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Gene. 2005 Jul 18;354:132-9.

Mitochondria-to-nucleus stress signaling in mammalian cells: nature of nuclear gene targets, transcription regulation, and induced resistance to apoptosis.

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Department of Animal Biology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Depletion of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) or treatment with mitochondrial poison CCCP initiates mitochondrial stress signaling, which operates through altered Ca2+ homeostasis. In C2C12 rhabdomyoblasts and A549 human lung carcinoma cells mitochondrial stress signaling activates calcineurin and a number of Ca2+ responsive factors including ATF, NFAT, CEBP/delta and CREB. Additionally, PKC and MAP kinase are also activated. A number of nuclear gene targets including those involved in Ca2+ storage/release (RyR1, calreticulin, calsequestrin), glucose metabolism (hexokinase, pyruvate kinase, Glut4), oncogenesis (TGFbeta1, cathepsin L, IGFR1, melanoma antigen) and apoptosis (Bcl-2, Bid, Bad, p53) are upregulated. Mitochondrial stress in both C2C12 myoblasts and A549 cells induced morphological changes and invasive phenotypes. These cells also showed markedly increased resistance to etoposide-induced apoptosis that is a hallmark of highly invasive tumors. Our results describe a new mechanism of altered nuclear gene expression and phenotypic changes triggered by mitochondrial dysfunction and mtDNA damage.

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