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Exp Mol Med. 2016 Dec 9;48(12):e277. doi: 10.1038/emm.2016.129.

Migration and invasion of drug-resistant lung adenocarcinoma cells are dependent on mitochondrial activity.

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Research Institute, National Cancer Center, Goyang, Korea.
Department of Molecular Cell Biology, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Suwon, Korea.
Department of System Cancer Science, Graduate School of Cancer Science and Policy, National Cancer Center, Goyang, Korea.
Department of Surgery, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.


A small proportion of cancer cells have stem-cell-like properties, are resistant to standard therapy and are associated with a poor prognosis. The metabolism of such drug-resistant cells differs from that of nearby non-resistant cells. In this study, the metabolism of drug-resistant lung adenocarcinoma cells was investigated. The expression of genes associated with oxidative phosphorylation in the mitochondrial membrane was negatively correlated with the prognosis of lung adenocarcinoma. Because the mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) reflects the functional status of mitochondria and metastasis is the principal cause of death due to cancer, the relationship between MMP and metastasis was evaluated. Cells with a higher MMP exhibited greater migration and invasion than those with a lower MMP. Cells that survived treatment with cisplatin, a standard chemotherapeutic drug for lung adenocarcinoma, exhibited increased MMP and enhanced migration and invasion compared with parental cells. Consistent with these findings, inhibition of mitochondrial activity significantly impeded the migration and invasion of cisplatin-resistant cells. RNA-sequencing analysis indicated that the expression of mitochondrial complex genes was upregulated in cisplatin-resistant cells. These results suggested that drug-resistant cells have a greater MMP and that inhibition of mitochondrial activity could be used to prevent metastasis of drug-resistant lung adenocarcinoma cells.

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