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Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2014 Mar;48:11-7. doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2013.12.013. Epub 2014 Jan 4.

The role of mitochondria in the oncogenic signal transduction.

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Medical Research Council Cancer Unit, University of Cambridge, Hutchison/MRC Research Centre, Box 197, Cambridge Biomedical Campus, Cambridge CB2 0XZ, United Kingdom. Electronic address:


Mitochondria are intracellular organelles thought to have evolved from an alphaproteobacterium engulfed by the ancestor of the eukaryotic cell, an archeon, two billion years ago. Although mitochondria are frequently recognised as the "power plant" of the cell, the function of these organelles go beyond the simple generation of ATP. In fact, mounting evidence suggests that mitochondria are involved in several cellular processes, from regulation of cell death to signal transduction. Given this important role in cell physiology, mitochondrial dysfunction has been frequently associated with human diseases including cancer. Importantly, recent evidence suggests that mitochondrial function is directly regulated by oncogenes and tumour suppressors. However, the consequences of deregulation of mitochondrial function in tumour formation are still unclear. In this review, I propose that mitochondria play a pivotal role in shaping the oncogenic signalling cascade and that mitochondrial dysfunction, in some circumstances, is a required step for cancer transformation.


Biochemistry; Cancer; Mitochondria; Oncometabolite; Signal transduction

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