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The Expression of Genes Involved in Hepatocellular Carcinoma Chemoresistance Is Affected by Mitochondrial Genome Depletion

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journal contribution
posted on 02.06.2014, 00:00 by Ester Gonzalez-Sanchez, Jose J. G. Marin, Maria J. Perez
Deletions and mutations in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which are frequent in human tumors, such as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), may contribute to enhancing their malignant phenotype. Here we have investigated the effect of mtDNA depletion in the expression of genes accounting for mechanisms of chemoresistance (MOC) in HCC. Using human HCC SK-Hep-1 cells depleted of mtDNA (Rho), changes in gene expression in response to antitumor drugs previously assayed in HCC treatment were analyzed. In Rho cells, a decreased sensitivity to doxorubicin-, SN-38-, cisplatin (CDDP)-, and sorafenib-induced cell death was found. Both constitutive and drug-induced reactive oxygen species generation were decreased. Owing to activation of the NRF2-mediated pathway, MDR1, MRP1, and MRP2 expression was higher in Rho than in wild-type cells. This difference was maintained after further upregulation induced by treatment with doxorubicin, SN-38, or CDDP. Topoisomerase-IIa expression was also enhanced in Rho cells before and after treatment with these drugs. Moreover, the ability of doxorubicin, SN-38 and CDDP to induce proapoptotic signals was weaker in Rho cells, as evidenced by survivin upregulation and reductions in Bax/Bcl-2 expression ratios. Changes in these genes seem to play a minor role in the enhanced resistance of Rho cells to sorafenib, which may be related to an enhanced intracellular ATP content together with the loss of expression of the specific target of sorafenib, tyrosine kinase receptor Kit. In conclusion, these results suggest that mtDNA depletion may activate MOC able to hinder the efficacy of chemotherapy against HCC.