Mitochondrial calcium uniporter silencing potentiates caspase-independent cell death in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells

Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Merril C CurryGregory R Monteith


The mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU) transports free ionic Ca(2+) into the mitochondrial matrix. We assessed MCU expression in clinical breast cancer samples using microarray analysis and the consequences of MCU silencing in a breast cancer cell line. Our results indicate that estrogen receptor negative and basal-like breast cancers are characterized by elevated levels of MCU. Silencing of MCU expression in the basal-like MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell line produced no change in proliferation or cell viability. However, distinct consequences of MCU silencing were seen on cell death pathways. Caspase-dependent cell death initiated by the Bcl-2 inhibitor ABT-263 was not altered by MCU silencing; whereas caspase-independent cell death induced by the calcium ionophore ionomycin was potentiated by MCU silencing. Measurement of cytosolic Ca(2+) levels showed that the promotion of ionomycin-induced cell death by MCU silencing occurs independently of changes in bulk cytosolic Ca(2+) levels. This study demonstrates that MCU overexpression is a feature of some breast cancers and that MCU overexpression may offer a survival advantage against some cell death pathways. MCU inhibitors may be a strategy to increase the effectiveness of th...Continue Reading


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