Primary mitochondrial dysfunction commonly leads to failure in cellular adaptation to stress. Paradoxically, however, nonsynonymous mutations of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) are frequently found in cancer cells and may have a causal role in the development of resistance to genotoxic stress induced by common chemotherapeutic agents, such as cis-diammine-dichloroplatinum(II) (cisplatin, CDDP). Little is known about how these mutations arise and the associated mechanisms leading to chemoresistance. Here, we show that the development of adaptive chemoresistance in the A549 non-small-cell lung cancer cell line to CDDP is associated with the hetero- to homoplasmic shift of a nonsynonymous mutation in MT-ND2, encoding the mitochondrial Complex-I subunit ND2. The mutation resulted in a 50% reduction of the NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase activity of the complex, which was compensated by increased biogenesis of respiratory chain complexes. The compensatory mitochondrial biogenesis was most likely mediated by the nuclear co-activators peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma co-activator-1α (PGC-1α) and PGC-1β, both of which were significantly upregulated in the CDDP-resistant cells. Importantly, both transient and stable silencing of PGC-1β re-established the sensitivity of these cells to CDDP-induced apoptosis. Remarkably, the PGC-1β-mediated CDDP resistance was independent of the mitochondrial effects of the co-activator. Altogether, our results suggest that partial respiratory chain defects because of mtDNA mutations can lead to compensatory upregulation of nuclear transcriptional co-regulators, in turn mediating resistance to genotoxic stress.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cancer Research