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Apoptosis. 2010 Jul;15(7):769-81. doi: 10.1007/s10495-010-0471-2.

Inhibition of mitochondrial respiration mediates apoptosis induced by the anti-tumoral alkaloid lamellarin D.

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Inserm U837 and Faculté de Médecine, Université de Lille II, 1 Place Verdun, 59045, Lille Cedex, France.


Lamellarin D (Lam D), a marine alkaloid, exhibits a potent cytotoxicity against many different tumors. The pro-apoptotic function of Lam D has been attributed to its direct induction of mitochondrial permeability transition (MPT). This study was undertaken to explore the mechanisms through which Lam D promotes changes in mitochondrial function and as a result apoptosis. The use of eight Lam derivatives provides useful structure-apoptosis relationships. We demonstrate that Lam D and structural analogues induce apoptosis of cancer cells by acting directly on mitochondria inducing reduction of mitochondrial membrane potential, swelling and cytochrome c release. Cyclosporin A, a well-known inhibitor of MPT, completely prevents mitochondrial signs of apoptosis. The drug decreases calcium uptake by mitochondria but not by microsomes indicating that Lam D-dependent permeability is specific to mitochondrial membranes. In addition, upon Lam D exposure, a rapid decline of mitochondrial respiration and ATP synthesis occurs in isolated mitochondria as well as in intact cells. Evaluation of the site of action of Lam D on the electron-transport chain revealed that the activity of respiratory chain complex III is reduced by a half. To determine whether Lam D could induce MPT-dependent apoptosis by inhibiting mitochondrial respiration, we generated respiration-deficient cells (rho0) derived from human melanoma cells. In comparison to parental cells, rho0 cells are totally resistant to the induction of MPT-dependent apoptosis by Lam D. Our results indicate that functional mitochondria are required for Lam D-induced apoptosis. Inhibition of mitochondrial respiration is responsible for MPT-dependent apoptosis of cancer cells induced by Lam-D.

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