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Exp Cell Res. 2005 May 15;306(1):75-84. Epub 2005 Mar 16.

Mitochondrial localization of cyclooxygenase-2 and calcium-independent phospholipase A2 in human cancer cells: implication in apoptosis resistance.

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  • 1Vascular Biology Research Center and Division of Hematology, Institute of, Molecular Medicine and Medical School, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, TX 77030-1503, USA.


Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) is inducible by myriad stimuli. The inducible COX-2 in primary cultured human cells has been reported to localize to nuclear envelope, endoplasmic reticulum, nucleus and caveolae. As COX-2 plays an important role in tumor growth, we were interested in its subcellular location in cancer cells. We examined COX-2 localization in several cancer cell lines by confocal microscopy. A majority of COX-2 was colocalized with heat shock protein 60, a mitochondrial protein, in colon cancer (HT-29, HCT-15 and DLD-1), breast cancer (MCF7), hepatocellular cancer (HepG2) and lung cancer cells (A549) with a similar distribution pattern. By contrast, COX-2 was not localized to mitochondria in human foreskin fibroblasts or endothelial cells. Immunoblot analysis of COX-2 in mitochondrial and cytosolic fractions confirmed localization of COX-2 to mitochondria in HT-29 and DLD-1 cells but not in fibroblasts. Calcium-independent phospholipase A2 was colocalized with heat shock protein 60 to mitochondria not only in cancer cells (HT-29 and DLD-1) but also in fibroblasts. HT-29 which expressed more abundant mitochondrial COX-2 than DLD-1 was highly resistant to arachidonic acid and H2O2-induced apoptosis whereas DLD-1 was less resistant and human fibroblasts were highly susceptible. Treatment of HT-29 cells with sulindac or SC-236, a selective COX-2 inhibitor, resulted in loss of resistance to apoptosis. These results suggest that mitochondrial COX-2 in cancer cells confer resistance to apoptosis by reducing the proapoptotic arachidonic acid.

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