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1.  Mitochondrial regulation of epigenetics and its role in human diseases 
Epigenetics  2012;7(4):326-334.
Most pathogenic mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations induce defects in mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS). However, phenotypic effects of these mutations show a large degree of variation depending on the tissue affected. These differences are difficult to reconcile with OXPHOS as the sole pathogenic factor suggesting that additional mechanisms contribute to lack of genotype and clinical phenotype correlationship. An increasing number of studies have identified a possible effect on the epigenetic landscape of the nuclear genome as a consequence of mitochondrial dysfunction. In particular, these studies demonstrate reversible or irreversible changes in genomic DNA methylation profiles of the nuclear genome. Here we review how mitochondria damage checkpoint (mitocheckpoint) induces epigenetic changes in the nucleus. Persistent pathogenic mutations in mtDNA may also lead to epigenetic changes causing genomic instability in the nuclear genome. We propose that “mitocheckpoint” mediated epigenetic and genetic changes may play key roles in phenotypic variation related to mitochondrial diseases or host of human diseases in which mitochondrial defect plays a primary role.
PMCID: PMC3368816  PMID: 22419065
DNA Methylation; epigenetics; epigenome; mitocheckpoint; mitochondria; OXPHOS
2.  NADPH oxidase 4 is an oncoprotein localized to mitochondria 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2010;10(3):223-231.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are known to be involved in many physiological and pathological processes. Initially ROS-producing NADPH oxidase (NOX) proteins were thought to be present in phagocytes. However, recent studies have demonstrated that NOX proteins are expressed in many other cell types and tissues. NOX family members' expression and function seems to vary from tissue to tissue. We determined the expression of the NOX family of proteins (NOX1-5) in normal breast tissue and breast tumors. Our study revealed that normal breast tissues express NOX1, 4 and 5 genes. Similar pattern of expression was revealed in a breast epithelial cell line. We found that NOX4 was overexpressed in the majority of breast cancer cell lines and primary breast tumors. NOX4 was also overexpressed in ovarian tumors. Overexpression of NOX4 in normal breast epithelial cells resulted in cellular senescence, resistance to apoptosis, and tumorigenic transformation. Overexpression of NOX4 in already transformed breast tumor cells also showed increased tumorigenicity. Strong evidence suggests that regulation of these processes occurs through NOX4 generation of ROS in the mitochondria. We demonstrate that the NOX4 protein contains a 73 amino acid long mitochondrial localization signal at the N-terminus that is capable of transporting a passenger protein GFP into the mitochondria. Treatment of NOX4 overexpressing cells with catalase resulted in decreased tumorigenic characteristics. Together, this study provides evidence for an oncogenic function for NOX4 protein localized to mitochondria and suggests that NOX4 is a novel source of ROS produced in the mitochondria. This study also identifies a possible treatment of NOX4-induced breast cancer by antioxidant treatment.
PMCID: PMC3040835  PMID: 20523116
NADPH oxidase 4; breast cancer; oncogenesis; catalase
3.  Tumorigenic transformation of human breast epithelial cells induced by mitochondrial DNA depletion 
Cancer biology & therapy  2008;7(11):1732-1743.
Human mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) encodes 13 proteins involved in oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS). In order to investigate the role of mitochondrial OXPHOS genes in breast tumorigenesis, we have developed a breast epithelial cell line devoid of mtDNA (ρ0 cells). Our analysis revealed that depletion of mtDNA in breast epithelial cells results in in vitro tumorigenic phenotype as well as breast tumorigenesis in a xenograft model. We identified two major gene networks which were differentially regulated between parental and ρ0 epithelial cells. The focal proteins in these networks include (i) FN1 (fibronectin) and (ii) p53. Bioinformatic analyses of FN1 network identified laminin, integrin and 3 of 6 members of peroxiredoxin whose expression were altered in ρ0 epithelial cells. In the p53 network, we identified SMC4 and WRN whose changes in expression suggest that this network may affect chromosomal stability. Consistent with above finding our study revealed an increase in DNA double strand breaks and unique chromosomal rearrangements in ρ0 breast epithelial cells. Additionally, we identified tight junction proteins claudin-1 and claudin-7 in p53 network. To determine the functional relevance of altered gene expression, we focused on detailed analyses of claudin-1 and -7 proteins in breast tumorigenesis. Our study determined that (i) claudin-1 and 7 were indeed downregulated in ρ0 breast epithelial cells, (ii) downregulation of claudin-1 or -7 led to neoplastic transformation of breast epithelial cells, and (iii) claudin-1 and -7 were also downregulated in primary breast tumors. Together, our study suggest that mtDNA encoded OXPHOS genes play a key role in transformation of breast epithelial cells and that multiple pathway involved in mitochondria-to-nucleus retrograde regulation contribute to transformation of breast epithelial cells.
PMCID: PMC2783327  PMID: 19151587
mitochondria; breast tumorigenesis; mtDNA depletion; claudin-1; claudin-7; ρ0 cells; mitochondrial DNA
4.  Mutations in mitochondrial DNA polymerase γ promote breast tumorigenesis 
Journal of human genetics  2009;54(9):516-524.
Decreased mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) is one of the hallmarks of cancer. To date the identity of nuclear gene(s) responsible for decreased OXPHOS in tumors remains unknown. It is also unclear whether mutations in nuclear gene(s) responsible for decreased OXPHOS affect tumorigenesis. Polymerase γ (POLG) is the only DNA polymerase known to function in human mitochondria. Mutations in POLG are known to cause mtDNA depletion and decreased OXPHOS resulting in mtDNA depletion syndrome (MDS) in humans. We therefore sequenced all coding exons [2-23] and flanking intron/splice junctions of POLG in breast tumors. We found that the POLG gene was mutated in 63% of the breast tumors. We identified a total of 17 mutations across the POLG gene. Mutations were found in all three domains of POLG protein, including T251I (exonuclease domain), P587L (linker region) and E1143G (polymerase domain). We identified two novel mutations that include one silent (A703A) and one missense (R628Q) mutation in the evolutionarily conserved POLG linker region. Additionally, we identified three novel mutations in the intronic region. Our study also revealed that mtDNA was depleted in breast tumors. Consistently, mutant POLG when expressed in breast cancer cells induced depletion of mtDNA, decreased mitochondrial activity, decreased mitochondrial membrane potential, increased levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and increased matrigel invasion. Together, our study provides the first comprehensive analysis of the POLG gene mutation in human cancer and suggests a role for POLG in 1) decreased OXPHOS in cancers and 2) in promoting tumorigenicity.
PMCID: PMC2782392  PMID: 19629138
Breast Cancer; POLG; MtDNA; Mitochondria; Mutation; Mitochondrial
5.  p53 regulates mtDNA copy number and mitocheckpoint pathway 
We previously hypothesized a role for mitochondria damage checkpoint (mito-checkpoint) in maintaining the mitochondrial integrity of cells. Consistent with this hypothesis, defects in mitochondria have been demonstrated to cause genetic and epigenetic changes in the nuclear DNA, resistance to cell-death and tumorigenesis. In this paper, we describe that defects in mitochondria arising from the inhibition of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (mtOXPHOS) induce cell cycle arrest, a response similar to the DNA damage checkpoint response.
Materials and Methods:
Primary mouse embryonic fibroblasts obtained from p53 wild-type and p53-deficient mouse embryos (p53 -/-) were treated with inhibitors of electron transport chain and cell cycle analysis, ROS production, mitochondrial content analysis and immunoblotting was performed. The expression of p53R2 was also measured by real time quantitative PCR.
We determined that, while p53 +/+ cells arrest in the cell cycle, p53 -/- cells continued to divide after exposure to mitochondrial inhibitors, showing that p53 plays an important role in the S-phase delay in the cell cycle. p53 is translocated to mitochondria after mtOXPHOS inhibition. Our study also revealed that p53-dependent induction of reactive oxygen species acts as a major signal triggering a mito-checkpoint response. Furthermore our study revealed that loss of p53 results in down regulation of p53R2 that contributes to depletion of mtDNA in primary MEF cells.
Our study suggests that p53 1) functions as mito-checkpoint protein and 2) regulates mtDNA copy number and mitochondrial biogenesis. We describe a conceptual organization of the mito-checkpoint pathway in which identified roles of p53 in mitochondria are incorporated.
PMCID: PMC2687143  PMID: 19439913
Cell cycle; metabolic stress; mitocheckpoint; mitochondrial; mitochondria; mtDNA; p53
6.  A novel role for mitochondria in regulating epigenetic modification in the nucleus 
Cancer biology & therapy  2008;7(8):1182-1190.
Epigenetic modification in the nuclear genome plays a key role in human tumorigenesis. In this paper, we investigated whether changes in the mtDNA copy number frequently reported to vary in a number of human tumors induce methylation changes in the nucleus. We utilized the Restriction Landmark Genomic Scanning (RLGS) to identify genes that undergo changes in their methylation status in response to the depletion and repletion of mtDNA. Our study demonstrates that depletion of mtDNA results in significant changes in methylation pattern of a number of genes. Furthermore, our study suggests that methylation changes are reversed by the restoration of mtDNA in cells otherwise lacking the entire mitochondrial genome. These studies provide the first direct evidence that mitochondria regulate epigenetic modification in the nucleus that may contribute to tumorigenesis.
PMCID: PMC2639623  PMID: 18458531
mitochondria; epigenetic; retrograde; mitochondrial DNA; mtDNA depletion; RLGS; OXPHOS; rho0
7.  Global Genetic Determinants of Mitochondrial DNA Copy Number 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e105242.
Many human diseases including development of cancer is associated with depletion of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) content. These diseases are collectively described as mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome (MDS). High similarity between yeast and human mitochondria allows genomic study of the budding yeast to be used to identify human disease genes. In this study, we systematically screened the pre-existing respiratory-deficient Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast strains using fluorescent microscopy and identified 102 nuclear genes whose deletions result in a complete mtDNA loss, of which 52 are not reported previously. Strikingly, these genes mainly encode protein products involved in mitochondrial protein biosynthesis process (54.9%). The rest of these genes either encode protein products associated with nucleic acid metabolism (14.7%), oxidative phosphorylation (3.9%), or other protein products (13.7%) responsible for bud-site selection, mitochondrial intermembrane space protein import, assembly of cytochrome-c oxidase, vacuolar protein sorting, protein-nucleus import, calcium-mediated signaling, heme biosynthesis and iron homeostasis. Thirteen (12.7%) of the genes encode proteins of unknown function. We identified human orthologs of these genes, conducted the interaction between the gene products and linked them to human mitochondrial disorders and other pathologies. In addition, we screened for genes whose defects affect the nuclear genome integrity. Our data provide a systematic view of the nuclear genes involved in maintenance of mitochondrial DNA. Together, our studies i) provide a global view of the genes regulating mtDNA content; ii) provide compelling new evidence toward understanding novel mechanism involved in mitochondrial genome maintenance and iii) provide useful clues in understanding human diseases in which mitochondrial defect and in particular depletion of mitochondrial genome plays a critical role.
PMCID: PMC4149433  PMID: 25170845
8.  NADPH oxidase and Nrf2 regulate gastric aspiration-induced inflammation and acute lung injury 
Recruitment of neutrophils and release of reactive oxygen species are considered to be major pathogenic components driving acute lung injury (ALI). However, NADPH oxidase, the major source of reactive oxygen species in activated phagocytes, can paradoxically limit inflammation and injury. We hypothesized that NADPH oxidase protects against ALI by limiting neutrophilic inflammation and by activating Nrf2, a transcriptional factor that induces anti-oxidative and cytoprotective pathways. Our objective was to delineate the roles of NADPH oxidase and Nrf2 in modulating acute lung inflammation and injury in clinically relevant models of acute gastric aspiration injury, a major cause of ALI. Acid aspiration caused increased ALI (as assessed by bronchoalveolar lavage fluid albumin concentration) in both NADPH oxidase-deficient (p47phox−/−) mice and in Nrf2−/− mice compared to wild-type mice. NADPH oxidase reduced airway neutrophil accumulation, but Nrf2 decreased ALI without affecting neutrophil recovery. Acid injury resulted in a 120-fold increase in mitochondrial DNA, a pro-inflammatory and injurious product of cellular necrosis, in cell-free bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. Pharmacologic activation of Nrf2 by the triterpenoid, CDDO-Im, limited aspiration-induced ALI in wild-type mice and reduced endothelial cell injury caused by mitochondrial extract-primed human neutrophils, leading to the conclusion that NADPH oxidase and Nrf2 have coordinated, but distinct, functions in modulating inflammation and injury. These results also point to Nrf2 as a therapeutic target to limit ALI by attenuating neutrophil-induced cellular injury.
PMCID: PMC3563868  PMID: 23296708
9.  Reduced Mitochondrial DNA Content Associates with Poor Prognosis of Prostate Cancer in African American Men 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74688.
Reduction or depletion of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) has been associated with cancer progression. Although imbalanced mtDNA content is known to occur in prostate cancer, differences in mtDNA content between African American (AA) and Caucasian American (CA) men are not defined. We provide the first evidence that tumors in AA men possess reduced level of mtDNA compared to CA men. The median tumor mtDNA content was reduced in AA men. mtDNA content was also reduced in normal prostate tissues of AA men compared to CA men, suggesting a possible predisposition to cancer in AA men. mtDNA content was also reduced in benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) tissue from AA men. Tumor and BPH tissues from patients ≥60 years of age possess reduced mtDNA content compared to patients <60 years of age. In addition, mtDNA content was higher in normal tissues from patients with malignant T3 stage disease compared to patients with T2 stage disease. mtDNA levels in matched normal prostate tissues were nearly doubled in Gleason grade of >7 compared to ≤7, whereas reduced mtDNA content was observed in tumors of Gleason grade >7 compared to ≤7. Together, our data suggest that AA men possess lower mtDNA levels in normal and tumor tissues compared to CA men, which could contribute to higher risk and more aggressive prostate cancer in AA men.
PMCID: PMC3781126  PMID: 24086362
10.  SIRT3 is a Mitochondrial Localized Tumor Suppressor Required for Maintenance of Mitochondrial Integrity and Metabolism During Stress 
Cancer cell  2010;17(1):41-52.
The sirtuin gene family (SIRT) is hypothesized to regulate the aging process and play a role in cellular repair. This work demonstrates that SIRT3−/− mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) exhibit abnormal mitochondrial physiology as well as increases in stress-induced superoxide levels and genomic instability. Expression of a single oncogene (Myc or Ras) in SIRT3−/− MEFs results in in vitro transformation and altered intracellular metabolism. Superoxide dismutase prevents transformation by a single oncogene in SIRT3−/− MEFs and reverses the tumor permissive phenotype as well as stress-induced genomic instability. In addition, SIRT3−/− mice develop ER/PR-positive mammary tumors. Finally, human breast and other human cancer specimens exhibit reduced SIRT3 levels. These results identify SIRT3 as a genomically expressed, mitochondrial localized tumor suppressor.
PMCID: PMC3711519  PMID: 20129246
SIRT3; Mitochondria; Carcinogenesis; Tumor suppressor
11.  Natural selection of mitochondria during somatic lifetime promotes healthy aging 
Stimulation of mitochondrial biogenesis during life-time challenges both eliminates disadvantageous properties and drives adaptive selection of advantageous phenotypic variations. Intermittent fission and fusion of mitochondria provide specific targets for health promotion by brief temporal stressors, interspersed with periods of recovery and biogenesis. For mitochondria, the mechanisms of selection, variability, and heritability, are complicated by interaction of two independent genomes, including the multiple copies of DNA in each mitochondrion, as well as the shared nuclear genome of each cell. The mechanisms of stress-induced fission, followed by recovery-induced fusion and biogenesis, drive the improvement of mitochondrial functions, not only as directed by genotypic variations, but also as enabled by phenotypic diversity. Selective adaptation may explain unresolved aspects of aging, including the health effects of exercise, hypoxic and poisonous preconditioning, and tissue-specific mitochondrial differences. We propose that intermittent purposeful enhancement of mitochondrial biogenesis by stressful episodes with subsequent recovery paradoxically promotes adaptive mitochondrial health and continued healthy aging.
PMCID: PMC3740293  PMID: 23964235
energy metabolism; epigenetics; evolutionary bottleneck; mitochondrial adaptation; mitochondrial maladaptation
12.  Is There a Link between Mitochondrial Reserve Respiratory Capacity and Aging? 
Journal of Aging Research  2012;2012:192503.
Oxidative phosphorylation is an indispensable resource of ATP in tissues with high requirement of energy. If the ATP demand is not met, studies suggest that this will lead to senescence and cell death in the affected tissue. The term reserve respiratory capacity or spare respiratory capacity is used to describe the amount of extra ATP that can be produced by oxidative phosphorylation in case of a sudden increase in energy demand. Depletion of the reserve respiratory capacity has been related to a range of pathologies affecting high energy requiring tissues. During aging of an organism, and as a result of mitochondrial dysfunctions, the efficiency of oxidative phosphorylation declines. Based on examples from the energy requiring tissues such as brain, heart, and skeletal muscle, we propose that the age-related decline of oxidative phosphorylation decreases the reserve respiratory capacity of the affected tissue, sensitizes the cells to surges in ATP demand, and increases the risk of resulting pathologies.
PMCID: PMC3375017  PMID: 22720157
13.  Involvement of p53 in cell death following cell cycle arrest and mitotic catastrophe induced by rotenone 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2011;1813(3):492-499.
In order to investigate the cell death-inducing effects of rotenone, a plant extract commonly used as a mitochondrial complex I inhibitor, we studied cancer cell lines with different genetic backgrounds. Rotenone inhibits cell growth through the induction of cell death and cell cycle arrest, associated with the development of mitotic catastrophe. The cell death inducer staurosporine potentiates the inhibition of cell growth by rotenone in a dose-dependent synergistic manner. The tumor suppressor p53 is involved in rotenone-induced cell death, since the drug treatment results in increased expression, phosphorylation and nuclear localization of the protein. The evaluation of the effects of rotenone on a p53-deficient cell line revealed that although not required for the promotion of mitotic catastrophe, functional p53 appears to be essential for the extensive cell death that occurs afterwards. Our results suggest that mitotic slippage also occurs subsequently to the rotenone-induced mitotic arrest and cells treated with the drug for a longer period become senescent. Treatment of mtDNA-depleted cells with rotenone induces cell death and cell cycle arrest as in cells containing wild type mtDNA, but not formation of reactive oxygen species. This suggests that the effects of rotenone are not dependent from the production of reactive oxygen species. This work highlights the multiple effects of rotenone in cancer cells related to its action as an anti-mitotic drug.
PMCID: PMC3051352  PMID: 21223980
cell death; rotenone; p53; mitotic catastrophe; cell cycle
14.  Cellular Stress Induced by Resazurin Leads to Autophagy and Cell Death Via Production of Reactive Oxygen Species and Mitochondrial Impairment 
Journal of cellular biochemistry  2010;111(3):574-584.
Mitochondrial bioenergetics and reactive oxygen species (ROS) often play important roles in cellular stress mechanisms. In this study we investigated how these factors are involved in the stress response triggered by resazurin (Alamar Blue) in cultured cancer cells. Resazurin is a redox reactive compound widely used as reporter agent in assays of cell biology (e.g. cell viability and metabolic activity) due to its colorimetric and fluorimetric properties. In order to investigate resazurin-induced stress mechanisms we employed cells affording different metabolic and regulatory phenotypes. In HL-60 and Jurkat leukemia cells resazurin caused mitochondrial disintegration, respiratory dysfunction, reduced proliferation, and cell death. These effects were preceded by a burst of ROS, especially in HL-60 cells which also were more sensitive and contained autophagic vesicles. Studies in Rho0 cells (devoid of mitochondrial DNA) indicated that the stress response does not depend on the rates of mitochondrial respiration. The anti-proliferative effect of resazurin was confirmed in native acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) blasts. In conclusion, the data suggest that resazurin triggers cellular ROS production and thereby initiates a stress response leading to mitochondrial dysfunction, reduced proliferation, autophagy and cell degradation. The ability of cells to tolerate this type of stress may be important in toxicity and chemoresistance.
PMCID: PMC2946440  PMID: 20568117
Cellular stress (reactive oxygen species, mitochondrial respiration); Cell fate (autophagy, cell death); Cell proliferation; Resazurin (Alamar Blue)
15.  Cellular Model of Warburg Effect Identifies Tumor Promoting Function of UCP2 in Breast Cancer and Its Suppression by Genipin 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24792.
The Warburg Effect is characterized by an irreversible injury to mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) and an increased rate of aerobic glycolysis. In this study, we utilized a breast epithelial cell line lacking mitochondrial DNA (rho0) that exhibits the Warburg Effect associated with breast cancer. We developed a MitoExpress array for rapid analysis of all known nuclear genes encoding the mitochondrial proteome. The gene-expression pattern was compared among a normal breast epithelial cell line, its rho0 derivative, breast cancer cell lines and primary breast tumors. Among several genes, our study revealed that over-expression of mitochondrial uncoupling protein UCP2 in rho0 breast epithelial cells reflects gene expression changes in breast cancer cell lines and in primary breast tumors. Furthermore, over-expression of UCP2 was also found in leukemia, ovarian, bladder, esophagus, testicular, colorectal, kidney, pancreatic, lung and prostate tumors. Ectopic expression of UCP2 in MCF7 breast cancer cells led to a decreased mitochondrial membrane potential and increased tumorigenic properties as measured by cell migration, in vitro invasion and anchorage independent growth. Consistent with in vitro studies, we demonstrate that UCP2 over-expression leads to development of tumors in vivo in an orthotopic model of breast cancer. Genipin, a plant derived small molecule, suppressed the UCP2 led tumorigenic properties, which were mediated by decreased reactive oxygen species and down-regulation of UCP2. However, UCP1, 3, 4 and 5 gene expression was unaffected. UCP2 transcription was controlled by SMAD4. Together, these studies suggest a tumor-promoting function of UCP2 in breast cancer. In summary, our studies demonstrate that i) the Warburg Effect is mediated by UCP2; ii) UCP2 is over-expressed in breast and many other cancers; iii) UCP2 promotes tumorigenic properties in vitro and in vivo and iv) genipin suppresses the tumor promoting function of UCP2.
PMCID: PMC3174207  PMID: 21935467
16.  Impaired OXPHOS Complex III in Breast Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23846.
We measured the mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (mtOXPHOS) activities of all five complexes and determined the activity and gene expression in detail of the Complex III subunits in human breast cancer cell lines and primary tumors. Our analysis revealed dramatic differences in activity of complex III between normal and aggressive metastatic breast cancer cell lines. Determination of Complex III subunit gene expression identified over expression and co-regulation of UQCRFS1 (encoding RISP protein) and UQCRH (encoding Hinge protein) in 6 out of 9 human breast tumors. Analyses of UQCRFS1/RISP expression in additional matched normal and breast tumors demonstrated an over expression in 14 out of 40 (35%) breast tumors. UQCRFS1/RISP knockdown in breast tumor cell line led to decreased mitochondrial membrane potential as well as a decrease in matrigel invasion. Furthermore, reduced matrigel invasion was mediated by reduced ROS levels coinciding with decreased expression of NADPH oxidase 2, 3, 4 and 5 involved in ROS production. These studies provide direct evidence for contribution of impaired mtOXPHOS Complex III to breast tumorigenesis.
PMCID: PMC3162009  PMID: 21901141
17.  Illness-induced exacerbation of Leigh syndrome in a patient with the MTATP6 mutation, m. 9185 T>C 
Mitochondrion  2010;10(5):567-572.
PMCID: PMC2918679  PMID: 20546952
Leigh syndrome; brainstem; magnetic resonance imaging; complex V
18.  The Importance of Mitochondrial DNA in Aging and Cancer 
Journal of Aging Research  2011;2011:407536.
Mitochondrial dysfunction has been implicated in premature aging, age-related diseases, and tumor initiation and progression. Alterations of the mitochondrial genome accumulate both in aging tissue and tumors. This paper describes our contemporary view of mechanisms by which alterations of the mitochondrial genome contributes to the development of age- and tumor-related pathological conditions. The mechanisms described encompass altered production of mitochondrial ROS, altered regulation of the nuclear epigenome, affected initiation of apoptosis, and a limiting effect on the production of ribonucleotides and deoxyribonucleotides.
PMCID: PMC3092560  PMID: 21584235
19.  Impairment of mitochondrial respiration in mouse fibroblasts by oncogenic H-RASQ6IL 
Cancer biology & therapy  2010;9(2):122-133.
A common metabolic change in cancer is the acquisition of glycolytic phenotypes. Increased expression of glycolytic enzymes is considered as one contributing factor. The role of mitochondrial defects in acquisition of glycolytic phenotypes has been postulated but remains controversial. Here we show that functional defects in mitochondrial respiration could be induced by oncogenic H-RasQ61L transformation, even though the mitochondrial contents or mass was not reduced in the transformed cells. First, mitochondrial respiration, as measured by mitochondrial oxygen consumption, was suppressed in NIH-3T3 cells transformed with H-RasQ61L. Second, oligomycin or rotenone did not reduce the cellular ATP levels in the H-RasQ61L transformed cells, suggesting a diminished role of mitochondrial respiration in the cellular energy metabolism. Third, inhibition of glycolysis with iodoacetic acid reduced ATP levels at a much faster rate in H-RasQ61L transformed cells than in the vector control cells. The reduction of cellular ATP levels was reversed by exogenously added pyruvate in the vector control cells but not in H-RasQ61L transformed cells. Finally when compared to the HRasQ61L transformed cells, the vector control cells had increased resistance toward glucose deprivation. The increased resistance was dependent on mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation since rotenone or oligomycin abolished the increased survival of the vector control cells under glucose deprivation. The results also suggest an inability of the H-RasQ61L transformed cells to reactivate mitochondrial respiration under glucose deprivation. Taken together, the data suggest that mitochondrial respiration can be impaired during transformation of NIH-3T3 cells by oncogeneic H-RasQ61L.
PMCID: PMC2909490  PMID: 19923925
Ras; mitochondrial respiration; glycolysis; Electron transport chain; complex IV; transformation; cellular energy metabolism; ATP
20.  mtDNA G10398A variant in African-American women with breast cancer provides resistance to apoptosis and promotes metastasis in mice 
Journal of human genetics  2009;54(11):647-654.
We investigated the effect of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) polymorphism G10398A found in African-American women with aggressive breast cancer on apoptosis and tumorigenesis. We generated human cytoplasmic hybrid (cybrid) by repopulation of recipient ρ0 cells (devoid of mtDNA) with donor mtDNA derived from patients with breast cancer harboring the G10398A polymorphism. We investigated a number of functional phenotypes of the G10398A cybrid. The G10398A cybrid showed a slower proliferation rate and progression through the cell cycle, as well as increased complex I activity, increased levels of reactive oxygen species and depolarized mitochondria. The G10398A cybrid also showed resistance to apoptosis triggered by etoposide. Resistance to apoptosis was mediated by Akt activation. In addition, our studies showed that the G10398A cybrid cells form an increased number of anchorage-independent colonies in vitro and metastases in mice. Together our studies suggest that the G10398A variant confers resistance to apoptosis and promotes metastasis.
PMCID: PMC2909846  PMID: 19763141
African American; Akt; apoptosis; breast cancer; cybrid; G10398A; metastasis; mitochondria
21.  Fluctuation AnaLysis CalculatOR: a web tool for the determination of mutation rate using Luria–Delbrück fluctuation analysis 
Bioinformatics  2009;25(12):1564-1565.
Summary:The program Fluctuation AnaLysis CalculatOR (FALCOR) is a web tool designed for use with Luria–Delbrück fluctuation analysis to calculate the frequency and rate from various mutation assays in bacteria and yeast. Three calculation methods are available through this program: (i) Ma-Sandri-Sarkar Maximum Likelihood Estimator (MSS-MLE) method, (ii) Lea-Coulson method of the median (LC) and (iii) frequency.
Availability: The FALCOR rate calculator is currently accessible at This program is written as a Java™ Applet, requiring a web browser enabled with Sun MicroSystems' Java Virtual Machine.
PMCID: PMC2687991  PMID: 19369502
22.  Mitochondrial DNA Polymorphism and Risk of Cancer 
ATP (energy production) production is not the only function of the mitochondria. Mitochondria perform multiple cellular functions. Among others, these functions include control of cell death, growth, development, integration of signals from mitochondria to nucleus and nucleus to mitochondria, and various metabolic pathways. Although defects in mitochondrial function are most commonly associated with bioenergetic deficiencies, our studies demonstrate that mitochondrial defects lead to genome instability in the nuclear DNA, resistance to apoptosis and induction of NADPH oxidase, a designated producer of reactive oxygen species. These transformations in cellular phenotype are known contributors to the development of tumors in humans. Consistent with the role of mitochondria in carcinogenesis, studies in the past few years have described an increased risk of cancers associated with specific mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) polymorphism among various different haplogroups in human population. However, molecular mechanisms underlying increased risk of cancer due to specific mtDNA polymorphisms is currently lacking. It is likely that mtDNA polymorphisms in mitochondrial genes involved in electron transport chain and oxidative phosphorylation result in increased oxidative stress and hypermutagenesis of mitochondrial as well as nuclear DNA. We suggest that in studies relating to cancer epidemiology, the significance of a particular mtDNA polymorphism(s) should be analyzed together with other polymorphisms in mtDNA and in nuclear DNA.
PMCID: PMC2825891  PMID: 19109786
Apoptosis; mitochondria; oxidative phosphorylation; polymorphism; reactive oxygen species
23.  Evaluation of cell types for assessment of cytogenetic damage in arsenic exposed population 
Molecular Cancer  2008;7:45.
Cytogenetic biomarkers are essential for assessing environmental exposure, and reflect adverse human health effects such as cellular damage. Arsenic is a potential clastogen and aneugen. In general, the majority of the studies on clastogenic effects of arsenic are based on frequency of micronuclei (MN) study in peripheral lymphocytes, urothelial and oral epithelial cells. To find out the most suitable cell type, here, we compared cytogenetic damage through MN assay in (a) various populations exposed to arsenic through drinking water retrieved from literature review, as also (b) arsenic-induced Bowen's patients from our own survey.
For literature review, we have searched the Pubmed database for English language journal articles using the following keywords: "arsenic", "micronuclei", "drinking water", and "human" in various combinations. We have selected 13 studies consistent with our inclusion criteria that measured micronuclei in either one or more of the above-mentioned three cell types, in human samples. Compared to urothelial and buccal mucosa cells, the median effect sizes measured by the difference between people with exposed and unexposed, lymphocyte based MN counts were found to be stronger. This general pattern pooled from 10 studies was consistent with our own set of three earlier studies. MN counts were also found to be stronger for lymphocytes even in arsenic-induced Bowen's patients (cases) compared to control individuals having arsenic-induced non-cancerous skin lesions.
Overall, it can be concluded that MN in lymphocytes may be superior to other epithelial cells for studying arsenic-induced cytogenetic damage.
PMCID: PMC2430711  PMID: 18505595
24.  DNA Replication Stress Is a Determinant of Chronological Lifespan in Budding Yeast 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(8):e748.
The chronological lifespan of eukaryotic organisms is extended by the mutational inactivation of conserved growth-signaling pathways that regulate progression into and through the cell cycle. Here we show that in the budding yeast S. cerevisiae, these and other lifespan-extending conditions, including caloric restriction and osmotic stress, increase the efficiency with which nutrient-depleted cells establish or maintain a cell cycle arrest in G1. Proteins required for efficient G1 arrest and longevity when nutrients are limiting include the DNA replication stress response proteins Mec1 and Rad53. Ectopic expression of CLN3 encoding a G1 cyclin downregulated during nutrient depletion increases the frequency with which nutrient depleted cells arrest growth in S phase instead of G1. Ectopic expression of CLN3 also shortens chronological lifespan in concert with age-dependent increases in genome instability and apoptosis. These findings indicate that replication stress is an important determinant of chronological lifespan in budding yeast. Protection from replication stress by growth-inhibitory effects of caloric restriction, osmotic and other stresses may contribute to hormesis effects on lifespan. Replication stress also likely impacts the longevity of higher eukaryotes, including humans.
PMCID: PMC1939877  PMID: 17710147
25.  Mitochondrial aconitase and citrate metabolism in malignant and nonmalignant human prostate tissues 
Molecular Cancer  2006;5:14.
In prostate cancer, normal citrate-producing glandular secretory epithelial cells undergo a metabolic transformation to malignant citrate-oxidizing cells. m-Aconitase is the critical step involved in this altered citrate metabolism that is essential to prostate malignancy. The limiting m-aconitase activity in prostate epithelial cells could be the result of a decreased level of m-aconitase enzyme and/or the inhibition of existing m-aconitase. Earlier studies identified zinc as an inhibitor of m-aconitase activity in prostate cells; and that the depletion of zinc in malignant cells is an important factor in this metabolic transformation. However, a possibility remains that an altered expression and level of m-aconitase enzyme might also be involved in this metabolic transformation. To address this issue, the in situ level of m-aconitase enzyme was determined by immunohistochemical analysis of prostate cancer tissue sections and malignant prostate cell lines.
The immunocytochemical procedure successfully identified the presence of m-aconitase localized in the mitochondrial compartment in PC-3, LNCaP, and DU-145 malignant prostate cell lines. The examination of prostate tissue sections from prostate cancer subjects demonstrated that m-aconitase enzyme is present in the glandular epithelium of normal glands, hyperplastic glands, adenocrcinomatous glands, and prostatic intraepithelial neoplastic foci. Quantitative analysis of the relative level of m-aconitase in the glandular epithelium of citrate-producing adenomatous glands versus the citrate-oxidizing adenocarcinomatous glands revealed no significant difference in m-aconitase enzyme levels. This is in contrast to the down-regulation of ZIP1 zinc transporter in the malignant glands versus hyperplastic glands that exists in the same tissue samples.
The results demonstrate the existence of m-aconitase enzyme in the citrate-producing glandular epithelial cells; so that deficient m-aconitase enzyme is not associated with the limiting m-aconitase activity that prevents citrate oxidation in these cells. The level of m-aconitase is maintained in the malignant cells; so that an altered enzyme level is not associated with the increased m-aconitase activity. Consequently, the elevated zinc level that inhibits m-aconitase enzyme is responsible for the impaired citrate oxidation in normal and hyperplastic prostate glandular epithelial cells. Moreover, the down-regulation of ZIP1 zinc transporter and corresponding depletion of zinc results in the increase in the activity of the existing m-aconitase activity in the malignant prostate cells. The studies now define the mechanism for the metabolic transformation that characterizes the essential transition of normal citrate-producing epithelial cells to malignant citrate-oxidizing cells.
PMCID: PMC1484490  PMID: 16595004

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