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Determinants of Anti-Cancer Effect of Mitochondrial Electron Transport Chain Inhibitors: Bioenergetic Profile and Metabolic Flexibility of Cancer Cells

Author(s): Félix A. Urra, Boris Weiss-López, Ramiro Araya-Maturana.

Abstract:

Recent evidence highlights that energy requirements of cancer cells vary greatly from normal cells and they exhibit different metabolic phenotypes with variable participation of both glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS). Interestingly, mitochondrial electron transport chain (ETC) has been identified as an essential component in bioenergetics, biosynthesis and redox control during proliferation and metastasis of cancer cells. This dependence converts ETC of cancer cells in a promising target to design small molecules with anti-cancer actions. Several small molecules have been described as ETC inhibitors with different consequences on mitochondrial bioenergetics, viability and proliferation of cancer cells, when the substrate availability is controlled to favor either the glycolytic or OXPHOS pathway. These ETC inhibitors can be grouped as 1) inhibitors of a respiratory complex (e.g. rotenoids, vanilloids, alkaloids, biguanides and polyphenols), 2) inhibitors of several respiratory complexes (e.g. capsaicin, ME-344 and epigallocatechin-3 gallate) and 3) inhibitors of ETC activity (e.g. elesclomol and VLX600). Although pharmacological ETC inhibition may produce cell death and a decrease of proliferation of cancer cells, factors such as degree of inhibition of ETC activity by small molecules, bioenergetic profile and metabolic flexibility of different cancer types or subpopulations of cells in a particular cancer type, can affect the impact of the anti-cancer actions. Particularly interesting are the adaptive mechanisms induced by ETC inhibition, such as induction of glutamine-dependent reductive carboxylation, which may offer a strategy to sensitize cancer cells to inhibitors of glutamine metabolism.

Keywords: Respiratory complexes, oxidative phosphorylation, glutamine metabolism, slow-cycling cancer cells, reductive carboxylation, metabolic remodeling, anti-cancer agents, mitochondrial impairment.

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Article Details

VOLUME: 22
ISSUE: 39
Page: [5998 - 6008]
Pages: 11
DOI: 10.2174/1381612822666160719122626
Price: $58