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Mitochondrial Fusion Suppresses Pancreatic Cancer Growth via Reduced Oxidative Metabolism

By Meifang Yu, Yanqing Huang, Amit Deorukhkar, Tara N Fujimoto, Suman Govindaraju, Jessica M Molkentine, Daniel Lin, Ya’an Kang, Eugene J Koay, Jason B. Fleming, Sonal Gupta, Anirban Maitra, Cullen M. Taniguchi

Posted 11 Mar 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/279745

Pancreatic cancer is a highly lethal disease whose aggressive biology that is driven by mitochondrial oxidative metabolism. Mitochondria normally form a network of fused organelles, but we find that patient-derived and genetically engineered murine pancreatic cancer cells exhibit highly fragmented mitochondria with robust oxygen consumption rates (OCR). When mitochondrial fusion was activated by the genetic or pharmacological inhibition Drp1, the morphology and metabolism of human and murine pancreatic cancer cells more closely resembled that of normal pancreatic epithelial cells. This reduced metabolism was correlated with slower tumor growth, fewer metastases, and enhanced survival in a syngeneic orthotopic model. Similarly, directly activating mitochondrial fusion by overexpression of Mfn2 also reduced tumor growth and metastases. Mitochondrial fusion in pancreatic cancer cells was associated with reduced mitochondrial mass and Complex I expression and function. Thus, these data suggest that enhancing mitochondrial fusion through Drp1 inhibition or enhanced Mfn2 expression or function has strong tumor suppressive activity against pancreatic cancer and may thus represent a highly novel and efficacious therapeutic target.

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