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Cell Death Dis. 2013 Feb 14;4:e494. doi: 10.1038/cddis.2013.31.

Myostatin induces mitochondrial metabolic alteration and typical apoptosis in cancer cells.

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The State Key Laboratory of Biomembrane and Membrane Biotechnology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.


Myostatin, a member of the transforming growth factor-β superfamily, regulates the glucose metabolism of muscle cells, while dysregulated myostatin activity is associated with a number of metabolic disorders, including muscle cachexia, obesity and type II diabetes. We observed that myostatin induced significant mitochondrial metabolic alterations and prolonged exposure of myostatin induced mitochondria-dependent apoptosis in cancer cells addicted to glycolysis. To address the underlying mechanism, we found that the protein levels of Hexokinase II (HKII) and voltage-dependent anion channel 1 (VDAC1), two key regulators of glucose metabolisms as well as metabolic stress-induced apoptosis, were negatively correlated. In particular, VDAC1 was dramatically upregulated in cells that are sensitive to myostatin treatment whereas HKII was downregulated and dissociated from mitochondria. Myostatin promoted the translocation of Bax from cytosol to mitochondria, and knockdown of VDAC1 inhibited myostatin-induced Bax translocation and apoptosis. These apoptotic changes can be partially rescued by repletion of ATP, or by ectopic expression of HKII, suggesting that perturbation of mitochondrial metabolism is causally linked with subsequent apoptosis. Our findings reveal novel function of myostatin in regulating mitochondrial metabolism and apoptosis in cancer cells.

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