Published on Sun Oct 03 2021

In vivo CRISPRi screen reveals the differential requirement for mitochondrial respiratory chain function between in vivo and in vitro tumor growth

Nakaoka, H., Bennett, N., Okimoto, R., Laurent, D., Sei, Y., Bivona, T., ten Hoeve, J., Graeber, T., Nakamura, K., Nakamura, J.

The relative roles of glycolysis and respiratory metabolism in supporting in vivo tumor growth and significant processes such as tumor dissemination and metastases remain poorly understood. Using a CRISPRi mini-library enriched for mitochondrial ribosomal protein and respiratory chain genes in multiple human lung cancer cell lines,

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Abstract

The Warburg effect, aerobic glycolysis, is a hallmark feature of cancer cells grown in culture. However, the relative roles of glycolysis and respiratory metabolism in supporting in vivo tumor growth and significant processes such as tumor dissemination and metastases remain poorly understood, particularly on a systems level. Using a CRISPRi mini-library enriched for mitochondrial ribosomal protein and respiratory chain genes in multiple human lung cancer cell lines we analyzed in vivo metabolic requirements in xenograft tumors grown in distinct anatomic contexts. While knockdown of mitochondrial ribosomal protein and respiratory chain genes (mito-respiratory genes) has little impact on growth in vitro, tumor cells depend heavily on these genes when grown in vivo as either flank or primary orthotopic lung tumor xenografts. In contrast, respiratory function is comparatively dispensable for metastatic tumor growth. RNA-Seq and metabolomics analysis of tumor cells expressing individual sgRNAs against mito-respiratory genes indicate overexpression of glycolytic genes and increased sensitivity of glycolytic inhibition compared to control when grown in vitro, but when grown in vivo as primary tumors these cells downregulate glycolytic mechanisms. These studies demonstrate that discrete perturbations of mitochondrial metabolism impact in vivo tumor growth in a context-specific manner and provides systems-level evidence that respiratory function modulates tumor growth in vivo, suggesting that ATP limits growth and metastatic potential.