Apoptosis or programmed cell death is one of the most important signaling pathways, which controls the cell fate and is frequently impaired in cancer cells. The major consequences of apoptosis inhibition are the accumulation of mutated cells and their enhanced resistance to chemotherapeutic agents. More generally, intrinsic or acquired apoptosis resistance may favor tumor growth and dissemination of mutated cells, and this resistance can be responsible of treatment failure. Mitochondria are central organelles in the signaling pathway of apoptosis and have been proposed as favorite candidates for anticancer biotherapy because they accommodate potential biological targets. Indeed, although cancer cells are highly glycolytic and become energetically independent of oxidative phosphorylation, mitochondrial proteins involved in the so-called mitochondrial membrane permeabilization (MMP), such as the adenine nucleotide translocase (ANT) can be instrumental to elicit cancer cell death. Thus, multiple pharmacological and molecular studies revealed ANT could be a promising therapeutic target for the following reasons: (i) ANT is a bi-functional protein, it mediates the vital exchange of cytosolic ADP and mitochondrial ATP and participates to MMP via its capacity to become a lethal pore in the mitochondrial inner membrane; (ii) both ANT functions are under the control of the (anti)-oncogenes from the Bax/Bcl-2 family, (iii) several chemotherapeutic agents directly modulate the pore-forming activity of ANT and (iv) ANT2 isoform, which is anti-apoptotic, can be overexpressed in human cancers and its invalidation sensitize cells to apoptosis. In this review, we will introduce the knowledge of the role of ANT in MMP, illustrate the modulation of ANT by several strategies and propose the possibility to target preferentially the ANT2 isoform for induction of cancer cell apoptosis.
Keywords: Apoptosis, Bcl-2, chemotherapy, liposome, mitochondrion, oncogene, cancer, mitochondrial membrane permeabilization, ANT, Lonidamine
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