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FASEB J. 2012 May;26(5):2175-86. doi: 10.1096/fj.11-196543. Epub 2012 Feb 9.

Inhibition of mitochondrial fission prevents cell cycle progression in lung cancer.

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Section of Cardiology, University of Chicago, 5841 South Maryland Ave., MC6080, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Mitochondria exist in dynamic networks that undergo fusion and fission. Mitochondrial fusion and fission are mediated by several GTPases in the outer mitochondrial membrane, notably mitofusin-2 (Mfn-2), which promotes fusion, and dynamin-related protein (Drp-1), which promotes fission. We report that human lung cancer cell lines exhibit an imbalance of Drp-1/Mfn-2 expression, which promotes a state of mitochondrial fission. Lung tumor tissue samples from patients demonstrated a similar increase in Drp-1 and decrease in Mfn-2 when compared to adjacent healthy lung. Complementary approaches to restore mitochondrial network formation in lung cancer cells by overexpression of Mfn-2, Drp-1 inhibition, or Drp-1 knockdown resulted in a marked reduction of cancer cell proliferation and an increase in spontaneous apoptosis. The number of cancer cells in S phase decreased from 32.4 ± 0.6 to 6.4 ± 0.3% with Drp-1 inhibition (P<0.001). In a xenotransplantation model, Mfn-2 gene therapy or Drp-1 inhibition could regress tumor growth. The tumor volume decreased from 205.6 ± 59 to 70.6 ± 15 mm(3) (P<0.05) with Mfn-2 overexpression and from 186.0 ± 19 to 87.0 ± 6 mm(3) (P<0.01) with therapeutic Drp-1 inhibition. Impaired fusion and enhanced fission contribute fundamentally to the proliferation/apoptosis imbalance in cancer and constitute promising novel therapeutic targets.

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