Mycoplasmas and cancer: focus on nucleoside metabolism
Keywords:cancer, nucleoside analogues, chemotherapy, mycoplasma, nucleoside phosphorylase, Mycoplasma hyorhinis
The standard of care for patients suffering cancer often includes treatment with nucleoside analogues (NAs). NAs are internalized by cell-specific nucleobase/nucleoside transporters and, after enzymatic activation (often one or more phosphorylation steps), interfere with cellular nucleo(s)(t)ide metabolism and DNA/RNA synthesis. Therefore, their efficacy is highly dependent on the expression and activity of nucleo(s)(t)ide-metabolizing enzymes, and alterations thereof (e.g. by down/upregulated expression or mutations) may change the susceptibility to NA-based therapy and/or confer drug resistance. Apart from host cell factors, several other variables including microbial presence may determine the metabolome (i.e. metabolite concentrations) of human tissues. Studying the diversity of microorganisms that are associated with the human body has already provided new insights in several diseases (e.g. diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease) and the metabolic exchange between tissues and their specific microbiota was found to affect the bioavailability and toxicity of certain anticancer drugs, including NAs. Several studies report a preferential colonization of tumor tissues with some mycoplasma species (mostly Mycoplasma hyorhinis). These prokaryotes are also a common source of cell culture contamination and alter the cytostatic activity of some NAs in vitro due to the expression of nucleoside-catabolizing enzymes. Mycoplasma infection may therefore bias experimental work with NAs, and their presence in the tumor microenvironment could be of significance when optimizing nucleoside-based cancer treatment.
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