Mitochondrial DNA

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.

mtDNA Databases and Resources (3 links)

Recent Research Publications

Wolf DA
Is reliance on mitochondrial respiration a "chink in the armor" of therapy-resistant cancer?
Cancer Cell. 2014; 26(6):788-95 [PubMed] Related Publications
A series of recent reports has suggested PGC1α-driven upregulation of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation as a selective vulnerability of drug-resistant cancers. Accordingly, chemical inhibitors of respiration led to selective eradication of such cancer cells due to their preferential sensitivity to mitochondrial production of reactive oxygen species. These insights create a timely opportunity for a biomarker guided application of already existing and newly emerging mitochondrial inhibitors in recurrent drug-resistant cancer, including lymphomas, melanomas, and other malignant diseases marked by increased mitochondrial respiration.

Sabharwal SS, Schumacker PT
Mitochondrial ROS in cancer: initiators, amplifiers or an Achilles' heel?
Nat Rev Cancer. 2014; 14(11):709-21 [PubMed] Related Publications
Mitochondria cooperate with their host cells by contributing to bioenergetics, metabolism, biosynthesis, and cell death or survival functions. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated by mitochondria participate in stress signalling in normal cells but also contribute to the initiation of nuclear or mitochondrial DNA mutations that promote neoplastic transformation. In cancer cells, mitochondrial ROS amplify the tumorigenic phenotype and accelerate the accumulation of additional mutations that lead to metastatic behaviour. As mitochondria carry out important functions in normal cells, disabling their function is not a feasible therapy for cancer. However, ROS signalling contributes to proliferation and survival in many cancers, so the targeted disruption of mitochondria-to-cell redox communication represents a promising avenue for future therapy.

Liu BX, Zhou JY, Li Y, et al.
Hederagenin from the leaves of ivy (Hedera helix L.) induces apoptosis in human LoVo colon cells through the mitochondrial pathway.
BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014; 14:412 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Colorectal cancer has become one of the leading cause of cancer morbidity and mortality throughout world. Hederagenin, a derivative of oleanolic acid isolated from the leaves of ivy (Hedera helix L.), has been shown to have potential anti-tumor activity. The study was conducted to evaluate whether hederagenin could induce apoptosis of human colon cancer LoVo cells and explore the possible mechanism.
METHODS: MTT assay was used for evaluating cell viability while Annexin V-FITC/PI assay and Hoechst 33342 nuclear stainining were used for the determination of apoptosis and mitochondrial membrane potential. DCFH-DA fluorescence staining and flow cytometry were used to measure ROS generation. Real-time PCR and western blot analysis were performed for apoptosis-related protein expressions.
RESULTS: MTT assay showed that hederagenin could significantly inhibit the viability of LoVo cells in a concentration-dependent and time-dependent manner by IC50 of 1.39 μM at 24 h and 1.17 μM at 48 h. The apoptosis ratio was significantly increased to 32.46% and 81.78% by the induction of hederagenin (1 and 2 μM) in Annexin V-FITC/PI assay. Hederagenin could also induce the nuclear changes characteristic of apoptosis by Hoechst 33342 nuclear stainining under fluorescence microscopy. DCFH-DA fluorescence staining and flow cytometry showed that hederagenin could increase significantly ROS generation in LoVo cells. Real-time PCR showed that hederagenin induced the up-regulation of Bax and down-regulation of Bcl-2, Bcl-xL and Survivin. Western blotting analysis showed that hederagenin decreased the expressions of apoptosis-associated proteins Bcl-2, procaspase-9, procaspase-3, and polyADP- ribosepolymerase (PARP) were increased, while the expressions of Bax, caspase-3, caspase-9 were increased. However, there was no significant change on caspase-8.
CONCLUSIONS: These results indicated that the disruption of mitochondrial membrane potential might contribute to the apoptosis of hederagenin in LoVo cells. Our findings suggested that hederagenin might be a promising therapeutic candidate for human colon cancer.

Kim EY, Shin JY, Park YJ, Kim AK
Equol induces mitochondria-mediated apoptosis of human cervical cancer cells.
Anticancer Res. 2014; 34(9):4985-92 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND/AIM: The present study aimed to investigate anticancer properties of equol and demonstrate its underlying mechanisms of action in human cervical cancer HeLa cells.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Inhibition of cell viability was examined by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazoly-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay. Apoptosis was evaluated by observation of apoptotic cell morphology, and an increase of annexin-V(+) cells. Western blotting was used to examine apoptosis-related proteins. Flow cytometry was used to measure mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) and reactive oxygen species (ROS).
RESULTS: Equol treatment inhibited HeLa cell proliferation in dose- and time-dependent manner. Equol-induced apoptotic cell death was accompanied by the activation of caspases, and alteration of MMP and mitochondrial membrane proteins; equol also rapidly triggered ROS production. Pre-treatment with N-acetylcysteine blocked loss of MMP, caused increase of Bcl-2-associated X protein (Bax)/B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2) ratio, caspase-8 activation, and apoptosis induced by equol.
CONCLUSION: Equol is a potential anticancer agent against HeLa, with possible mechanisms involved in ROS generation and mitochondrial membrane alteration.

Gibellini L, Pinti M, Boraldi F, et al.
Silencing of mitochondrial Lon protease deeply impairs mitochondrial proteome and function in colon cancer cells.
FASEB J. 2014; 28(12):5122-35 [PubMed] Related Publications
Lon is a nuclear-encoded, mitochondrial protease that assists protein folding, degrades oxidized/damaged proteins, and participates in maintaining mtDNA levels. Here we show that Lon is up-regulated in several human cancers and that its silencing in RKO colon cancer cells causes profound alterations of mitochondrial proteome and function, and cell death. We silenced Lon in RKO cells by constitutive or inducible expression of Lon shRNA. Lon-silenced cells displayed altered levels of 39 mitochondrial proteins (26% related to stress response, 14.8% to ribosome assembly, 12.7% to oxidative phosphorylation, 8.5% to Krebs cycle, 6.3% to β-oxidation, and 14.7% to crista integrity, ketone body catabolism, and mtDNA maintenance), low levels of mtDNA transcripts, and reduced levels of oxidative phosphorylation complexes (with >90% reduction of complex I). Oxygen consumption rate decreased 7.5-fold in basal conditions, and ATP synthesis dropped from 0.25 ± 0.04 to 0.03 ± 0.001 nmol/mg proteins, in the presence of 2-deoxy-d-glucose. Hydrogen peroxide and mitochondrial superoxide anion levels increased by 3- and 1.3-fold, respectively. Mitochondria appeared fragmented, heterogeneous in size and shape, with dilated cristae, vacuoles, and electrondense inclusions. The triterpenoid 2-cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9,-dien-28-oic acid, a Lon inhibitor, partially mimics Lon silencing. In summary, Lon is essential for maintaining mitochondrial shape and function, and for survival of RKO cells.

Moghadamtousi SZ, Kadir HA, Paydar M, et al.
Annona muricata leaves induced apoptosis in A549 cells through mitochondrial-mediated pathway and involvement of NF-κB.
BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014; 14:299 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Annona muricata leaves have been reported to have antiproliferative effects against various cancer cell lines. However, the detailed mechanism has yet to be defined. The current study was designed to evaluate the molecular mechanisms of A. muricata leaves ethyl acetate extract (AMEAE) against lung cancer A549 cells.
METHODS: The effect of AMEAE on cell proliferation of different cell lines was analyzed by MTT assay. High content screening (HCS) was applied to investigate the suppression of NF-κB translocation, cell membrane permeability, mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) and cytochrome c translocation from mitochondria to cytosol. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release and activation of caspase-3/7, -8 and -9 were measured while treatment. The western blot analysis also carried out to determine the protein expression of cleaved caspase-3 and -9. Flow cytometry analysis was used to determine the cell cycle distribution and phosphatidylserine externalization. Quantitative PCR analysis was performed to measure the gene expression of Bax and Bcl-2 proteins.
RESULTS: Cell viability analysis revealed the selective cytotoxic effect of AMEAE towards lung cancer cells, A549, with an IC50 value of 5.09 ± 0.41 μg/mL after 72 h of treatment. Significant LDH leakage and phosphatidylserine externalization were observed in AMEAE treated cells by fluorescence analysis. Treatment of A549 cells with AMEAE significantly elevated ROS formation, followed by attenuation of MMP via upregulation of Bax and downregulation of Bcl-2, accompanied by cytochrome c release to the cytosol. The incubation of A549 cells with superoxide dismutase and catalase significantly attenuated the cytotoxicity caused by AMEAE, indicating that intracellular ROS plays a pivotal role in cell death. The released cytochrome c triggered the activation of caspase-9 followed by caspase-3. In addition, AMEAE-induced apoptosis was accompanied by cell cycle arrest at G0/G1 phase. Moreover, AMEAE suppressed the induced translocation of NF-κB from cytoplasm to nucleus.
CONCLUSIONS: Our data showed for the first time that the ethyl acetate extract of Annona muricata inhibited the proliferation of A549 cells, leading to cell cycle arrest and programmed cell death through activation of the mitochondrial-mediated signaling pathway with the involvement of the NF-kB signalling pathway.

Díaz-Carballo D, Gustmann S, Jastrow H, et al.
Atypical cell populations associated with acquired resistance to cytostatics and cancer stem cell features: the role of mitochondria in nuclear encapsulation.
DNA Cell Biol. 2014; 33(11):749-74 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/11/2015 Related Publications
Until recently, acquired resistance to cytostatics had mostly been attributed to biochemical mechanisms such as decreased intake and/or increased efflux of therapeutics, enhanced DNA repair, and altered activity or deregulation of target proteins. Although these mechanisms have been widely investigated, little is known about membrane barriers responsible for the chemical imperviousness of cell compartments and cellular segregation in cytostatic-treated tumors. In highly heterogeneous cross-resistant and radiorefractory cell populations selected by exposure to anticancer agents, we found a number of atypical recurrent cell types in (1) tumor cell cultures of different embryonic origins, (2) mouse xenografts, and (3) paraffin sections from patient tumors. Alongside morphologic peculiarities, these populations presented cancer stem cell markers, aberrant signaling pathways, and a set of deregulated miRNAs known to confer both stem-cell phenotypes and highly aggressive tumor behavior. The first type, named spiral cells, is marked by a spiral arrangement of nuclei. The second type, monastery cells, is characterized by prominent walls inside which daughter cells can be seen maturing amid a rich mitochondrial environment. The third type, called pregnant cells, is a giant cell with a syncytium-like morphology, a main nucleus, and many endoreplicative functional progeny cells. A rare fourth cell type identified in leukemia was christened shepherd cells, as it was always associated with clusters of smaller cells. Furthermore, a portion of resistant tumor cells displayed nuclear encapsulation via mitochondrial aggregation in the nuclear perimeter in response to cytostatic insults, probably conferring imperviousness to drugs and long periods of dormancy until nuclear eclosion takes place. This phenomenon was correlated with an increase in both intracellular and intercellular mitochondrial traffic as well as with the uptake of free extracellular mitochondria. All these cellular disorders could, in fact, be found in untreated tumor cells but were more pronounced in resistant entities, suggesting a natural mechanism of cell survival triggered by chemical injury, or a primitive strategy to ensure stemming, self-renewal, and differentiation under adverse conditions, a fact that may play a significant role in chemotherapy outcomes.

Phelan JJ, MacCarthy F, Feighery R, et al.
Differential expression of mitochondrial energy metabolism profiles across the metaplasia-dysplasia-adenocarcinoma disease sequence in Barrett's oesophagus.
Cancer Lett. 2014; 354(1):122-31 [PubMed] Related Publications
Contemporary clinical management of Barrett's oesophagus has highlighted the lack of accurate predictive markers of disease progression to oesophageal cancer. This study aims to examine alterations in mitochondrial energy metabolism profiles across the entire disease progression sequence in Barrett's oesophagus. An in-vitro model was used to screen 84 genes associated with mitochondrial energy metabolism. Three energy metabolism genes (ATP12A, COX4I2, COX8C) were significantly altered across the in-vitro Barrett's disease sequence. In-vivo validations across the Barrett's sequence demonstrated differential expression of these genes. Tissue microarrays demonstrated significant alterations in both epithelial and stromal oxidative phosphorylation (ATP5B and Hsp60) and glycolytic (PKM2 and GAPDH) protein markers across the in-vivo Barrett's sequence. Levels of ATP5B in sequential follow up surveillance biopsy material segregated Barrett's non progressors and progressors to HGD and cancer. Utilising the Seahorse XF24 flux analyser, in-vitro Barrett's and adenocarcinoma cells exhibited altered levels of various oxidative parameters. We show for the first time that mitochondrial energy metabolism is differentially altered across the metaplasia-dysplasia-adenocarcinoma sequence and that oxidative phosphorylation profiles have predictive value in segregating Barrett's non progressors and progressors to adenocarcinoma.

Camps J, García-Heredia A
Introduction: oxidation and inflammation, a molecular link between non-communicable diseases.
Adv Exp Med Biol. 2014; 824:1-4 [PubMed] Related Publications
Non-communicable diseases are, by definition, those chronic diseases that are non-infectious and non-transmissible. The most common non-communicable diseases are obesity, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular, chronic respiratory and neurological diseases. Altogether, they are the commonest cause of death and disability in modern world. Recent investigations show that many of these diseases share common pathophysiological mechanisms and are, at least in part, different manifestations in different organs of similar molecular alterations. Mitochondrial alterations, oxidative stress and inflammation are inextricably linked and play major roles in the onset and development of non-communicable diseases. Therefore, it is conceivable that pharmacological or nutritional manipulation of oxidation and inflammation allows a significant decrease in the mortality and morbility associated to these diseases.

Alberio T, Mammucari C, D'Agostino G, et al.
Altered dopamine homeostasis differentially affects mitochondrial voltage-dependent anion channels turnover.
Biochim Biophys Acta. 2014; 1842(9):1816-22 [PubMed] Related Publications
Altered dopamine homeostasis plays a key role in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease. The generation of reactive oxygen species by spontaneous dopamine oxidation impairs mitochondrial function, causing in turn an enhancement of oxidative stress. Recent findings have highlighted the role of mitochondrial outer membrane proteins in the regulation of the correct disposal of damaged mitochondria. Here, we report the effect of altered dopamine homeostasis on the mitochondrial functionality in human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells, a cellular model widely used to reproduce impaired dopamine homeostasis. We observed that dopamine significantly and relevantly reduces VDAC1 and VDAC2 levels without any change in the mRNA levels. Although mitochondria are depolarized by dopamine and mitochondrial calcium influx is reduced, dysfunctional mitochondria are not removed by mitophagy as it would be expected. Thus, alteration of dopamine homeostasis induces a mitochondrial depolarization not counteracted by the mitophagy quality control. As a consequence, the elimination of VDACs may contribute to the altered mitochondrial disposal in PD pathogenesis, thus enhancing the role of oxidative stress.

Caneba CA, Yang L, Baddour J, et al.
Nitric oxide is a positive regulator of the Warburg effect in ovarian cancer cells.
Cell Death Dis. 2014; 5:e1302 [PubMed] Related Publications
Ovarian cancer (OVCA) is among the most lethal gynecological cancers leading to high mortality rates among women. Increasing evidence indicate that cancer cells undergo metabolic transformation during tumorigenesis and growth through nutrients and growth factors available in tumor microenvironment. This altered metabolic rewiring further enhances tumor progression. Recent studies have begun to unravel the role of amino acids in the tumor microenvironment on the proliferation of cancer cells. One critically important, yet often overlooked, component to tumor growth is the metabolic reprogramming of nitric oxide (NO) pathways in cancer cells. Multiple lines of evidence support the link between NO and tumor growth in some cancers, including pancreas, breast and ovarian. However, the multifaceted role of NO in the metabolism of OVCA is unclear and direct demonstration of NO's role in modulating OVCA cells' metabolism is lacking. This study aims at indentifying the mechanistic links between NO and OVCA metabolism. We uncover a role of NO in modulating OVCA metabolism: NO positively regulates the Warburg effect, which postulates increased glycolysis along with reduced mitochondrial activity under aerobic conditions in cancer cells. Through both NO synthesis inhibition (using L-arginine deprivation, arginine is a substrate for NO synthase (NOS), which catalyzes NO synthesis; using L-Name, a NOS inhibitor) and NO donor (using DETA-NONOate) analysis, we show that NO not only positively regulates tumor growth but also inhibits mitochondrial respiration in OVCA cells, shifting these cells towards glycolysis to maintain their ATP production. Additionally, NO led to an increase in TCA cycle flux and glutaminolysis, suggesting that NO decreases ROS levels by increasing NADPH and glutathione levels. Our results place NO as a central player in the metabolism of OVCA cells. Understanding the effects of NO on cancer cell metabolism can lead to the development of NO targeting drugs for OVCAs.

Das J, Das S, Paul A, et al.
Strong anticancer potential of nano-triterpenoid from Phytolacca decandra against A549 adenocarcinoma via a Ca(2+)-dependent mitochondrial apoptotic pathway.
J Acupunct Meridian Stud. 2014; 7(3):140-50 [PubMed] Related Publications
We isolated a triterpenoid from an ethanolic extract of Phytolacca decandra and nanoencapsulated it with biodegradable nontoxic polymers of poly(lactide-co-glycolide) to examine if the nanoform of this hitherto unexplored betulinic-acid derivative (NdBA) could produce a stronger anticancer effect by rendering better drug bioavailability and targeted delivery than the nonencapsulated betulinic-acid derivative (dBA). The nanoparticles were characterized with the help of physicochemical and morphological studies involving dynamic light scattering and atomic force microscopy. A549 cancer cells were exposed to NdBA and dBA at the IC50 doses of 50 μg/mL and 100 μg/mL, respectively. Mitochondrial dysfunction-mediated apoptosis was determined by examining the changes in the intracellular calcium content, the reactive oxygen species accumulation, the cytochrome c release, the upregulation of Bcl-2-associated-X protein (Bax) and caspase 3, the downregulation of B cell lymphoma 2, and the mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm) depolarization. Apoptosis was also verified by acridine orange staining observed under fluorescence microscopy and annexin V-fluorescein isothiocyanate/propidium iodide staining through flow cytometric studies. The levels of intracellular adenosine triphosphate/adenosine diphosphate ratio decreased, and the ATPase activity increased more strikingly in A549 cells exposed to NdBA than in A549 cells exposed to dBA. Overall results showed that both drugs directly target the mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation system, with NdBA having a stronger effect, indicating NdBA to be a better candidate for the development of an anticancer drug for use against lung adenocarcinomas.

Tseng PY, Lu WC, Hsieh MJ, et al.
Tanshinone IIA induces apoptosis in human oral cancer KB cells through a mitochondria-dependent pathway.
Biomed Res Int. 2014; 2014:540516 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/11/2015 Related Publications
Tanshinone IIA (Tan IIA), an active phytochemical in the dried root of Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge, has shown an antiproliferative activity on various human cancer cell lines including nasopharyngeal carcinoma cells. However, the effects of Tan IIA on human oral cancer cells are still unknown. This study aimed to investigate the antiproliferative effects of Tan IIA on human oral cancer KB cells and explored the possible underlying mechanism. Treatment of KB cells with Tan IIA suppressed cell proliferation/viability and induced cell death in a dose-dependent manner through sulforhodamine B colorimetric assay. Observation of cell morphology revealed the involvement of apoptosis in the Tan IIA-induced growth inhibition on KB cells. Cell cycle analysis showed a cell cycle arrest in G2/M phase on Tan IIA-treated cells. The dissipation of mitochondrial membrane potential observed by flow cytometry and the expression of activated caspases with the cleaved poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase under immunoblotting analysis indicated that Tan IIA-induced apoptosis in KB cells was mediated through the mitochondria-dependent caspase pathway. These observations suggested that Tan IIA could be a potential anticancer agent for oral cancer.

Hosnijeh FS, Lan Q, Rothman N, et al.
Mitochondrial DNA copy number and future risk of B-cell lymphoma in a nested case-control study in the prospective EPIC cohort.
Blood. 2014; 124(4):530-5 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 24/07/2015 Related Publications
It has been suggested that mitochondrial dysfunction and DNA damage are involved in lymphomagenesis. Increased copy number of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) as a compensatory mechanism of mitochondrial dysfunction previously has been associated with B-cell lymphomas, in particular chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). However, current evidence is limited and based on a relatively small number of cases. Using a nested case-control study, we extended these findings with a focus on subtype-specific analyses. Relative mtDNA copy number was measured in the buffy coat of prospectively collected blood of 469 lymphoma cases and 469 matched controls. The association between mtDNA copy number and the risk of developing lymphoma and histologic subtypes was examined using logistic regression models. We found no overall association between mtDNA and risk of lymphoma. Subtype analyses revealed significant increased risks of CLL (n = 102) with increasing mtDNA copy number (odds ratio = 1.34, 1.44, and 1.80 for quartiles 2-4, respectively; P trend = .001). mtDNA copy number was not associated with follow-up time, suggesting that this observation is not strongly influenced by indolent disease status. This study substantially strengthens the evidence that mtDNA copy number is related to risk of CLL and supports the importance of mitochondrial dysfunction as a possible mechanistic pathway in CLL ontogenesis.

Xylas J, Varone A, Quinn KP, et al.
Noninvasive assessment of mitochondrial organization in three-dimensional tissues reveals changes associated with cancer development.
Int J Cancer. 2015; 136(2):322-32 [PubMed] Related Publications
Mitochondrial organization is often altered to accommodate cellular bioenergetic and biosynthetic demands. Changes in metabolism are a hallmark of a number of diseases, including cancer; however, the interdependence between mitochondrial metabolic function and organization is not well understood. Here, we present a noninvasive, automated and quantitative method to assess mitochondrial organization in three-dimensional (3D) tissues using exclusively endogenous two-photon excited fluorescence (TPEF) and show that mitochondrial organization reflects alterations in metabolic activities. Specifically, we examine the organization of mitochondria within live, engineered epithelial tissue equivalents that mimic normal and precancerous human squamous epithelial tissues. We identify unique patterns of mitochondrial organization in the different tissue models we examine, and we attribute these to differences in the metabolic profiles of these tissues. We find that mitochondria are clustered in tissues with high levels of glycolysis and are more highly networked in tissues where oxidative phosphorylation is more dominant. The most highly networked organization is observed within cells with high levels of glutamine consumption. Furthermore, we demonstrate that mitochondrial organization provides complementary information to traditional morphological hallmarks of cancer development, including variations in nuclear size. Finally, we present evidence that this automated quantitative analysis of endogenous TPEF images can identify differences in the mitochondrial organization of freshly excised normal and pre-cancerous human cervical tissue specimens. Thus, this method could be a promising new modality to assess the role of mitochondrial organization in the metabolic activity of 3D tissues and could be further developed to serve as an early cancer clinical diagnostic biomarker.

Esteves P, Pecqueur C, Ransy C, et al.
Mitochondrial retrograde signaling mediated by UCP2 inhibits cancer cell proliferation and tumorigenesis.
Cancer Res. 2014; 74(14):3971-82 [PubMed] Related Publications
Cancer cells tilt their energy production away from oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) toward glycolysis during malignant progression, even when aerobic metabolism is available. Reversing this phenomenon, known as the Warburg effect, may offer a generalized anticancer strategy. In this study, we show that overexpression of the mitochondrial membrane transport protein UCP2 in cancer cells is sufficient to restore a balance toward oxidative phosphorylation and to repress malignant phenotypes. Altered expression of glycolytic and oxidative enzymes mediated the effects of this metabolic shift. Notably, UCP2 overexpression increased signaling from the master energy-regulating kinase, adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase, while downregulating expression of hypoxia-induced factor. In support of recent new evidence about UCP2 function, we found that UCP2 did not function in this setting as a membrane potential uncoupling protein, but instead acted to control routing of mitochondria substrates. Taken together, our results define a strategy to reorient mitochondrial function in cancer cells toward OXPHOS that restricts their malignant phenotype.

Lee MW, Bassiouni R, Sparrow NA, et al.
The CT20 peptide causes detachment and death of metastatic breast cancer cells by promoting mitochondrial aggregation and cytoskeletal disruption.
Cell Death Dis. 2014; 5:e1249 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 24/07/2015 Related Publications
Metastasis accounts for most deaths from breast cancer, driving the need for new therapeutics that can impede disease progression. Rationally designed peptides that take advantage of cancer-specific differences in cellular physiology are an emerging technology that offer promise as a treatment for metastatic breast cancer. We developed CT20p, a hydrophobic peptide based on the C terminus of Bax that exhibits similarities with antimicrobial peptides, and previously reported that CT20p has unique cytotoxic actions independent of full-length Bax. In this study, we identified the intracellular actions of CT20p which precede cancer cell-specific detachment and death. Previously, we found that CT20p migrated in the heavy membrane fractions of cancer cell lysates. Here, using MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells, we demonstrated that CT20p localizes to the mitochondria, leading to fusion-like aggregation and mitochondrial membrane hyperpolarization. As a result, the distribution and movement of mitochondria in CT20p-treated MDA-MB-231 cells was markedly impaired, particularly in cell protrusions. In contrast, CT20p did not associate with the mitochondria of normal breast epithelial MCF-10A cells, causing little change in the mitochondrial membrane potential, morphology or localization. In MDA-MB-231 cells, CT20p triggered cell detachment that was preceded by decreased levels of α5β1 integrins and reduced F-actin polymerization. Using folate-targeted nanoparticles to encapsulate and deliver CT20p to murine tumors, we achieved significant tumor regression within days of peptide treatment. These results suggest that CT20p has application in the treatment of metastatic disease as a cancer-specific therapeutic peptide that perturbs mitochondrial morphology and movement ultimately culminating in disruption of the actin cytoskeleton, cell detachment, and loss of cell viability.

Chen J, Chen J, Li Z, et al.
The apoptotic effect of apigenin on human gastric carcinoma cells through mitochondrial signal pathway.
Tumour Biol. 2014; 35(8):7719-26 [PubMed] Related Publications
This study aims to explore the apoptotic function of apigenin on the gastric cancer cells and the related mechanism. The gastric cancer cell lines HGC-27 and SGC-7901, and normal gastric epithelial cell line GES1 were treated with different concentrations of apigenin. Cell proliferation was tested. Morphological changes of the apoptotic cells were observed after Hoechst33342 staining. The apoptosis rate of the gastric cancer cells were measured with flow cytometry. Changes of the cell cycle were explored. The mitochondrial membrane potential changes were analyzed after JC-1 staining. Bcl-2 family proteins and caspases-3 expression with apigenin treatment was analyzed by real-time PCR. Cell proliferation of HGC-27 and SGC-7901 was inhibited by apigenin, and the inhibition was dose-time-dependent. Gastric carcinoma cells treated by apigenin had no obvious cell cycle arrest, but were observed with the higher apoptosis rate and the typical apoptotic morphological changes of the cell nucleus. JC-1 staining showed that apigenin could reduce mitochondrial membrane potential of gastric carcinoma cells. Real-time PCR results showed that apigenin significantly increased caspase-3 and Bax expression level, and down-regulated Bcl-2 expression in a dose-dependent manner in gastric carcinoma cells. However, the GES1 was almost not affected by apigenin treatment. Apigenin can inhibit cell lines HGC-27 and SGC-7901 proliferation in a time and dose-dependent manner, reduce anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2 levels, enhance apoptosis-promoting protein Bax level, result in mitochondrial membrane potential decreasing and caspase-3 enzyme activating, then lead to cell apoptosis.

Alves ID, Carré M, Montero MP, et al.
A proapoptotic peptide conjugated to penetratin selectively inhibits tumor cell growth.
Biochim Biophys Acta. 2014; 1838(8):2087-98 [PubMed] Related Publications
The peptide KLA (acetyl-(KLAKLAK)2-NH2), which is rather non toxic for eukaryotic cell lines, becomes active when coupled to the cell penetrating peptide, penetratin (Pen), by a disulfide bridge. Remarkably, the conjugate KLA-Pen is cytotoxic, at low micromolar concentrations, against a panel of seven human tumor cell lines of various tissue origins, including cells resistant to conventional chemotherapy agents but not to normal human cell lines. Live microscopy on cells possessing fluorescent labeled mitochondria shows that in tumor cells, KLA-Pen had a strong impact on mitochondria tubular organization instantly resulting in their aggregation, while the unconjugated KLA and pen peptides had no effect. But, mitochondria in various normal cells were not affected by KLA-Pen. The interaction with membrane models of KLA-Pen, KLA and penetratin were studied using dynamic light scattering, calorimetry, plasmon resonance, circular dichroism and ATR-FTIR to unveil the mode of action of the conjugate. To understand the selectivity of the conjugate towards tumor cell lines and its action on mitochondria, lipid model systems composed of zwitterionic lipids were used as mimics of normal cell membranes and anionic lipids as mimics of tumor cell and mitochondria membrane. A very distinct mode of interaction with the two model systems was observed. KLA-Pen may exert its deleterious and selective action on cancer cells by the formation of pores with an oblique membrane orientation and establishment of important hydrophobic interactions. These results suggest that KLA-Pen could be a lead compound for the design of cancer therapeutics.

Li J, Zhang F, Wang S
A polysaccharide from pomegranate peels induces the apoptosis of human osteosarcoma cells via the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway.
Tumour Biol. 2014; 35(8):7475-82 [PubMed] Related Publications
Pomegranate (Punica granatum L.) peels, as one of the most valuable by-products of the food industry, has attracted much attention due to its wide range of bioactivities. In this study, the potential anticancer effect of a polysaccharide from pomegranate peels (PPP) on human osteosarcoma cancer cells was investigated. PPP was found to induce the arrest of G2/M phase, induce apoptosis, and inhibit the growth of U-2 osteosarcoma (OS) cells in a dose-dependent manner. Moreover, Western blotting analysis showed that PPP triggered the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway, as indicated by an increase in Bax/Bcl-2 ratios, a loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, release of cytochrome c, activation of caspase-9 and caspase-3, and cleavage of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) in U-2 OS cells. Our results indicate that PPP inhibits the proliferation of human osteosarcoma cancer cells by inducing apoptosis through the intrinsic mitochondrial pathway.

Zhao L, Li Y, He M, et al.
The Fanconi anemia pathway sensitizes to DNA alkylating agents by inducing JNK-p53-dependent mitochondrial apoptosis in breast cancer cells.
Int J Oncol. 2014; 45(1):129-38 [PubMed] Related Publications
The Fanconi anemia/BRCA (FA/BRCA) DNA damage repair pathway plays a pivotal role in the cellular response to DNA alkylating agents and greatly influences drug response in cancer treatment. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the FA/BRCA pathway reversed resistance have received limited attention. In the present study, we investigated the effect of Fanconi anemia complementation group F protein (FANCF), a critical factor of the FA/BRCA pathway, on cancer cell apoptosis induced by DNA alkylating agents such as mitomycin c (MMC). We found that FANCF shRNA potentiated MMC-induced cytotoxicity and apoptosis in MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. At a mechanistic level, FANCF shRNA downregulated the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2 and upregulated the pro-apoptotic protein Bax, accompanied by release of cyt-c and smac into the cytosol in MMC-treated cells. Furthermore, activation of caspase-3 and -9, other than caspase-8, cleavage of poly(ADP ribose) polymerase (PARP), and a decrease of mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) indicated that involvement of the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway in FANCF silencing of MMC-treated breast cancer cells. A decrease in IAP family proteins XIAP and survivin were also observed following FANCF silencing in MMC-treated breast cancer cells. Notably, FANCF shRNA was able to increase p53 levels through activation of the JNK pathway in MMC-treated breast cancer cells. Furthermore, p53 inhibition using pifithrin-α abolished the induction of caspase-3 and PARP by FANCF shRNA and MMC, indicating that MMC-induced apoptosis is substantially enhanced by FANCF shRNA via p53-dependent mechanisms. To our knowledge, we provide new evidence for the potential application of FANCF as a chemosensitizer in breast cancer therapy.

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.

Akl H, Vervloessem T, Kiviluoto S, et al.
A dual role for the anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 protein in cancer: mitochondria versus endoplasmic reticulum.
Biochim Biophys Acta. 2014; 1843(10):2240-52 [PubMed] Related Publications
Anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 contributes to cancer formation and progression by promoting the survival of altered cells. Hence, it is a prime target for novel specific anti-cancer therapeutics. In addition to its canonical anti-apoptotic role, Bcl-2 has an inhibitory effect on cell-cycle progression. Bcl-2 acts at two different intracellular compartments, the mitochondria and the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). At the mitochondria, Bcl-2 via its hydrophobic cleft scaffolds the Bcl-2-homology (BH) domain 3 (BH3) of pro-apoptotic Bcl-2-family members. Small molecules (like BH3 mimetics) can disrupt this interaction, resulting in apoptotic cell death in cancer cells. At the ER, Bcl-2 modulates Ca(2+) signaling, thereby promoting proliferation while increasing resistance to apoptosis. Bcl-2 at the ER acts via its N-terminal BH4 domain, which directly binds and inhibits the inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor (IP3R), the main intracellular Ca(2+)-release channel. Tools targeting the BH4 domain of Bcl-2 reverse Bcl-2's inhibitory action on IP3Rs and trigger pro-apoptotic Ca(2+) signaling in cancer B-cells, including chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) cells. The sensitivity of DLBCL cells to BH4-domain targeting tools strongly correlated with the expression levels of the IP3R2 channel, the IP3R isoform with the highest affinity for IP3. Interestingly, bio-informatic analysis of a database of primary CLL patient cells also revealed a transcriptional upregulation of IP3R2. Finally, this review proposes a model, in which cancer cell survival depends on Bcl-2 at the mitochondria and/or the ER. This dependence likely will have an impact on their responses to BH3-mimetic drugs and BH4-domain targeting tools. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Calcium signaling in health and disease. Guest Editors: Geert Bultynck, Jacques Haiech, Claus W. Heizmann, Joachim Krebs, and Marc Moreau.

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.

Ruggeri P, Farina AR, Di Ianni N, et al.
The TrkAIII oncoprotein inhibits mitochondrial free radical ROS-induced death of SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells by augmenting SOD2 expression and activity at the mitochondria, within the context of a tumour stem cell-like phenotype.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(4):e94568 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2015 Related Publications
The developmental and stress-regulated alternative TrkAIII splice variant of the NGF receptor TrkA is expressed by advanced stage human neuroblastomas (NBs), correlates with worse outcome in high TrkA expressing unfavourable tumours and exhibits oncogenic activity in NB models. In the present study, we report that constitutive TrkAIII expression in human SH-SY5Y NB cells inhibits Rotenone, Paraquat and LY83583-induced mitochondrial free radical reactive oxygen species (ROS)-mediated death by stimulating SOD2 expression, increasing mitochondrial SOD2 activity and attenuating mitochondrial free radical ROS production, in association with increased mitochondrial capacity to produce H2O2, within the context of a more tumour stem cell-like phenotype. This effect can be reversed by the specific TrkA tyrosine kinase inhibitor GW441756, by the multi-kinase TrkA inhibitors K252a, CEP-701 and Gö6976, which inhibit SOD2 expression, and by siRNA knockdown of SOD2 expression, which restores the sensitivity of TrkAIII expressing SH-SY5Y cells to Rotenone, Paraquat and LY83583-induced mitochondrial free radical ROS production and ROS-mediated death. The data implicate the novel TrkAIII/SOD2 axis in promoting NB resistance to mitochondrial free radical-mediated death and staminality, and suggest that the combined use of TrkAIII and/or SOD2 inhibitors together with agents that induce mitochondrial free radical ROS-mediated death could provide a therapeutic advantage that may also target the stem cell niche in high TrkA expressing unfavourable NB.

Chen SH, Li DL, Yang F, et al.
Gemcitabine-induced pancreatic cancer cell death is associated with MST1/cyclophilin D mitochondrial complexation.
Biochimie. 2014; 103:71-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
The pancreatic adenocarcinoma remains the most aggressive human malignancy with an extremely low 5-year overall survival. Postoperative gemcitabine could significantly delay recurrence after complete resection of pancreatic cancer. However, the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. The chemo-resistance factors against gemcitabine still need further characterizations. Here we studied the mechanism of gemcitabine-induced pancreatic cancer cell death by focusing on mammalian sterile 20-like kinase 1 (MST1) and cyclophilin D (Cyp-D). We found that MST1 and Cyp-D expressions were significantly lower in gemcitabine-resistant pancreatic cancer tissues and cell lines. In vitro, gemcitabine activated MST1 through reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, which was prevented by antioxidant n-acetyl-cysteine (NAC). We found that gemcitabine-activated MST1 translocated to mitochondria and formed a complex with the local protein Cyp-D. Gemcitabine-induced cell death was alleviated by MST1 or Cyp-D shRNA silencing, but was aggravated by MST1 or Cyp-D over-expression. Further, cyclosporin A (CsA), the Cyp-D inhibitor, prevented gemcitabine-induced MST1/Cyp-D mitochondrial complexation and cancer cell death. We suggest that gemcitabine-induced death of pancreatic cancer cells requires MST1/Cyp-D mitochondrial complexation.

Wang N, Wang W, Huo P, et al.
Mitochondria-mediated apoptosis in human lung cancer A549 cells by 4-methylsulfinyl-3-butenyl isothiocyanate from radish seeds.
Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2014; 15(5):2133-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
4-Methylsulfinyl-3-butenyl isothiocyanate (MTBITC) found in the radish (Raphanus sativus L.), is a well- known anticancer agent. In this study, the mechanisms of the MTBITC induction of cell apoptosis in human A549 lung cancer cells were investigated. Our PI staining results showed that MTBITC treatment significantly increased the apoptotic sub-G1 fraction in a dose-dependent manner. The mechanism of apoptosis induced by MTBITC was investigated by testing the change of mitochondrial membrane potential (Δψm), the expression of mRNAs of apoptosis-related genes by RT-PCR, and the activities of caspase-3 and -9 by caspase colorimetric assay. MTBITC treatment decreased mitochondrial membrane potential by down-regulating the rate of Bcl-2/ Bax and Bcl-xL/Bax, and activation of caspase-3 and -9. Therefore, mitochondrial pathway and Bcl-2 gene family could be involved in the mechanisms of A549 cell apoptosis induced by MTBITC.

Zhu Y, Xia Y, Ye T, et al.
A novel small-molecule YLT205 induces apoptosis in human colorectal cells via mitochondrial apoptosis pathway in vitro and inhibits tumor growth in vivo.
Cell Physiol Biochem. 2014; 33(4):933-44 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Colorectal cancer continues to be one of the most common causes of cancer death, and the poor survival rates and liver metastases at the time of diagnosis urgently need more effective strategy for colorectal cancer treatment.
METHODS: The activities of N-(5-bromopyridin-2-yl)-2-((6-(2-chloroacetamido)benzo[d]thiazol-2-yl)thio)acetamide (YLT205), which is a novel small molecule compound synthesized by us, were investigated using MTT assay, flow cytometry, western blotting and mice tumor xenograft models.
RESULTS: YLT205 induced apoptosis of human colorectal cell lines in a dose-dependent manner. The occurrence of apoptosis was associated with activation of caspases-9 and -3, down-regulation of Bcl-2 and up-regulation of Bax in HCT116 cells. Moreover, YLT205 disrupted mitochondrial membranes and induced the release of cytochrome c into cytosol. Impaired phosphorylation of p44/42 mitogen-activated protein kinase was also observed while the expression of phosphorylated protein kinase B (Akt) was not affected. Furthermore, in HCT116 and SW620 tumor-bearing nude mice models, YLT205 dose-dependently inhibited tumor growth without obvious adverse effects. Immunohistochemistry analyses revealed YLT205 also induced apoptosis and inhibited tumor cell proliferation in vivo.
CONCLUSION: These studies suggested that YLT205 might be a potential drug candidate for human colorectal cancer therapy.

Ghosh SK, Singh AS, Mondal R, et al.
Dysfunction of mitochondria due to environmental carcinogens in nasopharyngeal carcinoma in the ethnic group of Northeast Indian population.
Tumour Biol. 2014; 35(7):6715-24 [PubMed] Related Publications
Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is a rare cancer worldwide, but in India, NPC is uncommon in its subcontinent except in the north-eastern part of the country. NPC is thought to be caused by the combined effects of environmental carcinogens, genetic susceptibility and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). This is the first study that aimed to examine the selected risk factors, mostly dietary, viral environmental, metabolic gene polymorphisms, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) copy number variation and their risk, in subjects who are highly prone to NPC in the ethnic groups of Northeast India, which has included cases, first-degree relatives and controls. The cases and controls were selected from three ethnic groups (Manipuri, Naga and Mizo) of Northeast India with high prevalence of NPC. This case-control family study includes 64 NPC patients, 88 first-degree relatives and 100 controls having no history of cancer. PCR-based detection was done for EBV-latent membrane protein 1 (LMP1) gene and glutathione S-transferase Mu 1 (GSTM1)-glutathione S-transferase theta 1 (GSTT1) polymorphism. A comparative ΔCt method was used for the determination of mtDNA content. An increased risk of 2.00-6.06-folds to NPC was observed with those who intake smoked meat and fish, salted fish and fermented fish; betel nut chewers; tobacco smokers; alcohol drinkers; and those who have kitchen inside the living room, glutathione S-transferase null genotype and EBV infection. The risk of NPC increased in cases with decreased mtDNA copy number (P trend = 0.007). A significant difference between GST null genotypes and EBV infection with mtDNA content was found in the cases (P < 0.0001). The understandings of environment-genetic risk factors and their role in the etiology of NPC are helpful as preventive measures and screening.

Strickertsson JA, Desler C, Rasmussen LJ
Impact of bacterial infections on aging and cancer: impairment of DNA repair and mitochondrial function of host cells.
Exp Gerontol. 2014; 56:164-74 [PubMed] Related Publications
The commensal floras that inhabit the gastrointestinal tract play critical roles in immune responses, energy metabolism, and even cancer prevention. Pathogenic and out of place commensal bacteria, can however have detrimental effects on the host, by introducing genomic instability and mitochondrial dysfunction, which are hallmarks of both aging and cancer. Helicobacter pylori and Enterococcus faecalis are bacteria of the gastrointestinal tract that have been demonstrated to affect these two hallmarks. These, and other bacteria, have been shown to decrease the transcription and translation of essential DNA repair subunits of major DNA repair pathways and increase production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Defects in DNA repair cause mutations and genomic instability and are found in several cancers as well as in progeroid syndromes. This review describes our contemporary view on how bacterial infections impact DNA repair and damage, and the consequence on the mitochondrial and nuclear genomes. We argue that in the gastrointestinal tract, these mechanisms can contribute to tumorigenesis as well as cellular aging of the digestive system.

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.

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.

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