The atypical protein kinase C (PKC) isoform zeta (PKCζ) has been implicated in the intracellular transduction of mitogenic and apoptotic signals by acting on different signaling pathways. The key role of these processes in tumorigenesis suggests a possible involvement of PKCζ in this event. PKCζ is activated by cytotoxic treatments, inhibits apoptotic cell death and reduces the sensitivity of cancer cells to chemotherapeutic agents. Here, using pharmacological and DNA recombinant approaches, we show that oxidative stress triggers nuclear translocation of PKCζ and induces resistance to apoptotic agents. Accordingly, chemoresistant cells show accumulation of PKCζ within the nucleus, and a nuclear-targeted PKCζ transfected in tumor cells decreases sensitivity to apoptosis. We thus developed a novel recombinant protein capable of selectively inhibiting the nuclear fraction of PKCζ that restored the susceptibility to apoptosis in cells in which PKCζ was enriched in the nuclear fraction, including chemoresistant cells. These findings establish the importance of PKCζ as a possible target to increase the effectiveness of anticancer therapies and highlight potential sites of intervention.
protein kinase C; chemoresistance; oxidative stress; nuclear translocation; apoptosis
The recently discovered mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU) promotes Ca2+ accumulation into the mitochondrial matrix [1, 2]. We identified in silico miR-25 as a cancer-related MCU-targeting microRNA family and demonstrate that its overexpression in HeLa cells drastically reduces MCU levels and mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake, while leaving other mitochondrial parameters and cytosolic Ca2+ signals unaffected. In human colon cancers and cancer-derived cells, miR-25 is overexpressed and MCU accordingly silenced. miR-25-dependent reduction of mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake correlates with resistance to apoptotic challenges and can be reversed by anti-miR-25 overexpression. Overall, the data demonstrate that microRNA targeting of mitochondrial Ca2+ signaling favors cancer cell survival, thus providing mechanistic insight into the role of mitochondria in tumorigenesis and identifying a novel therapeutic target in neoplasia.
► miR-25 regulates intracellular calcium homeostasis ► Mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU) is a target of miR-25 ► MCU plays a critical role in apoptosis and tumorigenesis ► MCU is downregulated in different cancer cell lines and in human colonic adenocarcinoma
Glucose induces insulin release from pancreatic β-cells by stimulating ATP synthesis, membrane depolarisation and Ca2+ influx. As well as activating ATP-consuming processes, cytosolic Ca2+ increases may also potentiate mitochondrial ATP synthesis. Until recently, the ability to study the role of mitochondrial Ca2+ transport in glucose-stimulated insulin secretion has been hindered by the absence of suitable approaches either to suppress Ca2+ uptake into these organelles, or to examine the impact on β-cell excitability. Here, we have combined patch-clamp electrophysiology with simultaneous real-time imaging of compartmentalised changes in Ca2+ and ATP/ADP ratio in single primary mouse β-cells, using recombinant targeted (Pericam or Perceval, respectively) as well as entrapped intracellular (Fura-Red), probes. Through shRNA-mediated silencing we show that the recently-identified mitochondrial Ca2+ uniporter, MCU, is required for depolarisation-induced mitochondrial Ca2+ increases, and for a sustained increase in cytosolic ATP/ADP ratio. By contrast, silencing of the mitochondrial Na+-Ca2+ exchanger NCLX affected the kinetics of glucose-induced changes in, but not steady state values of, cytosolic ATP/ADP. Exposure to gluco-lipotoxic conditions delayed both mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake and cytosolic ATP/ADP ratio increases without affecting the expression of either gene. Mitochondrial Ca2+ accumulation, mediated by MCU and modulated by NCLX, is thus required for normal glucose sensing by pancreatic β-cells, and becomes defective in conditions mimicking the diabetic milieu.
The mitochondrial protein AFG3L2 forms homo-oligomeric and hetero-oligomeric complexes with paraplegin in the inner mitochondrial membrane, named m-AAA proteases. These complexes are in charge of quality control of misfolded proteins and participate in the regulation of OPA1 proteolytic cleavage, required for mitochondrial fusion. Mutations in AFG3L2 cause spinocerebellar ataxia type 28 and a complex neurodegenerative syndrome of childhood. In this study, we demonstrated that the loss of AFG3L2 in mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) reduces mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake capacity. This defect is neither a consequence of global alteration in cellular Ca2+ homeostasis nor of the reduced driving force for Ca2+ internalization within mitochondria, since cytosolic Ca2+ transients and mitochondrial membrane potential remain unaffected. Moreover, experiments in permeabilized cells revealed unaltered mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake speed in Afg3l2−/− cells, indicating the presence of functional Ca2+ uptake machinery. Our results show that the defective Ca2+ handling in Afg3l2−/− cells is caused by fragmentation of the mitochondrial network, secondary to respiratory dysfunction and the consequent processing of OPA1. This leaves a number of mitochondria devoid of connections to the ER and thus without Ca2+ elevations, hampering the proper Ca2+ diffusion along the mitochondrial network. The recovery of mitochondrial fragmentation in Afg3l2−/− MEFs by overexpression of OPA1 rescues the impaired mitochondrial Ca2+ buffering, but fails to restore respiration. By linking mitochondrial morphology and Ca2+ homeostasis, these findings shed new light in the molecular mechanisms underlining neurodegeneration caused by AFG3L2 mutations.
Mutations in SCO2 cause cytochrome c oxidase deficiency (COX) and a fatal infantile cardioencephalomyopathy. SCO2 encodes a protein involved in COX copper metabolism; supplementation with copper salts rescues the defect in patients’ cells. Bezafibrate (BZF), an approved hypolipidemic agent, ameliorates the COX deficiency in mice with mutations in COX10, another COX-assembly gene.
We have investigated the effect of BZF and copper in cells with SCO2 mutations using spectrophotometric methods to analyse respiratory chain activities and a luciferase assay to measure ATP production..
Individual mitochondrial enzymes displayed different responses to BZF. COX activity increased by about 40% above basal levels (both in controls and patients), with SCO2 cells reaching 75-80% COX activity compared to untreated controls. The increase in COX was paralleled by an increase in ATP production. The effect was dose-dependent: it was negligible with 100 μM BZF, and peaked at 400 μM BZF. Higher BZF concentrations were associated with a relative decline of COX activity, indicating that the therapeutic range of this drug is very narrow. Combined treatment with 100 μM CuCl2 and 200 μM BZF (which are only marginally effective when administered individually) achieved complete rescue of COX activity in SCO2 cells.
These data are crucial to design therapeutic trials for this otherwise fatal disorder. The additive effect of copper and BZF will allow to employ lower doses of each drug and to reduce their potential toxic effects. The exact mechanism of action of BZF remains to be determined.
COX deficiency; Bezafibrate; SCO2; Copper chaperones; Copper supplementation
The promyelocytic leukemia (PML) tumor suppressor is a pleiotropic modulator of apoptosis. However, the molecular basis for such a diverse proapoptotic role is currently unknown. We show that extranuclear Pml was specifically enriched at the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and at the mitochondria-associated membranes, signaling domains involved in ER-to-mitochondria calcium ion (Ca2+) transport and in induction of apoptosis. We found Pml in complexes of large molecular size with the inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor (IP3R), protein kinase Akt, and protein phosphatase 2a (PP2a). Pml was essential for Akt- and PP2a-dependent modulation of IP3R phosphorylation and in turn for IP3R-mediated Ca2+ release from ER. Our findings provide a mechanistic explanation for the pleiotropic role of Pml in apoptosis and identify a pharmacological target for the modulation of Ca2+ signals.
Mitochondria are central players in the determination of cell life and death. They are essential for energy production, since most cellular ATP is produced in their matrix by the oxidative phosphorylation pathway. At the same time, mitochondria are the main regulators of apoptotic cell death, mediating both extrinsic (cell-surface receptor mediated) and intrinsic apoptotic pathways. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) accumulate as side products of the electron transport chain, causing mitochondrial damage. Non-functional mitochondria accumulate in aged individuals, and cell homeostasis is maintained by removing damaged mitochondria by an autophagic process called “mitophagy”. In addition, mitochondrial ROS represent signaling molecules leading to autophagy, consisting in the bulk degradation of cytosolic portions. When cell homeostasis is perturbed, and cytosolic components are damaged, autophagy represents a defense mechanism aimed at removing non functional proteins and organelles. If this is not sufficient, cell death occurs with distinct morphological hallmarks from apoptosis. This binary choice integrates a number of critical information converging on a number of common regulatory elements. In this review, the focus will be placed on the central role of mitochondria in the cross-talk between autophagy and apoptosis, highlighting the signaling pathways and molecular machinery impinging on these organelles.
Activation by extracellular ligands of G protein-coupled (GPCRs) and tyrosine kinase receptors (RTKs), results in the generation of second messengers that in turn control specific cell functions. Further, modulation/amplification or inhibition of the initial signalling events, depend on the recruitment onto the plasma membrane of soluble protein effectors.
High throughput methodologies to monitor quantitatively second messenger production, have been developed over the last years and are largely used to screen chemical libraries for drug development. On the contrary, no such high throughput methods are yet available for the other aspect of GPCRs regulation, i.e. protein translocation to the plasma membrane, despite the enormous interest of this phenomenon for the modulation of receptor downstream functions. Indeed, to date, the experimental procedures available are either inadequate or complex and expensive.
Here we describe the development of a novel conceptual approach to the study of cytosolic proteins translocation to the inner surface of the plasma membrane. The basis of the technique consists in: i) generating chimeras between the protein of interests and the calcium (Ca2+)-sensitive, luminescent photo-protein, aequorin and ii) taking advantage of the large Ca2+ concentration [Ca2+] difference between bulk cytosolic and the sub-plasma membrane rim.
This approach, that keeps unaffected the translocation properties of the signalling protein, can in principle be applied to any protein that, upon activation, moves from the cytosol to the plasma membrane.
Thus, not only the modulation of GPCRs and RTKs can be investigated in this way, but that of all other proteins that can be recruited to the plasma membrane also independently of receptor activation.
Moreover, its automated version, which can provide information about the kinetics and concentration-dependence of the process, is also applicable to high throughput screening of drugs affecting the translocation process.
The heterogenous subcellular distribution of a wide array of channels, pumps and exchangers allows extracellular stimuli to induce increases in cytoplasmic Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]c) with highly defined spatial and temporal patterns, that in turn induce specific cellular responses (e.g. contraction, secretion, proliferation or cell death). In this extreme complexity, the role of mitochondria was considered marginal, till the direct measurement with targeted indicators allowed to appreciate that rapid and large increases of the [Ca2+] in the mitochondrial matrix ([Ca2+]m) invariably follow the cytosolic rises. Given the low affinity of the mitochondrial Ca2+ transporters, the close proximity to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) Ca2+-releasing channels was shown to be responsible for the prompt responsiveness of mitochondria. In this review, we will summarize the current knowledge of: i) the mitochondrial and ER Ca2+ channels mediating the ion transfer, ii) the structural and molecular foundations of the signaling contacts between the two organelles, iii) the functional consequences of the [Ca2+]m increases, and iv) the effects of oncogene-mediated signals on mitochondrial Ca2+ homeostasis. Despite the rapid progress carried out in the latest years, a deeper molecular understanding is still needed to unlock the secrets of Ca2+ signaling machinery.
Mitochondrial and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) networks are fundamental for the maintenance of cellular homeostasis and for determination of cell fate under stress conditions. Recent structural and functional studies revealed the interaction of these networks. These zones of close contact between ER and mitochondria called MAM (mitochondria associated membranes) support communication between the two organelles including bioenergetics and cell survival. The existence of macromolecular complexes in these contact sites has also been revealed. In this contribution, we will review: i) the ER and mitochondria structure and their dynamics, ii) the basic principles of ER mitochondrial Ca2+ transport, (iii) the physiological/pathological role of this crosstalk.
ER; endoplasmic reticulum; mitochondria; MAM; mitochondria associated membranes; calcium; ER stress; apoptosis
Transient increases in intracellular calcium concentration activate and coordinate a wide variety of cellular processes in virtually every cell type. This review describes the main homeostatic mechanisms that control Ca2+ transients, focusing on the mitochondrial checkpoint. We subsequently extend this paradigm to the cardiomyocyte and to the interplay between cytosol, endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria that occurs beat-to-beat in excitation-contraction coupling. The mechanisms whereby mitochondria decode fast cytosolic calcium spikes are discussed in the light of the results obtained with recombinant photoproteins targeted to the mitochondrial matrix of contracting cardiomyocytes. Mitochondrial calcium homeostasis is then highlighted as a crucial point of convergence of the environmental signals that mediate cardiac cell death, both by necrosis and by apoptosis. Altogether we point to a role of the mitochondrion as an integrator of calcium signalling and fundamental decision maker in cardiomyocyte metabolism and survival.
1-(2-Chlorophenyl-N-methylpropyl)-3-isoquinolinecarboxamide (PK11195) is a proven enhancer of apoptotic cell death in a variety of cellular models. This effect is independent of its established cellular target, the mitochondrial benzodiazepine receptor (mBzR), since it is able to promote cell death also in mBzR knockout cells. Thus recently it was suggested that PK11195 might exert its effect by modulating the expression and function of the oncogene Bcl-2. We have previously demonstrated that Bcl-2 modulates cellular Ca2+ homeostasis as its overexpression reduces the Ca2+ concentration in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) ([Ca2+]er), impairing mitochondrial and cytosolic Ca2+ overload during cellular stress and therefore inhibiting the induction of the apoptotic cascade. Here, using ER, mitochondria and cytosolic targeted aequorin probes, we show that cellular treatment with PK11195 induces opposite changes in cellular Ca2+ homeostasis, increasing the [Ca2+]er and amplifying IP3 induced Ca2+ transients in mitochondria ([Ca2+]m) and cytosol ([Ca2+]c). This work provides evidence for a novel pharmacological effect of PK11195 on Ca2+ signalling which may be linked to its effect on Bcl-2 and account for its role in apoptotic cell death.
Apoptosis; PK11195; Bcl-2; Ca2+ signalling; Mitochondria; Endoplasmic reticulum
Among the new players at the endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-mitochondria interface regulating interorganelle calcium signaling, those specifically involved during ER stress are not known at present. We report here that the truncated variant of the sarcoendoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase 1 (S1T) amplifies ER stress through the PERK-eIF2α-ATF4-CHOP pathway. S1T, which is localized in the ER-mitochondria microdomains, determines ER Ca2+ depletion due to increased Ca2+ leak, an increased number of ER-mitochondria contact sites, and inhibition of mitochondria movements. This leads to increased Ca2+ transfer to mitochondria in both resting and stimulated conditions and activation of the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway. Interestingly, S1T knockdown was shown to prevent ER stress, mitochondrial Ca2+ overload, and subsequent apoptosis. Thus, by bridging ER stress to apoptosis through increased ER-mitochondria Ca2+ transfer, S1T acts as an essential determinant of cellular fate.
The proto-oncogene AKT is a potent inhibitor of apoptosis, and it is activated in many human cancers. A number of recent studies have highlighted the importance of the inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) receptor (IP3R) in mediating calcium (Ca2+) transfer from the Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER) to the mitochondria in several models of apoptosis. AKT is a serine-threonine kinase and recent data indicate the IP3R as a target of its phosphorylation activity.
Here we show that HeLa cells, overexpressing the constitutively active myristoylated/palmitylated AKT1 (m/p-AKT1), were found to have a reduced Ca2+ release from ER after stimulation with agonist coupled to the generation of IP3. In turn, this affected cytosolic and mitochondria Ca2+ response after Ca2+ release from the ER induced either by agonist stimulation or by apoptotic stimuli releasing Ca2+ from intracellular stores.
Most importantly, this alteration of ER Ca2+ content and release, reduces significantly cellular sensitivity to Ca2+ mediated proapoptotic stimulation. These results reveal a primary role of AKT in shaping intracellular Ca2+ homeostasis, that may underlie its protective role against some proapoptotic stimuli
calcium homeostasis; apoptosis; mitochondria; cell death; Bcl-2
The physical association between the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and mitochondria, which is known as the mitochondria-associated ER membrane (MAM), has important roles in various cellular ‘housekeeping’ functions including the non-vesicular transports of phospholipids. It has recently become clear that the MAM also enables highly efficient transmission of Ca2+ from the ER to mitochondria to stimulate oxidative metabolism and, conversely, might enable the metabolically energized mitochondria to regulate the ER Ca2+ homeostasis. Recent studies have shed light on molecular chaperones such as calnexin, calreticulin, ERp44, ERp57, grp75 and the sigma-1 receptor at the MAM, which regulate the association between the two organelles. The MAM thus integrates signal transduction with metabolic pathways to regulate the communication and functional interactions between the ER and mitochondrion.
Both the contribution of mitochondria to intracellular calcium (Ca2+) signalling and the role of mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake in shaping the cytoplasmic response and controlling mitochondrial function are areas of intense investigation. These studies rely on the appropriate use of emerging techniques coupled with judicious data interpretation to a large extent. The development of targeted probes based on the molecular engineering of luminescent proteins has allowed the specific measurement of Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]) and adenosine trisphosphate concentration ([ATP]) in intracellular organelles or cytoplasmic subdomains. This approach has given novel information on different aspects of mitochondrial homeostasis.
The 66 KDa isoform of Shc and its signalling properties have attracted in the past years major interest in aging research. Here, we summarize p66Shc functions and outline a specific signalling route leading to mitochondrial import, that accounts for its pro-apoptotic activity upon oxidative stress. This model, that could explain the alterations of mitochondrial Ca2+ homeostasis observed after oxidative stress, highlights novel pharmacological targets in age-related disorders.
calcium homeostasis; apoptosis; ROS; cell death; Pin1; PKC
Mitochondrial Ca2+ accumulation is a tightly controlled process, in turn regulating functions as diverse as aerobic metabolism and induction of cell death. The link between Ca2+ (dys)regulation, mitochondria and cellular derangement is particularly evident in neurodegenerative disorders, in which genetic models and environmental factors allowed to identify common traits in the pathogenic routes. We will here summarize: i) the current view of mechanisms and functions of mitochondrial Ca2+ homeostasis, ii) the basic principles of organelle Ca2+ transport, iii) the role of Ca2+ in neuronal cell death, and iv) the new information on the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's, Huntington's and Parkinson's diseases, highlighting the role of Ca2+ and mitochondria.
Mitochondria; Calcium; Neurodegenerative disease; Alzheimer's disease; Parkinson's disease; Huntington's disease
Multiple cellular stressors, including activation of the tumour suppressor p53, can stimulate autophagy. Here we show that knockout, knockdown or pharmacological inhibition of p53 can induce autophagy in human, mouse and nematode cells. Enhanced autophagy improved the survival of p53-deficient cancer cells under conditions of hypoxia and nutrient depletion, allowing them to maintain high ATP levels. Inhibition of p53 led to autophagy in enucleated cells, and cytoplasmic, not nuclear, p53 was able to repress the enhanced autophagy of p53-/- cells. Many different inducers of autophagy (for example, starvation, rapamycin and toxins affecting the endoplasmic reticulum) stimulated proteasome-mediated degradation of p53 through a pathway relying on the E3 ubiquitin ligase HDM2. Inhibition of p53 degradation prevented the activation of autophagy in several cell lines, in response to several distinct stimuli. These results provide evidence of a key signalling pathway that links autophagy to the cancer-associated dysregulation of p53.
Mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) production is recognized as a major pathogenic event in a number of human diseases, and mitochondrial scavenging of ROS appears a promising therapeutic approach. Recently, two mitochondrial antioxidants have been developed; conjugating α-tocopherol and the ubiquinol moiety of coenzyme Q to the lipophilic triphenylphosphonium cation (TPP+), denominated MitoE2 and MitoQ10, respectively. We have investigated the effect of these compounds on mitochondrial Ca2+ homeostasis, which controls processes as diverse as activation of mitochondrial dehydrogenases and pro-apoptotic morphological changes of the organelle. We demonstrate that treatment of HeLa cells with both MitoE2 and MitoQ10 induces (albeit with different efficacy) a major enhancement of the increase in matrix Ca2+ concentration triggered by cell stimulation with the inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate-generating agonist histamine. The effect is a result of the inhibition of Ca2+ efflux from the organelle and depends on the TPP+ moiety of these compounds. Overall, the data identify an effect independent of their antioxidant activity, that on the one hand may be useful in addressing disorders in which mitochondrial Ca2+ handling is impaired (e.g., mitochondrial diseases) and on the other may favor mitochondrial Ca2+ overload and thus increase cell sensitivity to apoptosis (thus possibly counteracting the benefits of the antioxidant activity).
ROS; calcium; mitochondria
The protein kinase C (PKC) family is a major transducer of several intracellular pathways. In confirmation of this important role, PKCs exhibit high molecular heterogeneity, because they occur in at least 10 different isoforms differing in biochemical properties and sensitivity to activators. In this report we focused on the ability of different redox agents to induce modification of intracellular distribution of specific PKC isoforms in HeLa cells. To this end we utilized a panel of green fluorescent protein (GFP) chimeras and a high-speed digital imaging system. We observed a remarkable complexity of PKC signalling patterns occurring during redox stress with marked differences among PKC isoforms also belonging to the same subgroup. Moreover our results suggest that modifications of the intracellular redox state can modulate the responsiveness of specific PKC isoforms and, in turn, change the sensitivity of the different isoforms to cell stimulation.
The voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC) of the outer mitochondrial membrane mediates metabolic flow, Ca2+, and cell death signaling between the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and mitochondrial networks. We demonstrate that VDAC1 is physically linked to the endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-release channel inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor (IP3R) through the molecular chaperone glucose-regulated protein 75 (grp75). Functional interaction between the channels was shown by the recombinant expression of the ligand-binding domain of the IP3R on the ER or mitochondrial surface, which directly enhanced Ca2+ accumulation in mitochondria. Knockdown of grp75 abolished the stimulatory effect, highlighting chaperone-mediated conformational coupling between the IP3R and the mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake machinery. Because organelle Ca2+ homeostasis influences fundamentally cellular functions and death signaling, the central location of grp75 may represent an important control point of cell fate and pathogenesis.
Replication of human cytomegalovirus (CMV) requires the expression of the viral mitochondria–localized inhibitor of apoptosis (vMIA). vMIA inhibits apoptosis by recruiting Bax to mitochondria, resulting in its neutralization. We show that vMIA decreases cell size, reduces actin polymerization, and induces cell rounding. As compared with vMIA-expressing CMV, vMIA-deficient CMV, which replicates in fibroblasts expressing the adenoviral apoptosis suppressor E1B19K, induces less cytopathic effects. These vMIA effects can be separated from its cell death–inhibitory function because vMIA modulates cellular morphology in Bax-deficient cells. Expression of vMIA coincided with a reduction in the cellular adenosine triphosphate (ATP) level. vMIA selectively inhibited one component of the ATP synthasome, namely, the mitochondrial phosphate carrier. Exposure of cells to inhibitors of oxidative phosphorylation produced similar effects, such as an ATP level reduced by 30%, smaller cell size, and deficient actin polymerization. Similarly, knockdown of the phosphate carrier reduced cell size. Our data suggest that the cytopathic effect of CMV can be explained by vMIA effects on mitochondrial bioenergetics.