diseases, including cancers, ischemia injuries, and neurodegeneration. Previously, we have identified the profound cystine addiction of renal cell carcinoma (1), breast cancer cells (2, 3), and ovarian cancer cells (4). Based on the concept that cystine deprivation triggers the ferroptosis due to the unopposed oxidative stresses, we have performed functional genomic screens to identify many novel genetic determinants of ferroptosis. For example, we have found that DNA damage response and ATM kinase regulate ferroptosis via affecting iron metabolism (5). This finding supports the potential of ionizing radiation to trigger DNA damage response and synergize with ferroptosis to treat human cancers. In addition, we found that ferroptosis is highly regulated by cell density. When cells are grown at low density, they are highly susceptible to ferroptosis. In contrast, the same cells become resistant to ferroptosis when grown at high density and confluency. we have found the Hippo pathway effectors TAZ and YAP are responsible for the cell density-dependent ferroptosis (4, 6, 7). Right now, we are pursuing several other novel determinants of ferroptosis that will reveal surprising insights into this new form of cell death.

B. A new stress pathway – mammalian stress response

All living organisms encounter a wide variety of nutrient deprivations and environmental stresses. Therefore, all organisms have developed various mechanisms to respond and promote survival under stress. In bacteria, the main strategy is “stringent response” triggered by the accumulation of the alarmone (p)ppGpp (shortened to ppGpp below) via regulation of its synthetase RelA and its hydrolase SpoT (8). The ppGpp binds to the transcription factor DksA and RNA polymerase to orchestrate extensive transcriptional changes that repress proliferation and promote stress survival (8, 9). While highly conserved among bacteria, the stringent response had not been reported in metazoans. However, a recent study identified Drosophila and human MESH1 (Metazoan SpoT Homolog 1) as the homologs of the ppGpp hydrolase domain of the bacterial SpoT (10). Both MESH1 proteins exhibit ppGpp hydrolase activity, and the deletion of Mesh1 in Drosophila led to a transcriptional response reminiscent of the bacterial stringent response (10). Recently, we have found that the genetic removal of MESH1 in tumor cells triggers extensive transcriptional changes and confers protection against oxidative stress-induced ferroptosis (11). Importantly, MESH1 removal also triggers proliferative arrest and other robust anti-tumor effects. Therefore, MESH1 knockdown leads to both stress survival and proliferation arrest, two cardinal features highly reminiscent of the bacterial stringent response. Therefore, we termed this pathway as “mammalian stringent response” (12). We have found that NADPH is the relevant MESH1 in the contexts of ferroptosis (13). Now, we are investigating how MESH1 removal leads to proliferation of arrests and anti-tumor phenotypes. Furthermore, we have found several other substrates of MESH1. We are investigating their function using culture cells, MESH1 KO mice, and other model organisms.

 

C. Genomic and single cell RNA analysis of Red Blood Cells

Red blood cells (RBC) are responsible for oxygen delivery to muscles during vigorous exercise. Therefore, many doping efforts focus on increasing RBC number and function to boost athletic performance during competition. For many decades, RBC were thought to be merely identical “sacs of hemoglobin” with no discernable differences due to factors such as age or pre-transfusion storage time. Additionally, because RBC lose their nuclei during terminal differentiation, they were not believed to retain any genetic materials.  These long-held beliefs have now been disproven and the results have significant implications for detecting autologous blood transfusion (ABT) doping in athletes.  We were among the first to discover that RBCs contain abundant and diverse species of RNAs. Using this knowledge, we subsequently optimized protocols and performed genomic analysis of the RBC transcriptome in sickle cell disease; these results revealed that heterogeneous RBCs could be divided into several subpopulations, which had implications for the mechanisms of malaria resistance. As an extension of these studies, we used high resolution Illumina RNA-Seq approaches to identify hundreds of additional known and novel microRNAs, mRNAs, and other RNA species in RBCs. This dynamic RBC transcriptome represents a significant opportunity to assess the impact that environmental factors (such as pre-transfusion refrigerate storage) on the RBC transcriptome. We have now identified a >10-fold change in miR-720 as well as several other RNA transcripts whose levels are significantly altered by RBC storage (14) which gained significant press coverage. We are pursuing the genomic and single cell analysis of RNA transcriptome in the context of blood doping, sickle cell diseases and other red cell diseases.

 

 

 

 

1.         Tang X, Wu J, Ding CK, Lu M, Keenan MM, Lin CC, et al. Cystine Deprivation Triggers Programmed Necrosis in VHL-Deficient Renal Cell Carcinomas. Cancer Res. 2016;76(7):1892-903.

2.         Tang X, Ding CK, Wu J, Sjol J, Wardell S, Spasojevic I, et al. Cystine addiction of triple-negative breast cancer associated with EMT augmented death signaling. Oncogene. 2017;36(30):4379.

3.         Lin CC, Mabe NW, Lin YT, Yang WH, Tang X, Hong L, et al. RIPK3 upregulation confers robust proliferation and collateral cystine-dependence on breast cancer recurrence. Cell Death Differ. 2020.

4.         Yang WH, Huang Z, Wu J, Ding C-KC, Murphy SK, Chi J-T. A TAZ-ANGPTL4-NOX2 axis regulates ferroptotic cell death and chemoresistance in epithelial ovarian cancer. Molecular Cancer Research. 2019: molcanres.0691.2019.

5.         Chen PH, Wu J, Ding CC, Lin CC, Pan S, Bossa N, et al. Kinome screen of ferroptosis reveals a novel role of ATM in regulating iron metabolism. Cell Death Differ. 2019.

6.         Yang W-H, Chi J-T. Hippo pathway effectors YAP/TAZ as novel determinants of ferroptosis. Molecular & Cellular Oncology. 2019:1699375.

7.         Yang WH, Ding CKC, Sun T, Hsu DS, Chi JT. The Hippo Pathway Effector TAZ Regulates Ferroptosis in Renal Cell Carcinoma Cell Reports. 2019;28(10):2501-8.e4.

8.         Potrykus K, Cashel M. (p)ppGpp: still magical? Annu Rev Microbiol. 2008;62:35-51.

9.         Kriel A, Bittner AN, Kim SH, Liu K, Tehranchi AK, Zou WY, et al. Direct regulation of GTP homeostasis by (p)ppGpp: a critical component of viability and stress resistance. Mol Cell. 2012;48(2):231-41.

10.       Sun D, Lee G, Lee JH, Kim HY, Rhee HW, Park SY, et al. A metazoan ortholog of SpoT hydrolyzes ppGpp and functions in starvation responses. Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2010;17(10):1188-94.

11.       Dixon SJ, Lemberg KM, Lamprecht MR, Skouta R, Zaitsev EM, Gleason CE, et al. Ferroptosis: an iron-dependent form of nonapoptotic cell death. Cell. 2012;149(5):1060-72.

12.       Ding C-KC, Rose J, Wu J, Sun T, Chen K-Y, Chen P-H, et al. Mammalian stringent-like response mediated by the cytosolic NADPH phosphatase MESH1. bioRxiv. 2018.

13.       Ding C-KC, Rose J, Sun T, Wu J, Chen P-H, Lin C-C, et al. MESH1 is a cytosolic NADPH phosphatase that regulates ferroptosis. Nature Metabolism. 2020.

14.       Yang WH, Doss JF, Walzer KA, McNulty SM, Wu J, Roback JD, et al. Angiogenin-mediated tRNA cleavage as a novel feature of stored red blood cells. Br J Haematol. 2018.

 

 

Positions:

Associate Professor in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

Molecular Genetics and Microbiology
School of Medicine

Assistant Professor of Medicine

Medicine, Rheumatology and Immunology
School of Medicine

Assistant Professor in Radiation Oncology

Radiation Oncology
School of Medicine

Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology

Pharmacology & Cancer Biology
School of Medicine

Associate Professor of Cell Biology

Cell Biology
School of Medicine

Member of the Duke Cancer Institute

Duke Cancer Institute
School of Medicine

Education:

M.D. 1991

National Taiwan University (Taiwan)

Ph.D. 2000

Stanford University

Postdoctoral Research, Biochemistry

Stanford University

Grants:

Metabolic regulation of KLHL proteins through O-glycosylation

Administered By
Molecular Genetics and Microbiology
Awarded By
National Institutes of Health
Role
Principal Investigator
Start Date
End Date

Storage-specific erythrocyte gene signatures to detect autologous transfusion

Administered By
Molecular Genetics and Microbiology
Awarded By
Partnership for Clean Competition
Role
Principal Investigator
Start Date
End Date

Detect autologous transfusion by novel separation and characterization of RBC storage exosomes

Administered By
Molecular Genetics and Microbiology
Awarded By
Partnership for Clean Competition
Role
Principal Investigator
Start Date
End Date

Small RNA transcriptome as novel approaches to detect autologous blood transfusion

Administered By
Molecular Genetics and Microbiology
Awarded By
World Anti-Doping Agency
Role
Principal Investigator
Start Date
End Date

Comparison of oxidant damage, Nrf2 characteristics, and gene modification of cord blood versus plerixafor-mobilized adult CD34+ cells from sickle cell disease patients

Administered By
Molecular Genetics and Microbiology
Awarded By
New York Blood Center
Role
Principal Investigator
Start Date
End Date

Publications:

Parkin coordinates mitochondrial lipid remodeling to execute mitophagy.

Autophagy has emerged as the prime machinery for implementing organelle quality control. In the context of mitophagy, the ubiquitin E3 ligase Parkin tags impaired mitochondria with ubiquitin to activate autophagic degradation. Although ubiquitination is essential for mitophagy, it is unclear how ubiquitinated mitochondria activate autophagosome assembly locally to ensure efficient destruction. Here, we report that Parkin activates lipid remodeling on mitochondria targeted for autophagic destruction. Mitochondrial Parkin induces the production of phosphatidic acid (PA) and its subsequent conversion to diacylglycerol (DAG) by recruiting phospholipase D2 and activating the PA phosphatase, Lipin-1. The production of DAG requires mitochondrial ubiquitination and ubiquitin-binding autophagy receptors, NDP52 and optineurin (OPTN). Autophagic receptors, via Golgi-derived vesicles, deliver an autophagic activator, EndoB1, to ubiquitinated mitochondria. Inhibition of Lipin-1, NDP52/OPTN, or EndoB1 results in a failure to produce mitochondrial DAG, autophagosomes, and mitochondrial clearance, while exogenous cell-permeable DAG can induce autophagosome production. Thus, mitochondrial DAG production acts downstream of Parkin to enable the local assembly of autophagosomes for the efficient disposal of ubiquitinated mitochondria.
Authors
Lin, C-C; Yan, J; Kapur, MD; Norris, KL; Hsieh, C-W; Huang, D; Vitale, N; Lim, K-L; Guan, Z; Wang, X-F; Chi, J-T; Yang, W-Y; Yao, T-P
MLA Citation
Lin, Chao-Chieh, et al. “Parkin coordinates mitochondrial lipid remodeling to execute mitophagy.Embo Rep, vol. 23, no. 12, Dec. 2022, p. e55191. Pubmed, doi:10.15252/embr.202255191.
URI
https://scholars.duke.edu/individual/pub1554471
PMID
36256516
Source
pubmed
Published In
Embo Reports
Volume
23
Published Date
Start Page
e55191
DOI
10.15252/embr.202255191

Identification and targeting of a HES1-YAP1-CDKN1C functional interaction in fusion-negative rhabdomyosarcoma.

Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), a cancer characterized by features of skeletal muscle, is the most common soft-tissue sarcoma of childhood. With 5-year survival rates among high-risk groups at < 30%, new therapeutics are desperately needed. Previously, using a myoblast-based model of fusion-negative RMS (FN-RMS), we found that expression of the Hippo pathway effector transcriptional coactivator YAP1 (YAP1) permitted senescence bypass and subsequent transformation to malignant cells, mimicking FN-RMS. We also found that YAP1 engages in a positive feedback loop with Notch signaling to promote FN-RMS tumorigenesis. However, we could not identify an immediate downstream impact of this Hippo-Notch relationship. Here, we identify a HES1-YAP1-CDKN1C functional interaction, and show that knockdown of the Notch effector HES1 (Hes family BHLH transcription factor 1) impairs growth of multiple FN-RMS cell lines, with knockdown resulting in decreased YAP1 and increased CDKN1C expression. In silico mining of published proteomic and transcriptomic profiles of human RMS patient-derived xenografts revealed the same pattern of HES1-YAP1-CDKN1C expression. Treatment of FN-RMS cells in vitro with the recently described HES1 small-molecule inhibitor, JI130, limited FN-RMS cell growth. Inhibition of HES1 in vivo via conditional expression of a HES1-directed shRNA or JI130 dosing impaired FN-RMS tumor xenograft growth. Lastly, targeted transcriptomic profiling of FN-RMS xenografts in the context of HES1 suppression identified associations between HES1 and RAS-MAPK signaling. In summary, these in vitro and in vivo preclinical studies support the further investigation of HES1 as a therapeutic target in FN-RMS.
Authors
Kovach, AR; Oristian, KM; Kirsch, DG; Bentley, RC; Cheng, C; Chen, X; Chen, P-H; Chi, J-TA; Linardic, CM
MLA Citation
Kovach, Alexander R., et al. “Identification and targeting of a HES1-YAP1-CDKN1C functional interaction in fusion-negative rhabdomyosarcoma.Mol Oncol, vol. 16, no. 20, Oct. 2022, pp. 3587–605. Pubmed, doi:10.1002/1878-0261.13304.
URI
https://scholars.duke.edu/individual/pub1534097
PMID
36037042
Source
pubmed
Published In
Mol Oncol
Volume
16
Published Date
Start Page
3587
End Page
3605
DOI
10.1002/1878-0261.13304

Hippo pathway effectors YAP/TAZ as novel determinants of ferroptosis.

Ferroptosis is a novel form of programmed cell death. We found that the ferroptosis sensitivity in renal and ovarian cancers are regulated by cell density through TAZ-EMP1-NOX4 and TAZ-ANGPTL4-NOX2 pathway, respectively. These findings reveal TAZ as a novel genetic determinant of ferroptosis. Triggering ferroptosis may have therapeutic potential for TAZ-activated tumors.
Authors
Yang, W-H; Chi, J-T
MLA Citation
Yang, Wen-Hsuan, and Jen-Tsan Chi. “Hippo pathway effectors YAP/TAZ as novel determinants of ferroptosis.Mol Cell Oncol, vol. 7, no. 1, 2020, p. 1699375. Pubmed, doi:10.1080/23723556.2019.1699375.
URI
https://scholars.duke.edu/individual/pub1425330
PMID
31993503
Source
pubmed
Published In
Molecular & Cellular Oncology
Volume
7
Published Date
Start Page
1699375
DOI
10.1080/23723556.2019.1699375

Angiogenin-mediated tRNA cleavage as a novel feature of stored red blood cells.

Authors
Yang, W-H; Doss, JF; Walzer, KA; McNulty, SM; Wu, J; Roback, JD; Chi, J-T
MLA Citation
Yang, Wen-Hsuan, et al. “Angiogenin-mediated tRNA cleavage as a novel feature of stored red blood cells.Br J Haematol, vol. 185, no. 4, May 2019, pp. 760–64. Pubmed, doi:10.1111/bjh.15605.
URI
https://scholars.duke.edu/individual/pub1357733
PMID
30368767
Source
pubmed
Published In
Br J Haematol
Volume
185
Published Date
Start Page
760
End Page
764
DOI
10.1111/bjh.15605

Discovery, Genomic Analysis, and Functional Role of the Erythrocyte RNAs

Purpose of Review: Human erythrocytes are responsible for oxygen delivery in the body. Erythrocytes are a product of terminal differentiated erythroid cells that accumulate hemoglobin and exclude nuclei. The long-held conventional wisdom has been that mature erythrocytes lack any genetic materials. Contrary to this view, accumulating evidence from multiple groups indicates that erythrocytes contain abundant and diverse RNA species. These newly discovered genetic materials suddenly open up opportunities to re-examine many diseases affecting erythrocytes. Recent Findings: The genomic analysis and functional studies of the erythrocyte transcriptome have revealed important insights into various erythrocyte diseases, stored erythrocytes for transfusion, host-pathogens interactions with malaria parasites, and intercellular communications. We reviewed these findings and provide conceptual frameworks for the future works on other potential applications of the erythrocyte transcriptome. Summary: Collectively, these studies provide a strong case for the translational potential and functional relevance of these erythrocyte transcripts.
Authors
Chen, PH; Hong, J; Chi, JT
MLA Citation
Chen, P. H., et al. “Discovery, Genomic Analysis, and Functional Role of the Erythrocyte RNAs.” Current Pathobiology Reports, vol. 5, no. 1, Mar. 2017, pp. 43–48. Scopus, doi:10.1007/s40139-017-0124-z.
URI
https://scholars.duke.edu/individual/pub1383966
Source
scopus
Published In
Current Pathobiology Reports
Volume
5
Published Date
Start Page
43
End Page
48
DOI
10.1007/s40139-017-0124-z

Research Areas:

Muser Mentor