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Overview of Mitochondria and role of mtDNA in Cancer

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Overview of Mitochondria: Mitochondria (plural of mitochondrion) are membrane-bound organelles (the cell's 'mini organs') found in nearly all cells which play a vital role as "cellular power plants" by generating adenosine triphosphate (ATP), used by cells as a source of chemical energy. Mitochondria also play a role in cellular signaling, cellular differentiation, cell death, control of the cell cycle and cell growth, and other roles. Mitochondria are unusual in that they contain their own DNA, whilst the rest of the human genome is concentrated in the nucleus of the cell. Also, Mitochondrial DNA is only inherited from mothers, whist the DNA in the cells nucleus is inherited from both mother and father.

The number of mitochondria in a cell varies according to the type of tissue; many cells have a single mitochondrion, but others can contain hundreds or even thousands of mitochondria. Mitochondrial proteins also vary depending on the type of tissue. Mitochondria are made up of compartments (see diagram) that carry out specialised roles.

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Cancer: mtDNA has been linked carcinogenesis because of its high susceptibility to mutations and limited repair mechanisms in comparison to nuclear DNA. mtDNA lacks introns, so mutations tend to occur in coding sequences and it is thought that accumulation of these mutations may lead to tumor formation (Radpour et al, 2009). Research into of role of mtDNA mutations in cancer is advancing understanding of their functional role in carcinogenesis, value in diagnosis and monitoring, and potential therapeutic implications.

Mutations in mitochondrial genes are common in cancer, but they don't tend to inactivate mitochondrial energy metabolism as this would disadvantage the cancer cells ability to divide and proliferate. However, mutations may alter the bioenergetic and biosynthetic state of Mitochondria. "These states communicate with the nucleus through mitochondrial 'retrograde signalling' to modulate signal transduction pathways, transcriptional circuits and chromatin structure to meet the perceived mitochondrial and nuclear requirements of the cancer cell. Cancer cells then reprogramme adjacent stromal cells to optimize the cancer cell environment. These alterations activate out-of-context programmes that are important in development, stress response, wound healing and nutritional status" (Wallace, 2012)

Acknowledgements: Diagram of the structure of a mitochondrion from Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons CC0 license.


Recent Research Publications

Martinez-Outschoorn U, Sotgia F, Lisanti MP
Tumor microenvironment and metabolic synergy in breast cancers: critical importance of mitochondrial fuels and function.
Semin Oncol. 2014; 41(2):195-216 [PubMed] Related Publications
Metabolic synergy or metabolic coupling between glycolytic stromal cells (Warburg effect) and oxidative cancer cells occurs in human breast cancers and promotes tumor growth. The Warburg effect or aerobic glycolysis is the catabolism of glucose to lactate to obtain adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This review summarizes the main findings on this stromal metabolic phenotype, and the associated signaling pathways, as well as the critical role of oxidative stress and autophagy, all of which promote carcinoma cell mitochondrial metabolism and tumor growth. Loss of Caveolin 1 (Cav-1) and the upregulation of monocarboxylate transporter 4 (MCT4) in stromal cells are novel markers of the Warburg effect and metabolic synergy between stromal and carcinoma cells. MCT4 and Cav-1 are also breast cancer prognostic biomarkers. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are key mediators of the stromal Warburg effect. High ROS also favors cancer cell mitochondrial metabolism and tumorigenesis, and anti-oxidants can reverse this altered stromal and carcinoma metabolism. A pseudo-hypoxic state with glycolysis and low mitochondrial metabolism in the absence of hypoxia is a common feature in breast cancer. High ROS induces loss of Cav-1 in stromal cells and is sufficient to generate a pseudo-hypoxic state. Loss of Cav-1 in the stroma drives glycolysis and lactate extrusion via HIF-1α stabilization and the upregulation of MCT4. Stromal cells with loss of Cav-1 and/or high expression of MCT4 also show a catabolic phenotype, with enhanced macroautophagy. This catabolic state in stromal cells is driven by hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α, nuclear factor κB (NFκB), and JNK activation and high ROS generation. A feed-forward loop in stromal cells regulates pseudo-hypoxia and metabolic synergy, with Cav-1, MCT4, HIF-1α, NFκB, and ROS as its key elements. Metabolic synergy also may occur between cancer cells and cells in distant organs from the tumor. Cancer cachexia, which is due to severe organismal metabolic dysregulation in myocytes and adipocytes, shares similarities with stromal-carcinoma metabolic synergy, as well. In summary, metabolic synergy occurs when breast carcinoma cells induce a nutrient-rich microenvironment to promote tumor growth. The process of tumor metabolic synergy is a multistep process, due to the generation of ROS, and the induction of catabolism with autophagy, mitophagy and glycolysis. Studying epithelial-stromal interactions and metabolic synergy is important to better understand the ecology of cancer and the metabolic role of different cell types in tumor progression.

Related: Breast Cancer Mitochondrial Mutations in Cancer Signal Transduction


Desouki MM, Doubinskaia I, Gius D, Abdulkadir SA
Decreased mitochondrial SIRT3 expression is a potential molecular biomarker associated with poor outcome in breast cancer.
Hum Pathol. 2014; 45(5):1071-7 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2015 Related Publications
SIRT3 is a genomically expressed, mitochondrial localized tumor suppressor protein where it directs multiple metabolic processes by deacetylating downstream protein substrates. Genetic deletion of Sirt3 in mice leads to the spontaneous development of mammary tumors starting at 1 year, and decreased SIRT3 messenger RNA has been observed in several human tumors including breast malignancies. In this investigation, we assessed SIRT3 expression in human breast cancer tissue microarray and examined the relationship between SIRT3 expression and outcome in patients with breast cancer. SIRT3 protein expression is significantly lower in neoplastic compared with normal breast epithelium, including normal epithelium adjacent to tumors. Patients with breast cancer in the lowest quartile of SIRT3 expression had a significantly shorter locoregional relapse-free survival (hazard ratio, 0.53 [0.47-0.61]; log-rank P = 0). Notably, low SIRT3 expression was associated with reduced locoregional relapse-free survival in all breast cancer subtypes analyzed, including ER+, ER-, HER2+, and basal subtypes (hazard ratios, 0.44-0.65; log-rank P = 0-.0019). These results highlight the importance of the SIRT3 as a tumor suppressor protein in breast cancer and suggest that SIRT3 may be a potential molecular biomarker to identify high-risk patients across all molecular subtypes of breast cancer.

Related: Breast Cancer Mitochondrial Mutations in Cancer


Lai CK, Rao YK, Chang KR, et al.
3,3',4', 5'-Tetramethoxychalcone inhibits human oral cancer cell proliferation and migration via p53-mediated mitochondrial-dependent apoptosis.
Anticancer Res. 2014; 34(4):1811-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND/AIM: The current study aimed to identify an attractive target against human oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC).
MATERIALS AND METHODS: The effect of 3,3',4',5'-tetramethoxychalcone (TMC) on OSCC cell proliferation, cell-cycle phase distribution, expression of markers of cell apoptosis, and cell migration were analyzed by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide assay, flow cytometry, western blot, and transwell migration assay, respectively.
RESULTS: Experimental results revealed that TMC inhibited the OSCC cell proliferation (fifty percent inhibitory concentrations range=1.0-4.5 μM) by inducing G2/M phase arrest of the cell cycle. TMC caused DNA double-strand breaks, and enhanced expression of caspase-3 and -9, poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase, cytochrome c, calpain-1 and -2, phosphorylation of histone H2AX, phosphorylation of checkpoint kinases 2, p53, BCL2-antagonist/killer and BCL2-associated × protein, while reducing the mitochondrial membrane potential, and expression of B-cell lymphoma-2. In addition, TMC reduced the migration potential of OSCC cells by attenuating the C-C chemokine ligand 5/C-C chemokine receptor type 5 axis.
CONCLUSION: These data indicate that TMC may be considered an interesting target for further development of chemotherapeutic agents against oral cancer.

Related: Apoptosis Mitochondrial Mutations in Cancer Oral Cancer TP53


Malki A, El Ashry el S
In vitro and in vivo efficacy of a novel quinuclidinone derivative against breast cancer.
Anticancer Res. 2014; 34(3):1367-76 [PubMed] Related Publications
Previously, our laboratory reported on novel quinuclidinone derivatives that cause cytotoxicity in human non-small lung carcinoma epithelial cells null for p53 (H1299). The current study aims to investigate the effect of novel designed quinuclidinone derivatives on cytotoxicity towards human MCF-7 breast cancer cells, normal breast epithelial cells (MCF-12a) and an animal model of breast cancer. Quinuclidinone 2 induced growth inhibition mainly through apoptosis in breast cancer cells (MCF-7), with less cytotoxic effects towards normal breast epithelial cells (MCF-12a) compared to the other derivatives. Our novel quinuclidinone-2 increased expression of p53 and cyclin-D and reduced expression levels of (Mdm2), (Bcl-2) and (Akt). It also reduced expression of (Bax) as down stream target of p53 at both RNA and protein levels. Additionally, quinuclidinone 2 induced G1 phase arrest presumably sensitizing breast cancer cells to apoptosis by increasing expression of p21. In vivo studies were performed to assess the anticancer effect of quinuclidinone 2 on N-Nitroso-N-methylurea-induced breast cancer in female rats by evaluating physiological processes and the expression levels of β-catenin and E-cadherin. The approximate lethal dose of quinuclidinone 2 was determined to be 90 mg/kg and it led to significant reduction in tumor size compared to the untreated group. In vivo studies revealed that quninuclidinone derivative 6 does not induce any apparent toxicity towards the treated hosts and under the present experimental set up seems to be a promising candidate for further evaluation in cancer therapy.

Related: Apoptosis Breast Cancer Mitochondrial Mutations in Cancer


Yuri T, Kinoshita Y, Emoto Y, et al.
Human chorionic gonadotropin suppresses human breast cancer cell growth directly via p53-mediated mitochondrial apoptotic pathway and indirectly via ovarian steroid secretion.
Anticancer Res. 2014; 34(3):1347-54 [PubMed] Related Publications
The tumor-suppressive effects of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) against human breast cancer cells were examined. In cell viability assays, hCG inhibited the growth of three human breast cancer cell lines (estrogen receptor (ER)-positive KPL-1 and MCF-7, and ER-negative MKL-F cells), and the growth inhibition activity of hCG was most pronounced against KPL-1 cells (luteinizing hormone/chorionic gonadotropin receptor (LHCGR)-positive and luminal-A subtype). In hCG-treated KPL-1 cells, immunoblotting analysis revealed the expression of tumor suppressor protein p53 peaking at 12 h following treatment, followed by cleavage of caspase-9 and caspase-3 at 24 h and 48 h, respectively. KPL-1-transplanted athymic mice were divided into 3 groups: a sham-treated group that received an inoculation of KPL-1 cells at 6 weeks of age followed by daily intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection of saline; an in vitro hCG-treated KPL-1 group that received an inoculation of KPL-1 cells pre-treated with 100 IU/ml hCG in vitro for 48 h at 6 weeks of age, followed by daily i.p. injection of saline; and an in vivo hCG-treated group that received an KPL-1 cell inoculation at 6 weeks of age, followed by daily i.p. injection of 100 IU hCG. The daily injections of saline or hCG continued until the end of the experiment when mice reached 11 weeks of age. KPL-1 tumor growth was retarded in in vitro and in vivo hCG-treated mice compared to sham-treated controls, and the final tumor volume and tumor weight tended to be suppressed in the in vitro hCG-treated group and were significantly suppressed in the in vivo hCG-treated group. In vivo 100-IU hCG injections for 5 weeks elevated serum estradiol levels (35.7 vs. 23.5 pg/ml); thus, the mechanisms of hCG action may be directly coordinated via the p53-mediated mitochondrial apoptotic pathway and indirectly through ovarian steroid secretion that elevates estrogen levels. It is thus concluded that hCG may be an attractive agent for treating human breast cancer expressing both LHCGR and ER.

Related: Apoptosis Breast Cancer Mitochondrial Mutations in Cancer TP53


Jitschin R, Hofmann AD, Bruns H, et al.
Mitochondrial metabolism contributes to oxidative stress and reveals therapeutic targets in chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Blood. 2014; 123(17):2663-72 [PubMed] Related Publications
Alterations of cellular metabolism represent a hallmark of cancer. Numerous metabolic changes are required for malignant transformation, and they render malignant cells more prone to disturbances in the metabolic framework. Despite the high incidence of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), metabolism of CLL cells remains a relatively unexplored area. The examined untreated CLL patients displayed a metabolic condition known as oxidative stress, which was linked to alterations in their lymphoid compartment. Our studies identified mitochondrial metabolism as the key source for abundant reactive oxygen species (ROS). Unlike in other malignant cells, we found increased oxidative phosphorylation in CLL cells but not increased aerobic glycolysis. Furthermore, CLL cells adapted to intrinsic oxidative stress by upregulating the stress-responsive heme-oxygenase-1 (HO-1). Our data implicate that HO-1 was, beyond its function as an antioxidant, involved in promoting mitochondrial biogenesis. Thus ROS, adaptation to ROS, and mitochondrial biogenesis appear to form a self-amplifying feedback loop in CLL cells. Taking advantage of the altered metabolic profile, we were able to selectively target CLL cells by PK11195. This benzodiazepine derivate blocks the mitochondrial F1F0-ATPase, leads to a surplus production of mitochondrial superoxide, and thereby induces cell death in CLL cells. Taken together, our findings depict how bioenergetics and redox characteristics could be therapeutically exploited in CLL.

Related: Cytokines Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) CLL - Molecular Biology Mitochondrial Mutations in Cancer


Bezawork-Geleta A, Saiyed T, Dougan DA, Truscott KN
Mitochondrial matrix proteostasis is linked to hereditary paraganglioma: LON-mediated turnover of the human flavinylation factor SDH5 is regulated by its interaction with SDHA.
FASEB J. 2014; 28(4):1794-804 [PubMed] Related Publications
Mutations in succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) subunits and assembly factors cause a range of clinical conditions. One such condition, hereditary paraganglioma 2 (PGL2), is caused by a G78R mutation in the assembly factor SDH5. Although SDH5(G78R) is deficient in its ability to promote SDHA flavinylation, it has remained unclear whether impairment to its import, structure, or stability contributes to its loss of function. Using import-chase analysis in human mitochondria isolated from HeLa cells, we found that the import and maturation of human SDH5(G78R) was normal, while its stability was reduced significantly, with ~25% of the protein remaining after 180 min compared to ~85% for the wild-type protein. Notably, the metabolic stability of SDH5(G78R) was restored to wild-type levels by depleting mitochondrial LON (LONM). Degradation of SDH5(G78R) by LONM was confirmed in vitro; however, in contrast to the in organello analysis, wild-type SDH5 was also rapidly degraded by LONM. SDH5 instability was confirmed in SDHA-depleted mitochondria. Blue native PAGE showed that imported SDH5(G78R) formed a transient complex with SDHA; however, this complex was stabilized in LONM depleted mitochondria. These data demonstrate that SDH5 is protected from LONM-mediated degradation in mitochondria by its stable interaction with SDHA, a state that is dysregulated in PGL2.

Related: Mitochondrial Mutations in Cancer Pheochromocytoma and Paraganglioma


Morita A, Tanimoto K, Murakami T, et al.
Mitochondria are required for ATM activation by extranuclear oxidative stress in cultured human hepatoblastoma cell line Hep G2 cells.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2014; 443(4):1286-90 [PubMed] Related Publications
Ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM) is a serine/threonine protein kinase that plays a central role in DNA damage response (DDR). A recent study reported that oxidized ATM can be active in the absence of DDR. However, the issue of where ATM is activated by oxidative stress remains unclear. Regarding the localization of ATM, two possible locations, namely, mitochondria and peroxisomes are possible. We report herein that ATM can be activated when exposed to hydrogen peroxide without inducing nuclear DDR in Hep G2 cells, and the oxidized cells could be subjected to subcellular fractionation. The first detergent-based fractionation experiment revealed that active, phosphorylated ATM was located in the second fraction, which also contained both mitochondria and peroxisomes. An alternative fractionation method involving homogenization and differential centrifugation, which permits the light membrane fraction containing peroxisomes to be produced, but not mitochondria, revealed that the light membrane fraction contained only traces of ATM. In contrast, the heavy membrane fraction, which mainly contained mitochondrial components, was enriched in ATM and active ATM, suggesting that the oxidative activation of ATM occurs in mitochondria and not in peroxisomes. In Rho 0-Hep G2 cells, which lack mitochondrial DNA and functional mitochondria, ATM failed to respond to hydrogen peroxide, indicating that mitochondria are required for the oxidative activation of ATM. These findings strongly suggest that ATM can be activated in response to oxidative stress in mitochondria and that this occurs in a DDR-independent manner.

Related: Liver Cancer


Shen S, Zhang Y, Zhang R, Gong X
Sarsasapogenin induces apoptosis via the reactive oxygen species-mediated mitochondrial pathway and ER stress pathway in HeLa cells.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2013; 441(2):519-24 [PubMed] Related Publications
Sarsasapogenin is a sapogenin from the Chinese medical herb Anemarrhena asphodeloides Bunge. In the present study, we revealed that sarsasapogenin exhibited antitumor activity by inducing apoptosis in vitro as determined by Hoechst staining analysis and double staining of Annexin V-FITC/PI. In addition, cell cycle arrest in G2/M phase was observed in sarsasapogenin-treated HeLa cells. Moreover, the results revealed that perturbations in the mitochondrial membrane were associated with the deregulation of the Bax/Bcl-2 ratio which led to the upregulation of cytochrome c, followed by activation of caspases. Meanwhile, treatment of sarsasapogenin also activated Unfolded Protein Response (UPR) signaling pathways and these changes were accompanied by increased expression of CHOP. Salubrinal (Sal), a selective inhibitor of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, partially abrogated the sarsasapogenin-related cell death. Furthermore, sarsasapogenin provoked the generation of reactive oxygen species, while the antioxidant N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) effectively blocked the activation of ER stress and apoptosis, suggesting that sarsasapogenin-induced reactive oxygen species is an early event that triggers ER stress mitochondrial apoptotic pathways. Taken together, the results demonstrate that sarsasapogenin exerts its antitumor activity through both reactive oxygen species (ROS)-mediate mitochondrial dysfunction and ER stress cell death.

Related: Mitochondrial Mutations in Cancer Cervical Cancer


Hsu CC, Lee HC, Wei YH
Mitochondrial DNA alterations and mitochondrial dysfunction in the progression of hepatocellular carcinoma.
World J Gastroenterol. 2013; 19(47):8880-6 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2015 Related Publications
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common malignancies and is ranked third in mortality among cancer-related diseases. Mitochondria are intracellular organelles that are responsible for energy metabolism and cellular homeostasis, and mitochondrial dysfunction has been regarded as a hallmark of cancer. Over the past decades, several types of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) alterations have been identified in human cancers, including HCC. However, the role of these mtDNA alterations in cancer progression is unclear. In this review, we summarize the recent findings on the somatic mtDNA alterations identified in HCC and their relationships with the clinicopathological features of HCC. Recent advances in understanding the potential roles of somatic mtDNA alterations in the progression of HCC are also discussed. We suggest that somatic mtDNA mutations and a decrease in the mtDNA copy number are common events in HCC and that a mitochondrial dysfunction-activated signaling cascade may play an important role in the progression of HCC. Elucidation of the retrograde signaling pathways in HCC and the quest for strategies to block some of these pathways will be instrumental for the development of novel treatments for this and other malignancies.

Related: Liver Cancer


Luukkonen J, Liimatainen A, Juutilainen J, Naarala J
Induction of genomic instability, oxidative processes, and mitochondrial activity by 50Hz magnetic fields in human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells.
Mutat Res Fundam Mol Mech Mutagen. 2014; 760:33-41 [PubMed] Related Publications
Epidemiological studies have suggested that exposure to 50Hz magnetic fields (MF) increases the risk of childhood leukemia, but there is no mechanistic explanation for carcinogenic effects. In two previous studies we have observed that a 24-h pre-exposure to MF alters cellular responses to menadione-induced DNA damage. The aim of this study was to investigate the cellular changes that must occur already during the first 24h of exposure to MF, and to explore whether the MF-induced changes in DNA damage response can lead to genomic instability in the progeny of the exposed cells. In order to answer these questions, human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells were exposed to a 50-Hz, 100-μT MF for 24h, followed by 3-h exposure to menadione. The main finding was that MF exposure was associated with increased level of micronuclei, used as an indicator of induced genomic instability, at 8 and 15d after the exposures. Other delayed effects in MF-exposed cells included increased mitochondrial activity at 8d, and increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and lipid peroxidation at 15d after the exposures. Oxidative processes (ROS production, reduced glutathione level, and mitochondrial superoxide level) were affected by MF immediately after the exposure. In conclusion, the present results suggest that MF exposure disturbs oxidative balance immediately after the exposure, which might explain our previous findings on MF altered cellular responses to menadione-induced DNA damage. Persistently elevated levels of micronuclei were found in the progeny of MF-exposed cells, indicating induction of genomic instability.

Related: Mitochondrial Mutations in Cancer Neuroblastoma


Liu W, Beck BH, Vaidya KS, et al.
Metastasis suppressor KISS1 seems to reverse the Warburg effect by enhancing mitochondrial biogenesis.
Cancer Res. 2014; 74(3):954-63 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2015 Related Publications
Cancer cells tend to utilize aerobic glycolysis even under normoxic conditions, commonly called the "Warburg effect." Aerobic glycolysis often directly correlates with malignancy, but its purpose, if any, in metastasis remains unclear. When wild-type KISS1 metastasis suppressor is expressed, aerobic glycolysis decreases and oxidative phosphorylation predominates. However, when KISS1 is missing the secretion signal peptide (ΔSS), invasion and metastasis are no longer suppressed and cells continue to metabolize using aerobic glycolysis. KISS1-expressing cells have 30% to 50% more mitochondrial mass than ΔSS-expressing cells, which are accompanied by correspondingly increased mitochondrial gene expression and higher expression of PGC1α, a master coactivator that regulates mitochondrial mass and metabolism. PGC1α-mediated downstream pathways (i.e., fatty acid synthesis and β-oxidation) are differentially regulated by KISS1, apparently reliant upon direct KISS1 interaction with NRF1, a major transcription factor involved in mitochondrial biogenesis. Since the downstream effects could be reversed using short hairpin RNA to KISS1 or PGC1α, these data appear to directly connect changes in mitochondria mass, cellular glucose metabolism, and metastasis.

Related: Mitochondrial Mutations in Cancer Cancer Prevention and Risk Reduction KISS1


Chyan W, Zhang DY, Lippard SJ, Radford RJ
Reaction-based fluorescent sensor for investigating mobile Zn2+ in mitochondria of healthy versus cancerous prostate cells.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014; 111(1):143-8 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2015 Related Publications
Chelatable, mobile forms of divalent zinc, Zn(II), play essential signaling roles in mammalian biology. A complex network of zinc import and transport proteins has evolved to control zinc concentration and distribution on a subcellular level. Understanding the action of mobile zinc requires tools that can detect changes in Zn(II) concentrations at discrete cellular locales. We present here a zinc-responsive, reaction-based, targetable probe based on the diacetyled form of Zinpyr-1. The compound, (6-amidoethyl)triphenylphosphonium Zinpyr-1 diacetate (DA-ZP1-TPP), is essentially nonfluorescent in the metal-free state; however, exposure to Zn(II) triggers metal-mediated hydrolysis of the acetyl groups to afford a large, rapid, and zinc-induced fluorescence response. DA-ZP1-TPP is insensitive to intracellular esterases over a 2-h period and is impervious to proton-induced turn-on. A TPP unit is appended for targeting mitochondria, as demonstrated by live cell fluorescence imaging studies. The practical utility of DA-ZP1-TPP is demonstrated by experiments revealing that, in contrast to healthy epithelial prostate cells, tumorigenic cells are unable to accumulate mobile zinc within their mitochondria.

Related: Mitochondrial Mutations in Cancer Prostate Cancer


Hsu JL, Lee YJ, Leu WJ, et al.
Moniliformediquinone induces in vitro and in vivo antitumor activity through glutathione involved DNA damage response and mitochondrial stress in human hormone refractory prostate cancer.
J Urol. 2014; 191(5):1429-38 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: Hormone refractory metastatic prostate cancer is a major obstacle in clinical treatment. The key focus of this study was the discovery and development of a potential agent for this disease.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Several pharmacological and biochemical assays were used to characterize the apoptotic signaling pathways of moniliformediquinone, a natural product, in hormone refractory metastatic prostate cancer.
RESULTS: Moniliformediquinone induced cell cycle arrest at the S-phase and subsequent apoptosis in the hormone refractory metastatic prostate cancer cell lines PC-3 and DU-145. Further examination showed that moniliformediquinone induced a DNA damage response associated with Chk1, Chk2, c-Jun and JNK activation. Mitochondrial apoptosis pathways were also activated, including loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, cytochrome c release, and activation of caspase-9 and 3. The antioxidant and glutathione precursor N-acetylcysteine, and the antioxidant Trolox™ completely abolished moniliformediquinone induced generation of reactive oxygen species. However, N-acetylcysteine but not Trolox blocked moniliformediquinone mediated apoptosis and related signaling cascades. Further identification showed that moniliformediquinone alone did not conjugate glutathione but significantly decreased cellular glutathione levels. The in vivo study revealed that moniliformediquinone completely inhibited tumor growth with no weight loss.
CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that moniliformediquinone is a potential anticancer agent for hormone refractory metastatic prostate cancer by decreasing cellular glutathione, leading to a DNA damage response and cell cycle arrest at the S-phase. Mitochondrial stress also occurs due to moniliformediquinone action through loss of mitochondrial membrane potential and cytochrome c release, which in turn induce the activation of caspase cascades and apoptotic cell death.

Related: Mitochondrial Mutations in Cancer


Ambrus AM, Islam AB, Holmes KB, et al.
Loss of dE2F compromises mitochondrial function.
Dev Cell. 2013; 27(4):438-51 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 25/11/2014 Related Publications
E2F/DP transcription factors regulate cell proliferation and apoptosis. Here, we investigated the mechanism of the resistance of Drosophila dDP mutants to irradiation-induced apoptosis. Contrary to the prevailing view, this is not due to an inability to induce the apoptotic transcriptional program, because we show that this program is induced; rather, this is due to a mitochondrial dysfunction of dDP mutants. We attribute this defect to E2F/DP-dependent control of expression of mitochondria-associated genes. Genetic attenuation of several of these E2F/DP targets mimics the dDP mutant mitochondrial phenotype and protects against irradiation-induced apoptosis. Significantly, the role of E2F/DP in the regulation of mitochondrial function is conserved between flies and humans. Thus, our results uncover a role of E2F/DP in the regulation of mitochondrial function and demonstrate that this aspect of E2F regulation is critical for the normal induction of apoptosis in response to irradiation.

Related: Apoptosis Bone Cancers Mitochondrial Mutations in Cancer Osteosarcoma


Grupp K, Jedrzejewska K, Tsourlakis MC, et al.
High mitochondria content is associated with prostate cancer disease progression.
Mol Cancer. 2013; 12(1):145 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 25/11/2014 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Mitochondria are suggested to be important organelles for cancer initiation and promotion. This study was designed to evaluate the prognostic value of MTC02, a marker for mitochondrial content, in prostate cancer.
METHODS: Immunohistochemistry of using an antibody against MTC02 was performed on a tissue microarray (TMA) containing 11,152 prostate cancer specimens. Results were compared to histological phenotype, biochemical recurrence, ERG status and other genomic deletions by using our TMA attached molecular information.
RESULTS: Tumor cells showed stronger MTC02 expression than normal prostate epithelium. MTC02 immunostaining was found in 96.5% of 8,412 analyzable prostate cancers, including 15.4% tumors with weak, 34.6% with moderate, and 46.5% with strong expression. MTC02 expression was associated with advanced pathological tumor stage, high Gleason score, nodal metastases (p < 0.0001 each), positive surgical margins (p = 0.0005), and early PSA recurrence (p < 0.0001) if all cancers were jointly analyzed. Tumors harboring ERG fusion showed higher expression levels than those without (p < 0.0001). In ERG negative prostate cancers, strong MTC02 immunostaining was linked to deletions of PTEN, 6q15, 5q21, and early biochemical recurrence (p < 0.0001 each). Moreover, multiple scenarios of multivariate analyses suggested an independent association of MTC02 with prognosis in preoperative settings.
CONCLUSIONS: Our study demonstrates high-level MTC02 expression in ERG negative prostate cancers harboring deletions of PTEN, 6q15, and 5q21. Additionally, increased MTC02 expression is a strong predictor of poor clinical outcome in ERG negative cancers, highlighting a potentially important role of elevated mitochondrial content for prostate cancer cell biology.

Related: Mitochondrial Mutations in Cancer PTEN Prostate Cancer ERG gene


Ji YB, Ji CF, Yue L
Human gastric cancer cell line SGC-7901 apoptosis induced by SFPS-B2 via a mitochondrial-mediated pathway.
Biomed Mater Eng. 2014; 24(1):1141-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
This study was to investigate the effect of Sargassum fusiforme polysaccharides (SFPS-B2) on the proliferation and apoptosis of human gastric cancer cell line SGC-7901. Cells were treated with different concentrations of SFPS-B2. MTT and flow cytometry (FCM) assays were performed to evaluate the effect of SFPS-B2 on the cell growth and apoptosis. Inverted fluorescent microscope was used to observe cell morphology. Laser scanning confocal microscope (LSCM) was used to analyze intracellular calcium ion concentration, mitochondrion permeability transition pore (MPTP) and mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP). Spectrophotometer was applied to quantify the activity of Caspase-9 and Caspase-3. FCM was used to determine the expressions of Bcl-2, Bax and cytochrome C. It was shown that SFPS-B2 inhibited the growth of SGC-7901. After the treatment for 72 h, the cell apoptosis morphology was obvious, which showed that cell protuberance and apoptotic body appeared, and the cytoplasm was concentrated; the apoptotic peak appeared and the apoptotic rate increased in a dose-dependent manner. After the treatment for 24 h, SFPS-B2 activated intracellular MPTP and decreased MMP. It also increased the activity of Caspase-9 and Caspase-3, down-regulated the expression of Bcl-2 and up-regulated the expression of Bax, induced the release of Cyt-C. SFPS-B2 induced SGC-7901 apoptosis through a mitochondrial-mediated pathway, suggesting it may be an agent for cancer treatment.

Related: Apoptosis Mitochondrial Mutations in Cancer Stomach Cancer Gastric Cancer


Chen S, Guan JL
Tumor-promoting and -suppressive roles of autophagy in the same mouse model of BrafV600E-driven lung cancer.
Cancer Discov. 2013; 3(11):1225-7 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 25/11/2014 Related Publications
Although a role of autophagy in cancer development and progression has received increasing appreciation in recent years, there are still significantly uncertain and conflicting results about its tumor-suppressive and -promoting functions, and, more importantly, a lack of understanding of mechanisms underlying these opposing activities. The work presented by Strohecker and colleagues uses an innovative approach to address these challenges by examining the effects of inactivating the key autophagy gene Atg7 at different stages of oncogenic development in a BrafV600E-driven mouse lung cancer model. The authors show that autophagy blockage initially accelerated tumor development, but suppressed tumor progression in later stages, converting adenomas to oncocytomas and increasing mouse survival. Importantly, they identify a critical role of glutamine dependency in the suppression of BrafV600E-induced cancer, thus revealing an important mechanism by which autophagy may promote tumor progression in different cellular contexts.

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Pokorný J, Pokorný J, Kobilková J
Postulates on electromagnetic activity in biological systems and cancer.
Integr Biol (Camb). 2013; 5(12):1439-46 [PubMed] Related Publications
A framework of postulates is formulated to define the existence, nature, and function of a coherent state far from thermodynamic equilibrium in biological systems as an essential condition for the existence of life. This state is excited and sustained by energy supply. Mitochondria producing small packets of energy in the form of adenosine and guanosine triphosphate and strong static electric field around them form boundary elements between biochemical-genetic and physical processes. The transformation mechanism of chemical energy into useful work for biological needs and the excitation of the coherent state far from thermodynamic equilibrium are fundamental problems. The exceptional electrical polarity of biological objects and long-range interactions suggest a basic role of the endogenous electromagnetic field generated by living cells. The formulated postulates encompass generation, properties and function of the electromagnetic field connected with biological activity and its pathological deviations. Excited longitudinal polar oscillations in microtubules in eukaryotic cells generate the endogenous electromagnetic field. The metabolic activity of mitochondria connected with water ordering forms conditions for excitation. The electrodynamic field plays an important role in the establishment of coherence, directional transport, organization of morphological structures, interactions, information transfer, and brain activity. An overview of experimental results and physical models supporting the postulates is included. The existence of the endogenous biological electromagnetic field, its generation by microtubules and supporting effects produced by mitochondria have a reasonable experimental foundation. Cancer transformation is a pathological reduction of the coherent energy state far from thermodynamic equilibrium. Malignancy, i.e. local invasion and metastasis, is a direct consequence of mitochondrial dysfunction, disturbed microtubule polar oscillations and the generated electromagnetic field.

Related: Mitochondrial Mutations in Cancer


Millard M, Gallagher JD, Olenyuk BZ, Neamati N
A selective mitochondrial-targeted chlorambucil with remarkable cytotoxicity in breast and pancreatic cancers.
J Med Chem. 2013; 56(22):9170-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
Nitrogen mustards, widely used as chemotherapeutics, have limited safety and efficacy. Mitochondria lack a functional nucleotide excision repair mechanism to repair DNA adducts and are sensitive to alkylating agents. Importantly, cancer cells have higher intrinsic mitochondrial membrane potential (Δψmt) than normal cells. Therefore, selectively targeting nitrogen mustards to cancer cell mitochondria based on Δψmt could overcome those limitations. Herein, we describe the design, synthesis, and evaluation of Mito-Chlor, a triphenylphosphonium derivative of the nitrogen mustard chlorambucil. We show that Mito-Chlor localizes to cancer cell mitochondria where it acts on mtDNA to arrest cell cycle and induce cell death, resulting in a 80-fold enhancement of cell kill in a panel of breast and pancreatic cancer cell lines that are insensitive to the parent drug. Significantly, Mito-Chlor delayed tumor progression in a mouse xenograft model of human pancreatic cancer. This is a first example of repurposing chlorambucil, a drug not used in breast and pancreatic cancer treatment, as a novel drug candidate for these diseases.

Related: Breast Cancer Chlorambucil Mitochondrial Mutations in Cancer Cancer of the Pancreas Pancreatic Cancer


Kulikov AV, Vdovin AS, Zhivotovsky B, Gogvadze V
Targeting mitochondria by α-tocopheryl succinate overcomes hypoxia-mediated tumor cell resistance to treatment.
Cell Mol Life Sci. 2014; 71(12):2325-33 [PubMed] Related Publications
Rapidly proliferating tumor cells easily become hypoxic. This results in acquired stability towards treatment with anticancer drugs. Here, we show that cells grown at 0.1 % oxygen are more resistant towards treatment with the conventionally used anticancer drugs doxorubicin and cisplatin. The stimulation of apoptosis, as assessed by the number of cells in the SubG1 fraction of the cell cycle, release of cytochrome c into the cytosol, activation of caspase-3, and cleavage of PARP, was markedly suppressed under low oxygen content or when hypoxia was mimicked by deferoxamine. Hypoxia or deferoxamine treatment was accompanied by stabilization of the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF-1). The downregulation of HIF-1 using siRNA technique restored cell sensitivity to treatment under hypoxic conditions to the levels detected under normoxic conditions. In contrast to cisplatin or doxorubicin, α-tocopheryl succinate (α-TOS), a compound that targets mitochondria, stimulated cell death irrespective of the oxygen concentration. Moreover, under hypoxic condition cell death induced by α-TOS was even enhanced. Thus, α-TOS can successfully overcome resistance to treatment caused by hypoxia, which makes α-TOS an attractive candidate for antitumor therapy via mitochondrial targeting.

Related: Cisplatin Doxorubicin Mitochondrial Mutations in Cancer Cancer Prevention and Risk Reduction


Tan AS, Baty JW, Berridge MV
The role of mitochondrial electron transport in tumorigenesis and metastasis.
Biochim Biophys Acta. 2014; 1840(4):1454-63 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Tumor formation and spread via the circulatory and lymphatic drainage systems is associated with metabolic reprogramming that often includes increased glycolytic metabolism relative to mitochondrial energy production. However, cells within a tumor are not identical due to genetic change, clonal evolution and layers of epigenetic reprogramming. In addition, cell hierarchy impinges on metabolic status while tumor cell phenotype and metabolic status will be influenced by the local microenvironment including stromal cells, developing blood and lymphatic vessels and innate and adaptive immune cells. Mitochondrial mutations and changes in mitochondrial electron transport contribute to metabolic remodeling in cancer in ways that are poorly understood.
SCOPE OF REVIEW: This review concerns the role of mitochondria, mitochondrial mutations and mitochondrial electron transport function in tumorigenesis and metastasis.
MAJOR CONCLUSIONS: It is concluded that mitochondrial electron transport is required for tumor initiation, growth and metastasis. Nevertheless, defects in mitochondrial electron transport that compromise mitochondrial energy metabolism can contribute to tumor formation and spread. These apparently contradictory phenomena can be reconciled by cells in individual tumors in a particular environment adapting dynamically to optimally balance mitochondrial genome changes and bioenergetic status.
GENERAL SIGNIFICANCE: Tumors are complex evolving biological systems characterized by genetic and adaptive epigenetic changes. Understanding the complexity of these changes in terms of bioenergetics and metabolic changes will permit the development of better combination anticancer therapies. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Frontiers of Mitochondrial Research.

Related: Mitochondrial Mutations in Cancer


Wobser M, Haferkamp S, Roth S, et al.
Periocular cutaneous oncocytoma with signs of disrupted oxygen metabolism.
J Cutan Pathol. 2013; 40(12):1054-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Oncocytomas are benign tumors most often occurring in salivary or lacrimal glands and thyroid tissue. As cutaneous oncocytoma is exceptionally rare, this tumor is uncommonly encountered by dermatopathologists. Herein, we illustrate the case of an 80-year-old man who presented with a slowly growing papule of the lower eyelid. Histopathologically, the adenomatous tumor was composed of large monomorphic cells with eosinophilic granular cytoplasm. Electron microscopy revealed abundant, enlarged and abnormally shaped mitochondria. These findings were consistent with an oncocytoma of the skin. The presented case is unique in that the thorough work-up of the tumor tissue revealed not only hyperplastic mitochondria, representing the ultrastructural correlate of the observed granular cytoplasm, but additionally disclosed functional consequences with elevated levels of reactive oxygen specimen (ROS) within the tumor. Disrupted oxygen metabolism may result from cellular aging processes and may putatively represent the underlying pathogenesis of oncocytoma.

Related: Mitochondrial Mutations in Cancer Skin Cancer


Liu Y, Liu JH, Chai K, et al.
Inhibition of c-Met promoted apoptosis, autophagy and loss of the mitochondrial transmembrane potential in oridonin-induced A549 lung cancer cells.
J Pharm Pharmacol. 2013; 65(11):1622-42 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: Herein, inhibition of hepatocyte growth factor receptor, c-Met, significantly increased cytochrome c release and Bax/Bcl-2 ratio, indicating that c-Met played an anti-apoptotic role. The following experiments are to elucidate this anti-apoptotic mechanism, then the effect of c-Met on autophagy has also been discussed.
METHODS: Investigated was the influence of c-Met on apoptosis, autophagy and loss of mitochondrial transmembrane potential (Δψm), and the relevant proteins were examined.
KEY FINDINGS: First, we found that activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), p53 was promoted by c-Met interference. Subsequent studies indicated that ERK was the upstream effector of p53, and this ERK-p53 pathway mediated release of cytochrome c and up-regulation of Bax/Bcl-2 ratio. Secondly, the inhibition of c-Met augmented oridonin-induced loss of mitochondrial transmembrane potential (Δψm), resulting apoptosis. Finally, the inhibition of c-Met increased oridonin-induced A549 cell autophagy accompanied by Beclin-1 activation and conversion from microtubule-associated protein light chain 3 (LC3)-I to LC3-II. Activation of ERK-p53 was also detected in autophagy process and could be augmented by inhibition of c-Met. Moreover, suppression of autophagy by 3-methyladenine (3-MA) or small interfering RNA against Beclin-1 or Atg5 decreased oridonin-induced apoptosis. Inhibition of apoptosis by pan-caspase inhibitor (z-VAD-fmk) decreased oridonin-induced autophagy as well and Loss of Δψm also occurred during autophagic process.
CONCLUSION: Thus, inhibiting c-Met enhanced oridonin-induced apoptosis, autophagy and loss of Δψm in A549 cells.

Related: Apoptosis Lung Cancer Mitochondrial Mutations in Cancer TP53


Xu H, He W, Jiang HG, et al.
Prognostic value of mitochondrial DNA content and G10398A polymorphism in non-small cell lung cancer.
Oncol Rep. 2013; 30(6):3006-12 [PubMed] Related Publications
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is one of the leading causes of cancer-related mortality worldwide. Mitochondrial dysfunction has been postulated to render cancer cells resistant to apoptosis based on the Warburg hypothesis. However, few studies have investigated the prognostic value of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) content and G10398A polymorphism in NSCLC patients. mtDNA copy number and G10398A polymorphism in 128 NSCLC tissue samples were assessed by real-time PCR (RT-PCR) and PCR-RFLP respectively, and their relationship to prognosis were analyzed by survival analysis and Cox proportional hazards model. In vitro, an mtDNA deletion A549 ρ(0) cell model was utilized to assess the function of mtDNA on radiosensitivity. Cell cycle distribution and reactive oxygen species (ROS) were analyzed to elucidate the potential mechanisms. For the whole group, the median follow-up time and overall survival time were 22.5 and 23.4 months, respectively. Patients with high mtDNA content had a marginally longer survival time than patients with low mtDNA content (P=0.053). Moreover, patients with high mtDNA content plus 10398G had a significantly longer overall survival time compared with those having low mtDNA content plus 10398A (47 vs. 27 months, P<0.05). In addition, multivariate analysis showed that stage and low mtDNA content plus 10398A were the two most independent prognostic factors. In vitro, the A549 ρ(0) cells showed more resistance to radiation than ρ(+) cells. Following radiation, ρ(0) cells showed delayed G2 arrest and lower ROS level as compared to ρ(+) cells. In conclusion, the present study suggests that in patients with NSCLC, low mtDNA content plus 10398A could be a marker of poor prognosis which is associated with resistance to anticancer treatment caused by low mtDNA content plus 10398A polymorphism resulting in mitochondrial dysfunction.

Related: Apoptosis Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Mitochondrial Mutations in Cancer Polymorphisms EGFR


Zhang SH, Huang Q
Etoposide induces apoptosis via the mitochondrial- and caspase-dependent pathways and in non-cancer stem cells in Panc-1 pancreatic cancer cells.
Oncol Rep. 2013; 30(6):2765-70 [PubMed] Related Publications
Pancreatic cancer is a highly aggressive malignant tumor. In the present study, we performed several methods, including CCK-8 assay, immunofluorescence technique, western blotting and flow cytometry, to determine the effects of VP16 (etoposide) on Panc-1 pancreatic cancer cells. The results demonstrated that VP16 inhibited the growth of and induced apoptosis in Panc-1 cells. Western blot analysis showed that VP16 inhibited the expression of Bcl-2 and enhanced the expression of Bax, caspases-3 and -9, cytochrome c and PARP. Notably, a strong inhibitory effect of VP16 on Panc-1 cells mainly occurred in non-CSCs. These data provide a new strategy for the therapy of pancreatic cancer.

Related: Apoptosis Etoposide Mitochondrial Mutations in Cancer Cancer of the Pancreas Pancreatic Cancer Signal Transduction


Giang AH, Raymond T, Brookes P, et al.
Mitochondrial dysfunction and permeability transition in osteosarcoma cells showing the Warburg effect.
J Biol Chem. 2013; 288(46):33303-11 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 15/11/2014 Related Publications
Metabolic reprogramming in cancer is manifested by persistent aerobic glycolysis and suppression of mitochondrial function and is known as the Warburg effect. The Warburg effect contributes to cancer progression and is considered to be a promising therapeutic target. Understanding the mechanisms used by cancer cells to suppress their mitochondria may lead to development of new approaches to reverse metabolic reprogramming. We have evaluated mitochondrial function and morphology in poorly respiring LM7 and 143B osteosarcoma (OS) cell lines showing the Warburg effect in comparison with actively respiring Saos2 and HOS OS cells and noncancerous osteoblastic hFOB cells. In LM7 and 143B cells, we detected markers of the mitochondrial permeability transition (MPT), such as mitochondrial swelling, depolarization, and membrane permeabilization. In addition, we detected mitochondrial swelling in human OS xenografts in mice and archival human OS specimens using electron microscopy. The MPT inhibitor sanglifehrin A reversed MPT markers and increased respiration in LM7 and 143B cells. Our data suggest that the MPT may play a role in suppression of mitochondrial function, contributing to the Warburg effect in cancer.

Related: Mitochondrial Mutations in Cancer Osteosarcoma


Wu M, Zhang H, Hu J, et al.
Isoalantolactone inhibits UM-SCC-10A cell growth via cell cycle arrest and apoptosis induction.
PLoS One. 2013; 8(9):e76000 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 15/11/2014 Related Publications
Isoalantolactone is a sesquiterpene lactone compound isolated from the roots of Inula helenium L. Previous studies have demonstrated that isoalantolactone possesses antifungal, anti-bacterial, anti-helminthic and anti-proliferative properties in a variety of cells, but there are no studies concerning its effects on head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). In the present study, an MTT assay demonstrated that isoalantolactone has anti-proliferative activity against the HNSCC cell line (UM-SCC-10A). Immunostaining identified that this compound induced UM-SCC-10A cell apoptosis but not necrosis. To explain the molecular mechanisms underlying its effects, flow cytometry and western blot analysis showed that the apoptosis was associated with cell cycle arrest during the G1 phase, up-regulation of p53 and p21, and down-regulation of cyclin D. Furthermore, our results revealed that induction of apoptosis through a mitochondrial pathway led to up-regulation of pro-apoptotic protein expression (Bax), down-regulation of anti-apoptotic protein expression (Bcl-2), mitochondrial release of cytochrome c (Cyto c), reduction of mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) and activation of caspase-3 (Casp-3). Involvement of the caspase apoptosis pathway was confirmed using caspase inhibitor Z-VAD-FMK pretreatment. Together, our findings suggest that isoalantolactone induced caspase-dependent apoptosis via a mitochondrial pathway and was associated with cell cycle arrest in the G1 phase in UM-SCC-10A cells. Therefore, isoalantolactone may become a potential drug for treating HNSCC.

Related: Apoptosis Head and Neck Cancers Head and Neck Cancers - Molecular Biology Mitochondrial Mutations in Cancer TP53


Skrzypski M, Sassek M, Abdelmessih S, et al.
Capsaicin induces cytotoxicity in pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor cells via mitochondrial action.
Cell Signal. 2014; 26(1):41-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Capsaicin (CAP), the pungent ingredient of chili peppers, inhibits growth of various solid cancers via TRPV1 as well as TRPV1-independent mechanisms. Recently, we showed that TRPV1 regulates intracellular calcium level and chromogranin A secretion in pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor (NET) cells. In the present study, we characterize the role of the TRPV1 agonist - CAP - in controlling proliferation and apoptosis of pancreatic BON and QGP-1 NET cells. We demonstrate that CAP reduces viability and proliferation, and stimulates apoptotic death of NET cells. CAP causes mitochondrial membrane potential loss, inhibits ATP synthesis and reduces mitochondrial Bcl-2 protein production. In addition, CAP increases cytochrome c and cleaved caspase 3 levels in cytoplasm. CAP reduces reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation. The antioxidant N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC) acts synergistically with CAP to reduce ROS generation, without affecting CAP-induced toxicity. TRPV1 protein reduction by 75% reduction fails to attenuate CAP-induced cytotoxicity. In summary, these results suggest that CAP induces cytotoxicity by disturbing mitochondrial potential, and inhibits ATP synthesis in NET cells. Stimulation of ROS generation by CAP appears to be a secondary effect, not related to CAP-induced cytotoxicity. These results justify further evaluation of CAP in modulating pancreatic NETs in vivo.

Related: Apoptosis Mitochondrial Mutations in Cancer Cancer of the Pancreas Pancreatic Cancer Signal Transduction


Yehuda-Shnaidman E, Nimri L, Tarnovscki T, et al.
Secreted human adipose leptin decreases mitochondrial respiration in HCT116 colon cancer cells.
PLoS One. 2013; 8(9):e74843 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 15/11/2014 Related Publications
Obesity is a key risk factor for the development of colon cancer; however, the endocrine/paracrine/metabolic networks mediating this connection are poorly understood. Here we hypothesize that obesity results in secreted products from adipose tissue that induce malignancy-related metabolic alterations in colon cancer cells. Human HCT116 colon cancer cells, were exposed to conditioned media from cultured human adipose tissue fragments of obese vs. non-obese subjects. Oxygen consumption rate (OCR, mostly mitochondrial respiration) and extracellular acidification rate (ECAR, mostly lactate production via glycolysis) were examined vis-à-vis cell viability and expression of related genes and proteins. Our results show that conditioned media from obese (vs. non-obese) subjects decreased basal (40%, p<0.05) and maximal (50%, p<0.05) OCR and gene expression of mitochondrial proteins and Bax without affecting cell viability or expression of glycolytic enzymes. Similar changes could be recapitulated by incubating cells with leptin, whereas, leptin-receptor specific antagonist inhibited the reduced OCR induced by conditioned media from obese subjects. We conclude that secreted products from the adipose tissue of obese subjects inhibit mitochondrial respiration and function in HCT116 colon cancer cells, an effect that is at least partly mediated by leptin. These results highlight a putative novel mechanism for obesity-associated risk of gastrointestinal malignancies, and suggest potential new therapeutic avenues.

Related: Mitochondrial Mutations in Cancer Signal Transduction



mtDNA Databases and Resources (3 links)


Further References

Radpour R, Fan AX, Kohler C, et al.
Current understanding of mitochondrial DNA in breast cancer.
Breast J. 2009 Sep-Oct; 15(5):505-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
The recent surge in mitochondrial research has been driven by the identification of mitochondria-associated diseases and the role of mitochondria in apoptosis and aging. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) has been proposed to be involved in carcinogenesis because of its high susceptibility to mutations and limited repair mechanisms in comparison to nuclear DNA. As mtDNA lacks introns, it has been suggested that most mutations will occur in coding sequences. The subsequent accumulation of mutations may lead to tumor formation. By virtue of their clonal nature, high copy number and high frequent mutations may provide a powerful molecular biomarker for the detection of cancer. It has been suggested that the extent of mtDNA mutations might be useful in the prognosis of cancer outcome and/or the response to certain therapies. In this review article, we aim to provide a brief summary of our current understanding of mitochondrial genetics and biology, review the mtDNA alterations reported in breast cancer, and offer some perspectives as to the emergence of mtDNA mutations, including their functional consequences in cancer development, diagnostic criteria, and therapeutic implications.

Related: Breast Cancer Kidney Cancer Stomach Cancer Gastric Cancer


Wallace DC
Mitochondria and cancer.
Nat Rev Cancer. 2012; 12(10):685-98 [PubMed] Related Publications
Contrary to conventional wisdom, functional mitochondria are essential for the cancer cell. Although mutations in mitochondrial genes are common in cancer cells, they do not inactivate mitochondrial energy metabolism but rather alter the mitochondrial bioenergetic and biosynthetic state. These states communicate with the nucleus through mitochondrial 'retrograde signalling' to modulate signal transduction pathways, transcriptional circuits and chromatin structure to meet the perceived mitochondrial and nuclear requirements of the cancer cell. Cancer cells then reprogramme adjacent stromal cells to optimize the cancer cell environment. These alterations activate out-of-context programmes that are important in development, stress response, wound healing and nutritional status.

Related: Mitochondrial Mutations in Cancer Cancer Prevention and Risk Reduction Signal Transduction



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